When I only followed, I used to frequently feel that my lead friends didn't make time for me the way I made time for them on the dance floor. I felt like maybe I was misjudging what seemed like mutual affection for our dances, since I always had to seek them out. Now, these thoughts were born of my own uncertainty of my personal skills, but I have heard follows espouse similar thoughts. I have watched follows hunt down leads that they want to dance with because they won't get to dance with them otherwise. I have been that follow that hung around near where someone I wanted to dance with was dancing and attempted to make eye contact as soon as the song ended.
As someone who leads in a very public way through competing now, holy balls is my understanding completely rewritten.
Last night, during the late night, I had two follows ask me to dance within fifteen seconds of one another; one non-verbally and one verbally. Every attempt I made to cross the dance floor to find a friend, I found myself dancing with follows of every stripe and skill. I found myself apologizing for my much-less flashy social dances, because oh god, if they were expecting *competition* me on the social floor...I was worried they were going to be disappointed by the amount of tired that was bundled around my movements, reducing my hip mobility and dimming my smile.
I didn't want to not dance with those follows -- but I did want to dance with my friends, especially with the friends who couldn't stick around for the dance on Sunday. My previous life as a follow left me incredibly reluctant to say no if I didn't have a specific person that I was committed to dancing with. What if after saying no, I didn't find someone and then I ended up not dancing that song just because I was holding out for something better? How selfish would that be? How full of myself was I, to prioritize my own dance pleasure?
Writing it out now, I read two things in these questions. First, I read my concern that people will think in my pretty fast rise to being a well known lead, I have become haughty or entitled. Second, I read my lifelong socialization to not say no without good reason (or fuck, even for good reason). I can see easily how those two are interacting, too, and how if I'm not careful to start saying no and making time to dance with my friends and enrich my own enjoyment on the dance floor, I could start to resent the lead-hunters.
To extend these lessons outside myself, I want to invite follows to be patient with socially visible leads, and to not let the imbalance in dance requests shake your faith in your friendships. If your lead friends embrace you warmly after each song, laugh with you throughout, espouse the virtues of your dancing, and yet never find you for for a dance? Trust me, they would love to find you, and while they might ask you to sit for a second while they suck down water as fast as possible, they are still so, so delighted that you continue to ask.