Swingin’OUT - About

Swingin’OUT is Canada's first queer (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) swing dance club, founded in July 2000. We are a non-profit, volunteer-run group.

For many years, we offered swing dance classes for beginners and experienced dancers in the heart of Toronto's gay village.

We do Lindy Hop and other dances from the 30's swing era like Blues, Charleston, and Balboa. We also do mob dances like the Shim Sham and the Big Apple.

We strive to provide a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment, and we always try to adhere to the safe dance space guidelines listed below.

Safe Dance Space Guidelines

  1. Use the terms Lead & Follow, always and consistently, to refer to dance roles, regardless of who is dancing which roles.
  2. Never say 'men/women' or 'he/she' (except perhaps if you need to talk about contact with certain gender-specific body parts).
  3. Make sure all students (especially new people) know they have a choice about whether to lead or follow, and encourage any advanced dancers to learn (and dance) the other role -- especially since new people may not be aware that Lindy Hop has a long tradition of people dancing both roles.
  4. Avoid referring to what used to be the "normal" roles (male leads, female follows); rather focus on normalizing role choice.  Dancing a non-traditional role should not be treated as inherently strange or funny; if you demonstrate dancing the non-traditional role, have fun with it, but don't make it a parody.
  5. No assumptions that a person cannot (because of size or apparent strength) do a certain move -- people will figure that out on their own.
  6. When making jokes on romantic/sexual themes, don't assume the players would only and always be one man + one woman.  Just as no one assumes any dancer would want to flirt with or get to know their every dance partner better.
  7. No jokes about tall follows, short leads.  However, it can be useful to suggest ways to make moves work when there is a large height difference between partners.
  8. Rotation: you dance with everyone in rotation, or you dance with no one.
  9. Consider diversity in planning performance costumes; for instance, even if all the follows in a particular number like wearing skirts, consider the message to others if all the follows are wearing skirts. (Some follows would never wear a skirt.)
  10. Ideally, making a safe space would be done the same way for everyone (all orientations and gender-identities, but also all body types and race/ethnicities, etc.); this shouldn't be about "tolerating" Queers, but welcoming everyone.

Thanks to the University of Toronto Swing Dance Club, participants in U of T's Positive Space Campaign, whose question prompted us to write these guidelines.