Category Archives: Good Citizen

On Clapping

Our Wednesday Night Hop crowd got paid an awesome compliment February 7 at our relaunch party. An attendee remarked that our crowd really claps for the band. They found that rare compared to other venues, so good job, everyone!

If you’re curious what band members want from an audience, check out this link and head to point Number Six.

Thoughts on Exposure

Let’s preface this post with a pertinent Oatmeal link (mild language).

This post is sparked by a recent conversation I had with an event organizer. They offered their event as a cross-promotion/marketing “opportunity.” I informed them that my dancers wouldn’t be motivated without pay on one of the biggest party nights of the year.  I also knew their tickets start at $49 plus $7.05 for internet booking and they expected 1000+ people to attend their event.

This person then backtracked saying it probably wouldn’t work since their event is all about “the production.” It’s difficult to believe this when they’re not willing to pay dance entertainment to increase their production value nor have a band booked 3.5 weeks prior to their event.

For some of us, this is our livelihood. For others, it’s a hobby we’ve invested hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into. Value us and we’ll value you.

 

 

On Sexual Harassment

From Kenny

Points from this article remind me of issues within the swing scene.

– “A lack of clear and transparent procedures for reporting sexual harassment.”

We revised Swingin’ Denver’s Code of Conduct about two months ago which includes an anonymous reporting form. I finally uploaded it two days ago  and made it much more present on our website. I think it includes better methods for reporting.

– “…coupled with the belief that harassers will not be punished.”

I like to think we have demonstrated in the past that we will take care of such harassers and our advocates for the survivors. Our new Code of Conduct lists the various ways which we might take action against the harasser.

– “Then there’s the fear of retaliation. The competition for positions on Capitol Hill makes employees especially afraid to lose their jobs.”

I have personally witnessed swing dancers defending harassers and, in turn, harassing the survivor. This leads to people being afraid to report because they might lose their friends, their beloved venues, and their social capital within their local scene. Such isolation isn’t good. Furthermore, this behavior might discourage the survivor from taking any legal action because if the people they respect don’t believe them, who will?

People are looking for someone to fault for their friend’s banishment or punishment. If anything, fault the accused for their misbehavior. If you’re not willing to do that, fault the venue or organization for the banishment or punishment levied against this person. I’d rather you wouldn’t, but if you’re not willing to face the harsh truth, I’d rather you take your anger out on me.

Code of Conduct

Need Help?

Swingin’ Denver is here to support you if you are injured, feel threatened or unsafe, or wish to make us aware of inappropriate behavior at our event. Please don’t hesitate to contact us via any of the following channels:

  • The individual running the front desk, or the Swingin’ Denver event host
  • Kenny Nelson – (720) 336-3440
  • Kenny Nelson – info@swingindenver.com

If you wish to remain anonymous, you may use this form.

Your safety at our events is of utmost important to us; we want to hear from you!

If someone approaches you with concerns about something they’ve experienced or observed at our events, please encourage them to contact us so that we can address the problem.

Swingin’ Denver will stand by and support you to the best of our abilities.

Mission Statement

Swingin’ Denver is passionate about sharing the amazing experience of Swing dancing with as many people as possible! We hold dear the tradition of authentic jazz, the connection between the music and social dance, and the unique creative expression these art forms make possible. Our events are hosted with the goal of every attendee having a blast! Our Code of Conduct exists to support that goal, and to inform our attendees of the procedures we have in place to help ensure a safe environment for them.

Code of Conduct

We are committed to hosting safe events for our attendees, staff, and performers. “Safe spaces” has become something of a buzzword in both the Swing dance community as well as the general population of late, so we want to be clear about what we mean by a safe space. It’s simple: Everyone at our events deserves to feel not only safe, but protected. Behavior contrary to this outcome will be treated as a matter of priority and addressed according to procedures outlined below.

Just as everyone deserves to feel safe and respected, so must everyone take responsibility for making others feel safe and respected. To that end, here are some suggestions from us to help you do your part to create a safe space:

Use respectful language: This means not using racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist or transphobic language, sexualised, rude or violent language, or language designed to make another person feel uncomfortable or inferior

Be respectful of personal space: Do not touch someone else without first asking. Do not touch anyone inappropriately.

Stop touching someone if they ask or tell you to.

Only closely embrace someone with their consent.

Attempt aerials responsibly. On the social floor, stick to tricks that can be socially lead and followed, with familiar partners. In a performance, competition, or jam circle, ensure you have consent to perform an aerial with every partner, every time.

Attempt tricks responsibly. On the social floor, be sure to ask permission before leading or following any tricks, including lifts, drops and dips. Just as you’re able to change a pattern to avoid hitting someone nearby, we would expect you to do adapt your trick for the ever-changing dynamics of the social dance floor. If you cannot, don’t lead or follow it.

Be proactive about keeping your dance partner comfortable. Watch for body language cues or check in verbally with your partner.

It is your right to refuse any dance, for any reason at any time.

It is your right to stop dancing with someone at any point for any reason.

There are many additional ways to help create a safe space, and we encourage you to consider the above to be the bare minimum! Swingin’ Denver strongly supports anyone who feels violated or victimized at one of our events. We are looking out for our attendees. Especially in cases of sexual harassment or assault, our policy is to believe and support the person who felt targeted. Keep your own behavior above reproach, and always be explicit about asking for or giving consent.

Procedures for Violation of Code of Conduct

When an individual is accused of violating this code, Swingin’ Denver may take any or all of the following steps:

  • Privately discuss the report with the individual concerned, and request that the behavior be stopped immediately.
  • Ask the individual to leave an event. (No reimbursement will be paid to those asked to leave for a conduct violation.)
  • Refuse an individual the opportunity to attend future events
  • Legal action

When an individual reports a violation, Swingin’ Denver may take any or all of the following steps:

  • Request a private conversation with the reporting individual
  • Inquire about specific details of the incident(s)
  • Share details about the reported event with necessary Swingin’ Denver staff, and, if necessary, law enforcement
  • Inquire about what outcome the reporting individual desires
  • Follow up with the reporting individual periodically

Our top priority following a report will be to restore the safety of our event attendees.

On The Outside Looking In

Here are stories of three people I noticed at dances and spoke with recently.

The first was a gentleman that arrived late to our Stanley Marketplace lesson. I could see him looking at us and so I greeted him from inside the circle. He asked if this was the Meetup and I said sure. He didn’t have a partner immediately, so my co-teacher partnered with him. Later we chatted a bit, I showed him a Charleston step, and he even did some social dancing.

The second occurred while I was packing up to leave the Stanley Swing Night. A woman was watching intently near the band’s merch suitcase. Once I had all my gear, I walked along the edge headed to my car. She was on the opposite side facing the band now. I hesitated and decided “why not, let’s strike up a conversation,” and asked if this was her first time to the Stanley Marketplace. It was and we chatted a bit. Hopefully, she’ll return to the next one or to one of our classes.

The third happened last night at the Mercury Cafe. While I was dancing, I noticed a man standing in the front of the water. He was looking intently at the dance floor. I noticed his Mobtown Ballroom shirt, figured he was from Baltimore (confirmed), and didn’t know anyone. With a lead-in like Baltimore and Mobtown, I figured I’d have an easier time starting a conversation and was right.

I offered to introduce him to any followers or leaders. He shared that he was a bit shy and that he’d like for me to point out some leaders to danc with since he prefers to follow. He mentioned that Denver appeared much different than Baltimore’s scene where anything goes. Hopefully, he had a fun evening.

What do you do when you notice a stranger with a clear desire to try swing dancing or find out more? For me, it’s easy to feel empowered when I’m running the dance or have a leadership position. It gives me more of a reason to say “welcome” or “have you been here before?” Other times, like the Merc example, I feel more confident when I have a starter conversation planned. Other times, if I can guess someones leader/follower preferences and I don’t fit the bill, I’ll suggest to a friend they ask that person to dance because they appear new.

We each have our ways. Regardless, I’d like to encourage more people to go out of their comfort zone to welcome strangers.

Graceful Exit

Recently I received some advice on a business situation. That advice was to provide a graceful and amicable way out in this particular business dealing. Unfortunately for me, I had to apply that knowledge even more recently when an organizer found themselves in an impossible position to continue working with me though they wanted to. Life goes on because I want them to succeed.

Well, how can this apply to social dancing? When I ask someone to dance, I minimize my expectations of what the person being asked might say. They might say “no,” they might say “yes,” they might say either with a qualification. Regardless, I’ll respect their answer and move on. This allows them a graceful acceptance or exit. By modeling this, hopefully you’d experience the same when responding to someone’s inquiry about dancing a song.

Timing is Everything

One of my favorite songs growing up had the lyrics “Time is ticking away, tick tick ticking away.” It repeats in my head sometimes when I’m rushing to meetings, texting people I might be late due to traffic, or waiting for people to arrive. Needless to say, time is very important, important enough to include “Arrive early to class” into our Code of Conduct.

We greatly appreciate the people that show up early and are ready to learn. Our Swing 1 class at The Arvada Tavern is crushing expectations right now. Jesse and I also try to reward our timely Swing 3 students by diving immediately into material at 7pm when class starts. We prefer to reward those people rather than making them wait.

What would you think if we started classes late or ran them late? If you’re like most people, you probably have a schedule to keep  and you have expectations set forth by our calendar and advertisements – class starts at X time, classes are 75 minutes long, the dance starts at 9pm. I once showed up at a dance that was supposed to start at 8pm. It started at 8:25pm.

We want you in class for the entire time. We get that life can sometimes sneak up on you (or metro Denver traffic). In the end, we want you in class even if you’re late because we want you to learn the great material we have planned. But… please do your absolute best to arrive ready to start on time.

The 6 Song Rule

ask-to-dance

With a knee injury, you get a lot of socializing practice and you learn new things. Last week, I learned how one dancer helps others feel welcome. We’ll call it the 6 Song Rule.

Apparently, she pays attention to people that may have been sitting out a long time without being asked to dance. If she noticed that this person had been sitting out 6 songs, she’ll ask them to dance. That way they’ll feel more welcome into our dance community that can be intimidating at times. I think we all could learn something here.

Giving The Band Appreciation

I recently read an article where someone was encouraging swing dancers to thank the band before thanking their partner. This was on my mind last night especially when we hosted the Paul Asaro Quartet at The Arvada Tavern. I thought it about so much I accidentally faked Jesse into thinking I was giving her a high five when really I was preparing some awesome clapping.

Anyway, I liked what they said about thanking the band first by clapping or exulting them with a “yeah!”

Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five at DCLX
Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five at DCLX

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