As social dancers, we navigate a complex world of body language and social relationships. Sometimes, we successfully figure them out. Other times, we don’t.

This “Bill of Rights and Obligations” is designed to give all dancers a guideline for how they should expect to be treated, and how they are expected to treat others.

Note: “expect to be treated” doesn’t mean that you will be treated that way – but it does mean that if you are not treated that way, it is wrong and should not be tolerated.

Bill of Rights

You always have the right to:

  1. Be treated with human decency at all times.
  2. Not be discriminated against based on your age, weight, height, gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, etc.*
  3. Personal safety and security, including freedom from sexual harassment, in all places.*
  4. Decline dances or interactions with anyone, at any time, for any reason.
  5. Dance within your ability, safety and comfort level.
  6. Refuse to do movements that you don’t want to do, or feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing.
  7. Speak up in situations or dances that jeopardize your well-being.
  8. Leave a dance at any time for any reason.*

Bill of Obligations

As a member of the community, you are obligated to:

  1. Treat others with human decency at all times.
  2. Not discriminate against others.
  3. Not harass, insult, or assault other members of the community.
  4. Accept ‘No’s given by potential or current partners.
  5. Not injure or put your partners at risk during a dance.
  6. Respect the limitations or requests of your partners.
  7. Ensure your partners are consenting to all activities you do with them, on or off the floor.

Best Practices

This is different from a right or obligation. These are not ‘baseline’ minimums; these are what is commonly accepted as the ‘right’ thing to do etiquette-wise.

  1. If you are declining to do something (like a dance or movement), be polite and kind.
  2. If your partner says ‘No’ to anything, be gracious and don’t press the matter further.
  3. If you say yes to a dance, engage fully with your dance partner – regardless of level.
  4. Avoid teaching on the floor whenever possible.
  5. Maintain good hygiene.
  6. Avoid movements that are widely disliked by a scene, unless you know your partner likes it (for example: touching the face of your partner, lifts, dips and drops).
  7. If you see a fellow dancer struggling with a disrespectful partner, ask if they would like help.
  8. Develop skills and strategies to deal with dangerous or disrespectful partners.

* Solving the ‘Discrimination vs. “Right to Say No” Conflict

This is an update to the original article, based on feedback from the community.

When I drafted this article, discrimination refers primarily to things that are systemic or sweeping. For example, not being allowed to join a team, class, event, activity, etc. because of a protected ground.

But, in most places, there is also ‘discrimination’ based on an individual basis for choices that directly affect the person doing the ‘discriminating’.

For example, in my Canadian province, a landlord in an apartment building may be liable for discrimination if they refuse to let people of a certain race rent an apartment, whereas an individual renting a room in their house is allowed to refuse rent to a person based on race because that person will be actively sharing the space and interacting with the individual. It may be uncool and frowned upon, but it’s not *illegal*.

So, in this case, you *have the right* to reject a dance with someone on a protected ground (even though you may be widely considered a jerk for it), but you *do not have the right* to prevent them from joining a particular activity, dance, team, etc. based on one of the protected grounds, if they’re otherwise qualified to attend.

Did we miss something? If you have something you would like to see added to any of the lists, leave it in the comments below.