This post is a three-parter.
Part one: Where are we at on this sexual harassment and assault thing?
Part two: Be ok with people saying no to you.
Part three: Part two a: How To Get A Date With A Lindy Hopper, by Sam (currently entrenched in a happy, healthy 13 year relationship with a lindy hopper)
So my current issue or Small Item Of Note is working on the idea that we all have to be ok with people knocking us back when we ask them to dance.
There is this persistent idea in the lindy hop world that we should always say yes to every dance invitation. So that we can make everyone feel welcome and everyone feel comfortable in our scene.
My thing is this: I don’t want everyone to feel comfortable. I want those men who exploit this idea to feel very uncomfortable. I want them to think twice before they ask a woman to dance. I want them to hesitate. In fact, I don’t want them in the room at all. They are not welcome. THEY ARE NOT WELCOME. This behaviour will NOT be tolerated.
If women feel ok about saying ‘No thanks’ to dance invites, they will say no to dance invites. And when the men who ask them to dance risk a ‘no’, they will do their best to make sure they are desirable dance partners. They’ll behave well. They won’t grope or hold a woman too tight. They won’t pressure them for their phone number or stalk them on facebook. They won’t become aggressive arseholes telling women off because they said ‘no thanks’. They’ll figure out that if they act like arseholes, they’ll get their just desserts: no one will dance with them. They won’t be welcome.
Right now, reading this, I know some of you women will be thinking, “But what if no one ever asks me to dance again? What if they’re too scared to ask me, if they think I’ll say no?” It’s just like dating, right? Some men are going to be too afraid to ask you. And that’s ok. You don’t have to make it easy for every man to get all up in your face asking you for a date or dance invitation. You’re not there for their pleasure. You’re there for you. But you’ll also find that plenty of other men will be totally ok with asking you, even if they know you might say no.
And – wrap your brain around this stunner –
you should be ok with asking men to dance.
The idea that only ‘gentlemen ask ladies to dance’? Throw that in the BIN. It is bad news. BAD, bad news. You can totally ask anyone to dance! Ask that man! Ask that woman! Dance on your own! They may say no, they may say yes. You don’t know until you ask!
So let’s workshop this sucker.
You want to dance. So you approach person X because they look a) friendly, b) nice, c) unsweaty, d) like a great dancer, e) your best friend. Whatevs it is that attracts you.
You rock on up, smile, look them in the eye and say “Hi, would you like to dance?”
Ok, there are two possible responses:
“No thank you”
If they say “No thank you,” say “Hey, no worries, maybe later?” and then move on and ask someone else to dance. If they say “Yeah, sure,” in reply to that, here’s a tip:
it is not a legal contract requiring them to dance with you later. It could just be social pleasantries, a way of being nice and helping you save face.
Here’s another tip: someone can say “No thanks,” to you every single time you ask them to dance. And that’s ok. You need to suck that up. Because they just don’t want to dance with you. THEY DON’T WANT TO DANCE WITH YOU. Their reasons are none of your business. Just deal with it.
Another tip: if you keep asking, and they keep saying no, there is something wrong with you. BACK OFF, BUDDY. STOP ASKING. It’s CREEPY.
Wait, even scarier: what if they say “Yes please”?
Tip: you get on out there and be a decent human being so they may say yes to you again in the future. And because there are heaps of other people in the room too, and they’re watching you dance. Yes, they are. It’s social dancing, yo – we are all watching each other! Because we are in a public place.
Tip: if you are a decent human being while you dance, there is a good chance SOMEONE MAY ASK YOU TO DANCE. INORITE?! OMG!
Tip: if you are not a decent human being, you’re going to get a) boycotted by prospective dance partners, b) told to stop being a dick by other people.*
‘Decent human being dancing’:
- Don’t touch any breasts, bums, groins, thighs (hips are ok), necks. I know you might think doing this ‘by accident’ is ok, but it’s not – if you are paying attention to your partner, you will never accidentally ‘boob swipe’. PAY ATTENTION.
- Don’t hurt anyone (ie treat them like they’re humans you could hurt – no wrenching, yanking, pulling, pushing, pinching, punching, lifting, dropping, kicking). NO aerials without previous, off-dancefloor enthusiastic vocal consent. None of this ‘I thought she was up for it’ talk. NO. STOP.
- Don’t talk about sex, don’t ask for their number (it could be ok to give them yours, but they’re not obliged to use it), don’t ask them on a date (until you have met them more than once), don’t talk about how your bf/gf/wife/husband doesn’t understand you and then ask them for a date.
- If you wouldn’t do it to someone in the street, don’t do it to someone here on the dance floor.
Right now I can hear some of the sadder members of our community saying
“But how do you get a date with someone in the scene if there are so many rules?”
Firstly: I am sighing at you, manbabies. You need to get some social skills, you really do.
Secondly: being a grown up decent human being: there are rules. Get fucking used to it. Level up and stop being such a fucking sook.
*That’s you. Anyone can tell someone to stop being a dick. You don’t have to be a teacher or a famous person. You can just be you. Tell that person to stop that. It’s ok. It’s legit. You can be a man or a woman – just say it: “Hey man, better quit touching women’s bums when they’re dancing. It gives them the shits and it’s making me cranky.”