I'm at the fantabulous Lindy Focus swing festival in Asheville, North Carolina, and the event is as amazing as you've heard. One of the new additions this year is the posting of a Code of Conduct for their event.
As organizer Michael Gamble states on Facebook:
Lindy Focus is dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable event experience for everyone, therefore all attendees, instructors, staff, and volunteers at Lindy Focus are required to comply with the following code of conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event. We are expecting cooperation from all participants to help ensure a safe environment for everybody.
The Code includes a strict anti-harassment policy and guidelines to be respectful to all both on and off the dancefloor.
Lindy Focus is dedicated to providing a safe and comfortable event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, ability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of event participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery in social situations is not appropriate for any event venue, including dances, workshops, competitions, Twitter, Facebook, and other online media. Event participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers.
There are designated "Safety Staffers" to get help, a hotline number, and a "Safe Space" sign at the front desk. It's an impressive level of organization and forethought for an event known for it's crazy parties and shenanigans.
Other Codes of Conduct?
Lindy Focus is far from the first or only event to issue a Code of Conduct for their participants. Blues events have had them for awhile, for example Steel City Blues "Safe Spaces Policy". Fog City Stomp, a lindy event in San Francisco just in it's second year, has one as well.
Regular venues have codes of conduct too. Here's one from Mobtown Ballroom in Baltimore that is pretty awesome. It includes guidance on romantic / sexual advances at their dance:
Don’t treat the ballroom like a pick-up joint. Our patrons do not represent a large pool of people for you to hit on. If you engage in this kind of behavior and make our patrons uncomfortable, we will take extreme pleasure in escorting you to the door.
Really the whole thing is fantastic and worth a read.
Here's others that people have shared with us (listed updated as we get them):
There are lots of reasons why Codes of Conduct and statements like it are a good step for the lindy community. As we mature as a movement, many of our events are entering into their tenth year of operations. What was once a few friends in a city inviting others in the neighboring areas to come on over and party has become weeklong festivals involving paid staff, teachers and musicians, and hundreds of volunteers. It just makes sense to be up front about your values and what behaviors you want to support (and discourage / ban.)
On the flip side, there can be lots of negative impacts for not publishing a Code of Conduct. Without some kind of clear statement, people's worst tendencies can start to dominate an event. If someone misbehaves, it can be harder to expel him or her from your event.
Word-of-mouth is key to the success of any lindy event. If you become known for fostering an unsafe or harassing environment then people are going to make other choices for where to spend their lindy dollar. And as the lindy scene ages, older dancers, people with kids and others have to judicious about where they spend their time.
For the future of lindy hop, for those who don't know us yet, I think it's important that we be up front about what are values as a community. What kind of environment do we want to support? One that is welcoming to a transgender person, someone with disabilities, older dancers with toddlers, non-drinkers...? These are choices that every event organizer has to make for themselves.
So we'd love to see other local, regional, national and international events coming up with their own Codes of Conduct. Share yours with us here, on Facebook or Twitter. Here's a generic Code that Creative Common's licensed to get you started. And if you want advice or examples of bad behavior, head over to the "Safety Dance" group on Facebook.
[Links and conversation about this topic over at the /swingdancing Subreddit]