Cabeceo – Traditional invitation to dance tango
“Mirada” is looking at someones eyes to see if they would like to dance with you. When you catch their eye, then you “Cabeceo” which is cocking or tilting your head as if to say non-verbally “Shall we dance”? If they accept the dance they will nod back and you may then walk over to them and extend your hand and verbally greet them and escort them to the dance floor.
This is a very convenient way to invite people to dance from where ever you happen to be. There are many reasons why someone might not want to dance with you in any particular moment. So if they don’t accept your cabeceo, try again later.
Both leader and follower are responsible for making eye contact through the “Mirada”. Typically the leader initiates the cabeceo and the follower either agrees with a nod or declines with a head shake or by pointedly looking away. The roles can be, and are, reversed as well.
The above is a rewording of Steve Littler’s excellent description which is quoted here:
For more depth and perspective: