pennsicdance: Civility (was "peanut gallery 2")
slavicdiva at pobox.com
Tue Aug 30 08:08:58 PDT 2005
> What I feel is splitting the group:
> - the people in the barn being called the "Great Unwashed Masses" and
> Slobs" by people in the tent
> - the name calling returned by people in the barn calling people in
> the tent
> "Dance Nazi's" and "Dance Snobs."
> - It's the story of a friend of mine, nearly in tears, told me about
> her nicer, all be it not Italian, field garb sized up by dancers she
> during the Italian 15c party- and bluntly turned down when she was
> for a partner for a few of her favorite dances.
> - its the fact that dancers in the barn felt the need to leave when
> dancers from the tent came up and took over the space.
> All of these are things I observed directly. Not second-hand accounts.
> What kind of role-models are any of us being when THIS is how we are
> treating each other?
I've been lurking on this discussion for awhile now, mostly because I
don't get to dance as much as I used to. I'm still serving as my
Kingdom's principal herald, and after I've been on my feet most of a
day, my feet just don't want me on them at night, as well. This year
we had 7 Courts at Pennsic--end result? I got to dance a little during
the first week.
I am really sorry to hear about the name-calling and general incivility
that seems to be going on among dancers of whatever stripe. In the
SCA, we are supposed to be "minor nobility;" I truly hope that we
strive to emulate the better qualities of minor nobility and not the
less-attractive ones. Name-calling, snobbery (and reverse snobbery)
and other forms of minor nastiness have no place in my SCA.
It could be that the "Great Unwashed Masses" comment started as a joke.
Unfortunately, such comments, which are often intended as an "in-joke"
among a few cognoscenti, have a way of evolving into something bigger
I dealt with something similar before I was a Kingdom Herald--I saw a
group of my fellow heralds (from my Kingdom, no less!) sitting in the
Barn, mercilessly making fun of armory people had submitted. Most of
the discussion appeared designed to demonstrate a "We're *so* superior
because *we* know what constitutes Good Period Style (tm)" mindset.
I was appalled. What if one of the people whose submission was being
parodied walked by? What does that say about "heralds" as a community?
Obviously, that we are a bunch of snotty people who like putting
others down. A great deal of that mindset and those comments came
about because a couple of the older, stronger voices in that community
(i.e., people who were looked to as "leaders") made comments like that,
and many of the younger people modeled their behaviour on what they saw
from their "leaders." Generally, I avoided hanging out with these
folks, since their behaviour embarrassed me.
When I became a PH, I determined to put a stop to that attitude and
that practice, at least in my Kingdom. With the help of some
similarly-discomfited fellow heralds, we set about educating the
younger folks about just how nasty we appear when we make fun of
people's armory in public. I didn't issue any great fiats, but just
pointed out discourtesy when I saw it, and politely asked people not to
do that. After 2 years & 3 months, my College of Heralds now has a
reputation for being helpful and friendly--even to people from other
Kingdoms! I haven't heard or seen a major public snarkfest in years
(that's what gatherings of heralds invariably devolved
into--snarkfests), and I think my Kingdom is better for it.
It is never courteous to call people names, whether it's "Great
Unwashed Masses" or "Dance Nazis," even if it started out as a joke.
Name-calling is a means used by insecure bullies to make themselves
feel superior, as are most of the behaviours I have seen discussed on
this topic. And frankly, I don't understand some people's need to
"feel superior," especially when that manifests itself by being mean to
other people. OK, so you turned up your nose at that lady's clothing
when she asked you to dance, and now you feel all superior and
snooty--but will she be coming back anytime soon? Maybe she's a really
good dancer, but just can't sew--or didn't bring her best clothing to
Pennsic. Or spent all day marshaling on the field, and saw dancers
having fun on her way home & decided to join them. You never know!
If asked to dance a dance I don't like, I try to be honest, but polite:
"Thank you for asking me, milord, but I don't care for this dance;
please keep me in mind for another" sure beats "I am not going to dance
this OOP abomination, with you or anyone else!" in my book. I'll say
if I don't know a dance, or if I'm just too tired to do it. There is
no need to ruin other people's experience because I want to be the
"Arbiter of Rightness" in this or any other area. I can sit out a few
dances I don't like--I won't die. :)
If we, as a community, refrain from behaving discourteously to people,
the "Dance Nazi" label will fade. That sometimes means dancing with
people who are less experienced, less beautifully dressed (or beautiful
in general), and less well-known. That means that our "leaders" (by
which I mean "prominent people in the dance community") will discourage
the guilty pleasure of a public snarkfest and will, instead, encourage
unfamiliar faces to come and share the activity we love. If we want
people to feel welcome, we have to be welcoming. Or we can become an
insular little group that doesn't welcome anyone without the right
pedigree, and social dance at Pennsic can die when we all get too old
to do it anymore.
FWIW, I had a great time on the nights that I danced. Why was that? I
had awesome partners! I danced with Hermankin (from the East),
Aindreas (from AEthelmearc), Martin (from Ealdormere), Lyev (from
AEthelmearc) and a few other folks whose names escape me. All of them
were fun and engaging partners who danced *with me,* not to show off
their steps or their snootiness. All of them were very courteous, and
danced with a very great variety of people, which was also wonderful to
And I am now waaaaaay too late for work! Ciao for now,
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