Discussion Points: The Future of Health & Safety for Lindy Hop

What lies ahead for the future of health and safety in Lindy Hop?

Disclaimer: This post is not to give advice or specific guidelines. It’s to gather discussion points about Covid-19 and health practices as they relate to social reintegration. We’ll provide some updates here as the situation progresses globally. We highly encourage Lindy Hop instructors and organizers globally to follow the regulations provided by the local health authorities and to act responsibly as you make decisions for your communities.

Discussions are starting to take place around the world about how we will start to transition back to Lindy Hop dance classes, social dance, and events.

Lindy Hoppers are wondering:

At this time, there are no clear answers about how this should work.

First, consider this information from the World Health Organization. For events that *must* take place, the WHO says:

Promote hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing at the event. Make sure you have emergency contact details for all participants. You should make it clear to them that this information will be shared with the local public health authorities to enable rapid contact tracing if a participant at the event becomes ill with COVID-19. The event organisers need to have an agreed preparedness plan in case one or more participants become ill with COVID-19 symptoms. This should include rapid isolation of the ill person and their safe transfer to a local health facility. You can find advice on how individual participants can protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 here.

With that statement from the WHO in mind, as we consider reintegration let’s break down some of the challenges we’re all going to face and the questions we need to ask ourselves.

Challenge #1 – Hand Washing

Do you have the facilities to manage the volume of hand washing required for every dancer in between every dance? What hand washing facilities can you provide? Do your facilities meet the needs of the volume of dancers in attendance?

Challenge #2 – Respiratory Hygiene

Is wearing a mask enough? You may have seen charts or infographics with percentages that show the effectiveness of wearing a face mask. They look something like this:

According to the Snopes.com fact checker, these percentages are not verified. While the CDC does recommend wearing a cloth face mask in public to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the specific efficacy of mask wearing is unknown. These percentages are presumptions that someone has made based on regular breathing. The statistics are not verified by real scientific study.

When you consider the added respiratory impact of the cardiovascular activity of dancing, requiring participants to wear a mask is advisable but is not a guaranteed solution for stopping the spread of Covid-19.

Challenge #3 – Social Distancing

How can Lindy Hop be socially distanced? The fact is that social distancing is still being advised in most parts of the world and partner dancing is the opposite of social distancing.

For solo dance classes, it could perhaps be possible to limit the number of attendees so that there is enough physical space between participants. In this case, you still need to consider the increased respiratory impact of dancing and sweating and the droplets that each participant could be releasing into the air, even if they’re wearing a mask. There is more risk associated with these droplets in the air indoors than outdoors, but even outdoors the risks are still there.

For partnered Lindy Hop, there is no doubt that it is not socially distant. Some considerations currently being discussed are eliminating partner changing/rotation or creating limited “pods” of how many people come into physical contact with each other. For example, creating pods of 3 followers and 3 leaders who only dance within the partnerships of the pod and do not dance with partners outside of their pod. These are considerations being discussed—we are not necessarily endorsing this pod structure.

Challenge #4 – Tracing

If you do hold classes or an event and an outbreak of Covid-19 does occur, are you equipped to handle it? Consider the responsibility you are taking as an organizer. As explained in the the World Health Organization clip above, the WHO is recommending that organizers have contact information for all participants. There are also tracing apps emerging and starting to be recommended by many governments. Are you prepared with an emergency plan to contact all event participants if an outbreak occurs?

Challenge #5 – Disinfecting Your Venue

What are the high-touch surfaces at your venue? Are you prepared to disinfect these spaces regularly throughout your event? From the WHO

Disinfection practices are important to reduce the potential for COVID-19 virus contamination in non-healthcare settings. High-touch surfaces in these non-health care settings should be identified for priority disinfection such as door and window handles, kitchen and food preparation areas, counter tops, bathroom surfaces, toilets and taps, touchscreen personal devices, personal computer keyboards, and work surfaces.

Remember, if you’re an organizer, you are responsible for providing a safe, disinfected venue.

Consideration – Should We Wait for a Vaccine?

Frankly speaking, we are probably not truly “safe” to return to social dancing until there is a vaccine. Until that time, there will be risks involved. So choosing to transition back to social dancing before there is a vaccine is certainly possible and probable BUT if you choose to do so, you will be in a risk management situation. It’s impossible to know when a vaccine might become available so until that time, taking responsibility for risk management is probably the choice you’ll be making.

Lindy Hop Reintegration: Examples

Thank you to Nalla Kim from Seoul, Korea for providing this update about their dance studio. This is an excellent real-time example of a school taking responsibility for risk management in the early stages of reintegration.

This is really interesting and helpful to read about. Will this be the new normal? It’s still quite early to tell.

Here is another example from New Zealand.

*June 8th, 2020 – Advice on the Coronavirus for Dancers from John Hopkins Staff

Do you know of other dance communities that are starting to phase back to find a new kind of normal? Please leave a comment to tell us about it! We will continue to update this post as more information and updates become available. If you have a comment or updates about your local dance community, please drop a comment below.

Make Responsible Decisions

The bottom line here is that there are no clear answers about how and when to move forward. We hope that Lindy Hoppers everywhere will act responsibly as they make choices about their dance communities. These are not decisions to be made lightly. If you’re in a position of leadership, please remember your responsibility. We welcome discussions in the comments below.


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