At Cape Town Swing events, we strive to create safer spaces where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome regardless of their age, gender, skin color, sexual preference, or level of ability. An essential part of making this a reality is building a culture that is diverse, kind, generous, and accepting of differences. We think this starts by encouraging and promoting respect amongst our dancers.
When it comes to any form of discomfort, the first prize is prevention, for which we have two strategies:
- We try to educate dancers about boundaries, respect, and looking out for one another. We build consent into our classes and culture, and we have a comprehensive Code of Conduct that you implicitly agree to if you join any of our events.
- We have a Safer Spaces team that will be looking out for you at our events and who can be approached with any safety concerns You can identify the members by their orange heart pins.
Equally important, however, is establishing structures that protect our community members in the case that our values of care and inclusion are not upheld. The aim of this page is to outline the processes we have created for dancers to report incidents and the actions that will be take to support those that 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 from person to person, but the main criterion is: I feel uncomfortable.
If you feel uncomfortable in any way (at one of our events or from an interaction with one of our regular dancers), we strongly encourage you to report it to us. 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.
- 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 1 incidents from Level 2, is the feeling of danger. The main criterion for Level 2 is that you are feeling uncomfortable 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 assaulted me
- They raped me
- They tried to hurt, touch and/ or rape me
- They forced me to touch them
- They hurt me
- 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. At least one team member is present at every CTS event to answer any questions or support individuals as needed. They can be identified by their orange heart pins.