From a reader:
I asked a very pretty, slender and young brunette to dance. I asked her
for experience level, and she said she had only taken the free lesson
once but that she liked to spin. So spin her I did. She was one of the
best follows I'd ever led, despite having so little experience she just
went where I led her, swung-out and spun as I told her. She just flowed.
It was great. She had the warmest smile on her face the entire time...
to later that evening, an older (at least 50s) woman asked me to dance,
so I obliged. She was nearly impossible to lead. She was rigid,
immobile, unresponsive and gave me no smile. I've danced with other
older women, and most weren't nearly so difficult to lead.
Though it is not a 100% correlation, I will testify with my now 16 years of dance instruction that divorced women are harder to dance with and for precisely the reasons our fine young reader implied - they are psychologically predisposed against following.
Yes, there is an element of "can't teach an old dog new tricks" but that applies equally to men and women. By the time a student is 50+ I have seen less aptitude to learn new moves in both sexes. But divorced women (regardless of age) were more often than not a bear to instruct, let alone dance with.
They'll turn on their own. They'll initiate the dance even though the leader hasn't started. They'll assume the move you try to start and execute the wrong one, and (should they actually wait for you to start leading a turn) they will IMMEDIATELY execute the turn with no regard to the beat or timing by which the turn should be executed, resulting in them getting out of the turn ahead of the lead and way ahead of the beat.
Now all women to a certain extend do this when they are learning. They are merely trying to "help," but what I always teach the beginning women in my class is that following is a psychological skill. There is nothing they can "do" or "start" or "help" with because "helping" "initiating" or "doing" is antithetical to following. They must RESPOND, not initiate or do.
After explaining this most women get it and start following splendidly. However, I can almost pick out the divorced women in that they are the ones where my philosophical explanation of following went into one ear and out the other. They still initiate, they still lead, and some go even so far to say, "well, my partner won't lead, I HAVE TO!" Or, I've even had it so far where the woman giggles and says, "oh, I'm not good at following. I have to lead" COMPLETELY ignorant to the fact that it goes against the dynamics and mechanics of dancing making it IMPOSSIBLE for her to dance with any one.
Sure enough, they fight, they toil, they get frustrated. Some even go so far as to instruct their current dance partner (I have them rotate) talking over me, telling him what "he's doing wrong," while I'm trying to address the exact same problems they "think" they're solving. The field trips ensue and you get to know them personally and I'd say about 7 out of 10 times you find out they're divorced. The remaining 3 women obviously displaying signs of "Grrrrl Power (TM)" and "moxie" belying their psychological disadvantage to learning to follow.
But rip apart the ladies all I want, there is another side to the coin, and that is the men. Divorced men, but more so, singles-group men, desperately trying to find a wife at my dance class. They're there because they either got divorced or never found a gal and it shows. They plain can't lead. They're afraid, they take no risks. The qualities and traits that send women screaming.
They're polite, they look at theirs partner's feet hoping to plagiarize the moves instead of listening to me. They get railroaded once they dance with the divorcee woman with moxie, telling him how he's screwing up, constantly talking to him so he can't head the beat, let alone me yelling out the moves. When it comes time to turn the girl, they lift a limp wristed arm up SUGGESTING, not COMMANDING the woman to turn. They also lack the psychological understanding of the word "leader" and instead think a ballroom dance is done by committee and compromise. They're almost as bad as the husband who is forced to come to dance class, but plain refuses to participate in an attempt to punish his wife with stubborn poutiness.
The best students I have are what you would expect the best relationships to be - the man is the leader, and the woman helps him and is supportive. There is no "co-leading" or "committee" or "compromise." Without a doubt the best "couple" students I've had were the happily married couples. And by "happily married" I mean it was obvious they were still having sex. The man was the man. He led, he commanded. His wife was turned on, had a smile on her face and was only too happy to support and help him. You knew they would go home and have sex immediately after class.
Of course, I know even though my observations above come from 16 years of empirical experience, they are politically incorrect. Having "roles," especially traditional ones forced on people or even advocated is verbotten by the leftist thought police. Divorced, empowered women are GREAT ballroom dancers! And timid, shy, compliant men are AWESOME ballroom dancers too! It's just you evil patriarchs applying your "labels" and "definitions" on people as "lead" and "follow" that make the dance not what it should be. Besides, who are you to say the couple who work as a flawless team to the point they are one on the dance floor is any better than the spineless, limp 54 year old beta male as he futilely tries to lead his 52 year old divorcee partner as she lectures him while he's trying, resulting in what looks to be a disjointed dance akin to a drunk man trying to pilot a revolting dump truck! That's just your evil, traditionalist patriarchy sexism shining through.