Safer Space and Code of Conduct

We feel the Swing dance scene is fun and joyful, we get to meet great people. But it’s also part of the world, and therefore not perfect. The best we can do as a community is to spread awareness, all grow together and be mindful of ourselves and others.

In order to help all participants make the most of classes, events and socials, SwingStep is committed to providing a friendly, safe and inclusive environment for all – regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, disability, religion or other status.

This code of conduct has the goal of giving clear guidelines and expectations to every person who is or might be interested in swing dancing. It also addresses the consequences of unacceptable behaviour.

Expected behaviour

Swing dancing is a social dance — we expect you to be considerate and respectful of yourself, your partners and others; we expect you to refrain from demeaning, discriminatory or harassing behaviour and speech.

Every interaction at our events, classes or social dances needs to happen with consent from both parties.

Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants: alert staff if you notice a dangerous situation or someone in distress.

If something doesn’t feel right, please speak up.

Make sure to make room for your partners to speak up as well.

It’s okay to say no to a dance, and to tell your partner if something is uncomfortable or hurts.

When you ask somebody to dance, make sure you leave space for them to agree or turn down your request – and be ok with either answer. Some people prefer to be asked verbally and not only through body language; ask for clarification if your partner’s answer or body language is not clear to you.

Unacceptable behaviour: how to recognise it and how to react

Examples of unacceptable behaviour include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory or demeaning conduct. Harassment of any kind are unacceptable, such as (but not limited to): offensive verbal comments related to gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, religion; deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing with photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact, or unwanted sexual attention.

How do I recognise this?

“From the inside”: anything that doesn’t feel good can be questioned.

“From the outside”: anytime someone is not giving you enthusiastic consent, make room for them to speak up. Anytime someone’s body language is not clear, you might ask for clarification.

What should I do if something’s not right? How should I react?

  1. talk to the person if you can

Honesty is the best communication tool we have. Try to speak openly, directly, from your own perspective and to the point addressing the immediate issue. E.g. “I feel pain in my right shoulder when we dance these kinds of movements” or “I feel very uncomfortable when your hand is that low and I’m not sure what your intentions are”.

  1. talk to the staff 

Please talk to someone you trust in the team. If you feel that a person tends to dance in a dangerous way and you’re scared to get hurt, or if that person tends to be flirty in an uncomfortable way, etc. We commit to listen to you, to support you in your needs and to take action. We won’t judge you, blame you or talk about you in any fashion that might change your dance experience in a negative way.

  1. this is what the staff will do for you

The staff will listen to you and offer you support.

Support means: if you want to talk to someone about a behaviour that you feel uncomfortable with, we can be there to support you. We can also offer to take over that communication and talk to them directly, with or without your presence. 

Consequences of unacceptable behaviour

The first step is to make a person that shows unacceptable behaviour aware of it.

The second step is to ask them to change that behaviour.

The third step is to explain what the consequences are.

Consequences can include: the person is excluded from our events, classes and social dances; if need be, we take up contact with local authorities.

All these steps can happen separately, or at the same time.

Examples:

  • a person does aerials unsafely on the social dance floor > first, we make them aware and ask them to stop > second, if they don’t comply, we explain to them that we might have to exclude them from our social dances > third, if they still don’t comply, we exclude them.
  • a person assaulted a partner > all the steps happen at once.

Please note our staff might ask you if they can involve another team member if they feel that others can handle the situation better.

Etiquette and Best Practice

Communication

  • when you ask somebody to dance, make sure you leave space for them to agree or turn down your request
  • thank your partner after a dance
  • do not give feedback or express critique, unless someone asks
  • apologise if you hit someone or in some other way collide with anyone on or off the dance floor

Physical connection

  • In order to dance together, we typically connect physically. If you feel uncomfortable with the connection you have with your partner (because it’s painful, awkward, too personal or simply because you don’t like it), please let them know so they can adapt their behaviour. 
  • If your partner tells you the connection feels uncomfortable for them, be open to changing what you are doing and work together so that both of you are comfortable.

Hygiene

  • use hand sanitizer and  wash your hands 
  • use deodorant, breath mints or chewing gum
  • bring a spare shirt or two and/or a towel 

Safety

  • no aerials on the social dance floor
  • no large kicks or steps when you cannot see where you’re going
  • watch out for your fellow dancers (both followers and leaders)