I get it. Norms must be followed. Structure underlies function. Or is it the other way round? No matter. Here’s the thing. Catch her eye, or let hers catch yours, and you’re good to go. Catching is key. Cast your line across the darkened expanse of polished parquet, baited with all you’ve got. Which boils down to a commanding presence, equal parts upright posture, a clean shave, a confident demeanor, and totally at one with the intricate tango song flowing from the DJ’s shaded nook. Oh, you don’t measure up? No nibbles from the far side? Averted eyes? Preoccupation with a half-empty glass of Prosecco, or a chafing strap on that new dance shoe? I get it. Been there, done that. And now the cabeceo cowboy takes over.
You stand, hitch up your pants, and stroll around the perimeter of the busy dance floor, casual as you please, approving with a smile faultlessly-executed enrosques, barridas and molinetes. You come to the first far-side bistro table, where three women, two of a certain age, and one half that, are deep in conversation. You pause, bow mock formally, and extend a hand over the flickering electric candle that adorns their table. They glance up, inspect you briefly, and then carry on as before. Oh, well… At the next table, on which lie a lady’s purse and a cast-off silk scarf, someone is slouched over a smartphone, his thumbs dancing obsessively over its obsidian surface. You suppress an involuntary sigh of disgust, and move on. But, be still my heart, what’s this? Here’s a beautiful woman, hitherto obscured by a potted palm. She’s all alone, one hand idly fingering an errant curl behind her ear, the other smoothing the silken surface of her dress where it clings to her thigh
You pause, take stock, and catch her eye. She bestows upon you a long cool look that starts at your hairline, receding it’s true but testifying to maturity if not hard-earned wisdom, surveys the barely-noticeable bags under your eyes, the paper-thin wattles of your throat, your paunch held at bay by your belt buckle, and your thin shanks, draped in loose pants but nevertheless itching to dance. You short-circuit her possibly unfavorable review by offering her your hand, a smile, and a sidelong glance at the dance-floor. She closes her eyes momentarily, and when they re-open she’s no longer looking at you, but instead studying the shaded nook where the DJ is fussing with his laptop. Your heart stills. You’re about to move on when she turns to you, bats her eyelashes, indicates the empty seat beside her, and murmurs, “I’m not crazy about this song. Let’s see what’s up next.”
You sit down, shoot your cuffs, and venture an ad hoc critique of “Regreso al Amor”. She puts an index finger to the perfect crimson arc of her lips. Cabeceo is treading unfamiliar ground, but this cowboy is able and willing to go with the flow…