Feel Safe and Be Safe in Toronto’s Swing Scene

January 22, 2015

We, the teachers of Bees’ Knees Dance Toronto, would like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge the disclosure of violence that lindy hopper Sarah Sullivan published on January 22, 2015 and to declare our support for her as well as all victims of sexual violence in the lindy hop scene.

Publicly disclosing an experience of sexual violence is an incredibly difficult thing to do, often even more so when the person responsible for harming you is a very well-known figure in a global community. Sharing a story of violence is so brave and we have nothing but admiration and gratitude for Sarah for speaking out about what happened to her.

Thank you, Sarah. We are so grateful to you for being so courageous in sharing your story. We believe you, we support you, and we stand with you.

We would also like to take this opportunity to open up a deeper conversation about sexual violence in the lindy hop community, both locally in Toronto as well as around the world. We take this matter incredibly seriously, and we encourage other community leaders as well as individual dancers to do the same.

Everyone deserves to participate in classes, social dances, workshops, and dance events in safety. This includes the safety and freedom to speak out against any behaviour you find unwelcome, threatening, or inappropriate. We encourage everyone to share Sarah’s courage and bravery in speaking out about breaches of your consent, be it on the dance floor or at a dance event or party. You always have the right to say no or walk away from acts of violence or harassment.

We consider our roles as leaders in the Toronto scene to include the responsibility of creating a safe environment that condemns sexual violence, and acknowledges the need for survivors of violence to be heard and be supported in sharing their experiences. If you need our support, please reach out to us.

Everyone is welcome at Bees’ Knees Dance, and we want everyone to feel safe and be safe. We understand our responsibility in making that a reality to be ongoing, evolving, and informed by the experiences of people who have been victimized. We will be meeting soon as a team to discuss how we are going to strengthen our commitment to ensuring safety in the dance community that we love so much.

In solidarity,

Bees’ Knees Dance

Created with the assistance of Bees’ Knees Dance student and anti-violence worker Ashley Bratty