Stop Putting Dancers On A Pedestal And Create Safer Spaces
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Stop Putting Dancers On A Pedestal And Create Safer Spaces

It's easy to just focus on certain dancers and teachers, and it's even easier for them to take advantage of it.

Stop Putting Dancers On A Pedestal And Create Safer Spaces
Seafoam Photography

One thing you need to know about me before continuing this article is that I truly love swing dancing. I love swing for a lot of reasons: It's fun, there's so much to learn, and most of all, I love the people within the dance community. Being involved in a social dance -- any kind of social dance -- gives you unique opportunities to go up and talk to complete strangers and make some wonderful friends along the way. But every community has its problems.

Recently, some news concerning a well-known dance instructor has come to light and it has served as a grave reminder (and a rude awakening for some, including myself) that not everyone is as kind or trustworthy as we want them to be. As dancers, especially new dancers, we have a tendency to idolize teachers or really great dancers, because, well, they're great! But it is so important that while we're fan-girling over amazing dancers (or celebrities, for that matter), we don't forget that they're just people.

The majority of people you meet within a dance community will be wonderful -- almost everyone I've met has been, but there's always someone who will take advantage of others, and that's why it's important to remember that we're all regular people, no matter how much or how well we dance. The biggest reason for this is that when we idolize really great dancers/teachers, we give them the unique opportunity to take advantage of it. We put people on a pedestal, and if they turn out to be bad people, it makes it that much harder to keep people safe from them.

It's important to remember that talking about negative personal experiences, such as sexual assault, is already so hard, and it's so much harder with the knowledge people might believe the well-liked/well-known/more experienced dancer (or person) instead of you. Sexual assault victims, especially, come forward knowing they may well be outcast from their community or shunned by their friends, so it's important to support them, especially when someone else coming forward might encourage other assault survivors to come forward with their stories.

The swing community (and every other dance community) is supposed to be fun, friendly, and most importantly, safe for everyone. It's our job to make sure that we are creating a safe and comfortable environment for everyone. At your next social dance, make a point to announce that not only is your venue a safe place, but that if anyone is being weird or creepy or downright dangerous, they are welcome to come talk to you. If you are running a venue and creating a social dance environment, it is your duty to make it clear that it is a safe place for every one who sets foot in your venue. Even if the place you dance isn't run by you, it's important to keep an eye out for yourself and others. If you see something, say something.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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