|June 28th, 2013
A: Dance?The response from 'A' is typical among people who think of contra as something where a major part of the gent's role is leading variations. It's not that 'A' doesn't know how to do the figures from the other side, which isn't really all that different, but that they don't want to be boring. If you think of yourself as a good dancer, and then are put in a position where you're going to be dancing like someone who's much less experienced, you need to be really secure in your social position.
B: Yes! Do you have a preferred gender?
A: Can I be the lady? I don't know how to lead.
The people you see leading weird things generally learned them slowly over time, with lots of practice and picking things up from other people. I didn't start learning well until I started dancing the lady, picking up flourishes much better by going through them than watching them. It's not that if I came into contra years ago initially dancing the lady instead of the gent I would have learned to lead things faster, but that there were things I needed to learn from dancing both roles. So when I'm 'B' I try to let 'A' know I think they'll do fine as the gent and we'll have a good time either way. This is the general philosophy of learning in contra: we don't have lessons, you learn by doing.
People have different learning styles, however, with some people learning much better from explicit teaching. So I'm wondering: should we have workshops on flourishes?