POSITIVE CHANGE PANEL

Sunday March 5th @ 8.30 pm

 

A swing scene (or any community) is way more fun for everybody
if everyone is confident and free and safe.

 

We invite all Girl Jam participants to a collective and constructive panel discussion about how all of us can continue working to make the swing dancing community a vibrant, safe and positive place for all. We’ll start by hearing from a panel of representatives from different scenes and events in Australia talk about what positive and proactive measures they have adopted, what has worked and what hasn’t, and what they would like to try in future.

From there we’ll open the floor for audience questions and conversation, and dedicate some time for everyone to gather and exchange ideas and strategies for how we can all create positive change.

Themes will be wide-ranging and may include:

  • safe space policies and codes of conduct
  • positive language/messaging in class and beyond
  • behaviour management, student empowerment and scene-wide support
  • formal and informal leadership
  • structural issues like equal pay and gender representation in DJing, musicians, event organisation and volunteering.

Outcome

 

We would love one outcome of this panel to be a working list of steps and strategies you can take back to your local scene, so bring your ideas for positive change and let’s do this together!

Moderator

Kate Davison started swing dancing in 2013 and divides her time on the dancefloor between her two homes, Melbourne and Berlin. Kate is a university scholar in gender and sexuality history and has amassed almost 20 years of experience in feminist theory and activism. She has also worked in advocacy and as a women's policy advisor, which included developing grievance procedures and safe conduct policies in political spaces.  

Panellists

Luna Godfrey has been swing dancing since 2007 and is passionate about teaching and sharing her love of swing dance. She is the director of Swing Out Adelaide which has classes in Lindy Hop, Balboa and Solo Jazz. Luna is very keen to work with others on strategies for improving the safety of the Australian swing scene.

Lexi Keeton has been organising Swing dance events for over 10 years across the Australia and the US. Originally from New York City, she grew up in an environment which celebrates diversity, equality and inclusivity. Lexi is honored to be able to host events that promote these values, and is committed to learning and growing more in the safe spaces area.

Nial Bruce has been dancing for 6 years now and in that time he has become obsessed with the dance known as "Collegiate Shag". Together with Annabelle Hale he’s dedicated a lot of time and effort to growing the shag scene in Australia, improving his own skills, and teaching abroad. Annabelle and Nial have always striven to ensure a fun and safe teaching environment for their students.

Vivi Kalman started dancing in 2009 and has been lucky to teach, DJ and perform all over Melbourne. A member of the Melbourne Jazz Dance Association, she is a key organiser of the annual Melbourne Lindy Exchange. Vivi has been heavily involved in drafting MLX's Code of Conduct and designing and implementing safety protocols for the event. She is currently a member of MLX's Safe Spaces team.

 

PANEL CONCLUSIONS

Shared Resources

Notes on panelists comments 

Please note that Lexi Keeton was absent due to illness.

Luna Godfrey, Swing Out Adelaide

  • Building class culture around friendliness, respect and consent from day 1
  1. Eliminating gendered terms and correcting students who use them (and they have started correcting themselves!) 
  2. Teaching them how to ask someone to dance (and practicing saying no) 
  3. Role playing requesting partner to do something different (eg hand position) 
  4. Agency for both leads and follows from day 1 (asking follows to make different choices to leads) 
  5. Not DJing music that depicts violence, non consent etc 
  • Code of conduct: 
  1. All students must agree in writing (doesn't guarantee that they read it though). 
  2. Posted at our venue, but we could do more in this regard 
  3. Have a procedure for receiving complaints, trying to give some control over the process to the person making the complaint (ie formal v informal etc) 
  4. Coming up this year: sexual assault training with Yarrow place and self care training with a psychologist.
  5. Self care is super important 
  6. So far in this year have issued bans to 2 people and have issued a few warnings. 
  7. It's a learning process! Looking back have not always handled things very well and am always looking for new ideas and methods. 
  • Things to work on:
  1. Approachability (some people find me intimidating because of my place in the scene)
  2. Sharing the load amongst several people to safeguard against burn out
  3. Making sure we are inclusive, increasing representation

Nial Bruce, Melbourne teacher

What can men do?

  • Position ourselves as allies to help empower women and others in the scene
  • Listen when a victim speaks up
  • Show that we are aware. Sometimes we are insulated from what's happening because we don't "see it". This means that no one will tell you when it does happen. But we can show that we are aware even by some of the smallest acts.
  • Share articles on social media, like posts about these topics from others, share news about misconduct in the scene
  • If you are teaching, volunteer that your name goes second in event details. So many teaching couples are advertised with the man's name first. When this is so prevalent it subtly indicates what the more valuable role/gender is.
  • Call out sexist behaviour when you see it or hear it, and shut it down in classes
  • Use gender neutral language when talking about roles
  • And once again SUPPORT the women in your scene

Vivi Kalman, Melbourne Lindy Exchange Safe Spaces Team

MLX’s priority is protecting event attendees from antisocial or inappropriate behaviour, and promoting a culture where inappropriate behaviour is recognised as unacceptable

  • MLX Safe Spaces is geared not towards reputational damage of an individual, but rather, towards enforcing appropriate, courteous and respectful behaviour at our events, at all times.
  • MLX Safe Spaces is tailored to the needs and capacity of our unique event. Our decisions are driven primarily by an assessment of MLX’s capacity to guarantee the complete safety of event attendees 
  • We believe that maintaining community trust in the fairness of our processes is crucial to the success of our program. 
  • To this end, we have developed a standard response process that is applied to every complaint. We have found that every complaint is different. We have also attempted to make our processes as non-confrontational as possible for the reporter. We always engage with people against whom reports are made to request their response.  
  • Safe Spaces is also about promoting cultural change in the community. This starts in classes and weekly socials. But exchange weekends are the perfect time to put it into practice. This means actively looking for opportunities to positively contribute to promoting safety and equality in our scene. If you’re not sure how to be part of this movement, ask us! If you have an idea, let us know. We want to hear from you.