Dancing Together has been sparked by many communities’ desires for a chance to connect, dance and meet new people.
For millennia, communities have been coming together to dance and heal; given the ongoing pace of horrific things in the world, it feels urgent to love and support each other.
The group is committed to learning and working towards decolonization and disability justice. We strive to nurture dance spaces that are anti-colonial, anti-racist, trauma-informed, body-positive, gender-inclusive, queer-honouring, and friendly for all ages.
We are not worried about getting the moves all “right” or memorizing steps. The group samples various dance styles, and aims to integrate what we learn, towards free-form (improvised) social dancing that is shaped by the connection with each person or group we dance with. It is no problem if our dancing is nothing like mainstream social dance scenes. We’re focused on learning inclusive ways of being together. Our unique ways of moving together makes our dancing beautiful.
Dancing Together creates space to try various styles of social dance (adapting the moves of each style to our abilities and mobilities) and learning to improvise together. Sessions usually include a lesson, followed by some social dance time (to practice the moves just learned and/or freestyle dancing). The focus is on choice, having fun, being creative and supporting each other.
There is interest in alternating between sampling forms of group social dance and gender-inclusive partner dance. Suggestions so far include: queer tango, flamenco, funk line dancing, and fusion partner dance. Part of learning a dance will be learning its context; some of the dances are from the African diaspora. For partner dance styles, each person can choose the role that they want to learn: inviting (“leading”) or responding (“following”) or both. We can teach each other the types of dance that we know, and invite guest instructors when needed. No prior dance experience is needed.
Sessions are open to anyone who can 1) communicate consent (non-verbally or verbally) and 2) respect other people’s boundaries and gender identities. This includes asking for and receiving consent before engaging in contact such as holding hands, and not assuming what gender pronouns (if any) someone might use. We will introduce what this means at the start of each session; we realize this is a learning process and we can learn from our mistakes.
There is no need to come with a dance partner; for partner dance lessons there will be the option of rotating around the circle and getting to dance with many people, with diverse gender identities and gender expressions. Or, if you are more comfortable staying with the same dance partner the whole time, this is also an option. If you would like a support person with you, dancing in three’s is an option. We will request that instructors use gender-inclusive language, and offer gentle reminders if they forget.
There are multiple options for how to engage with the sessions. You don’t need to come to every session, it’s fine if you can only come dance occasionally. There are also much-appreciated group roles for people who are not up for dancing, such as being an access support/ safer spaces person, helping with sound or music, hanging out at the door, providing company at the games and art table, etc.
Who are sessions geared to?
–people of diverse backgrounds, which includes people who may self-identify as: Indigenous people, Black people, people of colour, mixed race people; people who are newcomers; people of various socioeconomic status including people who are low-income and/or poor; and people desiring support for mental wellness;
–people with diverse genders and sexualities, which includes people who may self-identify as: intersex, two-spirit, trans, gender-variant, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, genderqueer, agender, queer, lesbian, gay, bi/ pansexual, asexual, under the ace/aro umbrella, questioning, another name and/or use no labels;
–people with diverse ways of moving, which includes people who may self-identify as: people with diverse abilities/ bodies/ minds, people who use mobility devices, and people living with disabilities and/or health conditions.
About the group’s previous threads
Dancing Together follows up on the [link: All Genders Queer Social Dance] learning collective, which was active during 2012-2014 with hosting beginner dance classes (Queer Tango, Queer Salsa and Bachata, Queer Swing, and Blues), did ‘Rainbow Flocking’ (going as a queer and trans group to heteronormative dance classes), and a bit of collaboration with Homospun collective events. Dancing Together also draws on co-facilitators’ experiences dancing and collaborating with various communities we are part of. Sessions have been inspired by events organized by [link: Alt Pride collectives] and the work of [link: Sins Invalid].
The name, Dancing Together, was likely subconsciously influenced by the lyrics “we’re gonna dance together” in Inez Jasper’s song “Dancin’ on the Run” [link: music video for Dancin’ on the Run]; [link: lyrics video for Dancin’ on the Run], as well as the Pamwe (“Together” in Oshiwambo) Dance Troupe that a co-founder was part of a decade ago. The name is also influenced by the simple name of a community dance organization called [link: People Dancing].