Who have treated you like crap? I think the answer is: stay off of social media.

For some background:

I’ve blocked most things on Facebook related to this event, but there is the gushing loving posts by people going on right now talking about how AMAZING and LIFE CHANGING the event that burned-me-the-fuck-out was.

Sigh.

It’s true, lots of thought and care goes into this event to showcase dancers that are a little different than what is mainstream in our regular swing dance type event/competition. But, it’s all surface and at the expense of certain people’s sanity. Like I described - nobody is paid or compensated that actually RUNS the event (i.e. registration and logistics/event manager). When I first started helping out, their registration desk was non-existant. They would leave me with thousands of dollars in the petty cash (I would take it home with me to keep it safe). The event manager is a woman who does film/tv production for a living - and she does it because she has a real need to feel liked and accepted by the people who run it - people who have a high “Social standing” in the weird hierarchy of power that is the swing dance community.

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But the people that run it are...kinda icky in real life? Everything is how things APPEAR, and how their friends (i.e. people with a lot of influence/power) feel, but not how their non-friends / non-important people feel. It’s a couple that runs it and two years ago I almost stopped helping because it (unsurprisingly) turned out that the man of the couple was a creep. He had a habit of “falling in love” with really young dancers (i.e. 18/19 - he is in his mid-30s) and offering them free private lessons, access to events, teaching contracts, etc, in the hopes that they would maybe sleep with him? (some would, some wouldn’t). Needless to say the women felt pretty used and grossed out, but a lot of them put up with it because 1) he had a lot of power in the community and 2) they are young and inexperienced. The very last woman it happened to complained to the dance school that he partly owns and ... nothing really happened. Despite all kinds of promotions and kerfuffles made about “safe spaces” and making everyone feel comfortable welcome in recent years in the swing dance world and at this school in particular - due to the exposing of a few high profile dance instructors that predatorily sexually assaulted women and girls for decades - the other people in charge of the school basically did nothing.

Why? Because he denied any wrongdoing (because, in his words, he had “fallen” for these women), and because he lawyered up and people didn’t know how to handle that (he was afraid of being outed on social media or having things made public by the school to their clients). And also for all the regular reasons why: He is their friend. He has a lot of power in the global community. It would, essentially, be inconvenient if he were excluded from the local community because of some of his specialized skills. It was mishandled epically (there’s no reason to get into the details, that’s a whole other post), but it was all kinda clouded in secrecy, he was asked to stay away from the school for a year (it lasted 3 months in reality) and that was it. Now he doesn’t really come to the school much anymore, he doesn’t teach anymore but he hadn’t really taught for years before all this came out - beyond offering those free yucky private lessons.

The kicker is that the affair with that last woman? It happened while his wife (the other organizer) was pregnant with their first kid. They did almost break up from what I’ve been told, but they stayed together and now have a second kid.(This also happened during the first few years the event took place) They asked my psychologist friend who does safe spaces/policy/etc stuff in real life to help them out a couple of years ago (after all this came out) but after discussing with them he told them “thanks but no thanks” because he felt (in his professional opinion as a practicing psychologist) that they hadn’t really dealt with it - that it was all very surface “its all good, we want everyone to feel welcome at our event, the thing with Dude Organizer was just a blip and not that serious”. I’ve been apprehensive for a long time about these people, and it just got worse when at a meeting earlier this year, someone mentioned to the current “Safe Spaces person” for the event (she was new) to ask my psychologist friend for some feedback/opinions - the female organizer warned the current safe space person because “you know, he turned his back on us because of the situation with Dude organizer” .... err... no? He had a discussion with you and decided not to help (for FREE might I add). He did not turn his back on you. He made an informed choice.

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So Dude and Female Organizer are getting lots of love right now on social media, and I’m trying hard to ignore it, but damn, it all gives me the *icks* (and it has for awhile) and makes me angry. I had decided awhile ago that this was the last year I was going to help them, for all kinds of reasons, the above included. I avoided part of the awkward discussion that would have been because they decided that this year was going to be the last year anyway

It’s one of those things that I’ve tried to let go over the years - that yucky people get ahead. Because it’s an unfortunate reality in life. But it’s hard sometimes when you’re right in the middle of it.

How do you deal?

P.S. Over the course of the past few years, it’s coming out that more and more men have abused their power in various ways - mostly by sexually assaulting women. Every time there is a new allegation, female organizer gets anxious that the thing about Dude Organizer will “come back”... and I can’t help but think every time: If you’re so goddamned worried, maybe it’s because it was never properly dealt with on his end? That is was essentially swept under the rug? You’re afraid because if it comes out, it will fuck all your shit up. Maybe that’s a sign that you need to deal with it in a real way.

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P.P.S. I’ve wanted to write about all this for so long but could never find the right context. That’s why it’s so long.