Code of Conduct
At Cape Town Swing, we embrace the joyful and inclusive nature of Lindy Hop that thrived in the Savoy Ballroom, the first racially integrated ballroom in the United States. We welcome everyone to our community, regardless of gender/gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability, physical appearance, religion and dance experience. We strive to create a community where everyone can express themselves freely in a welcoming, respectful and safe environment. To that aim, we have a set of guidelines for behaviour.
Please take a few minutes to read our safer spaces policies.
- This space is for everyone: we welcome you and we expect you to do the same for everyone else.
- We will not tolerate harassment of any kind. Please help us to maintain the safety of this space by reporting any harassment you observe or experience. We will honour your bravery in doing this by respecting your confidentiality. Please read our full policy on harassment.
- We will not tolerate prejudice of any kind. In line with this, do not use language that is racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise alienating.
Anyone who does not abide by these rules will be asked to leave and may be permanently banned from our space.
Dance Floor Etiquette
In order to ensure that everyone can have a good time on our dance floors, please respect the following:
- Feel free to ask others to dance, especially new dancers and visitors – this is how we help make everyone feel welcome.
- Avoid making assumptions about dance roles – just ask: “Would you like to lead/follow?”
- Say yes. There is nothing better than an enthusiastic agreement to a dance.
Say no (thank you). This is your right, and requires no explanation or apology.
- If someone declines a dance, that’s okay! Don’t take it personally – just say “Sure, maybe next time!”
- Say STOP. If anyone touches you inappropriately or makes you uncomfortable IN ANY WAY. Tell them to stop and inform one of the staff if they do not.
- No aerials, dips, lifts or drops on the social floor. Keep these for jam circles and competitions – and only if you have verbal consent. Don’t lead a follow in something that they don’t have consent in.
- Dancing is sweaty, bring extra clothes to change into.
- If you do not wish to be photographed/filmed please inform the staff on arrival. Do not use flash photography. Do not film classes without the teachers’ consent.
- Be careful and respectful of other dancers on the floor. If you knock/bump/step on/kick someone accidentally, immediately stop dancing, check that they are ok and apologise.
- Be conscious of nonverbal signals and respect your partner’s personal boundaries. Seek consent within the dance, e.g. not everyone feels comfortable in closed embrace.
- Do not give unsolicited advice. In fact, leave advice off the social floor entirely. If someone wants your input they will ask for it.
We (the the dance community including staff, volunteers, dancers, and peers) have a moral and legal obligation to actively prevent sexual harassment.
According to South African Law*, sexual harassment is defined as:
- Unwelcome sexual attention.
- Unwelcome explicit or implicit behaviour, suggestions, messages or remarks of a sexual nature that have the effect of offending, intimidating or humiliating.
- Implied or expressed promise of reward for complying with a sexually oriented request
- Implied or expressed threat of reprisal (or actual reprisal) for refusal to comply with a sexually oriented request
With the above in mind, the following behaviour counts as sexual harassment:
- Staring or leering
- Unnecessary familiarity or unwelcome touching
- Suggestive comments or jokes
- Insults or taunts of a sexual nature
- Intrusive questions or statements about your private life
- Sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
- Inappropriate advances on social networking sites
- Requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates
- Behaviour that may be considered an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking, or obscene communications.
How does this relate to a dance environment?
- Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation, or friendship which is mutual or consensual.
- Happy, consensual dances (no matter how close the position) are totally fine.
- Hooking up at a dance event with a consenting adult is also totally acceptable.
Sexual harassment is a type of sexual discrimination, which is illegal in South African workplaces.
- This means that it’s illegal to sexually harass your host or hostee, your dance partner, teacher or student, your DJ or sound engineer, volunteer or musician, event manager, MC, or performer.
- It also means that it is illegal to hold a dance partner very close if they don’t want to be held.
Sexual harassment can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off, and perpetrated by males and females against people of any sex.
- If you aren’t sure; if you think it’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.
- If someone says they don’t want to dance and you insist, touching them and pulling them, that is harassment.
- Accidental ‘boob swipes’, touching a partner’s rear, groin, upper legs warrant an immediate apology and a change of dancing to avoid it happening again.
* Paraphrased from the Protection from Harassment Act 17 of 2011
What do you do if you need help?
- Report any behaviour that you deem to be inappropriate.
- You have the right to remain anonymous, and we will respect that.
- When it comes to criminal behaviour (sexual harassment or sexual assault), we urge you to take it to the police, and we will support you in this.
Our course of action:
- We will do everything in our power to protect our dancers and will tolerate no harassment whatsoever.
- We reserve the right to remove anyone from our classes and events.
- Minor offences will result in a single warning.
- Repeat offences or major offences will result in expulsion and banning from all future Cape Town Swing events, and where appropriate will be referred to the police.
This Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy was inspired by and adapted from that of Swing Dance Sydney.