There’s a note circulating online about the ‘sexual’ nature of festivals. Specifically, it’s about how three women got pregnant at a recent festival in Europe. The note also touches on the power dynamics between professionals and attendees, as well as how many events are marketing the ‘sexy’ slant.

While all of these things do happen at some events, I think the conversation requires some clarification. Part of this is in service of beginners who are entering the festival circuit for the first time. I know I wouldn’t go to congresses if I though it was all sex – I just want to dance!

1. Not everyone is having sex.

Out of those who are, several are doing so with long-term partners they are attending the festival with. Some also have a long-distance friend-with-benefits who they adore, and regularly reconnect with.

Yes, there are casual hookups – and there’s nothing wrong with that, if both parties are consenting and smart about it. But, if it’s not for you, don’t do it. Sex isn’t the foundation of the congress experience, even at party events.

Even if a lot of people are hooking up, dancers generally don’t expect a hookup because of a steamy dance. If hooking up isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can still have a fun, engaging, and thrilling weekend without heading to the hotel room.

If you are the person who is proposing the hookup, be respectful. If a person says ‘no’ (explicitly or implicitly), move on. If sex is that important to you, go find someone else. There is no excuse for badgering someone into sex. 

2. Rock-Star Syndrome

Some pro’s hook up a lot at congresses. Some newer dancers don’t realize this.

When someone has rock-star dancer status, their intense romantic advances can be very flattering. These people know that they’re admired; they know that people want to dance with them. For a new dancer that idolizes a pro, this can be almost overwhelming. It’s like meeting your favourite Hollywood icon: they don’t have any ‘real’ power over you. But, it’s hard to think straight near them.

This can lead to a regretted hookup.

If a pro is seducing you, be aware that this is probably ‘just another night’ for them. There are rare cases where these relationships last beyond the weekend – but it isn’t the norm. Always assume you are the norm.

Some of the pro’s who have weekend hookups are quite nice people – they just really enjoy casual sex. They may even continue to be on good terms with their former partners, and strike up a friendship. Others cast partners aside after one night. In some cases, pro’s may even be married or in a ‘serious’ relationship – even if they don’t tell you.

– Great dance skills do not make someone a great person.
– Wanting to hook up does not make someone a bad person. 

If you are actually OK with a fling, that’s fine – just be safe about it. Keep your eyes open. Ask questions if you need to. Use protection.

3. Sexual harassment or assault is Never OK

No matter how sexy the dance or how alluring the partner, harassment is  Never OK. If you are not OK with something that is being done to you, speak up. If they don’t stop, tell someone.

Most harassment I’ve had involves a person I am dancing with for the first time. These are the butt-grabbers, boob-feelers, and cheek-lickers. These are the ones who you walk away from. Most of the time, they’re hoping you’ll say nothing. They know it is wrong. They’re trying to ‘get away with’ the behavior. So, say something and walk away. Report them, if you feel like it’s a good idea.

Sexual harassment can also happen when you are getting to know someone. These are (thankfully) more rare, but can be harder to deal with. If you are uncomfortable, say something. A decent person will respect your wishes.  If they refuse to listen, walk away. If you feel it is important, you can also report them.

It’s very rare to have someone who refused to respect your wishes. But, it can happen occasionally. If it does, tell the organizers or other staff. They are responsible for keeping people safe at their event.

If you are underage, NO adults should be hitting on you. If they won’t stop after you tell them your age, report them immediately.

4. Choose your Event

Some promoters like to play up the sexy-party element of the event. If you’re not into a sexy-party culture, I’d suggest looking elsewhere for your event choice.

Every event has its own ‘vibe’. Depending on your personality and desires, you’ll find certain events meet your needs better than others. For example:

  • The Nightclub Vacation (sexy themes, sexy people, lots of booze, lots of partying)
  • The Competition Powerhouse (competition-focused entertainment and events)
  • The Chill Getaway (fewer workshops, relaxing daytrips, low-key evenings)
  • The Marathon (all social dancing, all the time)
  • The Education Powerhouse (high-quality workshops with a strong program)
  • The Epic Dancing Event (top DJ’s, great floors, high-quality social dancers)

Some events have more than one focus. But, the aspects of the event that are ‘sold’ to the public tell you what the organizers are focusing on. If you pick a congress that is more in line with your values and personality, you’ll tend to have more fun.

Yes, there are still hookups at every event – but the tone also sets the expectation for behavior and volume of hookups. For example, a Nightclub Vacation is selling sexiness. An Education Powerhouse is selling opportunities to grow. An Epic Dancing event is selling quality social dancing.

Which do you think will bring out the dancers looking for a hookup?

5. If you can’t talk about protection, you’re not mature enough to be having sex.

This may sound very grade-school, but it’s still true. Sex has consequences. It can have more consequences if it’s with someone you don’t know well.

Both parties have a responsibility to take precautions. No matter who you are and who you’re hooking up with, you have the possibility to catch STD’s. Some can be life-altering. That’s Incentive #1 for talking about protection.

Women: Most of you can get pregnant if you’re having sex with an opposite-sex partner. It’s hard to be a single mom. Depending on your values and where you live, abortion may not be an option. Use protection. If the guy won’t listen, don’t do things that will get you pregnant.

Men: It’s your responsibility to not get a girl pregnant. If you’re a responsible adult that sticks around to care for your children, chances are you’re responsible enough to use protection. If you’re not, you owe it to the woman to protect her from being a single mom.