Safer Dance: A job for the boys

The only thing that should be on your mind when you’re off out clubbing is fun – having a great time and forgetting your worries. But for too many people that’s not the case – in 2021 a whopping 86% of women reported experiencing sexual harassment in public places with even higher rates for transgender and non-binary people. It was against this shocking backdrop that Jack Young and Sam Hennersley decided to form their educational and campaign organization Safer Dance. As young men working in the industry, they’d had enough, as they say on their website:

Night time economy risks such as sexual harassment are not just common, they are expected. Average night out antics are part of ‘the culture’ at the heart of a heady mix. But the floor is changing. And we are taking a stand.

I first encountered Sam and Jack when they gave a fantastic talk in collaboration with Live and the Association for Electronic Music. I was struck but how emotional I felt hearing young men talking about the harassment of women in clubs as their problem and not ours. Over the years I have spoken on a lot of panels urging male so-called allies to do more than just get their female staff to work on the diversity piece in their organization. Women and gender diverse people are the victims of discrimination and harassment, but they are usually also the ones who are expected to take the lead in sorting it out. This extra work is usually done on top of their regular job and/or eats into precious personal time or even financial resources in the case of those who run women’s networks and collectives.

Safer Dance is different. They’re daring to say that the buck stops with them, and it’s down to the industry’s men to make real change. More than that they’re calling on all men to examine what they can do to reset the culture and make dance safer. This starts with acknowledging that there is a problem and that problem is not just women’s – Sam’s research has shown sobering evidence why men tend to close ranks when it comes to taking action on stamping out shitty behaviour in clubs – from peer pressure, to just not caring, or in the case of organizations a ‘fear of the backlash’ from the #notallmen brigade. Well guess what lads – it is all men who can help.

Screenshot from Safer Dance talk with Live and AFEM, Dec 2022

I know I’m excited to see what Sam and Jack can achieve – but they can’t do it alone. There’s a big problem with venues and promoters sticking their metaphorical heads in the sand because they’re too embarrassed to admit that they just don’t know where to start with all this stuff – so its amazing news that when you become a Safer Dance member, you’ll get four ‘How to guides’ full of best practices on creating policies, reporting mechanisms, and governance, as well as bespoke risk assessments and a community of likeminded stakeholders. So get involved!

Safer Dance will be presenting a Lunch & Learn online webinar on Tuesday, May 21 at 12:00pm (UK). To find out more about their work RSVP here.


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