by Emma Kaywin and Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes
Creating an intentional and safer space for party-goers, especially on our dance floors, is ingrained in Meso Creso’s ethos and culture. It was a natural progression that came from the creation of a community based on shared values, shared musical interest, and deep ties to our diverse multicultural backgrounds.
Or so we assumed….In 2015, our events were growing, we were gearing up to hold our first-ever festival (Nomadico 2016). We realized we needed to pay better attention, be more attentive, and create clarity on what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior on our dance floors and in our spaces. With that, Meso Creso created a consent statement that we proudly and very intentionally included in all our invites, share on social media, and even put on posters of at our events.
Meso Creso seeks to be a safe space for all sexualities and genders. We love consent-based activities, believe that altered states are no excuse for bad behavior, and have a zero tolerance policy for those who think or act otherwise. Because of this, we are proud to have Safe Space volunteers at all of our events. These individuals are trained in bystander intervention best practices and are there to provide the community with support.
It was during that time that we created a new volunteer role at our events. These “Safe Space” volunteers
were tasked with “partying with your eyes open” — being attentive to the dynamics on the dance floor and a safe person to go to if a consent violation occurs.
We take this role very seriously. All Meso Creso Safer Spaces volunteers complete a two-hour training that covers how to be a successful bystander in cases of consent violations, microaggressions, inebriation, and violence. This training includes practice and lots of discussion on what we actually see in the intentional spaces we love so much and how we can support our party family in being as safe as possible.
This year, Nomadico participants will be supported by multiple layers of volunteers who keep participants safe – including our fabulous medical, ranger, peacekeeping, and sanctuary teams, and of course our Safer Spaces volunteers. If you are interested in getting trained and becoming a Safer Space volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be an opportunity for training at Nomadico on Friday.
And you can always find us on the dance floor by looking for our fabulous light up garlands.
Diana & Emma
I had the pleasure of being introduced to Meso Cresso’s safe spaces at PEX 2017. Emma had a general safe spaces training, which was extremely insightful and allowed me not only to feel more comfortable dancing among the Meso camp but inspired me to keep my eyes open so as to contribute to the general mission of feeling safe at Meso. Throughout the festival, I utilized the tools Emma taught me to create a safe space for someone who came to me looking for help. I also noticed other Safe Space volunteers discreetly “protecting” me momentarily as I danced. I knew they were there to create a space where I didn’t have to worry about being harassed. I was able to relax in the comfort, allowing myself to fully be free…for the very first time at a festival.
Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes wears many hats, among them: advocate, change-maker, policy nerd, facilitator,
creator, curator and creative schemer. For Meso Creso, she has been a board member, organizer, but mostly a mama-bear. She currently sits on the Music Curation Committee and is the Consent Co-Lead for Meso Creso, while helping make creativity and magic come to life as the Head of the Arts/Progamming Team for Nomadico. In her professional capacity, she is an advocate that works on reproductive and sexual health/rights/justice issues, especially those that impact young people, women, LGBTQ and communities of color. Her passion lies in cultivating intentional and safe spaces for community-building, activism, and creative expression.
Emma Kaywin is a sexual health writer and activist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is the consent co-lead for Meso Creso and the consent and safety lead for Ecstatic Dance NYC. Through these and other roles, Emma delivers consent and sexual safety workshops to individuals nationwide. She is currently working towards a doctorate in health education at Columbia Teachers College, where she is focusing on how to better educate youth in the necessary skills for healthy relationships.