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

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:

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.

Fragrance-Free Policy

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:

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:


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.

Alcoholic Beverages

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.

Harassment Policy

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.

Cancellation Policy

If you find that you must for some reason, cancel your registration for the event, please let us know by using the cancellation form.