When Will We Social Dance Again?

~ posted by Maria Ford

Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle

Illustration by U3173699 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81674970

Nearly two months without social dancing in Ottawa. Ouch.

Everyone I talk to is going through various stages of emotions about the pandemic. I’ve seen many references to the Kübler-Ross model of grief, and I think it is applicable, but it’s also deceiving, because grief is not linear. It’s unpredictable and irrational.

Denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance: yes, we will likely feel all of those things. But more often it does not look like a curvy line at all but a pin-ball game, as we bounce randomly between those emotions. The full cycle can repeat itself from day to day. Sometimes, you might feel none of those things at all.

For me, grief has been late to arrive. After weeks consuming data, science, and expert opinions; trying to figure out the future and make the right decisions for Smoothstyle, my left-brain let go recently and the tears came. And then came relief, because now I can face forward.

The support of my amazing team (diverse in their experiences and perspectives yet united in wanting what’s best for everyone), of our wonderful community members, and conversations with great friends have been so helpful. Thank you all, you know who you are!

That doesn’t make my conclusions any easier to share publicly, though…

When can we get back to social dancing?

Social dancing is one of the highest-risk activities in terms of this Novel Coronavirus and its transmission.

Until there is an available vaccine for the Coronavirus (or an equivalent development), I will not attend or host group lessons or social dancing. Doing so would put at great risk everyone else I come into contact with

Experts are saying that a vaccine is 12-18 months out, and once it is available, widespread availability will not be immediate. As I look into Smoothstyle’s future, that’s the timeline I am working with. At least a year. It is unthinkable and necessary.

In-person private lessons may resume before that time, with some precautions.

Group classes may be able to resume before social dancing, as well. I am monitoring what communities in other places in the world do and will learn from them.

But the government will lift restrictions sooner than that.

That’s true, we are told that restrictions will be lifted in a gradual and phased manner. Gathering in large groups will be one of the last phases, and I don’t expect we’ll be able to do so without distancing measures until there is an available vaccine. So of course, these rules preclude social dancing.

Even if that is not the case, it is my decision to not resume group/social events until there is an available vaccine for the Coronavirus or an equivalent development.

Why don’t you just wait and see instead of planning for the worst?

If the situation takes a surprising positive turn that makes social dancing risk-free for transmission, then we will definitely celebrate!

Until then, early decisions allow everyone to adjust more effectively and move forward.

What precautions can be taken when in-person dancing resumes? What can we do to reassure people and reduce the risk during group lessons and social dancing?

The realistic answer is, nothing. That’s why my benchmark for return is a vaccine.

While good hygiene practice can reduce transmission risk, social dancing is by nature extremely high-risk and unmonitorable in the context of this virus.

We can’t know whom others have come in contact with; we can’t ensure clothing is not infected; and, we can’t appropriately monitor people’s health because of the virus’ ability to live in and on bodies for weeks without symptoms. I don’t wish to provide a false sense of security by attempting to do any of these things.

I am monitoring what other dance communities in the world do and will learn from them.

What does this mean for Smoothstyle?

As a business, Smoothstyle is inoperable for the foreseeable future.

As a team, we will continue to:

  • Offer the free Tuesday-evening event, Ottawa’s *Virtual* Weekly West Coast Swing Event on Facebook and YouTube. We’ll keep the event going until the Summer then re-evaluate.
  • Host periodic LIVE community check-ins.
  • Listen to your feedback.
  • Provide resources that we think will be helpful, including our monthly newsletter, guest expertise, and entertainment.

We will keep everyone informed via the following channels, so be sure that you are subscribed to at least one of them:

Will you be back? Will Tuesday nights at Amigo’s return? Will you run classes again?

Our return will be shaped by the social and economic environment after recovery. These factors will all play a role in how we rebuild:

  • The availability of Amigo’s or another appropriate, affordable venue
  • The number of community members who return
  • The post-pandemic insurance environment for high-touch activities like dance
  • Whether newcomers will pursue social dancing post-pandemic
  • Working together as a community to rebuild

I prepaid for lessons/socials, can I get a refund?

You can contact me for refunds:

  • 10-night passes can be refunded remotely via the same method they were paid.
  • 10-night passes can be donated to Smoothstyle, for example, if you feel you received great value for the experience you had with us, and/or if you are currently enjoying the virtual lessons playlists, and other resources we are providing.
  • Prepaid private lessons can be taken online or refunded.

Smoothstyle’s expenses include: rent, staff, music licensing fees, banking and payment system fees, insurance, HST, marketing/promotion costs, hygiene supplies.

The WCS Ottawa community was a lifeline for me and I don’t know how to manage without it.

We are all feeling the loss of our wonderful community. The members of that community are still here, and we can stay connected in various ways:

I look forward to seeing you the next time we connect…


– Maria