Casa Cubana aims to be an inclusive and respectful dance group that provides a safe, fun environment where anyone and everyone can share the joy of dancing.
Salsa dancing by its very nature does involve physical touch and closeness that are greater than people are used to with a stranger. As with any social interaction, individuals negotiate their level of comfort amongst themselves. However, being on the receiving end of creepy behaviour is no fun and often people just leave and don’t come back.
People new to salsa dancing and the social scene may initially find the level of touch, closeness and intimacy challenging. So more experienced dancers should be mindful of this when dancing with those less experienced.
Help us provide a positive experience for all by sticking to the guidelines below.
Respect Boundaries – Not everyone is comfortable with close contact dancing. Beginners especially can need some time to adjust to dancing with complete strangers and if made to feel uncomfortable, they may not return.
No Means No – If a person says no to a dance, they are not required to give a reason, BUT it is required that their choice is respected, even if they say yes to somebody else.
Avoid Unsolicited Physical Contact – “Wandering hands” or unwanted touching or kissing is unacceptable.
Allow Time and Space – Following someone around the dance floor while they are dancing with someone else can be intimidating and is inappropriate.
These are standard minimum guidelines, but we ask you to always be respectful and considerate of signals that someone may not be enjoying their interaction with you. If you are unsure if a dance partner is comfortable with something, just ask. The person who feels less comfortable always gets to set the boundaries.
Reading Body Language & Soft No’s
Learn to read social cues and signals that someone may not be enjoying the dance or interaction. People are rarely comfortable responding with a direct “no”. Examples of a “soft no” could be a vague reply, avoiding eye contact, excusing themselves to go to the bathroom or to get a drink at the bar. They might say that they are tired or need to sit down, or say they’ve promised to dance with someone else. Harassing them or pursuing them will just make things worse. Instead, give them space and politely ask them again later on.
General Signs of Discomfort
• Avoiding eye contact
• Lack of or a small forced smile
• Leaning or turning the body away from a person
• Hesitating before giving an answer – particularly to repeated requests for dances
• Creating tension in the body, pushing away from a close hold, hips sticking out behind frame
• Short answers or ignoring comments/questions on or off the floor
• A light touch that avoids full contact when dancing
• Pulling away or hesitating at unwanted or too-long hugs, or ‘friendly’ touches off the floor
What to Do If You Feel Uncomfortable
Strengthen your frame – this communicates tension and helps maintain distance.
Leads – choose moves that take your follower away from you. This can be as simple as introducing a turn and moving to a more open position.
Walk Away – It’s perfectly ok to end a dance in the middle if you don’t feel comfortable. You don’t have to wait for a line to be crossed. Either tell your partner why you are ending the dance, or if that’s too awkward, simply stop dancing, say “thank you,” and leave the floor.
Speak Up – A lot of people who make others feel uncomfortable do so unintentionally. In these situations, it’s recommended that you mention your experience to them so that they know that what they’re doing isn’t okay. For example, “I don’t really want to discuss my personal life.”, “I prefer not being held so close.”, or “Can we dance in a more open position, please.”
Talk to the Teaching Group – If you prefer not to talk directly to the person whose behaviour has made you uncomfortable, please approach one of the teachers or organisers and let them know of your experience. It’s important that this type of behaviour is stamped out.
Management of Complaints
If you experience any behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable and you are reluctant to speak with the person involved, please feel free to talk to one of the teaching group. All complaints will be taken seriously and handled discreetly. Breaches of the guidelines will initially be met with a discussion of the reported behaviour. Repeated breaches will receive a warning and may lead to individuals being asked to leave the group and not return.
We want Casa Cubana to provide an enjoyable, safe, friendly place to dance for everyone. Thank you for taking the time to read these guidelines, and for helping to make our venue a welcoming and respectful place for all.