At Mother City Hop, we work to create safer spaces where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome, by building a culture that is friendly and inclusive.
When it comes to any form of discomfort, the first prize is prevention, for which we have two strategies:
- In the Cape Town Swing community, we try to remind and educate dancers about boundaries, respect, and looking out for one another. We build consent culture into our classes, and we have a comprehensive Code of Conduct that you implicitly agree to by joining any of our events.
- We have a Safer Spaces team that will be looking out for you at Mother City Hop, and who can be approached with any safety concerns. You can identify them by their orange heart pins.
Equally important, however, is establishing structures that protect our community members in cases where our values of care and inclusion are not upheld. The aim of this page is to outline the processes that we have created for dancers to report incidents, and the actions that will be taken to support those who come forward.
Do you need to report an incident?
Please click on the button below to complete an incident report form. Only our Safer Spaces team will have access to the information you give us, and your privacy will be respected.
Drawing a line
Physical contact is an essential part of partnered dancing. This does, however, make it possible for non-consensual, inappropriate or even abusive contact to take place, even in a public, social environment. We also acknowledge that it is possible to make someone uncomfortable without any physical contact. While everyone has different boundaries and comfort zones, we have defined three "levels" of incidents to make reporting easier and to help guide us in the appropriate action to take.
Level 1: Uncomfortable
There are a wide range of behaviours that we include under Level 1 and this may differ person to person, but the main criteria is: I feel uncomfortable.
If you feel uncomfortable in any way, at our event or from an interaction with one of the participants, we strongly encourage you to report it to us if you do not feel empowered to speak with the person directly. It may be the case that the person was not aware of their behaviour and a simple conversation with one of our safer spaces reps may be able to prevent a repeat of the scenario. However, these may be flags for more serious issues and if dealt with immediately, could prevent the situation from escalating. You might think it is only you, that you are being silly, that it was probably nothing. You may be right. But you may also be one of many who have experienced the same. By reporting these situations, you could save someone else from experiencing the same, or worse.
Some examples of behaviour that fits under level 1:
- They held me too close when we danced and didn’t respect my space
- They repeatedly asked me to dance after I said no
- Their body odour/sweaty shirt/bad breath was really unpleasant
- They constantly stared at me
- Their hand brushed my breasts, my buttocks and/or between my legs when we danced and they didn’t apologise
- They made me feel uncomfortable/unwelcome based on my age/gender/race/sexual preference/ability etc.
Your comfort is important to us and we have an anonymous reporting platform for these sorts of situations. You can fill out an incident report form (linked in the button above), and the report will be logged on a private database that is only accessible by our Safer Spaces team. If multiple reports are raised about the same person, one of our team will take them aside and have a conversation about appropriate behaviour. If the behaviour persists, we will take it further, with more substantial action such as banning them from our events.
Level 2: Harassment
Your safety is important to us. The main thing that differentiates level one incidents from level two, is the feeling of danger. The main criteria for level two is you are feeling uncomfortable with their behaviour AND you felt that you (or someone else) might be in danger.
- They followed me to my car
- They sent me inappropriate texts
- They propositioned me
- They cornered me
- They wouldn’t let me leave
- They threatened me
- They pressured me into drinking too much
- They repeatedly touched me
- They didn’t stop when I asked them to
- They used a racial/gender-based/sexual orientation-based slur against me
These are only some examples and other more subtle actions could also qualify. These all qualify legally as harassment and will be taken extremely seriously. It only takes a single report such as this to trigger a response from our team. The best channel to report this would be either by phone call, text, email or in person with one of our safe spaces reps. The response will depend on what you are comfortable with, but we may need to take action to keep the rest of the community safe. With your consent, we would hold a disciplinary hearing for the individual and they would almost certainly be banned from all our events. Their name would be recorded on our private database and communicated privately to all other regional dance groups. We will also support you in any way that we can to help you feel safe in our community once more.
We would like to stress that anyone coming forward with this sort of complaint will be believed. The onus will be on the perpetrator to prove their innocence. In certain cases, we may recommend that the issue be taken up with the relevant authorities who can offer more substantial protection.
Level 3: Violation
Although it is our strongest hope that this sort of event never happens, we have to be realistic and prepare for the worst case scenario. Level 3 includes any incident that goes beyond fear, to physical harm but may also include attempted harm and other severe situations.
- They raped me
- They assaulted me
- They tried to hurt, touch and/ or rape me
- They forced me to touch them
- They hurt me
In the case of a level 3 report, we will:
- Take the report seriously and take action
- Support and comfort you
- With your consent, take immediate action (such as removing the individual from swing dance events) to protect you and our community from the person, while respecting your anonymity and protecting your name
- Support you in a legal or restorative process based on your preferences
Safer Spaces Team
We have a Safer Spaces team comprised of volunteer members of our community who are familiar with our Code of Conduct and harassment policy. Most (if not all) of these team members will be present at Mother City Hop workshops and parties, and will be available to answer any questions or support individuals as needed.
Mary Anne Constable