What community means to me
This is the last of four posts relating to the Irreverent Dance Kickstarter. Over the last month I have been explaining some of the reasons why this inclusive and welcoming community is so essential – to the people within and those who have yet to discover it – and why dance is far more important than you might first think.
One of the things that made my time at university so fantastic was the community in my hall of residence. The people who ran it – administrative staff, academics in pastoral roles and student committee members alike – were all kind, welcoming and fun so I started to feel like I belonged right away. It wasn’t just a roof over my head, it was a place to really live. There were social events in the bar that livened up the week, you could always find someone to ask their advice if you had a problem, and there were often like-minded people around without you even having to leave the building. I’m pretty sure that it was the people who ran the place who made it feel that way, so it was a good example of how a community reflects the people within it.
Community is about feeling part of something. Community is about feeling welcome, belonging, starting to understand others and appreciating difference. Anything can bring people together, but it takes something quite special to keep them together. The people who ran my hall of residence were an important part of that, but having a physical space also helped. Knowing that you can pop into a certain building and feel like you belong there is a lovely feeling, but finding a space where your community fits can be tricky when you have to work with other people’s rules and requirements, and doubly so when you have to share that space with people who are not your people. Whether or not you have the privilege to never feel scared or intimidated in public places, everyone feels safer and more comfortable when they are surrounded by their friends, people who are vouched for and others who know ‘the rules’.
Imagine having a wonderful group of friends who have felt comfortable hanging out in the same corner of the same café for weeks, but then the manager turfs you out one week because they have someone who wants to book the whole place. Then the week after they want to close up early, and the week after that the place is filled with a noisy group who keep taking your chairs and whispering about your friends behind their backs. Having to shape your community because of outside influences is really hard and means you have to work to recreate a safe space every time you get together. This is what Irreverent Dance (ID) have been doing since the start yet they have, so far, managed to keep their community together. However, so much more could be achieved if they had their own space. Take a look at the Kickstarter comments and you’ll see that ID is so much more than just dance classes. ID have almost raised enough money to make this happen – I hope you can help them take the first steps into creating a wonderful and supportive community space.
Irreverent Dance currently have a Kickstarter campaign to raise money in order to create Europe’s First Gender-Neutral Community Dance Studio. If you can donate anything – even the price of a coffee – it will go towards ensuring even more people can enjoy the safe space that means so much to existing members of the Irreverent Dance community. To see what Irreverent Dance has already achieved, why not come along to the annual Showcase performance on Sunday 9th November. A video of last year’s can be found on the ID blog.