Version 25-05-2018

This text is from now on in effect for all activities for which Frisse Folk is the main organiser. On the basis of suggestions received, we have made slight changes to some paragraphs (for example the one on ball circulation). If you have additional comments, suggestions or other thoughts you would like to share, do not hesitate to send us an email at contact@frissefolk.be. You are also welcome to comment on Frisse Folk’s Facebook page. We would like to warmly thank Gregory Dyke since the first half of this document was adapted from the chart he wrote for his Lindy Hop parties

Introduction: Why a code of conduct?

Unlike in other dancing environments, the “rules of conduct and behaviour” are rarely made explicit in the folk scene, which means that new dancers will have to figure out the conventions by themselves (e.g. through trial and error). Therefore, many different versions of these rules arise, mostly based on personal experiences and interpretations (usually without the input from the experiences of other dancers).

This is why we drafted this text, which draws on more than 15 years of experience and instructive exchanges in the folk scene. If a guideline might seem unnecessary or unacceptable, we invite you to think not only about the arguments against that rule, but also about the arguments in favour of it. We welcome any respectful discussions and exchange that will – we hope – enrich everyone’s thoughts and visions.

This initiative might seem at odds with the folk spirit that does not tend to set rules. Nevertheless, we hope this chart will allow everybody to feel respected, safe and therefore free, with the support of a common code of conduct.

Objectives

  • Improve the dancing conditions and increase everybody’s dancing pleasure
  • Inform the dancers (experienced and less experienced) about the practices and the do’s-and-don’ts. We would also like to make it easier for beginners to feel integrated in the folk scene.
  • Prevent harm
  • Prevent intrusive behaviours (harassment, manipulation, unwanted intimacy, etc.). The organisation Frisse Folk is committed to taking complaints seriously and to follow them up appropriately. We want to highlight the fact that you are always entitled to communicate your boundaries if a behaviour is making you uncomfortable.
  • Invite dancers to reflect on their behaviour during balls as well as on their convictions
  • Prevent the occurrence of tedious conversations: giving unrequested advice is never welcome – We want to avoid that everybody has to explain individually that they don’t want it and why not.

Illustrations of tango codes. The following sketches are relevant to the folk scene: 2.3, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1 & 7.1. (c) Drawings Véronique Paquette - Les Pas Parfaits  http://lespasparfaits.blogspot.be/p/illustrations.html

 

In short

  • We are all welcome to Frisse Folk’s events.
  • We respect each other, each other’s feelings and we avoid making people uncomfortable.
  • We are free to invite anybody for a dance, but make our invitations easy to refuse.
  • We are always free to accept or to refuse to dance.
  • For many collective dances, there are specific codes or particular set-ups. Before joining, we make sure that we are welcome and where.
  • During the balls, we do not offer advice, or explanations relating to dances, unless explicitly requested.
  • We lead smoothly and carefully and avoid risky moves.
  • We pay attention to other people in the room and avoid bumping into each other, while taking into account our blind spots, as well as others’.
  • In case of collision, we apologise appropriately.
  • We encourage “non-violent” communication (expressing our needs instead of judging the others for their behaviour).
  • We do not condemn others for not following this chart. Such an approach would only bring about resistance and would not contribute to a warm atmosphere.

For any question or problem, please contact Koen Dhondt (contact@frissefolk.be, +32 474 78 58 03) or another member of Frisse Folk, or ask a volunteer to be directed to the organiser.

 

In more details
 

Main code of conduct

We do our best to create a space that is open to everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation, level of dancing, religion, beliefs, physical appearance, preferred dance roles, etc. We are respectful of the boundaries and needs of everyone.
If somebody says he feels ill at ease because of our behaviour, we accept it graciously. If some of our actions might be unwelcome, we don’t hesitate to enquire. Likewise, we should feel free to express our own boundaries and needs, and we can expect a disturbing behaviour to stop when asked. We favour non-violent communication, which means that we express our need instead of judging others for their behaviour. For example: ‘I prefer dancing with more distance’ instead of ‘You are dancing too close to me’. ‘I don’t feel safe here’ instead of ‘You are always going backwards without paying attention to the people behind you’.

If we choose to, or if an intrusive behaviour persists (harassment, manipulation, unwanted intimacy, etc.), we may also report it to the organisers, who are committed to taking all complaints seriously, to receiving them respectfully, with discretion and impartiality, and to following the complaints up. In case of serious and/or recurring misconduct, the organisers reserve the right to exclude someone temporarily or indefinitely from Frisse Folk events.

Illustrations of tango codes. The following sketches are relevant to the folk scene: 2.3, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1 & 7.1. (c) Drawings Véronique Paquette - Les Pas Parfaits  http://lespasparfaits.blogspot.be/p/illustrations.html

 

Practical tips for dancing
 

Inviting someone
In general, we encourage each other to dare dancing. We do our best to dance with everybody and therefore to invite and to accept invitations to dance from everybody. That said, sometimes we don’t want to dance and then we should feel free to refuse, while respecting the feeling of the person who invited us, but without having to justify our answer. When somebody refuses to dance with us, whatever the reason (given or imagined), we accept it graciously: it is not a tragedy and happens to everyone from time to time.

Entering a collective dance
During the balls, there is a wide variety of collective dances, many of them requiring specific codes or constraints. Since it isn’t possible to explain everything here, we suggest the following guidelines. When we want to enter a ronde or a chain, we quickly check - usually non-verbally - with the dancers already in place whether we are welcome, and if yes, where in the set-up. Entering uninvited in the dance may separate two dancers who wanted to dance side by side, alter the number of leaders and followers and therefore disturb the dance, deprive the dancer on the left of their role of leading the chain, create space management issues (too many dancers, too long chains, too big rondes), be perceived as an abrupt intrusion or disturb the dynamics of the dance, especially if the dance has already begun.

Offering advice during the balls
We want everybody to improve at their own pace and according to their wishes. We support those who want to make progress, but also accept that sometimes we only wish to dance. It is however difficult to refuse advice when offered spontaneously, especially from more experienced dancers. Furthermore, offering advice, even when well-meant, increases the gap between “good” and “bad” dancers in a negative way. For these reasons, we do not offer or give advice, explanations or lessons during the balls, unless they have been explicitly requested.

Space management, risky moves and collisions
We adapt our moves depending on the space available. We do not allow ourselves to make risky moves (for example making our partners twirl during a jig or a scottish) without checking first that they can be carried out without risk for our partner or for the people around us.

We avoid bumping into each other, by taking into account our blind spots, as well as the blind spots of others (during rondes, bourrées, moving backwards, …). For some dances (rondes, bourrées, etc.), there might not be enough room to accommodate every dancer. In this case, the last ones to arrive will have to refrain from entering this dance. When we are not dancing, we remain on the side of the dance floor in order to give as much space as possible to the dancers.

In case of unintentional contact with another couple, no matter how soft, we try to make eye contact to make sure that everything is all right and to show with our mimic that we regret the collision, whether we are responsible for it or not. In case of injury, pain or strong emotion (fear, barely avoided fall, …), we apologise explicitly during or after the dance.

Circulation during balls for couple dances
During couple dances, we circle around the dance floor in the direction of the dance (generally anticlockwise). For waltzes and polkas, the flow is generally quite fast and constant. It is possible to dance on the spot in the middle of the dance floor, without disturbing the flow around.

Hygiene
It is obvious that good hygiene is very important. Given the proximity during dances, we smell everything: cigarette or blue cheese breath, excessive perfume, old sweat in yesterday’s t-shirt… and nobody will dare tell you. This is why we are reminding you of this.

Noise and conversations
We avoid noisy conversations in the ballroom, especially when it disturbs the musicians and the dancers, depending on the acoustics and on the music. We don’t impose elaborate conversations while dancing, to prioritise a non-verbal connection and immersion into the music.

Leading and following
Some moves (e.g. twirls) or positions (e.g. a closed embrace or when the leader puts their partner out of their axis) can be uncomfortable, both physically or emotionally, or involve risk of injuries or collisions. We therefore pay attention to the way we lead and follow: we lead and follow smoothly, we accept that a move may not be followed, even if it was clearly indicated, we ask explicitly if a move or position is wished for, etc.

 

Conclusion

The main guideline of this text is respect, not only respect for the other dancers and the musicians, but also respect for our own needs and boundaries and to a certain extent respect for the dances themselves. These general guidelines and practical tips clarify what we mean with respect, which can otherwise remain quite vague a concept, often subject to various interpretations.

We go beyond plainly refusing unacceptable behaviours we strive to become aware of the impact of our own behaviour on everyone’s well-being and dancing pleasure. We also aim to accept imperfections in ourselves as well as in others.