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Post Date:
October 1, 2021

5 Ways To Reduce the Risks of COVID While Coming Back To Dance

Dance Tips

The blog was last updated: October 1, 2021.

  1. Wearing A Mask
  2. Vaccination
  3. PCR and/or Rapid Self Test
  4. Outdoor Events
  5. No Partner Switching

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional! I am not a medical professional! I am not a medical professional!

I wanted to share my own personal experience thus far (having participated in and also organized several dance events of various sizes this year) to shed some light on how to navigate getting back into dancing as safely as we can. 

There is no 100% guaranteed COVID-free dance event. Every in-person dance event comes with a risk of contracting and/or spreading COVID.

I believe what most dancers and organizers are trying to achieve is minimizing the inherent risk as much as possible to create the safest spaces possible.

There have been several breakout cases in different dance scenes that I’ve been informed about where the people contracting COVID are fully vaccinated. It is important to know that being fully vaccinated does not mean you have a magical shield against every future variant of COVID. I wonder what the research is around the timeframe a particular vaccine is manufactured and also the future mutations of COVID, how effective is any particular vaccination?

The safest option would be to actually create a closed dance bubble where everyone participating in an event is only interacting with other people at the same event, thus no interaction with the outside world. Since this is not the case of most dance events, you still run the risk of exposure despite all of the measures indicated below. The risk lies in the fact that every attendee’s due diligence with handwashing, masking up, social distancing, and how they navigate interacting with the general public can greatly vary and there’s no way to monitor everyone’s behavior minute by minute leading up to (especially during travel), or during any dance event.

I feel it's also important to note that if the local and state guidelines are loose around COVID protocols, individual places of business and venue spaces can implement their own COVID requirements to enforce masking and/or vaccinations. I went to a sushi restaurant in San Francisco after my weekender there and the server asked everyone at the table to show proof of vaccination before allowing us to order food.

1. Wearing A Mask

I’ve seen different variations of mask protocols in different cities around the country. In Portland, I actually saw a sign enforcing masks outdoors at some of the nature parks where it wasn’t possible to social distance more than 6 feet. Some cities are enforcing mask usage in all indoor functions, in others masks are encouraged or recommended indoors but are not enforced, and some places indicate you don’t need a mask if you are vaccinated but there’s also no one checking vaccination statuses upon entry of those buildings.

If masks are not being enforced then it’s up to personal choice and comfort level whether to mask up or not.

2. Outdoor Events

I’ve seen many outdoor dance events promoted where masks are optional and the logic is since the air is free flowing, there’s a lower risk of inhaling the air of someone who potentially has COVID. At the time I’m writing this in late September, we are starting to move into cooler months where outdoor events won’t make sense because it will be too cold outside.

3. No Partner Switching

I found this was more of a protocol before vaccinations started to roll out. If you have someone in your personal dance bubble who you trust to dance with that isn’t dancing/exposing themselves to other people for the sake of safety, then you could participate in a dance class or event and not switch partners. 

4. Proof Of A Negative COVID Test Within 72 hours Of The Event Start Date

I first saw this implemented by my bro Jacob Heiss at his Future Zouk event in Chicago. He enforced proof of vaccination, proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the start of the event (so if the event starts on Friday, the earliest you could get tested is Tuesday), and masks were optional based on one’s personal comfort level. I want to say there were 300 attendees dancing at socials and workshops at that event and I did not hear of any breakout cases afterwards. Since Future Zouk, I’ve seen multiple events start to implement this same protocol with pretty good results - no breakout cases from what I’ve heard thus far.

One thing I also realized is that a lot of people aren’t aware of the options available to get tested for COVID. I got a lot of questions around this in the weekenders I’ve hosted so far. From what I understand, there are two main ways to get tested for COVID. There’s the PCR test and the at-home self test, both of which can be considered “rapid”, but the timeframes to get your results are different.

PCR Test

PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction test. This is a diagnostic test that determines if you are infected by analyzing a sample to see if it contains genetic material from the virus. 

This test usually requires making an appointment at a location where a professional does your nasal swab for you and then you get your results in 1 - 3 days via email and/or text. With this timeframe, it can be difficult to time the test to fit in the 72-hour window that I mentioned some dance events are enforcing.

From my current understanding, this test gives you the most accurate test results in terms of false positives or false negatives.

There is one resource that has been THE GOLD STANDARD in getting FREE PCR TESTS with results typically in 1-2 days with great coverage nationwide. I took a test in Portland and Austin through this site and got my results in 22 hours.

The resource is WWW.CURATIVE.COM and it's 100% free whether you have insurance or not,and the testing process literally takes less than two minutes. It’s super convenient and they typically have TONS of time slots available DAILY. In some locations, they also provide the rapid tests where you can get your results in 15 minutes versus having to purchase an at-home rapid antigen self test.

At-Home Rapid Antigen Self Test

This type of test costs about $25 and can typically be found at your local pharmacy stores like Walgreens or CVS. It is very similar to an at-home pregnancy test, and will give you results in 15 minutes. 

I’ve seen some dance events go the extra mile of actually buying some of these tests for individuals to purchase at cost to get tested right then and there at the door before participating in the dance event.

It is my current understanding that these at-home self tests are not as accurate as PCR tests in terms of false negatives and false positives.

There are different brands out there, but the brand that I’ve heard has the best accuracy is the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test, which comes with two tests per box.

5. Vaccination

I’ve seen a lot of dance events promoted as “vaxx-only”, meaning only vaccinated individuals are able to attend. I’ve seen lots of posts getting into the politics of pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination, I don’t want to get into any of that discussion. At the end of the day, everyone can choose how they wish to live their lives as everyone’s health condition is unique. 

Since vaccinations are not magical COVID shields with 100% efficacy in preventing COVID contraction, there is still a risk even for those who are fully vaccinated. Vaccines are designed to help prevent serious symptoms that would require hospitalization to minimize the strain on our healthcare system. 

I’ve heard of several fully vaccinated dancers within the past couple of months catching and transmitting COVID from vaxx-only dance events. It seems to be mostly the Delta-variant, granted I’m not even sure if people are informed of the specific strain of COVID when they test positive. I haven’t heard of any of these fully vaccinated dancers getting hospitalized, which indicates the vaccine is doing its job. Granted, there is some data that future variants of COVID can be vaccine-resistant depending on the manufacturer, manufactured date, and lots of science I know nothing about.

There could be some peace of mind with hosting a vaxx-only event in knowing that if there is a breakout case, it will be very unlikely to result in serious symptoms that would require hospitalization.

What To Do If You Get COVID

Since we know that there is an inherent risk of contracting COVID at any dance event, what steps should you take if you do get COVID?

After you attend a dance event, it’s important to isolate yourself (regardless of if you have symptoms) until you can get a test because you can be asymptomatic, meaning you feel fine and aren’t displaying any flu-like symptoms. I believe the general rule of thumb is to get tested 48-72 hours after the event. You can use Curative, the BinaxNOw tests, or find out what your local city offers as far as testing.

If you get a positive result, there is NO SHAME in getting COVID. We are in a global pandemic with a novel virus. If your symptoms are mild, I feel the next proper steps would be to quarantine yourself for 10-14 days and get tested regularly after that timeframe until you get negative test results and stop displaying symptoms.

Depending on your unique immune system and vaccination status, you might experience more severe symptoms. If this is the case, please seek professional medical help. I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!

Since contract tracing is not being implemented by our health officials, it’s imperative we do our best to inform the dance communities we were in about positive test results. I’ve been happy to see and hear many instances where dancers have done their due diligence with informing the organizers, the venue, their local dance community (along with the dance community they traveled to, if applicable); along with posting on social media and applicable chat groups about their positive test results, as well as any pertinent information about where they’ve been. 

Sharing your positive results lets as many people as possible know who may have also been potentially exposed as well to also get tested and, depending their results, take the appropriate actions to not continue the spread.

Closing Thoughts

Again to reiterate, I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL! If there is any information that needs to be changed or updated, please reach out to me directly and I will update this blog as I learn more.

A dance event organizer can decide to implement all, one, or a combination of the protocols I listed above per their beliefs and also local and state guidelines. There can also be proactive safety precautions taken by the individual attendees to ensure they are also taking steps to minimize the risk of contracting and/or spreading COVID to someone else. I’ll reiterate my point from the beginning of this blog.

There is no 100% guaranteed COVID-free dance event. Every in-person dance event comes with a risk of contracting and/or spreading COVID.

My intention with this blog is to share my experience with currently navigating in-person dance events so we can continue to dance safely as we are seeing an increase in smaller and larger-scale dance events.

One resource I’d like to highlight is a blog written by Laura Riva who partnered with an actual medical professional titled “Dance In The Time Of COVID: Vaccines & Variants”

If you have any other resources that would be helpful to include, definitely feel free to reach out and I will update this blog!

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this, please share with other dance friends and organizers that you know!

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