I've given alot of thought to this debate - because I get really annoyed with the lack of respect that pro/am's get and because folks who want to diss other people's choices in this area so often don't have any knowledge base or background to do so just a lot of opinion. I don't think there will ever be a resolution to the pro/am vs am/am argument. Part of the problem is that people have been burned on both ends. I know am's who were taken advantage of in Pro/am situations and Am's who have been burned by their Am partners and trade off to Pro/Am for security that a paid partner brings. I have now been on both sides of the equation. I've danced Pro/Am in Smooth with two different teachers for over five years (bronze through Open Gold) and recently picked up an Am partner in Standard (never thought THAT would happen). I take minimum two lessons a weeks with my pro to work on smooth and two lessons a week with my amateur partner. I get coaching with both partners on a regular basis and outside of lessons I practice more than 10 hours a week. Now that I have established my bona fides and leaving aside, for the moment, the financial considerations, I want to clearly state that I've found very positive aspects to both and limits to both. I plan to continue to do both as long as energy and finances permit. Over the years, I have seen Pro's who know how to show off a student to best effect and others who look so bored with their students that I wanted to run out on the floor and kick them in butt. For what their getting paid they can at least look happy to be there. I have more freedom to dance with my pro. I don't have to worry about him being in position, on balance, him catching up if I need to make an unplanned seque. I just know that he will take care of himself and all I have to do is dance flat out. With my am partner I have a different feeling of accomplishment when "we" make something work that has been giving us problems or figure out what technique was missing that was keeping us from moving through a certain figure et cetera. There is also that great sense of belonging (my partner) that is missing from even the most congenial pro/am relationships. Dancing pro/am gives you time to work on just you - to develop good technique quickly because you aren't unconciously accomodating your partners problems. You know what the lead is "supposed" to feel like for a given figure and can take that back to your am partner and help him (or vice versa) You can find out the limits of your balance because you aren't fighting an off balance partner. Dancing am requires you to be able to articulate to yourself and your partner your understanding of what you have learned. 'I think it needs to be done this way because . . ..' I think too many people focus too much on the limitations of each type of partnership which if you think about it can almost equally apply to either type. Pro/Am is too expensive (if I can afford it that comes under the category of "none of your business") however in some am partnership where there is inequality in income one side frequently pays more anyway - again none of anyone else's business. Pro/Am is an unequal partnership (so are many am/am partnerships and even more pro/pro partnerships), the more experienced dancer (the pro) is holding up/carrying the less experienced dancer (ditto for some am partnerships). I don't flatter myself that anything I have to say on this subject is going to settle the debate or convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced. I don't find it coincidental thath most of the folks who pontificate vociferously on the issue only know one side (and some don't even compete). Because I think that at its most basic the debate is really more about ego's than about dancing. For all us Pro/Am's my advice is give up caring - the Am only world is never going to give the Pro/Am's respect (deserved or otherwise) because at some level that would minimize their little world and a syllabus only dancer needs to have someone more insignifcant than they are. My thought on that is - get over yourself sweety you're never going to win a national title either.