The Sheffield Tradition of gender free dancing started with Sheffield Ceilidhsoc in the academic year 2014 /2015. At the Ceilidhsoc AGM in 2015 a motion was passed to make Sheffield Ceilidhsoc ceilidhs gender free: here is the original proposal by Joe MacMahon.
In terms of the history, I remember first bringing the idea up informally at the AGM in 2013, where it was roundly shot down by I-can’t-remember-who. Then I seem to remember not long afterwards, the LGBT committee/society approached us with the idea of doing a joint ceilidh, which would have to be called gender neutrally. As I remember John called that one and it went down fine — people didn’t even really notice unless they knew it was happening.
In 2014-15 it wasn’t official policy or whatever, but about half of our ceilidhs were called gender-neutrally (mostly because John was doing them and feeling experimental I imagine), and then I brought the motion to the 2015 AGM to have all our ceilidhs gender neutral. As I say, I wasn’t actually present when it was passed but from what I heard it was relatively uncontroversial by then, although there were some concerns raised about being able to get callers other than John or Paddy to do gigs for us (and in fact this has been a bit of a problem).
Since then, it’s been pretty much standard. Very occasionally we get hecklers or people trying to move people around in the dance (John and Paddy can probably speak more to this than me), and I remember we got an email complaining about it the last time I checked our inbox, although that was a *long* time ago. As I say, getting new callers has been a bit of a difficulty, but I think we’re working on it. Sol has done a full gig (maybe more?) for us now which is great