Over the years, several milongueros viejos have told me how important subtlety was when inviting a woman to dance if she refused him by looking in another direction. After one refusal from a woman, a milonguero viejo didn’t look again in her direction. That way they avoided public embarrassment after a refusal when the mirada/cabeceo came into use in the early 1940s. Men moved from standing in the center of the floor to sitting at tables*. It wasn’t obvious to anyone who invited who until two people united to dance.
I like watching the men who nonchalantly make the slightest movement (from where they’re seated) to invite a woman on the other side of the room or a table nearby. That takes practice and perfect timing.
There is a big difference between gazing and staring at a stranger across the dance floor. Often just a glance is all it takes.
gaze: look steadily and intently, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought.
stare: look fixedly or vacantly at someone or something with one’s eyes wide open.
glance: take a brief or hurried look.
The stare technique may only result in the other person looking away as if not to notice you. The gaze technique is clear yet subtle. Glances with a smile are nice surprises.
Which technique do you use successfully?
*Alito was the first to use tables in the salon in Centro Region Leonesa. That way the men didn’t have to leave the dance to have a drink.