Woo-Hoo Two solving the London Cabaceo - a postscript

13th February 2010

"The problem with catching a tiger by the tail is that you then find yourself holding a tiger by the tail" ~ Anon

Postscript ~ The Tanda

So you've used The Woo Hoo Method, and you've just had one dance. Now what happens? Well it depends largely on how you got the dance in the first place.

The "proper" cabeceo (hereafter just called the cabeceo) route is:

  1. You dance until the next Cortina (music break every 3-5 dances).
  2. You thank your partner.
  3. If you only have one or two dances before the Cortina (and you want to dance with them again) you also remark about having another dance with them "later in the evening".
  4. You either escort her back to her seat or at least the side of the floor.
  5. If on the other hand the dancing is not working well, either person can say "thank-you" at the end of any dance to politely signal they wish to stop and you part company.
  6. You go in search of your next cabeceo.

And repeat...

The London version

There are a number of problems with this in most London venues.

In BAs, the men and women often sit on opposite sides of the room. People claim specific places; indeed they're often specifically placed in those places by the organisers.

In London, seating is usually fluid, to put it mildly. You can place your coat and bag on a seat, but don't expect this "reservation" to be respected. Hence escorting the women back to her place often won't work, simply because "her place" isn't there any more! Escorting her to the side of the floor is a good compromise though.

"Thank-you" - the meaning of this changes considerably.

At one end of the spectrum, usually beginners and intermediates, "thank-you" means "thank-you" (yeah, I know the English are strange sometimes).

But this means that if you got a dance through the London Cabeceo and the woman says thank-you at the end of the first dance, she may want to keep dancing. Whereas if you used the cabeceo to get the dance and she said thank-you, she's calling it quits.

So you need to keep track of which method you used. Fortunately there's considerable difference in the body language of someone who's had a lousy dance and wants to be somewhere else and someone who's quite content and is just checking you still want to do another dance.


Usually if you used the London cabeceo to get a dance and the venue is playing cortinas and you only have one or two dances before it, unless you firmly say "thank-you" at the Cortina, the women are happy to dance the next dance to complete a set of three. If the cortinas are being played in 3s, often women will be happy to dance the entire next cortina as well.

1, 3, 5 or 27 dances?

A lot of London venues don't play cortinas, so using them as a form of etiquette there is rather pointless. The following has evolved instead.

Extreme end of the London Cabeceo (pretty much beginners)

They only expect one dance. They've never heard of tandas. Two dances would be great. You will have to verbally confirm that you want a second dance, though they won't dash off after the first one. For the third one, say something like "shall we do the third to complete the tanda?". They'll have no idea what a tanda is, but you've given them enough of a clue that this is the "way things are done" and they can ask their friends / teachers / google what a tanda is later.

The normal London Cabeceo

You dance three dances. You still verbally confirm each. Some "little lies" chatting about how long you've danced etc may be involved inbetween each. Easy options are "another one?" after the first dance and "one more?" after the second.

27 dances

"Something magic happens after half an hour of dancing with the same person" ~ Amir Giles

Particularly among friends using the London cabeceo you can just keep dancing for as long as you want to. In BAs this means you have to get married. In London, simply that you've enjoyed a wonderful time dancing.

You can still get married to them, of course.

Christopher O' Shea, 13th February 2010