Hoo boy… where to even start with this.
I don’t know if you heard about or saw the email that announced this change, but one of the major dance organizations in this country has released the updated wording of their ‘Risk in Dance’ policy. You can probably look up the exact wording if you are interested, but basically it says that ballroom dancing requires people to be in close physical contact with one another. Close contact, especially right now, carries a degree of risk to it, and by agreeing to their new risk policy you aren’t allowed to hold them liable for any illnesses or injuries that you get by going to one of their dance events.
On the face, this statement seems to be in line with the statements we are hearing from a lot of businesses. Not many people want things to be shut down in this country, but these places that had closed to keep everyone safe don’t want to be held liable if people go out to their venue or event and contract something. Thus the risk documentation is being modified. It tells us that the organization knows that what they are offering isn’t super safe in this new age we’re living in, but they are legally washing their hands of any fallout from that danger.
Hee hee… washing their hands. I’m funny.
At some point though, some people in this country are going to try and get back to doing things like they used to. It’s inevitable. I hear people around me talking, and they don’t sound happy with the thought that life is going to have to change, so it’s only a matter of time before people start holding events like they did before everything was shut down. And when that happens, how hard are they going to push to make sure that everyone who goes to the event is protecting themselves? I don’t know if anyone is going to push too hard.
One person told me about the stance being taken by at least one major airline. They said that they were going to “require” people who want to fly to wear masks, but if you weren’t wearing a mask they were pretty much just going to look the other way. Can you really call it a requirement then? Having a policy in place that would clear you of any liability if something bad happens would certainly be a step toward trying to allow things to go back to the way they were before with no repercussions.
This national dance organization has published their document, and from what I hear some of the offshoot underling branches are working on updating their own version of such a document in their personal bylaws. With those in place, such organizations could hold events and tell people who want to attend that protective gear is “required” to attend, but you are also legally covered from backlash by anyone who really wants to make a big deal about going without protective gear. Assuming, of course, that you can get them to sign off on having read your documentation. I think that would be required, but I’m not 100% on that. I am not a lawyer, so don’t take anything I say as completely true without some research first.
I would bet that we see a lot more dance organizations and studios publishing policies like this before they open their doors back up. From a business perspective, it would be foolish for them not to do so if their competitors are. But there’s something about seeing this wording that makes me feel… sad. It’s crazy that things have to come to this in the first place.
The reason I mention such documentation is because rumor has it that there is a studio somewhere far to the south that is already looking at holding their first dance parties since the shutdown started this very weekend! Yeah. It’s happening. It seems strange that even mentioning that is a big deal, but… it’s kind of a big deal that someone is going to do this already.
They have changed the format of the party – rather than one weekend event on Friday night, they are now holding three similar parties on Thursday (tonight), Friday and Saturday. They are holding more because these parties are going to be limited to ‘couples’ only, meaning that you have to arrive with a partner and there is no rotation of partners during the event. On top of that, couples that want to attend will have to RSVP for the party, and each party is going to be limited to ten couples only. Yes, ten couples, or twenty people besides the studio staff. You can see why they have three nights now.
From the description of the party I saw, they have a large main ballroom floor and a smaller floor that is used for practice that comes off the main floor in kind of an ‘L’ shape. The floor is going to be divided into ten sections. Each of the ten couples that RSVPs for the party will be assigned a section to dance in, so you won’t get to use the whole floor if you attend the party. You also will be assigned a table at the studio where you can put your stuff – one table per couple to meet distancing guidelines. On top of distancing, they also say that masks are required, they will be wiping the place down with disinfectant at various points and will be scanning people with a no-touch thermometer before allowing them to enter the studio.
Will this party go well? A lot of party organizers in my area are watching to see how this works intently. One of them used the term “canary in the coal mine” to describe it, which personally I think is a pretty morbid way to talk about this. What they mean is that, depending on if there are any negative implications traced back to this party over the next week or two, this studio might demonstrate to organizers in my area ways to run their own events starting in June.
The demand is there. These dance parties that require RSVP are already booked for all ten spots on both Friday and Saturday night, and had only two left for Thursday when I heard about the party Wednesday afternoon, but those two slots may have been filled before tonight. So they definitely had couples who were willing to go out to this studio to dance, despite the risk. I’m sure there are a lot of people that feel the same way who would be willing to face a little inconvenience just to get back out on the floor.
How about you? Would you want to go to a dance party like that, where you had to wear a mask and were only allowed to dance in one small section of the floor with the same partner all night? Or are you content to wait at home until things are safe enough to get back to dancing on the whole floor with different partners all night long?
Personally, I’m curious about the kind of feedback we will hear from this event in a couple of weeks. Not just whether it was enough to keep all the attendees safe, but how the attendees felt about the event. Did they think it was fun, or did they not care for the changes made. That sort of thing. I don’t know if I will be able to find that out without talking to people who actually attended, but that’s what I’m curious to hear.