The Dancefloor Project

Have you ever felt unsafe on the bus, walking to work or on a night out?

Sexual harm is a recognised global concern that disproportionately affects young women and girls (Littleton et al., 2018). While prevalence rates are important, they do not provide evidence of the lived experience of sexual harm (Thomas et al., 2022).

Academics in Psychology at York St John University (Anna Macklin, Jenn Cassarly, and Melanie Douglass) have been conducting research focusing on sexual harm, prevention strategies, and consent conversations as part of the All About Respect project. Now, they have teamed up with Bolshee (a creative projects community interest company), inspired to elevate the voice of, and support those that identify as female. This innovative partnership stems from a shared commitment to provide a voice to those that have experienced sexual harm and in developing preventative strategies to make public spaces safer for all.

Bolshee and the YSJ team have recently been awarded funding from the Institute for Social Justice to deliver The Dancefloor Project. At various local organisations participants will be invited to join Bolshee on the dance floor to take up some space, soak up the vibes, bust a move, pick up a pen and state their demands. Via wall graffiti, participants will provide testimonials of how they want to be treated in public spaces and what makes them feel safe on nights out. There will also be the opportunity to confidentially disclose personal experiences of sexual harm and barriers that have been faced when reporting.  Based on the data collected from the dancefloor and follow-up focus groups, a range of resources will be created to highlight experiences of sexual harm and how women want to be treated in public spaces. These will be made freely available to community organisations.

The project will culminate with a launch event, inviting organisations involved in the dancefloor experience and key community stakeholders to come together to discuss sexual harm in the community and how the resources produced could be utilised. The first dancefloor event will take place on February 16th 2023 (book your free ticket here!) with the launch event planned for early summer 2023.

Photos from our sneak peak event, part of York Design Week. All pictures by Emily Richardson.