I have been thinking about the exceptions when trying to understand what is included in these rules.
- In my teens it was accepted that young girls were dancing together at big Saturday night dances when they were learning the steps and getting used to dance flow.
- At that time adult women could dance together only if the music was fast. Never the slow ones.
- In family gatherings we ladies were dancing together freely!
- It is only in Argentinian tango I have seen men dancing together in west. I have one experience in China 1987 when I and my traveling partner ended up at a 1st of October celebration. There was several male couples dancing waltz but I could not spot any female couples.
- In many texts the mix of masculine and feminine energy in a couple is referred to. I do not understand the meaning of these two concepts yet. They are easily understood as sexual energy but there must be something else too. Otherwise we could not accept couples where father/daughter, mother/son or brother/sister are dancing together - all grownups.
- I always accept if a man asks for a dance as a follower. I think they have the hardest time the get a dance. We have here the right mix but in wrong positions!
- One of our most handsome leaders is gay, sharing his life with another man. How are the energies when he is dancing with a woman? It looks great and is totally accepted combination. But to get the energy mix correct he should maybe dance with another man?
Learning situation seems to be the most open and you are even encouraged to test and learn the opposite position.
Intimacy is something for mixed couples but if the music is fast there is more playful steps and you can control the intimacy level. Within family too.
Formal situations can tolerate more. In several youtube performances I have seen the change of leader and follower taking the leading position. There is several male couples performing.
Age I think young ones and gray haired are allowed more freedom here.
Cultural preferences The rules are not in genes!
When I saw several role switches turn up in different youtube clip I got a feeling of a change in the air. We will se how it is going!
This is NOT ladies leading but ladies taking leading position!
You find Marta and Manolo shifting abrazo at 0.26
Claudia and Esteban changed the abrazo at 2.00
Nora and Juan Carlos does it several times during a milonga!
Helena and Alejandro do not shift ;)