Knowing both parts is fun and can help you in many ways but I think its wiser to learn your own part well first. Some dancers should know both parts. Teachers for example. Everyone who teaches should know both parts, not just know them, know them well enough to do them on a social dance floor.
I feel strongly that everyone should, at some point in their dancing (preferably after they have mastered their own part), learn the other side. I think it makes the leaders much more sensitive as a leader and also a better leader because they can feel what a lead should or shouldn't feel like from the followers side. The followers will learn (after they learn to lead) to cut the leaders a little more slack because they finally understand just how difficult it is to lead. They also will understand just how pleasant it is to dance with someone who truly follows and doesn't back lead, walk in or over syncopate.
I encourage my advanced students to come back through my courses as the opposite of what they normally do. I allow them to take the lower level classes for free if they want to do this. I can see a great improvement in their dancing.
It always amuses me when a leader who is learning to follow comes over and asks me to tell the leaders in class to stop holding on with their thumbs :-) (you must receive to believe)
I've had the good fortune to take some beginning Argentine Tango from Daniel Trenner, who teaches everyone, male and female, the basics of both leading and following at the same time. And in part due to this approach, I felt I was learning much more rapidly than in any other type of dance I've been exposed to. Now it's possible that the somewhat different focus and character of Tango cause this to work better than it would with, say, WCS, but it would at least be an interesting experiment to try with some open-minded novice dancers.
I think that it is best to learn both parts. It is very helpful for the man to know the woman's part and for the woman to know the man's part for several reasons:
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This file is part of the lead/follow FAQ list. These are articles compiled from the newsgroup rec.arts.dance by Mark Balzer. Html-isation by Victor Eijkhout, victor at eijkhout dot net. See also the Rec Arts Dance FAQ list Copyright 1996/7/8/9 lies with the compiler, the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.
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