The reality is that by the time that conversation has ended the lady has stood up and given me her hand -- so I'm stuck with her. I have yet to find a lady that answered this way to know even the most basic of steps, so I waste my time teaching her a waltz box step. Ug!
Sometimes I tell the ladies I'll come back when there is a dance like rumba. I always make a point of coming back so I don't think most of these ladies take it the wrong way. I consider my rumba to be the expendable social dance for first timers.
If you're not the type that is patient with newbies (I realize not everyone is), why not sit and watch for a few songs, and figure out which dancers are the sorts you are hoping to dance with, so you can ask them (and avoid asking the newbies)? Shouldn't be too hard to tell them apart.
I find that one non-obvious aspect to leading is being able to spend part of the time following your follower. And the better the skill of the follower, the less I'm leading and the more I'm following.
This is an interesting concept that I have not heard before; can you elaborate or is it one of those things where if I don't understand it as it was written I am probably not ready to understand it (like the phrase, if you have to ask how much, you can't afford it).
One aspect of both leading and following is not to act so put-upon if it's not something you want to do. Just don't. Problem solved. Don't make the other person suffer, and then you won't have to complain about how terrible those three minutes were to other people when these people aren't around to defend themselves.
When I initiate a lead, once the lady's doing approximately what I'm looking for then I stop leading and see where she takes it. A less experienced follow will require a clearer invitation so I spend more time leading. And I'm not talking force --- if it turns into arm wrestling, I let 'em win.
A more experienced follow will produce bigger movements when invited, so I have to move more to stay with her (I'm not talking about her running amok, just producing bigger movements).
When it comes to turns, I initiate a turn and once her turn starts, I stop leading. That just throws her off balance. Rather, I stay connected by following her through the turn so I can reconnect at the end. A follow who's better at turns will tend to have more turns led.
OK, that makes sense. Over the past few months, for every pattern I am dancing I am also learning the follow to the pattern. I am hoping this helps me to understand the dynamics of the lead better by understanding it from the followers perspective. The fun thing about this is when I am at a social dance and a lady says, "fair warning, I can't help but lead" (always a new dancer), I just smile, drop my left hand, raise my right and say, "I'm good with that, you lead." I have only done this a couple times but both times the response was the same, "no, you go ahead and lead."
I will try what you are saying, especially when it seems it is not going right; let her do what she feels is the correct thing and see where it leads us.
Sometimes I get a lady who says that she tends to back lead, I reply that she's out of luck because I haven't learned to back follow.
If a figure doesn't turn out the way I expect, I recover as best I can and keep dancing. At the same time, I conduct a post-failure analysis to see if there was a different way I could have led it. Sometimes the follow is not up to it and my leading skills are not up to compensate, so I back off in the material I throw at her. Other times, I think of a way to lead it better the next time.
As a matter of fact, I regularly dance with beginner gentlemen who do not know what dance we are about to do or anything about it. When they protest they don't know it, I generally respond that we will figure it out together, then I teach them the basic and we do it, and then if they seem to be catching on quickly I will ask them if they would like to learn another move or keep practicing the basic, and it goes from there.
Of course, my life is not on the line on the dance floor (generally speaking). If you want to be true to your analogy, you should probably ask the lady if she knows what waltz is and whether she knows how to waltz before you actually ask her if she would like to dance. Once you have extended an invitation it is rude to rescind it.
Yeah, I can only conclude that Generalist's dance scene must be vastly different than mine. If I ask a lady to dance to has no experience, she's normally the first person to fall all over her self responding that she doesn't know the dance. (I'll typically assure her that that's ok, but not press it if she really would prefer to sit out.) In general, the idea of quizzing someone at a social dance before dancing with them just seems, well, weird to me.