Code of Conduct
This space ”is a public venue, and it is intended to be a place that sometimes puts you outside of your comfort zone. In that sense, and in that sense only, it is designed to be an unsafe place. We want you to push yourself, learn new things, and meet people who will challenge you in whatever corner of the arts you pursue. We believe in the value of public arts’ spaces, and we believe in the mixing of diverse groups of people that these places encourage. We believe in humor and the power of not taking oneself seriously.” (Mobtown Ballroom Code of Conduct)
The Dancing Fools strives to create a fun and safe environment for people from all walks of life to learn and enjoy dancing. This entails coming to an agreement on the culture of our community and what is considered acceptable at our classes, dances, and other related events. The expectations outlined below apply to attendees, staff, and guest instructors or performers at any class, dance, or event hosted by The Dancing Fools.
Be respectful of other dancers on the floor
Injuries: if you step on or injure someone, stop dancing to acknowledge the incident and apologize. For more serious injuries, escort them off the floor and/or check on them again when the song is over.
Respect your partner’s boundaries: just because they’ve done dips, drops, close holds, endless spins, etc. with someone else does not mean they want to do those things with everyone. Pay attention to nonverbal cues (abruptly cutting off eye contact, frowning, moving or pushing away, appearing mentally “checked out” of the dance, etc.). Unsure if you’re reading your partner’s cues correctly? Ask! Did they verbally set a boundary? Listen and change what you’re doing!
Ask to dance respectfully: make eye contact and use your words (“do you want to dance?” or some variation thereof). You may see close friends asking each other to dance with a variety of gestures and noises; for dancers you aren’t close friends with, the above procedure is a safe bet. Did they say yes? Walk out on to the floor together and start dancing! Did they say no for any reason? That’s OK, there are at least 100 other people to dance with; accept their answer and find someone else.
Respond respectfully: make eye contact and use your words (“yes”, “no”, or some variation thereof). While we encourage dancers to accept invitations from a variety of partners, no one “owes” another person a dance at any time, for any reason. “No” is always an acceptable answer.
Feedback on the social floor:
Acceptable: giving your partner a compliment, requesting an adjustment from your partner in order to feel safe (e.g. “I don’t want to dance in a close hold”, “I hurt my shoulder and can’t do hammerlocks”), giving feedback that your partner has explicitly asked for.
Generally considered rude: giving your partner feedback that they did not explicitly ask for and is not a request for your safety (e.g. “You aren’t doing that move right, let me teach you”).
Be respectful of other dancers off the floor
This environment is for everyone regardless of race, age, level of dance, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender expression, disability, physical appearance, religion, or anything else. We do not tolerate harassment or threats of any kind. Any situation which makes another person feel unsafe or uncomfortable to the point of being unable to enjoy the event is unacceptable and can be considered harassment. If you harass or threaten someone, you may be asked to leave.
The Dancing Fools events are not “pick up joints.” Please be courteous to others and do not make unwanted advances on others. If you engage in this type of behavior and make others uncomfortable, you will be asked to leave.
Respect the boundaries of others: just because you shared a flirtatious, sexy, or intimate dance with someone (or they did so with someone else) does not mean that is how they wish to interact with you or others outside of that moment in time. Pay attention to nonverbal cues (abruptly cutting off eye contact, frowning, moving or pushing away, appearing mentally “checked out” of the conversation, etc.). Unsure if you’re reading the other person’s cues correctly? Ask! Did they verbally set a boundary? Listen and change what you’re doing!
What to do in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation
Step 1: tell the other person that they have made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe (e.g. “That move hurt me, can we avoid that pattern?”, “I don’t want to dance in a close hold”, “I just want to dance right now, I’m not interested in feedback”, “X/Y/Z thing you said was hurtful to me/made me feel unsafe/etc. because…”).
If you are on the receiving end of this kind of feedback, listen gracefully and be willing to learn.
If you are receiving feedback like this often, reach out to an instructor or a trusted friend to learn more about what you are doing that might cause this.
Step 2: if the other person continues the behavior after being asked to stop, reach out to any Dancing Fools staff member for a private, one-on-one conversation; staff members can be found at the registration desk, behind the DJ booth, or on the floor. If you would prefer to not report the issue in person, please contact us at (857) 600-2605 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anything reported to staff is kept in strictest confidentiality and anything reported by phone or email is kept confidential and password protected for additional security.
Step 3: The Dancing Fools staff will follow up with the action deemed necessary. This may include (but is not limited to) a verbal or written warning, suspension, or being banned from events. If at any time we feel that anyone’s safety is compromised or threatened, you may be asked to leave immediately or law enforcement may be called.
Limitations: we can and will involve ourselves in issues of harassment or discrimination as outlined above. We cannot, however, mediate interpersonal issues or feuds. While many of our staff are in the counseling or social work fields, we cannot ethically act as a personal support network due to conflict of interest. If you are in need of ongoing support, please reach out to a therapist or related agency/organization.
This code of conduct was developed by Neal Klein, Joe Mahoney, Rob Glover, and Alli Reese for The Dancing Fools. It is modeled on codes of conduct from Dance Jam Productions, Mobtown Ballroom, and Charlottesville Swing Dance Society, among others, with input from numerous friends and community members.