Partner dancing refers to any style of dance which involves two people. It usually consists of a gentleman and a lady, with the gentleman being the lead, and the lady being the follow. We almost never see the lady as the lead and the gentleman as the follow.
The leads and follows have their own steps and movements, with names given to certain steps, which are known as figures. The lead is the one who determines which steps they will be dancing, and uses his hands or body to indicate the movement. He does not verbally tell the lady what steps to take next. The follow needs to be able to read those cues, and respond by taking the expected steps. She should NOT be doing her own steps or try to override the steps determined by the lead.
This is why we go for lessons – to learn the steps as well as how to lead/follow! Partner dancing is generally quite structured, with proper steps for the leads and follows to execute. We do not randomly make up own steps!
In this day and age, it is acceptable for the same sex to dance together, i.e. two men or two ladies to dance with each other; in both cases, the lead and follow concept still applies.
Some of the partner dances includes all dances in the Latin dances (such as chacha, samba, rumba, jive, paso doble, mambo, salsa, bachata, merengue, kizomba, lambada), the ballroom dances (waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep), and the swing dances (east coast swing, west coast swing, lindy hop, the blues).
Note: Individual posts about each dance style are being planned! I will do my research about each style before releasing the posts.