Embodied Safer Spaces Policy
As EMBODIED LLC, we are grateful to be a part of such a wonderful dance community that in many ways feels like a dance family. We aspire to create a dance community that is based on connection, trust, respect, safety, courage, and having each other's backs. We are committed to creating events where dancers can feel safe and brave enough to explore their relationship with their own bodies and their connection with other dancers. We believe that trust and connection are essential to our ability to social dance and grow as dancers, as well as human beings. We strive to create events where everyone feels welcome, respected, and safe regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, physical appearance, body size, age, race, culture, language or dance ability.
Social dancing is a conversation. A lead is a suggestion, or an invitation, that the follow can either accept or decline. Similarly, asking someone to dance is an invitation that creates space for real consent to be given. Dancers should feel free and empowered to accept or decline any dance invitation, for any reason. Furthermore, students are under no obligation to dance with any partner in rotation and do not need to provide a reason. Grabbing a dancer’s arm or other body parts is not an acceptable way to invite them to dance. Similarly, during the dance, both lead and follower have equal power over how it unfolds. Both parties should be sensitive to each other's cues and communication, and give their partner space to either accept or decline any path which they may suggest the dance take. Please be particularly sensitive of your partner’s boundaries with regards to dips, lifts, head movements, and any other high risk moves.
As part of our commitment to cultivating trust, safety, courage, and connection, Embodied LLC takes a strong stance against any type of harassment, non-consensual, or abusive behavior. Harassment includes (though is not limited to) deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of events, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, offensive verbal comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, culture, religion, dance skill level, or dance role, and other behaviors that hurt and break trust. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. We expect all participants to help create and maintain a safe, respectful, brave and harassment-free space at Embodied events. Members of our community are encouraged and supported to speak up for themselves and their safety, and we know this takes courage. Embodied organizers are available to discuss, clarify, and give feedback to any dancers who want to elevate their safer space and consent skills. Feedback from organizers should be taken earnestly and wholeheartedly. Our organizers are also available to walk dancers to their cars during or after an event to ensure everyone arrives home safely.
If a participant engages in harassing or abusive behavior, Embodied organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expelling the offender from the event with no refund. If these behaviors are reported outside of an event, organizers have the right to refuse entry to the offender for as long as they feel is necessary for the safety of all. Egregious behavior or repeated warnings or expulsions may result in permanent expulsion from all events organized by Embodied. Embodied LLC is aware of the strained and hurtful relationship some communities have with the police, and is committed to refraining from involving the police, except as a last resort in situations where there is real risk to participants’ safety. We do empower sexual assault, abuse, and harassment survivors to make their own decisions about pursuing a legal recourse and involving the police.
We, the Embodied Team, care deeply about your safety, and strive to create a space where dancers feel comfortable to be vulnerable and build trust as well as speak up for themselves when necessary. If something happened that made you feel uncomfortable, weird or unsafe, please let one of our organizers know. Embodied will maintain confidentiality around all safe space allegations and will keep the identity of the person filing a complaint anonymous. We have our dancers’ backs, take reports of harassment seriously, and are committed to responding appropriately and with confidentiality to reports of harassment or abuse.
Other important things to note when engaging in partner dancing:
● Respect other people’s boundaries. Seeing someone do something with someone else doesn’t mean they will want to do it with you. This applies to everything from close dance holds to moves like dips, flirty conversations or just agreeing to dance. If you aren’t sure of someone’s boundaries, or can’t tell from their nonverbal cues, then ask them. If you misjudge, and they ask you to stop, either verbally or non-verbally (such as with a facial expression or a body language cue), then stop. We vow to not taking anything personally on the dance floor!
● Ask someone to dance, and respond, respectfully. People around here usually happily accept an invitation to dance, but it is also okay to say “no.” If you are turned down for a dance, please respect that decision and find someone else to dance with instead.
● If at any point in a dance you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you can tell your partner that you are uncomfortable, ask for any adjustments you need, or stop the dance before the song ends without explanation. Requests for your own safety and comfort are not the same as offering someone unsolicited advice or feedback on their dance skills, which is generally considered rude.
● Do not engage in behavior that puts your partner at an unnecessarily high risk of physical injury. This includes, but is not limited to, yanking or jerking your partner around or using unnecessarily forceful movement when leading or following; bending yourself over your partner during a dip; doing any lift where both of your partner’s feet go above your knees, leading head and body movements in a forceful or unsafe manner. If you are unsure what constitutes unsafe dancing or have concerns about the safety of a dance partner’s movements, please talk to an organizer or instructor.
● Be respectful of those around you on the dance floor. If you bump into someone, apologize. If you hurt someone, apologize, and also try to figure out how you can keep it from happening again. This might mean not dancing with them again, or talking to your teacher.
● Remember that alcohol and other substances can make it harder to judge boundaries accurately; please be mindful of your limits so that you can be mindful of others.
What to do if you witness or are subjected to unacceptable or harassing behavior:
Please watch out for each other and help us to take care of each other, including yourself. If you aren’t sure if someone else is okay, please take a closer look: ask them for a dance to draw them away from the situation, or ask, in a friendly way, if they need help. If you are subjected to unsafe or harassing behavior by someone in the dance community, notice that someone else is being subjected to unsafe or unacceptable behavior, or have other concerns along these lines, you can seek out one of the leaders identified below for help. We will listen and treat you with respect and confidentiality.
Rachel Meth, Founder/Owner and Director of EMBODIED LLC
This policy was drawn in large part, with permission, from that of Triangle Zouk, Dance Jam Productions, developed by Kay Newhouse and Dave Moldover, with reference to the Prevention Institute’s Spectrum of Prevention and the Association of Corporate Council’s Legal Resources, and modeled on codes of conduct from Mobtown Ballroom, Black Hat, and Charlottesville Swing Dance Society, among others, with help and input from many friends and allies. This code of conduct was also drawn in part from that of Capital Blues.
To learn more about dance etiquette, consent, and safety, see Kizomba Community’s collection of resources: http://www.kizombacommunity.com/service-category/resources/.