As it is Women’s Month, we will be posting a series of blog entries that showcase the experiences and viewpoints of women. To begin, we believe it would be timely to share the insights gleaned from a recent gathering for women in the dance and movement communities of Cape Town.
Recently, Cape Town Swing (CTS) took part in a significant event called Womxn in Dance. The gathering brought together around 30 women from various dance communities, including Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba (SBK), and Swing dance scenes. The main objective of the event was to discuss essential issues facing the dance scene, led by an external facilitator and a consent coach. The gathering aimed to create a safe and secure space for sharing experiences, promoting solidarity, and developing intentional processes to establish safer and more inclusive dance environments.
The organisers’ report is available here.
This event was inspired by reports of both sexual and financial abuses within Cape Town’s dance communities in recent months. Swing dance communities have been actively addressing safety issues for some years now, prompted by incidents reported in the international scene in 2015 and in 2017. As a result CTS has developed clear Safer Spaces policies to ensure the safety of its community.
Promoting Safety and Zero Tolerance
During the discussions, participants emphasised the importance of establishing a basic level of safety, and of implementing a zero-tolerance policy towards abusive behaviours in dance scenes. There was widespread agreement that taking concrete actions to address these behaviours is crucial in creating a safe and inclusive environment.
Fostering a Culture of Consent
One key theme that emerged was the significance of consent culture. It was deemed crucial to establish clear etiquette in dance spaces and eliminate any expectations of romantic or gendered dynamics, in order to ensure everyone’s comfort and enjoyment.
Involving Men in a Meaningful Way
Participants emphasised the importance of involving men in these discussions in a positive and constructive manner to foster meaningful allyship. By encouraging men to participate in a safe and respectful manner, dance communities could become safer and more cohesive.
Celebrating Dance Journeys
From increased confidence to forming platonic connections with men, dancers shared stories of growth and self-discovery, building a sense of camaraderie, empowerment and hope. It was also noted that women should be encouraged to take on leadership roles such as DJs, teachers, and organisers – a key way to foster respect for women within dance communities.
“It has boosted my confidence in life generally”
“I want to play; I want to be safe”
“I don’t want to feel that my only option is to stay away“
The event was a great opportunity to bring attention to the challenges that women face in dance environments, and it was inspiring to see dancers from various communities come together to discuss these issues. The event also showcased some of the safer space policies and practices in global dance scenes and Cape Town’s dance communities. Participants left with a sense of hope, believing that positive change could be achieved by adopting, adapting, and revising shared codes of conduct and zero-tolerance policies.