A Wolf in Dancing Shoes
November 1, 2017 11:07 PM   Subscribe

Dan Erlandson (aka DanceHer) has been accused of rape and other sexual misconduct by dozens of women for many years within Seattle's ecstatic dance community. After a failed attempt by the community itself to conduct restorative justice, this week's Seattle Weekly cover story blew the story open.
posted by Revvy (16 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, sloppy editing at night. Sigh. That should be a ')' instead of a ','.

This one is close to me. I have friends who lived in that house and I live about ten blocks away. I've been there. I've had conversations with Dan and some of the survivors.

This story has it all. Victim blaming, ineffective police investigation, lack of concern at the DA, removal of consent, psychedelic drug use, healing circles, gaslighting, protectionism, and denial.

This is not the first story, nor will it be the last.
posted by Revvy at 11:18 PM on November 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

"I wish that sex was always completely enjoyable for everyone involved, and sometimes it just isn’t."

That's some spectacular gas-lighting and victim-blaming right there.

Men, it's pretty basic but it still needs to be explained to some of us - if you and someone are having sex and that person isn't enjoying it, maybe check in with them? Coz, you know, they might want you to stop and if you don't then you're a rapist. Or, they might not have wanted you to start, then you're a rapist.

You might want to find that out if you're having sex with people.
posted by happyinmotion at 1:02 AM on November 2, 2017 [31 favorites]

A bloke going by the name "DanceHer" is setting my alarm bells off before even reading the article...
posted by Dysk at 3:32 AM on November 2, 2017 [18 favorites]

Accusers allege that Erlandson would tell them he was performing some sort of spiritual healing as he had his way with them. The guest who allegedly raped women in the Bliss Jungle community, also reportedly said he, too, was a sex healer.


“I think that he would say that he could help them, he could heal them. He would literally tell people that sexual experiences through him… would actually help them heal and grow and get over whatever past traumas they had.”
Oh god, why does it always have to go one step further than the basic awfulness of sexual assault?
posted by carbide at 3:35 AM on November 2, 2017 [13 favorites]

Oh god, why does it always have to go one step further than the basic awfulness of sexual assault?

Because the justification is critical; he (and enough of the community) need to see him as a good guy, doing mostly good things, even if he “slips up” “once in a while,” to keep his access to targets/victims.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:44 AM on November 2, 2017 [13 favorites]

They also had conflicting goals: the committee wanted to prevent further rape and sexual assault, but they also wrote that they wanted to keep events and parties going much as they had been before. They worried about “a divide in the community, splitting us into opposed sides,” and that “our community event spaces [would] not being protected as safe spaces for all” if things started to boil over.

This is so tragically typical; the community of course is against sexual assault, but they are always more against losing access to that sweet party house or a trouble-free atmosphere, or whatever perks the community provides. Fringe culture scenes are especially vulnerable because they are precarious, but this kind of thinking is present n every institutional situation, including the Media and religious organizations. The vast majotity of people are horrified by rape, but they are willing to tolerate a lot of it (happening to other people) for an easier life.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:53 AM on November 2, 2017 [35 favorites]

Though he never once denied sexual contact with the women who accused him, or addressed the emotional trauma they had expressed, Erlandson took issue with the Safer Communities’ definition of “rape,” which he deemed “ccRape,” or “Consent Culture Rape.” In interviews with The Weekly, he explained that “most men” have crossed the lines that the accusers were describing—but that “actual” rape was about what had happened, not how the accuser felt.

Yeah, if you narrow the definition sufficiently, then you can probably find a way to believe that your gross behavior isn't actually rape. But both legally and morally it actually is, despite all the obfuscation.

The sad part about the story to me was the way that the police and prosecutor's office didn't appear to take the accusations seriously. They possibly did the minimum required investigation and follow-up in at least some of the cases, but it didn't add up to anything effective. From what the article reports, their attitude was basically "her skirt was too short" -- it was the women's fault for taking drugs, getting naked, and hanging out with him, rather than seeing it as his fault for raping them.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:39 AM on November 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

[Typo fixed!]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:51 AM on November 2, 2017

In spite of the accusations, Erlandson maintains that he’s only ever acted with the best of intent. He says that the experience has been a net positive.

Of course it has! The police humiliated and ignored all of his victims, his alternative spiritual community "policed" itself to ostracize the victims and ensure that the rapists suffered nothing, he never had to endure a single consequence for anything! He has a lifelong pension despite a career full of misdeeds (even apart from being a serial rapist in his free time) that should have gotten him fired, because there is no safety net so gentle and supportive as the safety net of being a random white dude.

Plus, now he's set up perfectly to become a darling of the alt-right, because he's started railing against liberal bubbles and the evils of feminism.

Of COURSE he thinks it has been a net positive. He got to hurt people with impunity and BRAG ABOUT MULTIPLE RAPES IN HIS EMAILS TO POLICE and nothing happened. Why not celebrate being invulnerable?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:28 AM on November 2, 2017 [19 favorites]

When I lived in SF I went to a couple of hippie love parties and man, those things were overflowing with boundary and consent issues. At one in Berkeley I took grumpybearbride and everything was fine until I left to use the bathroom. When I came back she informed me that she had been swarmed by gropers. The one guy I know who is the most moochy lecherous hippie type of all (and who has managed to alienate all of his former friends) could totally be this guy, given the axis of power that a house like this represents. A cult by any other name. Fuck. This. Shit.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:46 AM on November 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Haven't read through the entire thing yet, but my question about halfway through is - parties and hot tubs and tons of drugs cost money. He was doing all this on a fireman's salary?
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:33 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Very likely, some of his guests brought the drugs as part of the admission to the parties. There's also some mention of ketamine, which apparently is used by the Seattle Fire Department.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:30 PM on November 2, 2017

I don't know if it is true in Seattle, but around here (SF Bay area), firefighters can be some of the best paid employees due to getting paid for overtime.
posted by tavella at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2017

This kind of thing is why I'm pretty cynical about "restorative justice". It always sounds nice, but what it seems to turn into a lot of times is the victim being pressured to forgive the transgressor to keep the community happy. Basically the left wing equivalent of all those covered up assaults in conservative institutions.
posted by tavella at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Restorative justice can be wonderful, especially with very young defendants and close-knit communities, but it's absolutely not appropriate in cases involving domestic violence or sexual assault.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:27 PM on November 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

When I lived in SF I went to a couple of hippie love parties and man, those things were overflowing with boundary and consent issues.

I hate to say it, but thank you for confirming my suspicions. Back in the 90s, I felt sort of like the odd man out for not being into that kind of thing in SF because 'sex radical culture' and all that, but I always had a notion that it was skeeviness hiding under the guise of freedom. I'm curious, what time period are you referring to?

That aside, this guy sounds like the worst kind of mindfucker. "Healing" ugh.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 12:03 AM on November 3, 2017

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