Safety at BIDAAt BIDA we want everyone to be able to have a good time together at our dances. Our goal is to foster a diverse community that prioritizes safety and dancing together in ways everyone enjoys. We encourage our community members to help make this happen through active engagement with everyone to create a considerate and welcoming intergenerational community. However, sometimes people act in ways that make others feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe. Unwanted touching, harassment, threats, and other harmful behavior are not acceptable at BIDA. If someone tells you no, listen to them and stop.
What can you do to help?
- Practice good communication with other dancers, and be attentive to how they're dancing.
- Ask questions of your dance partners and people in your circle.
- Is it OK if I _____?
- How do you feel about ______?
- Be respectful of your partners and friends.
- If you notice another dancer might be being made uncomfortable, check in with them and ask if they're OK.
On the other hand, if someone is bothering you the organizers want to support you. Here's how we can help:
- If something needs dealing with right away at a dance, talk to a safety rep, who will figure out how to address the situation. To find out who's currently on duty as safety rep, look on the whiteboard on the way in.
- If you've got a larger issue, you're welcome to contact the Safety Team as a whole. You contact them by talking to anyone on duty at a dance, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by filling out this form.
- If you're uncomfortable talking to the group as a whole, or your concern deals with a safety team member or representative, you can contact one of the core members of the Safety Team. Their individual contact information is at bidadance.org/safety-team.
We recognize that Safety Representatives are community members, and are friends with dancers throughout the greater contra dance community. If you find yourself discussing a BIDA safety issue informally with any Safety Representative please make it clear whether or not you expect them to address the issue formally after your conversation. This is crucial to making sure your concerns are handled in ways you feel comfortable with, stay confidential, and are communicated to the core Safety Team when appropriate.
The Safety Team is not responsible for handling issues which are brought to BIDA organizers who are not trained Safety Representatives.
Here are some examples of situations where our Safety Team might be able to help:
- You notice someone keeps staring at you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Your partner keeps holding your wrist too hard and pushing you into flourishes you don't want.
- Someone keeps asking you to dance after you've told them to stop asking.
- Someone dips their partner, whose feet come dangerously close to your head.
- Someone has abused you, physically, verbally, or emotionally, and you're worried they might be dangerous to you or other dancers.
Here are some hypothetical scenarios, along with how the Safety Team might respond in an effort to resolve the issue:
A dancer has a pattern of pushing others around forcefully, and people let the Safety Team know that they've been hurt. The team talks, and decides to talk to the offender, ask them to be more gentle, and let them know we're considering banning them if they don't shape up. Despite the warnings, they continue injuring the people around them. The Safety Team proposes to the board that we ban the dancer for six months, and the board agrees.
A dancer contacts the Safety Team to report that their ex was abusive toward them, they would like to avoid being at dances with their ex, and they ask the Safety Team to ban their ex. The reporter agrees that the Safety Team may speak with their ex. After talking with the ex, the team meets again we decide to propose that they split the dances: one attending 1st Sunday dances and the other attending the 3rd Sunday ones. A member of the team talks to both individually to discuss the proposal. The ex denies being abusive, and they both assert that they shouldn't have to give up attending half the dances, but the Safety Team member stands by the proposal: as long the two of them are looking for a solution through us, this is the most we can offer.
The Safety Team gets a report by a dancer saying that another dancer has been harassing them at dances. Safety Team talks with the reporter, and the reporter isn't willing to share any more details, have their name disclosed, or let the team talk to the offender to get their view. We decide to keep an eye on the offender, watching for negative interactions. We don't see any, but keep a note in case future issues come up.
Someone keeps hitting on people at awkward times, like asking people out while passing them in line, making lots of other dancers uncomfortable. Some of these dancers let the Safety Team know, and we have a talk with the offender. After the offender gets a better understanding of how they had been making other dancers feel they change their behavior.
A dancer reports a problem to the Safety Team where someone keeps touching them in unwanted ways: holding them too close in swings, "missing" their hand on courtesy turns, and trying to hug them after dances. The Safety Team meets with the offender, describes the reported behavior, and makes it clear that this is not acceptable behavior. At the next dance a Safety Rep sees them pushing a hug on someone who clearly doesn't want it. The Safety Rep checks with person who just got hugged, who confirms that they were trying to pull out of the hug. The Safety Rep asks the offender to leave immediately. Before the next dance the board meets and agrees to ban the offender.
The Safety Team recognizes that all situations are individual and nuanced, therefore the above hypotheticals are not necessarily indicative of the exact actions Safety Reps or Safety Team would take during a similar scenario.
While we hope situations like the ones above don't come up at our dances, we want you to know that we're here for you if they do.