In western countries, dancers have almost lost the sophisticated attribute to invite a partner with style and respect. Only this gesture garantees him to know if the person is delighted to dance or not. The common procedure in Buenos Aires inviting someone to dance is with mirada/cabeceo. The art of cabeceo has been seen in the western world as old fashioned, not western culture like and uncool. Often simply people do not know how to do it, that they rather prefer a verbal invitation.
Some dancers have found an easier way to go straight to their target and ask verbally. Furthermore they are expecting that the person will be delighted to dance. I have seen many men but also some women, inviting someone to dance in this awkward way.
Driven by a huge portion of ego, they will not hesitate to approach the next victim giving him / her little chance to get out of an embarrassing situation.
With cabeceo you are showing respect and good manners.
Inviting someone with style, in the art of cabeceo, you can be sure the choosen person is delighted to dance with you. Because she gives her approval up front.
I have listened to women complains :
“why we cannot invite men and only men have the right to invite us.”
Well, this is a miss-interpretation. The decision is made on eyecontact . Everthing after, is just etiquette. A woman who want to invite a man, will just do it in the same way. When his eyes stay ( mirada) and he accepts your gaze with a little ( cabeceo) he has accepted. He will then approach the lady.
The person who accept your cabeceo will be delighted to dance
Inviting someone to dance by cabeceo is a relict from former times. When men and women where sitting seperately.
Today in mixed gender communities the cabeceo is not that common, in my opinion a great lost. Some traditions are timeless, a value for humanity.
In a milonga, a tango dance place, inviting by mirada / cabeceo is a must. It is a fine, creative detail, smoothen the interaction between genders.