Excerpts from the Cortina Tango Dictionary
All Tango Terms derive from the Spanish language.
Often, the Spanish word will take on an entirely new meaning for Tango Dancers.
Cabeceo: From cabeza; head: Traditional technique for selecting dance partners from a distance at milongas by using eye contact and head movements. Non-verbal communication for a leader and follower to make eye contact. If a follower holds the gaze of leader, they are accepting the invitation to dance. It reduces social embarrassment as a leader isn’t walking across the room to ask a follower to dance only to be rejected.
Cortina: Curtain. A 10-30 second piece of music other than tango such as salsa or Rock ’n’ Roll, that indicates a tanda is over and to change partners at a milonga. This is when cabeceo’s are initiated.
Milonga: May refer to the social event where tango dancers go to dance or to the specific sub-style of faster paced tango music, written in 2/4 time.
Tanda: A set of dance music, usually three to five songs, of the same dance in similar style, if not by the same orchestra. The tandas are separated by a brief interlude of non-tango music called a "cortina" (or curtain) during which couples select each other. It is customary to dance the entire tanda with the same partner.