Imagine a dancing class in which the subject matter, time, location, organisation, and teacher are such that these conditions occur:
- Leaders and followers - as booked - are exactly even.
- All the followers are, at least, competent to a level well above what's needed for the class.
- About a third of the class have booked as couples, and have the option of sticking together.
- Exactly one of the non-paired leaders is a complete nightmare to dance with, to such a degree that those students who have also studied martial arts can name the things he is unintentionally doing to the women who dance with him, and the specific art in which each of them is taught.
- If you booked as a couple you are allowed to hang on to your man, sacrificing opportunities to safety. Only a quite exceptional sense of honour, or a spirit of enquiry worthy of the Beagle, would lead you to do otherwise, and no-one will resent it, or at least not much.
- Over-seventies are exempt.
- Everyone else takes more or less her fair share, and will suffer in her conscience if she doesn't.
I wish I had a pet behavioural scientist, or some sort of pocket omniscient Jane Austen, who could watch and somehow measure and describe the subtle and blatant manipulations of space and attention, the moments of guilt, resignation, and relief, the subterfuge, the acting, the shirking, and the occasional bursts of self-sacrifice with which the women divide up the work. He can't be got rid of, so somebody has to dance with him.
Or you could just film the whole thing from the centre of a high ceiling and speed it up.
Can you tell that I'm suffering in my conscience? One possible game-changing move would be to get one of the men present who is a competent follower to dance with Mr. Nightmare, while one of the followers able to do so switched to leading for a while. But that can't really happen, because dance classes are civilised events, and it could all too easily result in a smack in the mouth.