In recent weeks, several very upsetting stories of sexual assault by a highly regarded international teacher have hit the swing dance scene. This is the second such incident in the past year, and it is time for us to discuss it here.
The Collegiate Shag family is lovely, and we share a responsibility for keeping it that way and supporting our fellow dancers. Bullying of any sort - whether sexual, physical, or emotional will not be tolerated.
At Shag Pile we promise:
Not to hire teachers with a history of unacceptable behaviour.
To treat everyone attending our classes with respect.
To eject anyone acting in an unacceptable manner.
To listen to everybody’s concerns and to act appropriately.
To treat all messages seriously and in the strictest confidence.
To respond to your suggestions.
In return, we would ask people attending our events to please:
- Consider the impact your behaviour (whether deliberate or accidental) can have on others. Be aware of your fellow dancers’ comfort, and consider what you can do to keep things lovely.
- Speak up if someone makes you uncomfortable, for whatever reason. One testimony can help prevent others from suffering. You can contact us anonymously via ShagPile.Sarahah.com
- Listen seriously if someone tells you something, and act appropriately. If you don’t know what to do, ask someone else.
- Pay attention. If you see or hear something that doesn't seem quite right, talk to someone.
- Don’t let someone’s aura of ‘status’ or ‘seniority’ affect your decision-making.
If a teacher does something bad, speak up.
- Consider your choice of words and who you are talking to when asking for a dance. Shag lends itself to innuendo which may not be funny to everyone.
On refusing a dance:
- In general, refusing a dance without good reason can be hurtful, so be generous with your dances, especially with beginners.
- However, if someone makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to dance with them, and you don’t have to give a reason why.
- A simple 'No thank you' should suffice.
- If you're in class and you don't want to dance with someone in rotation, this is a sign that the issue should be confronted ASAP. Step out of rotation, and let us know your feelings in a break.
- If someone says ‘no’ to you, respect that decision and consider what you can do to make them feel more at ease.
- For example, some people prefer not to dance up close and personal – this is an acceptable choice, so find a distance which is comfortable for both of you, or stop dancing.
As you will appreciate, this is an extremely sensitive subject, so this piece took some time to write. If you would like to use any or all of this message for your own purposes, please feel free.
We want Shag Pile to be as supportive an environment as possible, and we regard this statement as a work in progress, to be honed over time, so we appreciate your suggestions. Thank you also to those who have contributed so far.
Keep it lovely,
The Shag Pile team.