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Sotaki Community Guidelines

At Sotaki Dance School, we strive to provide all community members with a welcoming, safe, positive, harassment-free experience. Our community is composed of people of all races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, religions and spiritualities, ages, body shapes, socio-economic statuses, and immigrant statuses. Harassment and inappropriate behavior of any type will not be tolerated. Furthermore, we are committed to creating an environment of inclusivity and accountability amongst all community members.

All community members will be expected to uphold the following Code of Conduct. As leaders in the dance industry, we commit to educating community members around the Code of Conduct and our expectations surrounding appropriate behavior.

Click to report a code of conduct violation

The Rules:
  1. Be curious - You are DANCING, with another HUMAN BEING! It’s pretty amazing.

  2. Be Kind - You never know where/what your partner comes from, maybe it’s their first dance ever, or they had a rough dance before you, or they are from a different culture - try not to judge, be empathetic.

  3. Be gentle - Imagine you’re dancing with your mom. If you were dancing with your mom, you would do things gently - No sharp and/or strong movements/head movements/dips. Check boundaries gradually and slowly.

Consent & Safety
  1. Be safe with your partner (see rule number 2 for emotional safety and rule 3 for physical safety). ESPECIALLY with any tilted movements and dips - start very slowly and gently.

  2. We are learning to connect and use our bodies in ways that we might not be practiced at. Sometimes it will be awkward and sometimes we will make mistakes. Please be sensitive to this process

  3. Do not intentionally caress breasts or genitals.

  4. Ask BEFORE you do these things the first time: caressing, lifting, hugging, kissing, and anything alike that might be considered intimate.

  5. Avoid touching faces (with your own face or hand, unless agreed), neck, legs.

  6. You might unintentionally violate a boundary. Please be open and humble if someone tells you this.

  7. Others may violate your boundaries. Please be courageous in using your words to communicate your needs and/or stop a dance if needed (“Don’t do that please”, “I’m not comfortable with this” etc.)

  8. You are encouraged to voice concerns about any behavior to any of the teachers.

community leaders, who will hear you without judgment and work to resolve the situation.

Dancing Safely
  1. Avoid yanking, jerking, or forceful movement (risk of shoulder, arm, neck, and upper-back injuries).

  2. Avoid bending over your partner during a dip (risk of lower back injuries).

  3. Avoid sudden weight sharing (“dropping your weight”).

  4. Lifts are NOT allowed on the social dance floor, even with consent, out of concern to others.

  5. If the dance feels unsafe, clearly and politely communicate what feels unsafe and what you want. For example, say “That movement is too forceful for my body, can you please be more gentle.”

  6. If your dance partner seems in pain, ask if they are okay. For example, say “Hey, are you in any pain? Is there a way we can dance together that would be more comfortable to you?”

  7. Leads and follows should both be alert and practice good floor craft. Be conscious of who is around. If you accidentally hit or kick another dancer, apologize and make sure they are ok.

COVID and illness
  1. Participants who feel unwell or exhibit symptoms will stay at home. Those who have a body temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be allowed to participate and asked to leave. Proper wearing of face masks will be required for the duration of Sotaki events unless otherwise specified.

  2. We encourage participants to follow public health guidelines for all national, state, and local requirements.

  3. We encourage all participants to practice regular hand washing and sanitizing upon arrival, between dances, and departure.

Race and gender

  1. Participants will practice anti-racism by speaking up when racist behaviors or microaggressions are observed. If you do not feel safe to speak up, please notify a staff member to resolve the issue.

  2. We recognize and accept any people and/or pronoun that one may associate themselves with.

  3. As a community we will respect other participants by using their gender pronouns. If someone makes a mistake and assumes gender/pronoun, we will show empathy and let them know how we want to be referred to. They are then expected to correct themselves. If they do not correct themselves/pick on any person's identity, please notify a staff member so we can deal with this violation.

 

BEFORE a social/class:
  1. Shower. Wear clean clothes.

  2. Brush your teeth before, bring mints to refresh throughout the night.

  3. Use deodorant and be mindful of yourself during the night - you might need to refresh.

  4. Do not overuse cologne/perfume, even “good” smells can be too much.

  5. Sweaty? Bring extra shirts and a towel. No one likes to hug a wet shirt!

  6. Avoid clothing with spikes or sharp edges that may hurt a partner.

  7. Empty your right pant leg (of keys, phone, anything else) and to wear supportive undergarments (guys, avoid loose boxers).

 

DURING a social/class:
  1. Be there. Excessive amounts of any intoxicating substances can make you lose balance or mentally “check out” of your dance. Respect your partners by limiting those.

  2. Say hello. It is recommended to introduce yourself and any limitations that you might have when dancing with someone - we do call it a “social”, knowing the people you dance with is a social thing, and it makes everyone more comfortable.

  3. Listen (verbally and physically) to each of your partner’s physical boundaries, in regards to close embrace, injuries they tell you about etc.

  4. If you receive feedback about physical safety or boundaries, treat it with respect, even if you are sure that you are not in the wrong. Listen, ask questions, thank them, and seek additional perspective or advice from other members or teachers if needed after or during the class.

  5. Check your hygiene regularly, you can ask a friend or a teacher for a second opinion.

  6. Dance with everybody, especially unfamiliar people. Try to dance at least 2-3 songs with each partner. Give the best possible dance to every partner. We want the community to grow.

  7. Do not teach or give feedback on the dance floor during a social unless it is requested or the movement was dangerous or painful. If you get feedback, you may listen to the feedback or kindly decline. For instance, you can say “I’d like for feedback to be given only during lessons, if you don’t mind.”

  8. You can end a dance at any time that you like Zouk socials has a seamless flow of music, and sometimes we don’t know when a song ended. (More on that below)

  9. Say “Thank you” at the end of dances and/or, if you feel your safety was unintentionally violated, you can offer feedback to your partner. (More on that below)

Boundaries During Socials
  1. You have the right to accept or refuse any dance without needing to give a reason or apology. Learn to say “no,” “not right now,” and “yes.” Dancing with someone else during the same song may be viewed as impolite, but your safety is more valuable than good manners.

  2. You can end a dance with a light squeeze and a thank you.

  3. In socials - be cautious of anyone promoting themselves as a teacher or mentor by using tactics that explicitly undermine your confidence in yourself and/or your dancing. A social should be for fun.

  4. Practice using verbal and non-verbal methods of changing holds from close to open embrace.

  5. Move to verbal feedback whenever you need it ("Hey, this feels uncomfortable to me")

  6. If you receive feedback about physical safety or boundaries, treat it with respect, even if you are sure that you are not in the wrong. Listen, ask questions, thank them, and seek additional perspective or advice from other members or teachers if needed after the dance.

 

Dance Roles

Anyone can lead, and anyone can follow, and anyone can try the other role.

Be safe and gentle when trying new things.

Professional Conduct Standards for Teachers & Community Leaders
  1. Sotaki teachers value and care for students and act in their best interest.

  2. Sotaki teachers are community role models who act honestly and take responsibility in their actions, especially about any misconduct or behaviors they might have had in the past, as well as taking responsibility for their present behavior, and remaining open to feedback and learning.

  3. Sotaki teachers have a broad knowledge base and understand what they teach.

  4. Sotaki teachers engage in learning throughout their teaching career.

  5. Sotaki teachers advertise for, and solicit students, in an ethical manner.

  6. Sotaki teachers are asked to be supportive of other teachers who follow these standards.

  7. Sotaki teachers understand that the relationship between teacher and student has a power imbalance and act with responsibility. When romantic relationships or friendships occur within the teacher/student power imbalance there is a risk that the person with less power may feel a reduced ability to enforce boundaries. Sotaki educators are asked to be aware of these risks.

  8. Sotaki teachers use best practices for gathering accurate feedback on their teaching by including a mix of both verbal and non-verbal methods and anonymous feedback.

  9. Sotaki teachers are aware of abuses of power such as gas-lighting and other predator-victim grooming techniques so that they can avoid these behaviors and spot those actively engaging in them in the community.

I understand and accept the Sotaki community guidelines.

At Sotaki, we understand that not all participants will uphold the Code of Conduct at all times. As a community, we strive to treat each other with respect and hold each other accountable. We encourage individuals to manage issues when they arise and inform us of any inappropriate behavior.

Sotaki reserves the right to address misconduct in a manner appropriate to the extent of the misconduct in a variety of ways ranging from having a conversation and setting clear expectations of behavior to permanent denial of entry to all future Sotaki activities.

Participants who experience or observe inappropriate behavior may submit a report in the following ways:

  1. Contact any teacher/staff member personally

  2. Submit this form with contact information - we promise to never share your identity with anyone unless you agree to it, we might contact you for more information about the incident

  3. Submit this form anonymously - if anonymity is important to you, don't type your name it - we will not know who you are, and won't be able to reach you for more details

 
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