Let’s Swing Safer Spaces Policy
If you need help, if you are injured and require medical attention, if you fear for your safety or feel threatened, or if you would like to make the organizers aware of inappropriate behaviour, contact:
- Someone at our registration table
- Someone wearing a ‘Safer Spaces Advocate’ button.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t hesitate. We have your back.
Statement of Intent
We believe in music and dance. We believe in providing a fun, safe, and inclusive atmosphere in all our endeavours. We believe that every guest, dancer, and musician has a right to feel safe, and have a great time.
We are stepping UP. We do not tolerate harassment or bullying, and are actively working to prevent sexual harassment, racial prejudice, gender bias, ableism, or any other discrimination in the swing dance scene.
You are WITH us on this. In joining us on the dance floor, attending our event, or agreeing to work with us as a teacher, DJ, musician, sound engineer, volunteer, performer, or event manager, you agree to treat all participants with care and respect and to abide by our code of conduct.
Code of Conduct
There’s room for all of us on the dance floor.
We welcome all dancers, music lovers, or anyone, regardless of gender/gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, religion, and so on.
We’re looking out for our peeps.
If you harass someone, you may be asked to leave, you may be banned from other events managed by the organizing team and affiliated groups, the police may be notified, and this is at our discretion. We don’t have to give you a second chance.
Do not use misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, or racist language. If someone tells you that what you are saying is derogatory, stop and listen. Don’t get defensive. This is a chance for you to learn how the world looks very different to someone without your privileges or with different privileges than you.
Your body is important.
Respect the bodies and persons of other people: do not touch without asking permission, stop if someone asks you to stop touching them, and give other dancers space and time alone if they need it.
Be ok with people saying no.
If you ask someone to dance and they say “No thank you,” be ok with that. Reply, “Hey, no worries - maybe another time!” and move on to ask someone else. No one is obliged to dance with you. If someone doesn’t give you an answer, walks away, or in any other way does not consent to a dance or some other proposed activity, respect that too.
You can say no.
If someone asks you to dance and you don’t want to, say “No thank you” and leave it at that. If someone asks you to dance and you do want to, say “YES please!” Nothing is better than enthusiastic consent. If someone is refusing to take no for an answer, do not hesitate to find an organizer or Safer Spaces Advocate and report it.
Don’t pull aerials, lifts, or drops on the social dance floor. It’s ok in jams and comps, if you know what you’re doing. You must have verbal consent from every dance partner before you do lifts, drops, or aerials. Just because you had consent once, doesn’t mean you have it now.
Some Let’s Swing events may be licensed. Whether licensed or not, please do not bring your own alcohol to our events.
If you have been drinking, please do not drive - we will call you a cab or arrange a ride for you.
The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18. Supplying alcohol to a minor is illegal, and often plays a role in harassment and assault. It will not be tolerated, and will have you immediately expelled from our venues.
What counts as sexual harassment?
The Alberta Human Rights Commision defines sexual harassment as including:
- Unwelcome staring, comments or teasing
- Questions or conversations about sexual activities
- Offensive humour or language related to gender
- Displaying or showing suggestive material
- Unwanted sexual requests or demands
- Unwanted physical contact or closeness such as patting, pinching, rubbing, leaning over or standing too close
- Physical assault.
- What counts as personal harassment?
- The Canadian Human RIghts Commission defines personal harassment as including:
- Verbal abuse or threats
- Unwelcome remarks, jokes or innuendoes or taunting about a person’s body, attire, age, marital status, ethnic or national origin, religion, etc.
- Displaying pornographic, racist or other offensive or derogatory pictures
- Practical jokes which cause awkwardness or embarrassment
- Unwelcome invitations or requests, whether indirect or explicit, or intimidation leering or other gestures
- Condescension or paternalism which undermines self-respect
- Unnecessary physical contact such as touching, patting or pinching, or punching
- Physical assault.
How does this relate to dancing?
- Harassment is unwanted or unwelcome behaviour (sexual or otherwise) which makes a person feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated.
- This means it’s ILLEGAL to hold a dance partner very close if they don’t want to be held.
- If someone says they don’t want to dance, and you insist, touching them and pulling them, it is harassment.
- Avoid ‘boob swipes’, touching a partner’s bottom, groin, upper legs - you know the deal. If you accidentally do so, apologize immediately. If you do this repeatedly, you will be warned, if not ejected from the event.
- Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation, or friendship which is mutual or consensual.
- Happy, consensual dances (no matter how close the position) is A-Ok.
- Hooking up at a dance event with a consenting adult is also totally A-Ok. (Not on the premises, though!)
- In Alberta, it is your right to work and go to school in an environment free of sexual stress:
- This means it’s ILLEGAL to sexually harass your host, your dance teacher or student, your DJ or sound engineer, volunteer or musician, event manager, MC, or performer.
- We have a legal and moral obligation to actively prevent sexual harassment.
- We WILL act immediately on your reports or complaints, and we will warn offenders.
- We will also document and keep complaints on file to watch for patterns or repeat offenses. Reports are strictly confidential and available only to authorized staff or law enforcement (if required).
- Sexual harassment can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off, and perpetrated by anyone against people of any sex.
- If you aren’t sure, if you think something’s creepy or makes you feel uncomfortable and you want a second opinion, if you see something and you’ve got a hunch: ASK for advice.
How do I avoid harassing someone?
- Ask for verbal consent: “Would you like to dance?” “Would you like a drink?” “Would you like to take a walk?” “Would you like to come back to my place?” “Would you like to have excellent, consensual sex with me?”
- Even if you’ve been given consent before, ask every time, and use your words.
- Be ok with people saying no. Everyone has the right to say “No.” Saying nothing is the same as saying “No.”
- Aim for enthusiastic, unambiguous consent.
- Practice giving enthusiastic consent when you intend to give consent: “YES! I’d LOVE to dance with you!” “I’d love to go for a walk!” “Wow, kissing you would be WONDERFUL!”
- Practice saying no, and practice saying “STOP!”. You don’t have to ‘just wait it out’ if you don’t want to do something, or something is making you uncomfortable. We’ve got your back.
- If someone says “stop!” - on or off the dance floor - you must stop immediately.
- Pay attention to your dance partners. Be careful not to touch their ‘private’ zones, and take all care to avoid hurting them.
- Don’t act or treat any person or group as better or worse than anyone else. Don’t make jokes about how one group is better or worse than another group. We’re all different, and we all deserve respect. We’re all here to have a great time; don’t rain on anyone’s parade.
- If you aren’t sure if your behavior is harassing someone or making them uncomfortable: stop, ask, and apologize if it is. Don’t do it again.
Gendered Language Use Policy
If any individual requests that a specific gender or non-gendered language be used when referring to them, it is mandatory that all Let’s Swing guests, patrons, staff, partners, volunteers, or representatives respect this request. If you make a mistake and use the incorrect pronoun or term, apologize, and try again.
Yes, it might be an adjustment. Yes, you might make mistakes. Yes, you can do it.
Lindy Hop and most partnered dancing comes from a long history, and we believe we can honour and acknowledge that history without having to perpetuate every element of it. As a policy, all Let’s Swing staff and instructors are expected to avoid specifying gender when referring to any role in a general sense (e.g. “Leads”, “Follows”, “Flyers”, “Bases”; not “guys”, “girls”, “gents”, “ladies”, etc.). Use of gendered pronouns are allowed when referring to a specific individual, as long as the gender is consistent with how that individual identifies - and it is strongly encouraged to avoid this and simply use the individual's name.
Enforcement and Reporting Policy
Anyone found to be in breach of Let’s Swing Code of Conduct or any other element of the Safer Spaces Policy is subject to immediate enforcement action. These actions are to be enforced by a Safer Spaces Officer, Safer Spaces Advocate, or barring their availability, any Let’s Swing staff member or partner. All issues brought forward and any related enforcement action or resolution is to be documented by the Let’s Swing representative handling the issue and is to be reviewed by and filed by a Safer Spaces Officer. These reports will also be summarized and reported by a Safer Spaces Officer to Safer Spaces Advocates, event organizers, and any affiliated organizations that comply with this or an equivalent Safer Spaces Policy.
Incident Reports will include:
- The date, location, and if applicable event of the incident
- The name of the official representative preparing the report
- Any other Let’s Swing representatives involved in handling the incident
- Description of the incident
- Names of any individual or individuals involved in perpetuating the incident
- Names of reporters and victims are to be kept strictly confidential.
- Enforcement actions taken
- Any time periods applicable to the enforcement are to be clearly included so that these actions can continue to be enforced
Enforcement Actions can include:
- Verbal warning
- Immediate removal from event
- Suspension from future events
- Contacting law enforcement
Roles and Responsibilities:
Every guest, student, attendee, teacher, volunteer, representative, partner, owner, or employee of Let’s Swing is responsible for and must comply with the Code of Conduct. Any staff, partner, or volunteer is empowered to enforce the Code of Conduct. Guests and attendees, if they feel safe to do so, are encouraged to speak out against harassment and unsafe behavior, and we ask that they report any incidents they witness to a staff member.
Safer Spaces Officer
A Safer Spaces Officer (SSO) is responsible for ensuring that the Code of Conduct and Safer Spaces Policy is being enforced, for assigning Safer Spaces Advocates, for maintaining all Safer Spaces record keeping, and for reporting relevant Safer Spaces information to Safer Spaces Advocates, event organizers, and affiliate organizations in a timely manner. It is also the duty of an SSO to maintain an awareness of past incidents to identify areas where the organization can improve activities or policy related to Safer Spaces, and to identify repeat offenders and determine additional enforcement actions for those offenders. An SSO can and will additionally take on all the roles and responsibilities of a Safer Spaces Advocate. It is also the responsibility of an SSO for ensuring that at least two Safer Spaces Advocates are staffing all events, and personally filling this role as required.
Safer Spaces Advocate
The role of a Safer Spaces Advocate (SSA) is to be fun, friendly, approachable, and professional, while also being responsible for the handling any incidents at an event regarding the Safer Spaces Policy. A SSA is at a Let’s Swing event to make sure the event is fun, friendly, and safe. They are to always wear a button identifying themselves as an SSA, and it is their job to keep an eye out for any problems, as well as to be welcoming and encouraging to guests.
When informed of or observing an incident, the SSA is to act immediately:
- Take any immediate actions to ensure the safety of themselves and guests
- Ensure that any victims are safe and separated from any perpetrators and with one SSA
- If required or requested, seek medical attention, family, friends, or law enforcement for the victim
- The other SSA is to separate and speak with any perpetrators, and then take enforcement actions by the SSA’s discretion.
- If available, the SSO can also be brought in to help with enforcement actions
- The SSA must also consider their own safety and contact law enforcement if required
- Take any additional required actions to ensure the safety of all guests
- Document the incident per the Reporting Policy and provide the report to the SSO as soon as possible
At least two Safer Spaces Advocates are to be present, available, and visible at all Let’s Swing events. If an event requires additional SSAs due to the size of the event, this is to be arranged by the SSO.
Let's Swing would like to sincerely thank the wonderful dogpossum.org for providing us with much of the basis for this policy.