Misleading Online Dance Events Are Eroding Our Trust

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It’s finally here: the day of the online event you’ve been waiting for. You scraped together the ticket money despite being furloughed, because taking classes with your favourite international teachers from the comfort of your flat is an unmissable opportunity. Yet when your classes start, the video keeps freezing, half the promised bonuses aren’t delivered, and you can’t even get a refund.

Would you buy a ticket to another online event?

Misleading Dance Event Descriptions Are Not Okay

Here are some of the things the team at Dancers’ Notes has experienced recently:

  • A “monthly package” where, three months of payments in, only one month’s worth of videos had been delivered and the organisers weren’t responding to emails
  • A “Zero to Hero” course that didn’t teach the followers’ steps, despite not having been advertised as only for leaders
  • An online congress that promised access to videos forever—except it turned out that the videos weren’t of the classes but rather 60-second recap clips

Not one of these products was bad. We would pay for leaders’ basic footwork classes if we were a beginner leader. Similarly, we would be interested in quarterly dance classes and live classes.

Yet each product was mis-sold or misleadingly described.

If you offer live classes with a quick video recap, then congratulations for knowing the value of your teachers. However, make sure your students know that’s what they’re buying. Don’t leave them to find out only after they’ve skipped the live classes held at 3am their time, thinking they’ll watch the recordings when they wake up.

Marketing should promote your events. It shouldn’t create a false impression of them.

Dance shoes, tablet, and wireless earphones

You Can Only Sell What You Have the Technology to Provide

“Fake it ’till you make it” works for a lot of things, but you can’t fake a decent internet connection.

I get that teaching online classes isn’t cheap. The cost of a camera, microphone, good internet connection, and dance floor or studio soon adds up. If you are a full-time dance teacher, this can put you in a tricky position.

However, you cannot sell things that you aren’t able to deliver on. Either don’t sell them or find a creative solution.

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If your internet connection is bad, sell pre-recorded videos instead. If you don’t have enough space at home to take a video that shows both your feet and head a the same time, sell footwork or theory classes. And if you don’t have a partner, then don’t sell partnerwork classes.

Complaints Need Responses

Those monthly payments for monthly classes that turned out to be quarterly? The organisers waited two months to respond to emails, and then addressed their reply to somebody else.

That leader’s basic footwork course that wasn’t advertised as only being for leaders? A request for a refund was met with an emotional email demanding free consultancy work in exchange for returning the money.

If someone contacts you because of an issue, e.g. poor-quality audio, payment and delivery issues, or the course not matching the description, then hold yourself to the same standards as every other industry: respond quickly, be professional in tone, and give refunds or discounts if warranted.

Dance classes might be a side-job for most teachers, but that doesn’t mean it’s exempt from trading standards. And poor customer service when things go wrong only makes people more hesitant about handing over their bank details in the future.

Zoom call in progress
Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

I’ve had some terrible online dance experiences. I’ve also had some incredible ones, thanks to passionate teachers, innovative uses of technology, and unprecedented access to teachers of different dance genres and styles.

However, I am growing increasingly reluctant to try new events. Will it be worth the risk? Or will I be throwing money away on poor-quality classes and giving myself a headache if I ask for a refund?

And that’s why teachers and organisers shouldn’t sell events that are misleading or undeliverable. It’s destroying our trust and damaging the entire industry.

Feature photo credit: Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

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Carla started Latin dancing as a teenager and never stopped. She has too many dance shoes and dreams of dancing in Latin America. But it's not all about dance in her life: she also paints and has a day job as a marketing assistant.