*Posted with permission from, and credit to, Mobtown Ballroom, one of the leaders in examples of how to run a dance venue.
The Kats Korner (and affiliated events/venues) is a public venue, and it is intended to be a place that sometimes puts you outside of your comfort zone. In that sense, and in that sense only, it is designed to be an unsafe place. We want you to push yourself, learn new things, and meet people who will challenge you in whatever corner of the arts you pursue. We believe in the value of public arts’ spaces, and we believe in the mixing of diverse groups of people that these places encourage. We believe in humor and the power of not taking oneself seriously. We believe that the world is micro-managed to an annoying degree, and that after a day of school, work, deadlines, TPS reports, homework, and bosses you should be able to unwind in an environment where you can see and participate in something real. In order to make this happen, however, we have a small list of expectations. To put it simply, by attending classes or events at The Kats Korner, you agree not to be a tool.
- This environment is for everyone regardless of gender/gender identity, race, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, religion, or whatever. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind. If you harass someone you may be asked to leave; you may be kicked out for life. It is at our discretion. So don’t do it.
- In keeping with the above, don’t use racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, or ableist language. It’s not only wrong, it’s embarrassing and in bad taste. Anyone who uses language of this kind may be asked to leave, or be banned.
- Don’t treat The Kats Korner like a pick-up joint. If you engage in this kind of behavior and make our patrons uncomfortable, we will take extreme pleasure in escorting you to the door.
- For many of our customers, The Kats Korner is the focus of their friend groups and social life. This is part of our overall goal, and we think it’s beautiful. That being said, Kats does not belong to any one person more than it does to any other person. The staff works hard to ensure that all of you have fun and thrive as human beings. We expect our regulars to understand that Kats does not constitute their “turf” or a pool of people for them to cycle through dating. We expect our regulars to treat both newcomers and other regulars as people and dancers, not as potential dates. Rejection happens. Don’t ask someone out if you can’t be respectful after being turned down. Break ups happen. Don’t date someone at Kats if you can’t respectfully share the space after a break up. It’s the responsibility of our regular customers to ensure that Kats is an environment where people feel free from coercion, bigotry, discrimination, and bullying.
- Whether you’re dancing, playing music, or finger painting, do not offer unsolicited advice to your fellow students. In our experience the people who do this are usually wrong (and always annoying).
- Generally behave like an adult human being. We welcome every lifestyle and every flavor of person. But this isn’t your living room or a house party: Back-rub chains, cuddle puddles, and the like will make the staff uncomfortable. Please take pity on the staff.
The Kats Korner staff deeply believes that it is best for the business and the world if staff, performers, and patrons are held to the standards above. Within the scope of these caveats, do your thing. Should you have any harassment-related complaints, the staff will willingly and enthusiastically hear and act on your complaints however you see fit. Nevertheless, it takes a kind of cultural agreement to make a community safe and fun. We strongly urge you, when it is safe to do so, to take it upon yourself to speak up if you witness something destructive or demeaning. While the social risks of speaking up may feel high, your willingness to speak up can help create an environment of positive social pressure that it’s impossible for the management to generate single-handedly.
Our goal in this context is to move as far as possible towards creating a culture that eliminates these issues rather than dwells on them. With that in mind, should someone raise an issue with your behavior, listen gracefully and be willing to learn. Hostility in response to criticism is generally a sign that the criticism itself was not misplaced. In addition, when making complaints, please be conscious that it is not our job to create an environment where no one will ever rub you the wrong way. Harassment is one thing; personal issues are another. Be an adult.
Regardless of the severity, please feel free to bring your harassment-related concerns to any member of The Kats Korner staff (Dabney or Karen). We will treat these issues with the strictest confidentiality. Your courage in coming forward can keep incidents from being repeated. If you are not sure whether an incident constitutes harassment, feel free to ask the staff’s opinion. If we don’t know, we will find out. Please see our policy and procedure (below) for more information about how issues are handled.
Policies and Procedures
What you can expect if you bring an issue to the staff:
- An initial conversation with the staff member away from other staff/patrons.
- Complete confidentiality (unless we are sure that someone is in immediate/direct danger).
- You will be asked how you would like the situation to be handled.
- If the incident involves a violation of The Kats Korner's Code of Conduct, the accused will be handled/not handled in one of the following ways: watched but not approached (we keep an eye on them), spoken to about their behavior, kicked out, banned, or reported to the police. None of these actions will be taken without the approval of the complainant, unless it is a matter of immediate danger.
- If desired, the complainant will be directed to local resources and organizations.
Our Responsibilities and Limitations
As business owners we can and will involve ourselves in all of the harassment/discrimination issues listed above, particularly if they occur on the premises. We cannot, however, get involved in interpersonal issues and feuds. Furthermore, it is important for complainants to understand that, while we take action on issues of harassment, we cannot act as a personal support network, we are not trained therapists or social workers, and we need to spend the bulk of our time running the business.
The Kats Korner is in Mesa. We rent out an elementary school. As such, NO SMOKING/VAPING/ALCOHOL/DRUGS/FIREARMS of any kind will be permitted. Seriously, we know we live in Arizona, and it's really tempting to swing dance with your concealed gun strapped to your ankle, but LEAVE IT IN YOUR CAR. If you must have a smoke, please use the park across the street, outside of the gates. If you must carry a gun…don't come dancing. If you appear inebriated in any way, we will ask you to leave. Have respect for the surrounding residential areas and keep noise to a minimum. Yuck it up inside as much as you would like. Finally, if you are leaving late at night and would like a walk to your car, talk to any staff member and we’d be happy to arrange it for you. We do it because we love.
Hepkats is in the Women's Club of Mesa, in the heart of a residential area. All of the above applies, and be extra mindful of street parking.