General Dance Discussion > why not permit a female to lead in class?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by starry, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. dTas

    dTas New Member

    not here... where i teach there are almost always more WOMEN than there are men.
  2. starry

    starry New Member

    Dear members of the board,

    Dispite the eloquent and emphatic requests for the name of the studio in which I was turned away as a lead, I really feel it is best I do not disclose the name of the studio. As I said earlier, the owner of the studio, after considering the request, said she had no problem with my leading in the basic class if the instructor would allow it. She did not have a chance to talk to the instructor himself as he was still teaching a class when I phoned her to ask about the leading. Perhaps if she had spoken to him before, things might have been different. I will give them the benefit of the doubt here and assume it was true that my request had been the first of its kind at that studio and as such they were a bit thrown by it. Instead of discouraging others to take class at that studio with that particular instructor, I will follow up by speaking to the owner again and tell her that I was turned away. I will open it up to discussion with her in hopes that she will discuss the issue with her instructors. Hopefully, they will come up with a difinitive policy that permits everyone to lead or follow regardless of gender.

    I will let you all know how this turns out.

    Thank you so much for your support in the matter and the passionate responses.
  3. ReneeJoan

    ReneeJoan New Member

    Dear Random Mysh:

    I try (modest blush).

    Dear Alias:

    As if Paris didn’t already have enough wonderful things going for it, it has a surplus of MEN??

    Dear all:

    I personally, am very happy to dance with another woman who wants to practice her leading skills. I have a couple friends who have advanced to learning the men’s part in tango (a daunting task, as it is three times more complicated than my part), and they always appreciate it that I give them a chance to practice – they’ve told me that very few women feel comfortable about it. They’ve also told me that they won’t do it at just any milonga, either. Some milongas are just too starchy and conservative, and they get a nasty vibe from the other dancers if they dance with another woman, so they don’t. Other places are a lot more easy going. I will sometimes take the leader’s part in class if there aren’t enough fellows, but once we get beyond the 8-count basic, my repertoire is completely exhausted, and I have to let the more experienced men take turns with the ladies.

    Also, for me, once I’m dancing, it’s like gender completely falls out of the picture. My partner and I are creating art together, and he really ceases to be a man and becomes an archetype of MAN. Example. Last night, I was asked to dance by a guy who I sincerely doubt I would ever be attracted to off the dance floor as a person. But we started dancing, and it was like we had stepped out of space and time, and wandered into the Fairy Country of Avalon. The room, the other dancers, became unreal, illusions. We just kept dancing and dancing, being expressive and creative in a way I rarely allow myself to be, and I could have easily danced with this man for the rest of my life, even though I could feel my feet beginning to burn and my body beginning to fatigue. I simply didn’t want to break the spell, even for the cortinas. I finally took pity on him (he was wearing a heavy shirt), and once we stopped dancing the magic ceased. He took no efforts to capitalize on that connection to ask me out, and I really wasn’t looking for him to, either. But I’d dance with him again in a heartbeat, and probably have to be pried out of his arms with a crowbar. If I had a woman ask me to dance who could dance like that, I wouldn’t care what her chromosomes looked like. I’d dance with her for the rest of my life, too. But I wouldn’t want to date her afterwards. This sounds pretty silly, but it’s the best I can do to explain it. Sorry if it isn’t making any sense and sounds absurd.

  4. randomMysh

    randomMysh New Member


    That's what I call a dance crush. You couldn't care less for the person off the dance floor, but the dancing is magic.
    And I couldn't agree with you more. :)
  5. ReneeJoan

    ReneeJoan New Member

    Random Mysh:

    I guess you're right -- just a silly little "dance crush," but at the time it seemed a lot more profound. I guess that's what a little bit of daylight does for you. Those dimly lit milongas can sure get to you.

  6. alemana

    alemana New Member

    i am conducting a citywide survey on this issue - i've already spoken to most of the major salsa studios and teachers in new york city this afternoon.

    i'll start a new item to post the results. i've already crossed a studio i was interested in trying out off my list thanks to this thread - i'm really grateful to starry for starting it.
  7. jon

    jon Member

    The WCS world rarely has a problem with this, and many instructors encourage it - although most of the switchers are women leading, not men following.

    OTOH there is a deep-seated aversion among some WCS dancers to allowing role reversal in the random-pairup ("Jack & Jill") matches that make up a good fraction of the competitions.
  8. rails

    rails New Member

    The only time someone shouldn't be allowed to drop into a class is if it will throw off the leader/follower balance too much. I wish more teachers would make an effort to balance the ratio, myself. Usually there aren't enough followers, of course. Your sex shouldn't matter.

    Don't agree with that. I've followed a couple of times in beginning salsa classes. I thought it was pretty easy. Since I'd led the moves before I knew what the follower was supposed to do. Most of the followers I know don't have the slightest idea what leaders are doing.
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    What if this leads to a sitution where in a rotation someone feels themselves more or less expected to dance with a same-gender partner who is trying the other role? Personally, if it's a friend or someone who seems to be making a serious effort I'd enjoy trying to lead them - but is it fair to impose this on everyone?
  10. blue

    blue New Member

    If you mean that there will be less socially acceptable in many places, then I am with you. Unfair, but true.
  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    It is generally harder to follow someone who is shorter and lighter than you, especially when you are fairly inexperienced at following. Tango can be a good dance to experiment with, since it occurs kind of in two dimensions instead of three, and at first approximation following consists of standing there balanced until being lead to do something.
  12. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    In Carlos Saura's film Tango there is a scene where two dancers both female do a tango in 30's outfits; and it ends in a smouldering kiss....
  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    That's all well and good, and many can appreciate it in some way or another. But should we confuse it with trying an alternative role as a merely technical or learning exercise?
  14. jon

    jon Member

    Once you start catering for one phobia, where does it stop? Who makes that judgement and why?
  15. leftfeetnyc

    leftfeetnyc New Member

    Here in Manhattan there seems to be quite a large number of men who follow WCS. Our weekly dance at Chetty Red often has same sex dancing.

    At the past Swingin' New England there was a woman who was allowed to lead in the Newcomer J&J...she placed second and did an awesome job...she's an all around great dancer.
  16. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Given the public attitudes that enshrined that particular phobia in the constitutions of 11 states, perhaps now is the time to demonstrate that personal choices are mostly personal, with really minimal impact on others. Until the rest of the nation sees how life continues completely unaffected in Massachusetts, might it be better to avoid counterexamples such as someone who does not want to feeling that they are being expected to dance with a same sex partner? I don't think that would necessarily mean prohibiting anyone from trying the opposite role in a group class, just that it should be handled in such a way that everyone's personal preferences are fully respected.
  17. alemana

    alemana New Member

    hey, i'm all for extending the right of refusal to everyone in a group class, not just the few who inexplicably believe dancing with someone of the same gender might give them cooties.

    git over it!
  18. jon

    jon Member

    Someone can choose not to dance with any particular person in the rotation if they wish, of course. I see people do that today from time to time. And if they don't want to rotate at all, they shouldn't be coerced into it.

    But it is not fundamentally different than expecting people to dance with whatever race of partner comes around in the rotation.
  19. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    That's actually a good example, in that it's something that would have been very controversial at times in the not-too-distant past, but is largely a non-issue today. Attitudes change, but slowly, and something potentially very personal like dancing may not be the best place to push for a change that really has to come more as a general acceptance and relaxation of concerns.
  20. blue

    blue New Member

    Or because you like the experience in itself? I don't know who came up with the idea that you should learn only one role, but I don't think he was very clever. I think even less of the guy who decided that dance roles should be associated with gender. 8)

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