why not permit a female to lead in class?

I went to a New York City dance studio last night to take a class which I found out (once i arrived) was cancelled. Since I paid a seven dollar cab fare to get there, I did not want to waste my money or my time so i requested to lead in a basic salsa class they had scheduled at the same time as my cancelled class.
In Philly, I take class often as a lead without any problem. But at the New York studio, the receptionist told me NO. She said only the men are permitted to lead, the ladies to follow. Since I knew the studio owner, who was not in the studio at that time, I phoned her. She seemed a bit taken aback that I wanted to lead, but after a moment said, "Well, if it is okay with the instuctor, I don't have a problem with it." So, I approached the instructor before the class started and asked him if I may lead in his basic class. I told him I spoke to the owner and she said it was okay with her if it was okay with him. He denied me. He said "the ladies in the class might not like it. I need the ladies to follow and the men to lead. You could only do it if you bring your own partner and the two of you don't rotate with the class."

Sheesh. I was shocked at this. It seems downright sexist thinking to me. What difference does my gender make? I'll say this, it certainly makes me want to take my money elsewhere.

Following that incident, I still wanted to salvage my night, so I went to El Flamingo where there was a free 7 p.m. class by Jami Josephson. I took the class, as a follower, since I was afraid to offend anyone now. After the class, I asked Miss Josephson when her studio classes were and would I be permitted to take class as a lead. She replied, "Yes, if fact I encourage ladies to learn to lead as well as follow." So, now I know when I want to strengthen my lead, I can go to her studio.

What do you all think? What have been your experiences with this sort of thing?
Considering the usual men-to-women ratio in most ballroom classes I've taken, it's probably no surprise that women are usually encouraged to lead, and certainly not outright denied it. Generally very few women are uncomfortable with following another woman for a few measures, and the ones that cannot deal with it can simply skip the female lead and go on to the next available male. Personally, I think that's silly. I think women make better leads than a lot of men, especially beginner men, because the women already know the girl's part, so they have a better idea of what they're trying to lead.

Not to mention the fun it can be! :)

Starry, what studio was it? I'm relatively new in the NY area and I'm in the process of sampling studios right now, so I'd like to make sure I don't go to that one. :x
It shouldn't make any difference. In fact, I think everyone should have to switch lead/follow just so they know how it feels. It would make everyone's dancing a lot better.
this is *outrageous* in new york city. please name the studio so i can be sure to never take any classes there. i won't give my money to a blatantly homophobic establishment.

if you live in nyc now and want to talk about good places to take classes (where you won't feel any weirdness about leading), let me know.

also, if you can lead 'on 2' at advanced beginner or higher, i'd love to dance with you... i'm always on the lookout for a good leader :)


Active Member
starry said:
"the ladies in the class might not like it. I need the ladies to follow and the men to lead. You could only do it if you bring your own partner and the two of you don't rotate with the class."

Sheesh. I was shocked at this. It seems downright sexist thinking to me. What difference does my gender make? I'll say this, it certainly makes me want to take my money elsewhere.
I'm very, very surprised. I've never experienced this myself. In salsa classes I've been to, there are almost always more women than men, and women volunteering to lead are always appreciated, especially those who are used to leading (I know some women who are very good leaders!).

I'm wondering if this particular studio had a problem in the past, perhaps with a woman student complaining about "being forced to dance with a (suspected) lesbian" or some such nonsense? Just speculating here...
I really don't want to disclose the name of the studio. People are sue happy these days, and ya never know. I have, however, attended that studio on and off for about two years and up until last night had only good experiences there. Right now I am a bit miffed about the leading incident, but when I get over myself, I will consider going back there for the owner's styling class. I just now know not to go there to work on my leading. I will look for other studios for that. I will, however, make sure I phone any studio first to make certain they allow females to lead. It never really occurred to me before that there would be a problem. As I said, in Philadelphia, I lead not only in studio classes but at the free classes out in the clubs. I have NEVER had a lady say she had a problem with me leading her.
Personally.. i'm dissapointed at the mentioned studio.. however,

we are all relatively limitted in one way or the other.. both mind and body wise..

this situation here is one of the examples for one of the numerous mind limitations.. in dancing alone..

some places are for people who are limitted in this way.. other places are for other less or even more limitted in various other ways

its variety .. differences.. choices.. normal every day life situation.. what some will lack somewhere.. they gain in another respect something else.. now wether this is overall 'good' or 'bad'.. is a point of view.. at least there are choices available.. always a good deal.
We do it all the time in NY as well...I've lead on multiple occasions, both social and class, and I've NEVER ever had an issue with this. I think it's harder for a guy to follow if he wants to than it is for a woman to lead.

I also think what happened to you is an outrage and I don't think they'd have the right to sue you even if you did mention the name of the studio. You're just letting people know about the general policy of the studio, why would they be insulted by that? But if you're not comfortable with that, that's perfectly fine too.

Oh yeah, and I'd follow you in salsa any time. :)


New Member
you said that you didn't want to reveal the name of the studio... can you give any characteristics of it? is it a franchise studio? how about the part of town that the studio is in? demographics? more competative? more social? etc.

in every studio that i have worked in there hasn't been any problems with women leading... though it is rare. only recently did i encounter a studio that regularly has women leading (actually there are women that prefer to lead and do not follow)

i have no problem with this. i just have to remember to say "leads" and "follows" instead of "men" and "ladies" when teaching. you have to be so PC these days.

Larinda McRaven

Site Moderator
Staff member
I know of a few studios peppered around the country that do this. But basically because they also offer a "same-sex" class and prefer to keep the two classes distinct.

Personally I think it helps the woman to be a beter follower if she also knows what the guy leader is going through. And the same for the guys...they will lead so much better if they also understand what it takes to be a follower.
I'm very curious as to which studio this is. I've recently started learning to lead to complement my following and it doesn't sound as if that studio is somewhere I want to go or recommend friends.

At my current studio (also in NY) we're encouraged to learn to learn lead as men/follow as woman as beginners, but as we progress are encouraged to learn the other part as well.
In one of the lindy places here, they did not allow you to take classes in the other sex's role for quite some years. I heard that they recently changed this, though. I was so surprised to find out.

In some of the AT places it is common for women to lead; in other places it seems less common. I think it mainly comes down to the attitude of the teachers.
Dear Starry:

Can a customer at a retail service establishment who receives unsatisfactory service tell friends and associates about the unpleasant experience and recommend against it? Let’s take it one step further. Can a critic for the NY Times print an unfavorable review of a new restaurant/play/art exhibit? This is absurd. Businesses bank on your positive word-of-mouth referrals. Are they to complain if you spread negative publicity based on your bad personal experience? My gut instinct say, “NOT!”

However, since we are talking about legal liability here, I ran it by my boss, an attorney in private practice for 45 years. He says, of course you would have no liability – not if what you say is TRUE. You see, truth is an absolute defense in cases of slander, libel, and defamation. If what you have said is true, and in the worst case scenario, if at the time you said it you merely BELIEVED it was true, then you have NO LIABILITY. I sincerely doubt that this (soon to be boycotted en masse by all Formites) studio in NYC made you sign a non-disparagement agreement when you first signed up for classes.

Anyway, the point is, you as the consumer hold the absolute power in this situation. You are the one with the money. They are the ones trying to persuade you to give it to them. If you do not like their overtly sexist attitude, then take your money, and give your personal referrals, to a competing studio with a more enlightened attitude. Maybe when they find they have NO women in their classes, because they’ve chased away their potential women customers with their pleistocene mentality, and the men quit coming because there are no women to dance with, they will re-evaluate the way they treat their paying customers. You have the money, and you have the power to use it to effect social change.

Furthermore, if people are asking you for the name of this studio/teacher so they will NOT take his class, go ahead and tell them. After all, if you adored this teacher, you wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him, because you want him to have the business, and you want your friends to have great instruction. In like manner, if you KNOW what this teacher is like, why endorse him with your silence? Do you want other people to be treated as badly as you were because you didn’t want to tell your friends the truth? Truth slices sometimes, but this particular teacher sent an engraved invitation for it, in my opinion.

As a male leader I don't mind if a female wants to be a leader in a class, unless there are less followers than leaders, in that case I'm not happy (one more leader is one less follower, and when changing partner one more occasion to not having a partner and then not dance) but I still admit a female can have the right to learn the leader part.
Note that there are almost always more men than women in partner dancing classes.

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