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Code of Conduct

As Smoothstyle no longer hosts dance events or socials, this Code of Conduct (provided below) is an artefact for reference and use by other dance organizers.

Reasons to establish a Code of Conduct for (dance) events

To keep a community safe, healthy, and thriving. Period. Additional benefits include the following:

  1. In our experience, a Code of Conduct makes an organizer’s work simpler and lets them focus on offering the best experience. By thinking through these issues and establishing a code, an organizer can act decisively in the moment on the rare occasion that issues arise.
  2. If an organizer has concerns about liability if they take action to address problematic behaviour or situations, having a published Code of Conduct can protect you.
  3. Every community needs a rich base of newcomers to maintain growth and diversity. Newcomers by nature do not know how a community functions or what is “normal”. In partner dancing, where touch is necessary, newcomers may find it challenging to recognize where the boundaries are. A code of conduct helps newcomers enter and navigate a new community.
  4. Codes of Conduct are extremely helpful for individuals who struggle with understanding social norms and acceptable behaviour. The best codes provide helpful, descriptive details.
  5. Predatory behaviour (which can occur in any community) thrives on the ignorance and isolation of its victims. A Code of Conduct puts the community’s expectations of behaviour, and potential issues, in the public domain of conversation. The relatively simple act of creating, publishing, and aligning your communication and actions with a Code of Conduct can reduce predatory behaviour in your community — again, it makes an organizer’s work simpler.

I invite any community organizer — particularly in partner dancing — to use the following Code of Conduct as a starting point to develop their own.

How to use a Code of Conduct

As for what to do with it once you have a Code of Conduct, I recommend:

  1. Publish it on your event or organization’s website and link to it on your social media pages and profiles.
  2. Have copies at your event reception / entryway — copies for people to take and a protected copy (e.g. laminated) for reference.
  3. In all communications about an event (including socials, recurring weekly events, and special events), always include a note and a link such as: “Please familiarize yourself with our Code of Conduct, published here.”
  4. Talk about it. When you make announcements, mention it. Talk about it openly one-on-one and publicly.
  5. Act on it. Know your code and don’t think twice about following through on enforcing its guidelines and promises.
  6. Empower your staff to know the code and be able to enforce it.
  7. Do not make exceptions in enforcing the code — do not exempt your friends, professional colleagues, special guests, etc. Everyone should be informed about the code before they attend or are hired. If your friends and colleagues can’t be trusted to uphold your code,  reconsider your relationships because those people do not care about the wellbeing of your community and/or your business.

~Maria Ford

Code of Conduct

Established June 2018; subject to update at any time. Last updated August 2022.

Purpose and Values

Smoothstyle is committed to providing an inclusive, safe, and welcoming group learning and social dance experience. All attendees, instructors, staff, volunteers, and guests of our events and classes are required to comply with this code of conduct. The organizers will enforce the code during an event, and we ask for cooperation from all participants.

We value diversity and we are inclusive. We welcome participation from all levels of ability, ages, gender identifications, sexual orientations, body sizes, races, religions, and cultural backgrounds. We invite all participants to welcome and dance with everyone! Please dance with people who are not like you, encourage new dancers, and help to model a friendly and inspiring vibe.

If You Need Help

  • Find an organizer in person (during the event) via the cash table, the DJ, or an instructor.
  • Email [contact email]
  • Call or text Maria at [contact phone number]. This may go to voicemail, but we promise to call you back shortly.

Whichever way you choose to communicate, the organizers will listen to you and work with you to determine the best course of action for the safety and well-being of yourself and all other participants.

Declaration of Respectful Space

Smoothstyle is committed to providing a respectful and comfortable event experience for everyone. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. This includes:

  • Sexual language and sexual touch. These are not appropriate at our events, in classes, during social dancing, or on our social media. If you feel that something that was said or done was over the line, please talk to an organizer.
  • Violation of personal boundaries. Our staff, students, and participants must respect each others’ personal boundaries. If someone tells you that they do not want to dance with you; asks you to avoid particular types of movements, patterns, or physical contact; or, asks you not to pursue a personal relationship with them, you must respect that request.
  • Unlawful or criminal behaviour. We have a zero-tolerance policy for unlawful activities or substances at our events.

Event participants who violate these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the event without a refund at the discretion of the organizers.

Code of Conduct Details

Please read, understand, and adhere to these details about our Code of Conduct.

Be Respectful and Polite

  • Assume that everyone is doing the best they can. Respect that everyone is in a different place on their dance journey.
  • Social situations are complex; not everyone may know how to deal with every situation that arises.
  • To ask for a dance: smile, greet the person, and ask if they’d like to dance. If you don’t know each other yet, introduce yourself first.
  • Smile and make occasional eye contact with your partner while dancing, but don’t stare.
  • To decline a dance, smile and say, “no thank you”.

Be Clean and Scent-Free

  • Wear freshly laundered clothing.
  • Brush your teeth before dancing.
  • If you sweat a lot, bring extra shirts, a towel, and deodorant.
  • Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, and scented products. These items cause allergic reactions in many people.

Hygiene and Virus Policy

  • If you are sneezing, coughing, feverish, or experiencing other signs of illness, do not come dancing.
  • If you have recently been exposed to or risked exposure to a known virus, do not come dancing for the government-determined quarantine period.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap before dancing and after using a bathroom or eating.
  • Use hand sanitizer throughout the evening. (We provide this at all of our events).
  • Avoid touching your “face holes” (eyes, mouth, nose, ears) while dancing; wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if you do touch a hole.

Do Not “Help” In Class or on the Dance Floor

  • Do not give unsolicited feedback or advice to other dancers unless you are specifically asked for it.
  • If you think something is going wrong in your dance, ask the instructor for help – not your partner
  • Allow beginners to be beginners. This is the best time of a dancer’s life (They don’t know what they don’t know). Sometimes, tips and feedback chip away at someone’s confidence and it does more harm than good. Leave teaching for the teachers.

Be Mindful of Others

  • Personal boundaries are individual—respect them.
  • Be aware of verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s okay to ask if someone is comfortable with a move or situation.
  • Just because you observe something between two partners does not make it appropriate to replicate—your relationship with each dance partner is unique.
  • It’s okay to say no or to let someone know if you are uncomfortable with a move, comment, or situation.
  • If something physically hurts, tell your partner so they know your boundaries.
  • If a partner tells you something is uncomfortable, adjust your dance to accommodate. Never say, “Oh, let’s try it again”. Instead, you can ask a professional for assistance with the move after the dance is finished.

Say and Respect “No Thank Yous”

  • We encourage you to dance with many different people, but everyone has the right to say “no” to a dance.
  • Say “no” politely, with a smile.
  • If the answer is “no”, be gracious – don’t try to convince the person to say “yes” or beg them for a reason. You may invite them to ask you to dance later if they wish.
  • Remember that nobody “owes” anybody else a dance.
  • Focus on the people who say “yes” to you instead.
  • If you sense that more people say “no” to you than “yes”, ask a professional if they know why that may be.

Practice Good Floor Craft

  • Be aware of others around you.
  • Be aware of the space that is available to safely dance.
  • When the floor is crowded, keep your dance space small by shortening the length of your arm connection, avoiding traveling patterns and leg sweeps.

Use Only Appropriate Touch

  • Permission to touch a dance partner begins and ends with the dance. It is not permission to touch that person outside of the next dance granted.
  • Acceptable touch in partner dance is generally limited to hands, arms, shoulders, back, hips, knees. With partners you know well, more connection points may be acceptable.
  • If you want to try a move that involves a different connection point (e.g. neck, chin, soft tissue), first ask the partner if they would be comfortable with that kind of touch.

Avoid Weight-Supported Moves and Tricks

  • Unless you are dancing with a regular and trusted partner, do not lead or follow movements that require either partner to support the other’s weight.
  • Avoid tricks, both for reasons of safety and floor craft.
  • If something physically hurts, tell your partner so they know your boundaries.

Dress Safely, Act Safely

  • Avoid wearing clothing and accessories that may cause injury to yourself or others while dancing, such as: pointy shoes; spike heels; clothing with holes; loose/dangling jewelry and belts; large rings; sharp or roughly textured watches, wristbands, bracelets, etc.
  • Alcohol is not permitted at [venue name, if relevant]. Please make sure that whatever intoxicants you consume prior to attending do not alter your behaviour to the point that you cannot follow this code.

Apologize if…

  • Social dancing can be unpredictable. When the unexpected happens, apologize immediately; for example: unintended touch, injury (minor or major), unintended words, accidentally running into other dancers on the floor, etc.

Do Not Harass

  • Verbal and physical harassment is unacceptable. Unacceptable actions include but are not limited to: offensive language, intimidation, unwanted physical contact, derogatory comments regarding an individual’s characteristics, and bullying.

Our Commitment to You

Smoothstyle wants to make our dances and events a safe place for EVERYONE to dance. We strive to use gender-neutral and inclusive language in our teachings and communications and support you in whatever role you want to dance.

Aggression, including micro-aggressions toward any group including, but not limited to, the BIPOC or LGBTQ+ communities will not be tolerated.

Complaints will be investigated and difficult conversations will be had. We will do our best to educate people about why their behaviour is harmful. If someone cannot or will not change problematic behaviour, they will be asked to leave, either for a set period of time or permanently, at the organizers’ discretion.

In the event of violence, assault, or abuse in any form, we will ask offenders to leave and not return, and we will involve authorities if warranted.


Inspired by Swingin’ At The Savoy, a great global community of WCS Organizers, and refined in collaboration with our peers, including most recently the organizer of Ancaster West Coast Swing. Thank you!