We dance without speaking, sober, with consent..
.. but what does it mean when attraction arises on the dance floor?
.. when a dance becomes intimate
.. when we’re unsure of our boundaries?
.. when we’re continually navigating the dance floor with all the others, whom we may or may not know, who are navigating the same thing?
Attraction, intimacy, consent and boundaries. How do we negotiate these things on a non-speaking dance floor? What are our needs and how can a community dance organisation help us?
The Move has initiated sharing circles where all are invited to come and share and participate and speak about our experiences and needs. We have had several rich discussions (January 26th, February 23rd, March 23, June 1 2018). Here are some notes of what came up in our discussions:
January 26, 2018
Crossing boundaries and support
- A dancer shared about a recent experience at The Move where she felt her boundaries were crossed by another dancer known to her. This undermined her feeling of The Move as a safe place and she did not feel supported the way she would have liked to have been by facilitators that night.
- The facilitator from the evening of the incident was in the circle and directly responded to the dancer, acknowledging the dancer’s experience and apologising for her not feeling the support she needed
- It was asked whether there is an “official” procedure for these sorts of situations?
- The Move does follow up with individuals involved in incidents and Twyla (Move Steward) apologised on behalf of The Move as the dancer felt that she had not been adequately supported or followed up with and communicated directly with her to determine if there is anything else she needs from the organisation
- Someone in the circle was concerned that The Move does not have any policies in place for dealing with situations where dancers feel unsafe.
- Clarified that The Move does have safety guidelines, placed on the community table each week
- Henry (group facilitator) summarized that there were a few points for follow-up for The Move:
- A need for a review of the incident follow-up protocol: If something happens on the dance floor and someone is in some way distressed related to someone else on the dance floor, what is the follow-up protocol?
- Reviewing the need for some kind of policy regarding what to do when a dancer reports that they feel unsafe with another dancers community member (e.g.: cases of conjugal violence). E.g.: What steps are taken to support the dancer who feels unsafe, and/or to intervene with the other dancer who has been identified as a possible safety risk during The Move and afterwards?
- Other people in the circle spoke about a need for a possible physical signal that a dancer could use to clearly let facilitators know that they need assistance while dancing. For example, a raised arm or hand, which would indicate to the facilitator that someone should come over. A signal like this was thought important or necessary, since with 100-120 people attending, facilitators might now always be able see everything that is happening on the dance floor right away due to the crowds.
- Other people in the circle wanted dancers to be empowered to user their voice and to say “stop”, verbally. They wanted every individual to be empowered in the moment, to say something.
- Someone else mentioned that we might need another physical signal other than a “Namaste” to indicate to another person that their behaviour is not okay.
Twyla (Move Steward) acknowledged that there may have been things that people discussed in their small groups that they were not able to share in the large group due to time constraints. She encouraged them to e-mail the Stewards if they would like to share more: email@example.com
- Request to have a form on the website to submit a question or comment anonymously
February 23, 2018
TOPIC: Starting and ending dances
In Latin dance there are lessons where the teacher has people switch partners
SUGGESTION: Have Move DJ suggest dance with partners and switch
Another person responded to this suggestion – that this setup an expectation that the Move is about partner dance. And that the Move really is a spectrum from people who only dance individually to those who like to dance a lot with partners.
SUGGESTION: The DJ and Move facilitators not just give out “don’t” or cautionary tips. But also balance that with encouragement
REQUEST: Dancers be provided with a clear symbol to say “no” to invitations to dance
A male dancer said it is easy for people to day no
At least 6 other dancers said that it can be hard to say no – including for deep seated cultural reasons for women.
What are the norms we want to set up for the Move around dancing with others?
How can we refine our abilities to offer invitations to dance and to respond with yes or no?
Sylvie – Move Advisory Council member – said she has been thinking about a workshop on making invitations to dance and responding to such invitations.
TOPIC: Dancers kissing/”making out” at the Move
One person said he found this distracting.
Another mentioned that if one is disturbed by this, one can move away to another location.
Another offered something they heard from a dance teacher: “Take the dance floor to the bedroom but don’t take the bedroom to the dance floor”
TOPIC: Expressing sexuality
3 men expressed interest/concern about how/whether to express their sexuality
“How do I know when ok to express sexuality?”
(I believe a woman added) Approach it as the impermanence of the moment / leave it on the dance floor
I find it helpful to hear what people are dealing with.
SUGGESTION: Post notes on a big sheet of paper at subsequent Moves
plus blank paper and markers for suggestions/more comments
March 23, 2018
- In my small circle I heard about a similar experience as mine
- Have hope for the person who crossed boundaries
- Want to help, to have more openness
- If only the pattern can be pointed out in a kind way
Suggestion: One Hour Orientation for all new move dancers to learn about culture including consent and saying yes and saying no
- I touched person of different gender and not get permission
- It`s all of us
- Want to normalise that we all have something to learn
- It`s a messy time – we`re starting to figure things out
- Everyone has crossed boundaries and had boundaries crossed
- Want easier process at the Move for facilitators to follow
Suggestion: DJ invite dancers to say something if see something inappropriate
- What is the balance we are seeking with respect to punishment and to discussion-resolution?
- Want to look critically case by case
Suggestion: Workshop on delivering difficult messages to those we want to change. To experience what it is like to approach someone for dance and get a no or to have a yes turn into a no.
- What is it like to be the person who has crossed boundaries?
- How can we explore this in a restorative way?
- The bystander effect – will not be happening if we have people see something and don`t feel comfortable saying it
- If someone feels their boundary is crossed, then this could be an opportunity to learn together – to practice a different way.
I’d like to see a process with steps. For example, the first recourse might be a conversation with the person who has violated your boundaries; the second recourse, a mediated or facilitated conversation with that person; the third, going to move facilitators with a complaint and asking them to talk to that person; and only after all that has been tried, only at that point considering the possibility of a time-limited ban from the community. Let’s begin by assuming good intent and the capacity for learning and transformation
- Good ideas to have guidelines – group intentions and works better to have channel to open communication.
- How do we voice when something is not ok?
- if someone feels violated and it was not the other`s intention, there is still a need to talk about the impact to include even more people in these discussions
Suggestion: at closing circle say (you are free to leave) and those who stay, turn to someone beside you and talk about your experience related to consent or boundaries
- Man speaking – Last 5 years seek a cultural change – we were more interactive
- There are more predators than before – systematically boundaries broken by some guys. Out of The Move as well. It’s a women`s issue. Tough for me to hear and see. Changes the energy in the room.
- I disagree that it is a women’s issue. How do men choose to work on selves? The film The Mask You Live In – calls that masculinity into question
- Men might not see it in themselves – say it’s other guys – othering
- How do some workshops help when we have new people joining every week?
- How do we get people who need to work on these things to come to circles and workshops?
- How can we express outrage?
- If women express something on the dance floor and express to facilitators
Suggestion: Maybe Move provide or pay for skilled people to facilitate discussions for true understanding between parties when there is a complaint
- As newer person I`d like something to happen at the opening circle.
E.g. hear of example of someone who learned something acknowledging they crossed boundary
- Why don’t men have circles and tell each other what’s right and wrong.
- With “Me Too” happening, the next evolution is to ask “What are the men doing about this?”
When the earlier dancer said “those guys” I take him to be referring to me that he wants to be thrown out. I want us to see we can learn from and be better people. I want this community to be inclusive. We`re a community to include those who have hurt. We all gain hope from rehabilitation.
THIS WAS SHARE BY PHONE THE NEXT DAY TO HENRY FROM ONE OF THE PEOPLE IN THE CIRCLE:
See Dance floor as opportunity to learn about and practice sensual dancing as one way to satisfy people`s need for connection. People come to dance and see the connection others have on dance floor and say they want that. They may not know now to ask for it. Whether playful or sexy or romantic or… type of dance, the move is a place to explore and learn and develop and deepen that. Want ways including workshops for people to be supported in learning healthy ways to ask for and explore that.
June 1, 2018
- Would like a clear non-verbal sign to say “yes” to invitation to dance just like we have a palms together as sign of ending or declining a dance
- Looking to meet the inviter’s eyes can be a way to say “yes”
- I offer a upturned hand as invitation to dance.
- Can shake head for “no” — it doesn’t have to be complicated
- I like that lately the Move has been having more than just a few word about consent (at the opening circle?)
- People are at the Move for many reasons. Reminded of saying to “feed yourself without eating others”
- I heard that 28% people fully understand what consent means. How can we encourage actual self-reflection.
- As a meditative practice, dance can be an opportunity for deeper attunement
- I am sometimes afraid to approach others — fearing rejection. I try to dance close and match their energy but others not aware that is an invitation.
- I ask a lot of people to dance and still feel scared.
- I can lose my own dance / self and take on other’s dance
- Reflect on how and what am I communicating on the dance floor
- asking not taking
- (agreement) mutuality
- asking for consent without assumptions
- ongoing — not assume once accepted you can do anything
Whole dance is a dialogue about respecting other’s boundaries…
- I wouldn’t know know if crossed boundaries unless they told me about it.
- someone’s hesitation may be very subtle
- some may not have sensitivity to get a sign that dance partner is not comfortable with something
- I think in hetero partner dancing the men have more responsibility due to power imbalance
- Distinction between Dance Lead and Dance Boss
- Norms mostly communicated by what people see others are doing