Balance the Bay: Policies and Advice
On this page, we've collected some useful tips and advice to help you get the most enjoyment out of your dance weekend. We also explain the ground rules and policies we've put into effect in the hopes that everyone will have a great time.
- Gender Balance
- Tips for a Friendlier Dance Experience
- Fragrance Free
- Take care of your feet, and our floor
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Harassment Policy
- Cancellation Policy
Balance the Bay is a non-gender-balanced event. This means that we do not make any formal effort to restrict admission in order to guarantee equal numbers of men and women on the dance floor. We have several reasons for adopting this policy.
We want everyone who wishes to join the dance weekend to be able to come. We look forward to dancing and visiting with all of our friends. If we gender-balance, we would have to refuse admission to some people, just because of their gender, or ask them to form artificial "partnerships" just to attend.
Enforcing gender balance puts an extra administrative burden on the already-overworked event committee.
Gender imbalance does not necessarily lead to a less-than-satisfying dance experience. The existence of several large and vibrant gender-free contra dance communities around the country (including San Francisco) is a case in point.
We sincerely hope that the in the natural course of events, the gender balance at our weekend will be close to even. But if it is not, here are some tips to help you make the best of the experience:
- If you are an experienced dancer, try the other role. Dancing an unfamiliar part gives you a new challenge to master (or mistress). It gives you a new perspective on each figure that will help you dance better in your accustomed role, and it makes it easier for the inexperienced dancers to stay with the role they are learning, and still find partners.
- Dance with whoever comes at you. Don't let an assumption about gender stop you from taking someone in your arms and swinging or whatever. If they are, in fact, dancing the other role, you're doing the right thing. If, on the other hand, they've gotten momentarily switched, dance with them anyway. Get through the figure. Keep the dance flowing. They can find a way to switch back whenever they get a momentary break.
- Do the asking. Most of the complaints about gender imbalance come from people who hang back and wait for others to ask them to dance. Reach out your hand and invite someone. If there's no one left of the opposite sex, invite someone of the same sex, and then you'll at least be in the dance. And, by the way, you will also be on the floor when the dance ends, and in a position to ask someone else right away.
Tips for a Friendlier Dance Experience
We want Balance the Bay to become known as a friendly and welcoming dance experience. Here are some things we all can do to help that happen.
- Limit the number of dances you "book ahead". It's a long weekend; you'll have time to dance with all your old friends and make new ones as well.
- Invite someone who has been sitting on the sidelines. If everyone who is already on the floor partners up right away, it's hard for those people to get back into the dance.
- Dance in all the lines. "Center line syndrome" is self-defeating. If some lines are long and some are short, it's hard for the caller to know how long to run the dance. If some lines are full of "hot" dancers and some are too full of beginners, the caller is going to have to slow the pace of the dance to the beginners' level.
- Dance with as many people as possible.
The best advice is to ask these three people to dance with you:
- someone you've never met before
- someone who's at a different level of experience than you
- someone you really love to dance with!
- Tolerate mistakes. They happen. And experienced dancers on "autopilot" make them nearly as often as beginners (they just recover faster). Just pick up from where you are and go on. The dance repeats. You get another chance to do it right.
- Smile, relax, and have fun. That's what we're here for.
Balance the Bay is a "Fragrance Free" event. This means that you are asked not to use scented cosmetics, cleaners, and personal hygiene items. Chemicals used in perfumes and fragrances give some of our dancers allergic reactions that range from irritated eyes to dizziness and nausea. Some dancers contract symptoms that are even more severe. In consideration of our valued dancing friends who are affected, please come scent free.
Restrooms will be stocked with supplies from BACDS's collection of fragrance-free soaps and lotions, and we encourage you to make use of them when you take time to freshen up.
Some other tips to make the dance more enjoyable for all:
- Shower or bathe before you come to the event;
- Consider using a scent-free deodorant;
- Bring a couple of extra shirts/tops, and change into a new one whenever you feel you've perspired too much.
Finally, and most definitely: Relax and enjoy the dance!
Take care of your feet, and our floor
Please bring clean shoes to wear on the dance floor. Dust, sand, grit, and mud tracked in on shoes that have been worn out of doors can very quickly damage the finish on a dance floor, which may mean that we may be asked to pay for refinishing, or even asked not to rent this hall again.
Please, if you can, bring a pair of comfortable, clean shoes, free of outside dust and dirt, and change into them before getting out on the dance floor. If you must wear shoes that have been outside, brush off the soles, and inspect them for embedded rocks and grit before you enter the dance hall. We will provide shoe brushes by the main door for your convenience.
And pay attention to your feet, your knees, and your legs in general. You'll be dancing all weekend. Some advice for making the best of it:
- Pay attention to your aches and pains. If your body is hurting, it's trying to tell you something.
- Bring extra comfy shoes and soft insoles to help pad your steps. Even a pair of comfortable non-dance shoes help give your feet a break when you are not on the dance floor.
- Vary your steps. Try switching from the buzz-step swing to a walking swing from time to time; move with big slow steps or short quick ones; bend your knees more or less. The more variety you put in your motion, the less strain you put on your joints.
- Warm up and cool down. Don't start dancing at top speed without taking time to limber up your muscles. And when you stop, walk around a bit to cool down, so you won't stiffen up so much when you finally sit down.
California Law prohibits smoking indoors at this event. If you must smoke, do so outside the front entrance, and at a sufficient distance from the door that people don't have to walk through a cloud of smoke to enter or exit.
Our lease with Saroyan Hall prohibits guests from bringing alcoholic beverages onto the premises, and from "loitering or drinking" in the parking lot, before, during, or after the event. If you must drink, you will need to do so off premises.
The Bay Area Country Dance Society does not condone or permit any behavior at its events which intentionally harms, intimidates, or harasses any participant, either physically, sexually, or emotionally.
Eye contact and flirtatious looks and gestures are part of the fun of Contra dancing, and will not be considered to be harassment unless the attentions continue after the dance is over. Similarly, accidental body contact in the course of a vigorous dance will not be considered harassing, unless it can be shown to be part of a pattern of deliberately-planned "accidental" contacts.
Anyone who feels harassed, intimidated, or threatened is encouraged to speak to one of the event organizers. The alleged offender will be informed of the complaint, warned not to repeat the offense, and observed to see that he or she complies. If the offense is repeated or substantiated, the offender will be asked to leave.
If you find that you must for some reason, cancel your registration for the event, please let us know by using the cancellation form.