Dance Team Kicked Out of Seattle Event Because Their American Flag Shirts Made Snowflakes Feel “Triggered and Unsafe”

by J Pelkey
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The Borderline Dance team, a regional women’s country line dance group, received an invitation from the Rain Country Dance Association to perform at the Emerald City Hoedown in Seattle last weekend.

The Rain Country Dance Association promotes itself as fostering “a friendly environment for LGBTQ people and friends to meet and dance in the Pacific Northwest. We support this Country Western dance community by providing opportunities to dance, learn, and perform. We cater to the LGBTQ community of Seattle and Greater Puget Sound but are open to all.”

However, the Borderline Dance team’s choice to wear American flag-themed shirts led to their being effectively ousted from the event due to concerns from some snowflake attendees who felt “triggered and unsafe.”

The team released a statement on Facebook:

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Over the last two days, we have been answering dozens of calls and messages from friends and family. Feelings have ranged all the way from outrage to sympathy to disbelief. We want to make sure there is complete understanding and truth surrounding the events of Saturday.    

I’ll try to make this as short as possible. Our Dance Team along with a few others were scheduled to perform at the Emerald City Hoedown in Seattle on Saturday. They’ve been asking us for three years to perform but because of their Covid restrictions, we have been unable to until this year. Dance teams work their boots off preparing for performances like these. Extra practices, babysitters, ferry rides, hours upon hours of practice and commute time and time away from their families. We all were very excited to perform for this event. Unfortunately, what our team was met with upon arrival was that our flag tops were offensive to some of the convention goers. There was a small group that felt “triggered and unsafe”. They had several claims for this reasoning.  Mostly associated with the situation in Palestine and the Trans community in America. At first we were told we would just be boo’d, yelled at and likely many of them would walk out. This did not deter us. But then we were given an ultimatum. Remove the flag tops and perform in either street clothes (which most didn’t bring as they traveled there in their uniforms) or they would supply us with ECH shirts from years past… Or, don’t perform at all, which effectively was asking us to leave. Also, here is a link to their website that shows the pictures of our teams in our uniforms.  So they would have known what we were going to wear.

We don’t speak for our team, we speak on behalf of them so the choice was theirs. As we knew would happen because there really was no choice in our minds, it was a unanimous NO. 

We were not alone in this. Our friends, West Coast Country Heat, who were also scheduled to dance for the convention that evening also did not perform as they too proudly don the colors of our country in the same spirit of patriotism that we do. Both of our teams stood in solidarity and put actions to words.

Now, for the silver lining. Firstly, watching these teams band together was the greatest performance I’ve ever seen. These people are strong, resolute and unwavering in their patriotism. They are the families and friends of people who have suffered the unimaginable so that we may all have our own opinions and sleep soundly in our beds at night. THAT is why we wear the colors. Because although we may not always agree with the current state of things, we recognize that being an American means true FREEDOM. We all understood and accepted this and walked out with class and dignity despite the discrimination we had experienced. 

Secondly, the support that we got from the majority of the community and even several of the organizers was amazing. We had individuals from ALL walks of life approach us and the message was clear “we want you”. The outpouring of love and respect was inspiring. There was also a lot of disappointment there. Disappointment in the community they are supposed to feel safe in. Disappointment that the spirit of this event, which is to share our love of country dance, was overshadowed by the political opinions of a small percentage. We only wanted to entertain. We didn’t get to do that but we did get to make new friends and build some bridges that maybe wouldn’t have been possible without this incident. 

Ill leave it with this. May you never find yourself in a position where your freedom truly is taken from you. May you always have the choice to agree or disagree with whatever situation you find yourself in. And may you always protect someone else’s freedom to do the same. Whether it be in your favor or not.

The Rain Country Dance Association posted a statement on Facebook to address the controversy.

Hi y’all! After the close of another amazing Hoedown weekend, we know there are some questions about the Saturday night performance line-up. We appreciate y’all giving us the time to clear up misunderstandings and address the situation with people directly involved. We will be posting a follow-up statement later this week once we are able to have those conversations.

In response to a critic who blasted the organization for not being as “inclusive” as they claim to be, Board President Ziadee Cambier responded with: “Hello Rose, thank you for your feedback. This is Ziadee, Board President. We will be in continued communication with the captains of the dance teams that were slated to perform Saturday. To clarify, as this was not a competition, no one was disqualified and no one was asked to leave. While we are mending our relationships directly with the dance teams we will be disabling comments on this post. We will be sharing more information later this week, to hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.”

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