One thing that increases my anxiety about returning to tango (online and in person) is the fraught debates over what constitutes unwanted, or "bad ", behavior in milongas/practicas/classes. I won't wade into the specifics because I think those arguments risk missing the larger points. No matter how we decide to frame our community rules, or guidelines, for safe dance spaces - there are things we all need to remember, and work on.
Someone out there thinks you're the *sshole.
- Am I unsafe, or am I uncomfortable: http://www.psychologysalon.com/2011/12/are-you-unsafe-or-just-uncomfortable.html
- We're not as good as we think we are at communicating: https://www.theschooloflife.com/article/why-youre-probably-not-a-great-communicator/
- Social norms are culture and context specific, and constantly evolving: https://ccp.jhu.edu/2021/02/17/social-norms-behavior-change/
- Gestures, body language and personal space vary widely among cultures: https://iimn.org/publication/finding-common-ground/culture-at-work/body-language-personal-space/
- COVID has changed the social norms of touching: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/soothing-touch/202203/it-s-time-rethink-the-norms-social-touching-0
- Flirting is subjective: https://news.ku.edu/2014/06/03/flirting-hard-detect-study-finds
- Humor is subjective: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00123/full
- And finally, alcohol makes it even harder to accurately read social cues: https://today.uic.edu/alcohol-breaks-brain-connections-needed-to-process-social-cues
Like I said, we're messy.
I'm not advocating tolerating predatory or abusive behavior. I believe in making spaces safe for the kind of vulnerability that tango asks of us. Expectations at the community level should be as clear as we can make them. But the list of rules on a webpage is only the beginning of creating a safer dance community. The hard work rests with each of us.