As organizers, we invest lots of energy to build healthy communities.
It's very painful to watch controversy disrupt long-standing
relationships, and threaten to fracture our groups.
That's the motivation behind a new website: http://genderanddance.org
(You may have seen it described in December's CDSS News)
This site simply encourages people to listen respectfully to each
other's stories. It's not about advocacy or argument. Posts are
anonymous, and there's no place for comments or "likes." Our
communities are more diverse than you might guess, and we can all
learn from this wide range of perspectives. (Many posts have nothing
to do with language controversy - gender is a deeply personal subject).
My belief: As understanding grows, former adversaries discover shared
values, that overshadow differences. We can embrace the challenges of
diversity, and work together to build communities where all can flourish.
Thanks for taking a look, encouraging others to do the same, and
sharing your own stories.
(FYI, there are currently almost no stories about the
experiences of organizers faced with gender issues ... many dancers
are oblivious to the challenges we face)
While I'm happy to comply with any COVID policy in order to dance, and I
choose to wear a mask at bigger events, I question whether the contra
communities' strict policies are doing us much good, either in protecting
us medically or in getting dances going again. Consider:
1. Even in the most restricted states (New England, etc.), nearly everyone
is maskless nearly all the time in normal life, including most dancers.
People eat in very crowded restaurants, ride public transportation, fly on
airplanes, sit in airports, go shopping, work, attend school, do sports, go
to the gym, sing, interact with friends and family members who have been
out in the community maskless, etc., mostly without masks.
2. As a result of #1, covid is spreading quite effectively in our
communities, even if a few groups are still masking.
3. As a result of #2, protocols at a dance cannot much alter community
spread rates, even if the dance spread rate were zero.
But, this isn't concerning most people because:
4. Vaccines do keep nearly every infected person out of the hospital and
reduce long covid.
5. For those going to the hospital or suspected to be at risk, monoclonal
and other treatments are quite effective.
6. As a result, the mortality of covid-19 is now down to three times that
of a bad flu season, which is way down from the mass carnage of 2020.
It is questionable what anything but masking is doing for us:
7. Unmasked contra dancing, even with a vaccine and negative test, does
lead to rapid covid spread. Several camps in summer 2022 had 50+ infected
dancers, even though they were all vaccinated and all had tested negative
on arrival. The incubation period and false-negative rate are enough to
allow one or two cases through, and the vaccine no longer keeps you from
getting it, it just dramatically reduces severity.
8. Even in the most conservative, vaccine-averse Southern communities, 90+%
of contra dancers at big events say they are vaccinated (per survey at
Summer Contradancers Delight Holiday in Tennessee).
9. Choosing to wear a mask remains an option for everyone, and is quite
effective at keeping the wearer healthy, though it is not foolproof (but
neither is life).
10. People have options for recreational and social activities, and many
are choosing those with fewer or no restrictions, especially young people
who don't have much personal risk from covid.
11. Essentially all other organized dance communities besides
contra/English/etc. are dancing without restrictions on a national level,
and have been since early 2022: Square, swing, blues, ballroom, salsa,
It may therefore be time for communities to reconsider absolute
restrictions, and instead encourage vaccination and mask-wearing as
effective ways to stop the spread of diseases like covid, but also the flu,
RSV, and other pathogens.
People can still (and I do) choose to wear masks if they are concerned
about getting covid. The idea of reducing spread at dances would be a good
one if the rest of society were playing along. But, it isn't. When I was a
teen, I boycotted China. China didn't change.
Communities with a large component of at-risk dancers who mask in general
life and who are vaccinated may wish to continue requiring vax+mask. In
areas with many dancers, two dances, one requiring masks and one
mask-optional, may make the most sense.
I am especially concerned at the reduced percentage of younger dancers I
have seen at recent events. While it seemed, prepandemic, that there was a
nascent resurgence in the popularity of contra among the current
twentysomethings, few of the young dancers I used to see are showing up to
dances post-covid. When I go to swing and blues, there are lots of younger
dancers. I am certain that if we required masks at my college contra
dance, students would just go to ballroom, salsa, or swing.
If we want to get contra going again, and especially if we want to attract
many new younger dancers, who are not worried that getting covid represents
a big risk to them and who have plenty of unrestricted options in
recreational activities, perhaps it's time not to ask, "does this policy
stop covid from transmitting at our dance," but rather, "does this policy
significantly lower the total covid risk our dancers face?"
I argue that strict policies no longer do that, given our behavior in
society. Nonetheless, those of us who are concerned can still choose to
reduce our own risk substantially by being vaccinated and wearing a
well-fitting KN95 or better mask whenever we are in a crowd, including at
dances, without requiring it of others. I do.
Organizer, Greater Orlando Contra Dance
Faculty Advisor, Contra Knights, the UCF contra dancing club
FB, Ig: Contra Knights
As Alan said, whatever you do you will alienate someone.
What I did with the Brunswick ECD was to ask all of the dancers
- would you dance if masks were required
- would you dance if masks were optional
and so on.
Then I picked the rules that maximized the number of dancers.
I realize that this is harder for Contra, where you have a lot of dancers
that you can't ask, including potential future dancers. But in my case
it seemed like the right way to do it.
We're considering a topic which has been raised to us a few times from
prospective participants. To this date, we have maintained a straight vax +
boost requirement for our series.
I'm interested in examples of group COVID policies providing for
participation of individuals who do not otherwise meet published
vaccination requirements but have acquired potential immunity due to recent
infection. Effectively, having acquired immunity through infection
substituting as a form of vaccination.
In particular: what are the qualifications and/or proof requirements and
the duration of the allowance for vaccination substitution you use, if any?
Substitution for any/all vax requirements or simply as a booster equivalent
in some form?
Thanks in advance for your help and links to any written policies. I'd
greatly prefer if we can keep this thread focused on this particular topic
and appreciate all civility. Should you wish to raise a tangential issue,
please revise the subject line to fork the thread.