I forced myself to wait for quite awhile before posting this. As it turns out, time isn't making me less annoyed, so here goes.
For some reason (or maybe many reasons), I am simply infuriated by this:
From Sherpal1 on Tango-L,
"[To Michael] ...you are absolutely correct...woman show no sense of taste or discrimination...and it perpetuates the existence of clowns in a community...women need to know it is better not to dance than to dance poorly...i know of no other commodity that is consumed endlessly regardless of taste, excellence, value, expertise, effectiveness besides dance...woman just want to dance and they accept any old bone....women need to bring their sense of consumerism to the dance floor and only accept the dance of a man that is their equal or better....practicas are where a woman can assist an inferior dancer to be better. I do not want to seem harsh here, only to encourage women to stop rewarding bad leads with a dance...."
There are so many problems with this, I don't know where to begin.
1.) How would one determine, without previously dancing with a particular dancer, what his or her skill level is? Should you only dance with people you know so as not to take the chance?
2.) How do you know that a previously "inferior dancer" is still inferior?
3.) Maybe those things that you might judge as inferior are more about your dance, than their dance. How can you be completely sure it's not at least in part, you?
4.) and most difficult to ascertain - how do you judge inferiority? Inferior in what way? Vocabulary (which is meaningless to me in most cases, presuming you can manage your way around the the pista)? Musicality - isn't that a matter of interpretation? Connection? Navigation? What? What if you are great at musicality, but his gift is navigation and connection? What then? Is he still "inferior"?
The only dancers I turn down are the ones who have hurt me, or gotten me hurt, on the dance floor. Even then, I'll keep an eye on them, work with them at practicas, and give them a try later, if they are so inclined.
What I have always seen to be true at least in my community, is that you just never know. That awkward, hesitant gentleman who may have started tango two months ago, may have a sense of the music that knocks followers' socks off. The rest will come. If the "more experienced" dancers never dance with the less experienced dancers in a milonga where they can really learn how to behave in context of social dancing, how will they ever grow? Practicas are awesome and I don't think it's possible to have too many, honestly. But they're not milongas and eventually dancers have to be tested, and put their miles in, there.
Speaking from my own experience, which of course is limited and not completely comparable, I would rather spend my time dancing with those gentlemen who have invested in my dancing from the very beginning - men who started with me, those that started after me, and those who were far more advanced. I would rather dance with those dancers who stuck with me through my brilliant moments, and my immense suckage, who invested not only in me - but also invested in the community.
For me, because as usual, I can only really speak for myself, dancing is not about leveling up. It's about community. When I dance with my partner, we are both also dancing with everyone else on the pista. When we behave in a way that feels as though we are all looking out for one another, instead of trying to out step/run/gancho/boleo each other, there is no better feeling I know of. To embrace, and be embraced by, a community is not a default state. You have to work at it. All . the . time . The work never stops.
The lovely dancers, leaders and followers, in my community who mentored me (and continue to mentor me), have always stressed that if you don't invest your time and energy helping and building the community, that's absolutely your prerogative. No one will make you. But don't complain later that the community doesn't meet your expectations.
I'll tuck my soap box back under the bed now. Thank you as always, for reading.