During the last few weeks, I have for some reason heard several different versions of inappropriate behavior on the dance floor. Because I had organized the dance challenge that encouraged new dancers to join couple dancing, I feel I have to do my own part in order to protect new dancers (and people who already dance) from improper behavior. Because I cannot do it physically, I can at least spread the awareness that everything does not have to be tolerated and accepted.
In general dancing people are nice and well-behaved, so this script is for that small part which does not behave this way. Saana (one new dance challenge dancer) writes in her blog directly of what she has experienced as a new dancer on the dance floor.
This writing applies to both sexes, regardless of age or dance genre. I believe that men and women both can sometimes find themselves in unpleasant situations and experience unwanted behaviour, which is not acceptable.
I don’t want that someone stops dancing because they feel being an easy catch for any predator.
Where is the limit?
Every human being has the right to determine what your own personal area is and set boundaries to what feels uncomfortable. You define yourself where your limits are. You do not need to put up any kind of behavior which hurts, feels uncomfortable or distressing. Usually dancing takes place somewhere where we are surrounded by many people, so the situations don’t get really bad. However, that does not make being in that situation any easier. Things outside the dance floor can be another story, which can be even worse. What first seems like kindness, can turn out to be distressing or uncomfortable. At any point you can say, enough is enough, this does not feel like fun anymore.
Especially women are often afraid to be left out, not asked to dance anymore, if you do not agree all stuff in dance floor. You can forget your thoughts of being snob or bad person if you set your limits to not accepted behaviour. If the fact that you set your own limits is followed by situation where you don’t get to be asked to dance anymore, it tells that there is something wrong in dance community and we need to do something about that.
Dancing in close body contact and feelings of closeness are an essential part of dancing. How close we dance with each other is a mutual agreement of both parties. Flirtation, emotions, connection, even “the 6-minute love story” belongs to the dance in some extent but it is a reciprocal feeling between two people. It is ok and even desirable to enjoy it, but forcing does not belong to it in any way.
What is appropriate in the dance floor and what is not?
Exactly the same rules apply to dancing as elsewhere too. At work, propositions, unwanted touching or humping action is an absolutely forbidden, so why then in dance floor it would be allowed? A good rule might be: would you do this at the workplace, would you accept this behaviour from a colleague?
All inappropriate behavior is not necessarily groping or direct verbal propositions, it may also be a movement, a dance related to the interpretation, which goes at some reason beyond that personal limit. Also, those dancers who are not in any sense trying to do those crab-moves, may be misinterpreted or dancing with them suddenly feel anxiety. Sometimes it pays to think about what kind of stuff on the dance floor doing.
Examples of movements that you should reconsider on the dance floor:
- refer to sexual intercourse or oral sex action
- trying to take of your partners clothes or lifting of clothing, even that it is just for fun
- multiple body rolls in really close contact
- tying partners hands behind back or to the side when introduced, to prevent movement, against a wall or pole pushing, and close dancing (rubbing) in that position
- patting a butt or indicates that
- squeezing breast or playing that
- bends, especially in low exported if you don’t know your partner
- forcing movements, the figures in general (clear lead is completely separate thing)
- kissing, moves indicates kissing
In dances as elsewhere in life, there are exceptions to the above things. If the couple knows each other and they want to do one of the above mentioned stuff, it is a joint decision between both of them! The general rule could say that if you do not know your partner well and not be 100% sure that your partner wants to join these stuff with you, don’t do it. Even if you could see your partner to do the movement with someone else, it does not automatically mean that he wants to repeat it with you.
If any of you feel uncomfortable on the dance floor, be brave and say it out loud. Sometimes it can be a small thing, which the other does not know that feels uncomfortable. Sometimes it really is for the first moment so outrageous that it should not allow a single at moment. You decide your own limits! I’ve heard said that ” it just those few people who do it, it is not a big deal” This is how it is, the caricature specific example,a rapist is only a fraction compared to those who do not rape? However, it will not make it rape any excaptable, does it? You get my point.
As a rule, the dance circles people are well behaved, the wonderful loving people who respect each others. That we may have to also be considered as such, it should be of such grievances to speak, and to also those who start dancing consciousness, you don’t have to put up with everything in order to get to dance.
So, what can we do?
Unpleasant experiences must be able to speak out loud
Organizer can ask to intervene in a situation that looks suspicious
Other dancers may ask to intervene in a situation that looks suspicious. I do not mean that barg in the dance floor, unless the situation absolutely requires it 🙂 But after the dance can casually ask in passing, ”was all just ok, your face looked a little uncomfortable?” You know that the you doesn’t have to tolerate such things? etc.
Leaders / followers can point out the harasser matter, when they hear the inappropriate behavior.
In dance courses/classes we can talk about it, and how the situations is able to react
In my opinion, you don’t need to dance with everybody. The idea that I’m ready to dance with a different looking, age, and level dancers, does not mean that if I give permission to behave inappropriately. You can say no, if you feel that you don’t want to dance with this partner, especially if you have ever experienced the unpleasant things with him/her. You can choose to leave your partner on the floor if he/she behaves inappropriately. However saying no for dance invite, based on dance skills, age or appearance, is not cool, if the person otherwise behaves intelligently and appropriately. Dancing is a pleasure and everyone should have the peace to enjoy it. I hope we can keep it that way in future too.