Rantz: Dance team told American flag shirt made some feel ‘triggered and unsafe’ in Seattle

Apr 11, 2024, 5:40 AM | Updated: 5:40 am

Photo: A dance troupe says it was unwelcome at an event after wearing American flag shirts. They sa...

A dance troupe says it was unwelcome at an event after wearing American flag shirts. They say Seattle dance guests felt "triggered and unsafe." (Photo courtesy of Borderline Dance)

(Photo courtesy of Borderline Dance)

Members of a regional women’s country line dance team said they were effectively kicked out of a Seattle dance convention after organizers claimed their American flag-themed shirts made some attendees feel “triggered and unsafe.”

The Borderline Dance team was invited to the Emerald City Hoedown in Seattle this past weekend. They said the organizers, the Rain Country Dance Association (an LGBTQ+ dance community), have been inviting them to come to its dance convention for years and they were finally able to accommodate. But when they arrived this past Saturday at the event, they said they didn’t get the greeting they were expecting.

The dance team was wearing matching shirts themed around the American flag. But for some in the crowd, it was one step too far. And it ended up effectively canceling their performance.

Why did dance troop in American flag attire upset Seattle dance attendees?

Co-captain Lindsay Stamp, in an exclusive interview with The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, said the outfits sparked a “small percentage” of complainants who brought up Israel’s war against Hamas and transgender issues. It shocked members of the team who were only there for about 30 minutes at the time.

“My team doesn’t take a political stance. We came to dance,” she explained.

Stamp said the team wears American flag-themed outfits to show their patriotism, not make a statement about politics.

“We’re a patriotic group. We support our military, our veterans, our first responders. We’re a group of patriots,” she said.

But she said someone from Rain Country Dance Association, while cordial, offered what she called an ultimatum.

“At first we were told we would just be booed, yelled at and likely many of them would walk out,” the Borderline Dance team said in a statement on Facebook. “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. ”

The team’s commitment to patriotism explains why the women unanimously agreed — they weren’t removing their American flag t-shirts. And they weren’t alone.

“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,” the Borderline Dance statement said.

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Rain County Dance Association hints at the controversy

The Rain Country Dance Association did not substantively respond to requests for comments.

Instead, a representative said “Rain Country is in the process of reviewing the details of the matter and reaching out to those directly involved. Our organization is committed to our core values of inclusivity and respect, and we will release a more comprehensive public statement later in the week.”

On its Facebook page, they made a similar comment.

“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,” it said.

As of Tuesday, Stamp said no one from the Rain County Dance Association had reached out.

Was this all a misunderstanding?

In a Facebook comment, board president Ziadee Cambier didn’t get specific on the outfit controversy. But she said Borderline Dance team members weren’t asked to leave.

“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,” she wrote.

Stamp told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that she doesn’t think there was a miscommunication: “It’s pretty clear to me, there’s always room for error in any situation, but I don’t believe so.”

The silver lining

Stamp said that while the situation was upsetting, she and her teammates were pleased that community members showed so much support since the team went public.

“I was more taken aback by the issue with our shirts than anything else. I think that the whole team was pretty shocked … we didn’t even think that would be an issue. And like I said in my (Facebook) post, the silver lining was that we had so many people that showed so much love and so much respect. And really, this is just such a wonderful community and these are great, great people.”

She called it “unfortunate” that such a small group of people were uncomfortable with their American flag-themed shirts. It would have been a worthwhile opportunity, she believes, to start a meaningful conversation about their discomfort in a way that could bring people together — like dance conventions intend to. The co-captain said she hopes this can be a learning experience for everyone.

“I would just love to see more conversations opened about people accepting one another. About being wholly inclusive. You know, every, group of person talks about being inclusive and accepting. And I think that we need to work on being inclusive and accepting of people outside of our immediate comfort zones. I would love to see that,” Stamp told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

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Editors’ note: This piece was originally on Tuesday, April 9. It has been updated and republished since then.

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Rantz: Dance team told American flag shirt made some feel ‘triggered and unsafe’ in Seattle