Safety and Access

Collectively Blue and North Star Blues Safety and Access Policy

Effective August 2023

Mission and Values Statement

We aim to provide a comfortable and supportive environment in which we can share our love of Blues music and Blues dancing. To do so, we have developed the following code of conduct as a guideline for how we want to share space together, and a Safety and Access policy to explain how we will address concerns. These guidelines are not exhaustive, and we expect all attendees to follow them not just to the letter, but also in spirit. The values guiding our concern resolution process are flexibility, confidentiality, transparency, mediation, and restoration.

We want every single person, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, religion, or other identifying feature. to be able to feel welcomed and comfortable in our spaces. We acknowledge that Safer Spaces policies have historically prioritized white women to the detriment of Black dancers and other dancers of color, which is particularly problematic given that Blues is a Black American dance. Collectively Blue commits to celebrating Black voices in our community and to amplify our belief that Black Lives Matter. Anyone who shares those goals with us is welcome in the space. If you are still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement — and all non-Black attendees are assumed to be still learning about the Black Lives Matter movement — we ask that you use this event as a place to keep your mind open, listen with empathy, and let your dancing and your presence become a stepping stone in supporting this urgent message. Racism will not be tolerated at our events.

If you would like to attend one of our events but are facing some kind of obstacle to doing so, please let us know! We are working all the time on making our events more welcoming, and while we cannot always meet every need, we will do our best to support you.

The Code of Conduct

Collectively Blue will not tolerate harassment of any kind, including but not limited to sexual harassment, verbal abuse, assault, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ageism, ableism, or defamation of character. We also do not permit underage drinking nor use of any substances that are illegal in Minnesota at our events.

We aim to balance a variety of needs with respect to access and our space. Registered service animals are welcome, but pets are not unless discussed in advance with event hosts. Please limit the use of strong fragrances. We also will provide gender-neutral bathrooms whenever possible and will do our best to avoid common food allergens in the foods that we provide. We strongly encourage minors under 16 to have an accompanying parent or guardian — we are happy to waive admission if you are at the event to support a minor. If you have some access need that is not mentioned here, please contact us and let us know how we may make our spaces more accessible for you.

Collectively Blue expects that all attendees guide their behavior with the following statements:

  • I will contribute to making a community that is safe, open, honest, and enjoyable for all involved. I recognize that the purpose of social partner dancing is to have fun and share my love of Blues Dance and music with other people. I will make the best effort to be attentive to my dance partner and appreciate each dance with each person regardless of background, race, gender, beliefs, or skill level.
  • I am encouraged to actively participate in building the dance community. To do so, I will seek out new people to dance with or talk to. I can also foster connections by introducing or reintroducing myself with each new dance.
  • I am allowed to say no to a dance for any reason.
  • I am encouraged to set boundaries with words.
  • I understand that not all bodies are the same, and that not all peoples’ needs are obvious. If I am asked to accommodate a boundary, disability, injury etc. I will attempt to do so respectfully.
  • I understand that consenting to a dance is not the same as consenting to anything else. I also understand that there are both verbal and nonverbal ways that someone may communicate or indicate discomfort and I will check in with my partner if I am not sure.
  • I understand that Blues Dances generally start in close embrace and that close embrace is not inherently sexual. If I am situationally uncomfortable with close embrace, I am allowed to set a boundary and take more space. Because close embrace is historically and culturally important to Blues Dance, we note that if you are categorically opposed to close embrace, that Blues Dance may not be a good fit for you.
  • I understand that every dance with another person is a privilege. I understand that asking someone to dance is a request, not a demand, and that they do not owe me an explanation of their reasons. I will receive any acceptance or rejection with grace. I also understand that saying no to a specific dance does not mean saying no to the song.
  • I understand that dance roles do not equate to gender. People of any and all genders are free to choose to lead, follow, or both.
  • I will be mindful of myself, my dance partner, and my surroundings when I dance. I will not attempt large moves, lifts, kicks, or other movements that may cause injury and/or discomfort to my dance partner, myself, or those around me. I will do my best not to bump or step on other dancers. I will be gracious if I do and still gracious if someone does it to me.
  • I will not use substances that are illegal or are not allowed at a particular time or in a particular venue/jurisdiction. I will be mindful of my consumption of legal intoxicants and how that relates to how I carry myself in the social space. If I am impaired to the degree that I cannot follow the code of conduct, I will sit out and take steps such as reaching out for help from a Safety and Access Team member, having a snack, and hydrating.
  • I will not smoke or vape cannabis or tobacco inside our venues.
  • I will not teach on the social dance floor. I will not offer unsolicited advice about someone’s dancing. If someone asks me for dance advice, I will take that interaction off the social floor to keep the space open for dancing.
  • I will take care of my hygiene. I will bring towels, hygiene products, and spare changes of clothing to ensure I look, smell, and feel clean. I will check my sweat and body odor on a regular basis and clean myself up as necessary. I will not use strongly-fragranced products.
  • It is okay for me to tell my dance partner if something they do causes me pain or discomfort. I will make my best effort to inform them and give them an opportunity to change it. I understand that communication can clear up misunderstandings before they build. I recognize that people are sometimes unaware that their actions are uncomfortable until they are informed.
  • I will respect the physical and personal boundaries of my fellow attendees on and off the dance floor. If I receive feedback from my dance partner about something that causes them pain or discomfort, I will take it graciously. I will respect all communication of boundaries, such as requests for space or to end engagement of any kind.
  • I will respect the stated identity of all attendees. I will make every effort to use the names and pronouns given by the other attendees. If I am informed that a term or phrase makes others feel unsafe, I will stop using it.
  • I will not bring firearms or weapons of any kind into Collectively Blue events. I will responsibly manage any knives needed for a clear purpose (for example: cutting food, first aid) and I will responsibly manage any small (<3” blade) pocket knives I routinely carry.
  • I will bring inappropriate actions that I personally experience or observe to the attention of the organizers. We are here to provide a safe, welcoming space for us to engage in an activity we all enjoy. We cannot address problems that we do not know about! I can report things via this form.
  • I will be respectful of the teachers, staff members, DJs, and organizers. I will make every effort to get to classes and workshops on time. If I am unable to get to class on time, I will obtain permission before joining. I will respect and focus on the material that is being taught and not try to teach or redirect focus during someone else’s class. I will keep all outside conversations to a minimum while there is a lesson going on.
  • I will not come to an in-person event if I know I am sick with something contagious and transmissible. We understand that sometimes you may not always know you are sick and contagious (ex. sometimes what feels like a headache is actually the onset of the flu). If you know you are sick, stay home. We will dearly miss you and see you next time!
  • I will respect the space. Many of our dances are in a community member’s house and located in a residential area. Please be aware of noise levels outside and be aware that you are a guest in someone’s home.

Violations and Interventions

Reporting a safety and access concern can seem terrifying if you’ve never gone through it. Our goal is always to come at things with kindness and empathy, rather than judgment or punishment. Our Team is trained to listen and to believe you, and to offer concrete, actionable suggestions for moving forward. If you have concerns about safety or access, big or small, please contact a member of the current Safety and Access Team. You may also choose to use the reporting form. Usually, this process looks a lot like this:

If you raise a concern: You have the option of being anonymous, or of speaking with us directly. We’ll ask you to share whatever information you feel comfortable sharing, and help you think about what you need to resolve the situation. Depending on what that is, we’ll do everything we can to resolve things in a way that makes you feel safe and welcome at our events, and we’ll check back in on you to make sure you’re feeling supported.

If a concern is raised about you: One of our Safety and Access Team will come and talk to you. We’ll talk to you about the concern raised, invite you to share what happened from your perspective, and discuss what actions you can take to resolve the situation. Our goal is to get to a place where everyone feels safe and welcome, and we hope you’ll work with us on that. If we ask you to change your behavior at our events, we’ll check in with you to see how that’s going.

We consider Safety and Access concerns to broadly fall into one of three buckets of increasing severity: yellow, orange, and red. The Safety and Access Team reserves the right to use their judgment in any particular situation, as each situation is unique and the context and specifics of the incident matter when making decisions.

Yellow are generally behavioral concerns that make someone uncomfortable but are not causing significant community harm. For example, this might be something like accidental inappropriate touch, excessive alcohol use, or accidental misgendering. In most circumstances, yellow concerns will be addressed by speaking to the person involved and clarifying the situation in the context of our code of conduct. The goals of communication around yellow concerns are to identify blind spots, to find mutual clarity on behavior in our spaces, and to avoid future concerns.

Orange concerns are instances where someone has caused harm to another person but we believe there is room for growth and restorative processes. For example, an orange concern could be repeated instances of yellow-level concerns or non-accidental violations of the code of conduct. Addressing orange concerns will vary based on the situation, but some interventions we could implement are 1) added expectation of sobriety at our events 2) having an accountability buddy at our events 3) temporary removal from event.

If you are named in a yellow or orange level report, we promise to work with you before implementing any bans. We are here to provide support to get back on track, because we know that everyone makes mistakes.

If we have orange-level concerns about an individual who is in some position of power within Collectively Blue, we will also remove that individual from their position (i.e. teaching, hosting, board member etc.) until we feel the concern has been sufficiently addressed.

Red concerns are instances of significant harm or threat to safety. In these instances, we believe there is no path forward to reconcile from previous safety concerns. Generally, red concerns would be addressed with a ban from all Collectively Blue events and/or contacting social work, de-escalation resources, or other emergency response in case of active threats to safety at an event.

Collectively Blue reserves the right to share information, including but not limited to, bans, depersonalized summaries of reports, and the nature of offenses with other organizations for the purposes of giving and/or receiving assistance in addressing shared Safety and Access concerns. Collectively Blue reserves the right to ban individuals based on reports from other organizations.

Our Promises to You (The Organizer Code of Conduct)

We believe it should be possible to hold organizers responsible for creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for our attendees. As such, this organizer code outlines our commitment to professional conduct for this event, and the resources available should an organizer fall short of the trust placed in them by their leadership position.

  1. We, the organizing team, hold ourselves to the same or higher behavioral expectations we hold our attendees to in our code of conduct.
  2. On duty Safety and Access Team members will be sober and identifiable during their shifts.
  3. If you report a Safety and Access concern, we will take your confidentiality very seriously.
  4. We will hear out all concerns we are made aware of, but we will not be arbiters of truth.
  5. We want your feedback on our code of conduct, policy, and resolution process!
  6. We will be prepared to step in and speak up if we see unsafe or harmful behavior, or find another organizer who is able to do so.
  7. We understand that at dances we are in a position of authority, and will act as models of good behavior towards our community, and each other. This includes welcoming newcomers, and participating in events.
  8. We have a responsibility to educate ourselves on the social and political landscape affecting the running of our scene.
  9. We will educate ourselves independently on the history of racism, as well as the importance of Black culture to Blues dances, historically and now.
  10. We will listen to those harmed by systemic oppression when they describe how that oppression has affected them within our community.
  11. We will ask all our instructors, DJs, staff, and organizers to uphold our scene’s values. This includes, but is not exclusive to: allowing people of all genders to choose their preferred dance role, following our safety policy, and practicing active consent. If someone we hire does not meet these standards, we will not hire them again until they are prepared to do so.
  12. We will not hire instructors, DJs, staff, or organizers if we are aware of a complaint against them that we decide puts our community at risk of harm.
  13. We understand that our behavior in public spheres, including social media, reflects on the reputation of our scene.