I know that US has different, non-traditional and relaxed rules, but in no way better.
Some scenes in the US apparently went too far with that. When too many new people started coming in in their best vintage outfits, there were a few (current teachers) who made a point of going to competitions as casual as possible.
> In the past it has been the tradition that men asked women to dance. But this custom has gradually changed. Today, women should feel equally comfortable asking a partner for a dance, even in a formal setting.
Also fortunately these days many scenes are closer to "smash the patriarchy" idea and people are happy to dance with whoever. There's no role assignment, which also helps when there's no balance in genders in the room.
I learned to contra dance in a groovy, gender-free group, and I found it frustrating for several reasons.
Contra dance is designed for bodies that fit together, statistically, as men's and women's bodies do, and it was far more often the case that a figure designed for a man and a woman would become physically awkward when attempted with two men.
Many of the figures involved four or eight partners, and it's honestly confusing for beginners when you lack a visual reference point for whom you're supposed to dance with next.
Dance is a pretty mystical thing, and I don't find the question "why should the sex of your dance partner matter?" to be that compelling. It matters because I want to dance with women who want to dance with men. I don't begrudge anyone for setting whatever ground rules suit them, but I wish the STRICTLY GENDERFUL, PROBLEMATIC AND PATRIARCHAL dance groups would advertise themselves a little more loudly.
> The customs of social dance have evolved over centuries
The fun part is that in many cases they had to evolve first to gendered dancing, and now we're coming back. Which is what people are often not aware of and think it's somehow weird.
> It matters because I want to dance with women who want to dance with men.
And nobody can force you to do otherwise. I think it's a fortunate development that you can do that, or you can dance with everybody. You get more possibilities, not fewer. (And because it reduces the number of people without partners)
Ah, but we do understand them, we just disagree with them. People learn, traditions change, society advances.
It's fine that you may want to dance with women who want to dance with men, but not everybody may have the same preference. Besides, there might be a mismatch between the number of women and men.
The advice given here would be appropriate for many partner-dancing social styles, such as tango, salsa, ballroom or lindy hop.
Many street dance styles are also social but with a very different dynamic. For example, in some styles you tend to gather around in a circle and everyone is doing simple moves to mark time, then one person or maybe a small group goes into the middle to do something more impressive, then they step out and let someone else take a turn.
Stage dance styles are more about performance than social dancing, so again you have a different kind of etiquette. You might still be dancing with others but usually in predetermined movements rather than improvising, and in this environment you're also working with people like choreographers and the production team for the show.
That's also popular in swing/blues scenes. I guess they're all rooted in the same environment in the end so that makes sense.
It probably is less of a signal in humans, though. But I can't say I haven't successfully mated a few times via dancing.