The most important thing to any small business (and to us at 410 Line Dancers) is support. In order for us to survive, support is vital. Support comes in many forms, whether it be someone teaching our dances to their following, doing our dances on their platform, attending our events, to even speaking well of what we are doing. We consider support as currency, highly valuable and cherished. We also view the support we offer similarly, and take careful consideration to which we offer our (currency) support. Support should never be taken for granted.
Lessons Learned from GUCCI
In 2018, Gucci designed an $890 sweater that closely resembled blackface (for which the creative director Alessandro Michele said was not inspired by blackface but by the late performance artist, club promoter and fashion designer Leigh Bowery who often used flamboyant face makeup and costumes). The backlash they received was swift and heavy, which ended up having the company executives apologize, and to make some changes in their diversity and hiring practices. They decided to conduct an annual one-day unconscious-bias training session for its 18,000 employees around the world. They launched a 10-city design scholarship with the goal of building a “more diverse and inclusive workplace on an ongoing basis”.
From my perspective, it provoked a lot of questions: How many levels does a design at Gucci go through before being approved? NO ONE thought this was inappropriate before the backlash? Why are we just now deciding we need to have scholarships, inclusion, and diversity training? Why are we just now deciding they needed to take a look at their hiring practices? Are they totally unaware of how many African-American people purchase their products? Do we have to tolerate this?
Due to my familiarity regarding the history of blackface, I decided to no longer support Gucci. I didn’t solicit support for my self-imposed boycott but I no longer wanted to spend my hard earned money with them. There are lessons to be learned from the Gucci experience for all of us that lead groups/throw events/create dances/DJ/or sell merchandising.
Events & Support
When we put an event on, it requires a huge time and financial commitment to undertake. People that do not actually make that kind of commitment are often solely concerned with their perspective of the event, such as what perks they are getting, or focused on things that may not have been to their particular liking. As an event organizer, we are always interested in hearing ways to improve what we are doing but there are constructive ways to deliver the feedback.
When you hear negative public comments, or criticism, it can be impossible to forget. I am constantly amazed at how publicly frustrated people get with the UC Awards and then want to teach at their event / represent the UC Awards. Instructors / choreographers represent the event publicly in a negative light and then expect for the UC Star Awards to support their work on the platform that person has spoken negatively about.
Similarly, we have had people that have been either critical or flatly nasty toward us publicly, and then turn around and are upset when we do not want to work with them. It always comes down to the most important thing, SUPPORT. If they somehow began to support us, the rest of these things can be worked out (with a conversation), but if not, they have damaged the very fragile support that we offer.
We should all learn that it’s not always about your greatness, but, like Gucci, support can be ruined despite you being one of the best.
Mission Statement: To teach and create the top soul lines dances (ranging from the easiest to the most complex dances) and cultivate a standard of excellence while maintaining a low pressure & positive environment.