Code of Conduct

Palo Alto Contra Dance want our dances to be fun and inclusive for all. The foundation for everyone having a good time is for all dancers to have respect for their partners, for the line, for the musicians and caller, for the space, and for themselves.

Guidelines to put that into practice

  • Consent and communication
    • Anyone can ask anyone to dance; all can politely accept or refuse. Accept a request to dance being declined cheerfully. If you are repeatedly declined by a prospective partner, give them space.
    • We encourage you to dance with people both new and familiar, but your comfort comes first. If someone asks you to dance and you would rather not, a simple “No, thanks” is sufficient.
    • All interactions with fellow dancers — both social and physical — need to be respectful and mutually agreed upon. With an unfamiliar dance partner, assume a generous margin of personal space.
    • Communicate with partners about role preference, existing injuries, twirls, flirting, etc., Eye contact while dancing is part of contra culture but shouldn’t be forced on anyone. Unless you know a partner is OK with a close swing style, ask first.
    • Consent is situational and can be revoked at any time. If you become uncomfortable, you have the right to leave the line at any time.
  • Community
    • Be inclusive and dance with partners of all ages, genders, experience levels, etc.
    • Change partners each dance.
    • Ask if dance partners want feedback before giving it (aside from letting them know if they are hurting you).
  • Dance safely
    • Use open-handed grips; avoid squeezing or encircling a dancer’s thumb, hand, wrist, or body in a way they can’t escape.
    • Stop if someone indicates they’re in pain.
    • Be responsible for your own body when dancing: avoid running into other people and support your own weight.
    • Do not lift another dancer off the floor. Do not dip people without their permission. Do not swing so fast that someone is flung into another dancer or a wall.
  • We do not accept
    • Discrimination and harassment in any form.
    • Pushing anyone’s boundaries or stated dance preferences.
    • Overtly sexual words or actions.
    • Language or publications that disparage sexualities, genders, ethnic groups, social groups, religions, etc.
    • Arriving intoxicated/high or using drugs, alcohol, weapons, or tobacco onsite.

Violating any of these rules may result in a verbal warning. For more serious offenses or repeat offenses you may be suspended or banned from dances.

If something makes you uncomfortable

If anyone makes you uncomfortable, please speak directly to that person about it if you feel OK doing so. They may be unaware how you feel, and may be willing to listen and learn. If you’re not comfortable talking to them, or if you don’t feel heard, please talk to the dance manager (the person sitting at the door will know who the manager is) or our designated safety contact, Marcia Davis-Cannon, in person or by email (

What Palo Alto Contra Dance will do

If someone comes to us or if we witness conduct that violates our community standards we will:

  1. Listen to anyone who has been harmed and learn what they need to feel safe at our dances. We will discuss next steps with them and respect all requests for
  2. Approach the person or people whose conduct did not meet our expectations, and:
    • Describe the issue.
    • Listen to their experience.
    • Identify what they can do to avoid making others feel uncomfortable in the future.
    • Ask them to commit to doing it.

We recognize that every situation is different and some may require different responses including, but not limited to, mediation, organizer discussion, expulsion from the event, and banning from future events.