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Okach

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Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« on: May 29, 2012, 05:44:05 PM »

Since the overwhelming majority of unhappiness concerning the Ball this year centered around the Dress Code, I have the joy of taking on the task of overhauling it.  :-\  So, I'm posting here to solicit some help from you the attendee.  Let's set up some of the goals -

1)  The Code has to be specific enough such that the Ball Staff, the Rovers and the attendees are all able to understand the contents and apply them.
2)  The Code maintains the semi-formal atmosphere of the Ball.  So, no "let's ban the Dress Code" :-P.
3)  The Code reduces the risk of injury to the ConGoer during the course of the Ball.
4)  The Code protects those assets to the Ball required for continued production of the Ball (that would be mainly the dance floor).
5)  The Code is flexible enough to handle unforeseen situations.

For the record, this year's code went haywire on items 1 and 5.  3 was a moderate success, and 4 was added after seeing how nice and shiny the new floor is and the realization that we have it for the next two years.

Your quest is to come up with a Code that can fulfill the five goals as fully as possible.  You may ask as many questions as you like from me (and other staffers will appear once in a while to weigh in).  

Here's this year's code as a starting point:
http://2012.fanime.com/events/black-white-ball/
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kookiekween99

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 06:55:11 PM »

Is there any way to be more lenient on shoes at all? My friend's date was going to go, but he forgot his dress shoes at home. :(

Also, just as a suggestion: You should make a quick note in the code itself about how to check for non-mark soles. While I was in the bathroom, I overheard two girls talking and trying to figure out why she was asked to scrape her foot on the ground. "What, did he think I had a bomb in my shoe or something? I don't get it..." and I jumped into the conversation and explained to them "It's so they can make sure your shoes won't leave marks on the dancefloor." and they were like "Oh! That makes a lot of sense! Thanks!"
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 07:11:30 PM »

:/ Making sure shoes don't mark the floor is fine, but the entire restriction of dress shoes is ridiculous. A lot of the times, even if the shoes are not formal, they fit the outfit. I honestly would rather see a semi-formal outfit with shoes that match but aren't fancy than a semi-formal outfit with semi-formal shoes that look stupid or are the wrong color. After all, guys hardly EVER need semi-formal shoes for anything, and if they do, probably only one pair in one color. Us girls get it easy, we buy heels and flats all the time.
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Okach

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 07:33:54 PM »

@ScarlettFaythe - And on the other end of spectrum, I winced every time last Sunday I saw someone dressed up completely except for a ratty pair of Converse high tops.  There are specific events/studios that prohibit the use of street shoes entirely on the dance floor because of the chance that grit tracked in will get caught underfoot and scratch up the floor.   As this is a portable floor that can withstand some amount of rough handling, my feeling is that we don't have to go that far :P.  However, I'm still waiting on a report from the vendor on the total damage found on the floor - we found a bunch of rubber streaks on the floor after the Ball that hopefully aren't permanent.  I'll post the results when I get them.  

@kookie - Yes, part of the idea is to post in the eventual new dress code why we're doing certain things.  Of course, this thread is also intended to do that.

As for the rest,  if you were in charge, what would you think would be fair keeping in mind the goals stated?  
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 08:36:51 PM »

I personally witnessed many, many people at the Ball this year who were obviously breaking dress code who were let in. Skirts that were way too short, heels that were way too high and narrow (some of which were worn by people who obviously weren't used to heels, as well!) and couldn't possibly be mistaken for the diameter of a nickel, non-formal clothing, etc. I know that my date had a difficult time finding shoes that worked in her size, and she ended up in a pair of very uncomfortable flats because the heels she wanted supposedly weren't allowed, yet we saw plenty of people in shoes that were even less conforming to the dress code than hers would have been. (I also had to wear shoes that were a bit less comfortable than ideal, since I was told I wasn't allowed to wear my boots, though mine weren't bad at all.)

I think that there needs to be better enforcement of the dress code actually at the event, since the enforcement seems spotty at best (and perhaps too strict in some of the areas where it is enforced).



There's also a lot of problematic wording with the dress code. I seriously dislike the gendered breakdown of the dress code, the implication that woman wearing pants is "crossplay," no mention at all of crossdressing for men, etc. etc. I would do away entirely with the gendered breakdown and go with specific clothing item breakdowns, like what kinds of pants are acceptable, what kinds of dresses or skirts are acceptable, what kinds of shoes are acceptable, etc., rather than breaking it down in very gender-specific terms. It might seem easier, but it not only actually makes things more difficult, but can be bordering on offensive to the genderqueer. I like the idea of a chart that makes it easier, but maybe have the rows as "pants," "tops," "shoes," etc. and the columns as "allowed" and "not allowed" to make it easier for everyone and to allow for someone to see what is acceptable to wear regardless of gender or sex.
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 08:50:42 PM »

There's also a lot of problematic wording with the dress code. I seriously dislike the gendered breakdown of the dress code, the implication that woman wearing pants is "crossplay," no mention at all of crossdressing for men, etc. etc. I would do away entirely with the gendered breakdown and go with specific clothing item breakdowns, like what kinds of pants are acceptable, what kinds of dresses or skirts are acceptable, what kinds of shoes are acceptable, etc., rather than breaking it down in very gender-specific terms. It might seem easier, but it not only actually makes things more difficult, but can be bordering on offensive to the genderqueer. I like the idea of a chart that makes it easier, but maybe have the rows as "pants," "tops," "shoes," etc. and the columns as "allowed" and "not allowed" to make it easier for everyone and to allow for someone to see what is acceptable to wear regardless of gender or sex.

Yeah I totally agree with this, that'd be much better!

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 11:22:18 PM »

@Nina - thanks for the comment!



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Somebody

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 12:28:30 AM »



There's also a lot of problematic wording with the dress code. I seriously dislike the gendered breakdown of the dress code, the implication that woman wearing pants is "crossplay," no mention at all of crossdressing for men, etc. etc. I would do away entirely with the gendered breakdown and go with specific clothing item breakdowns, like what kinds of pants are acceptable, what kinds of dresses or skirts are acceptable, what kinds of shoes are acceptable, etc., rather than breaking it down in very gender-specific terms. It might seem easier, but it not only actually makes things more difficult, but can be bordering on offensive to the genderqueer. I like the idea of a chart that makes it easier, but maybe have the rows as "pants," "tops," "shoes," etc. and the columns as "allowed" and "not allowed" to make it easier for everyone and to allow for someone to see what is acceptable to wear regardless of gender or sex.

Yes, absolutely! I would very much like to see this.
Additionally, regardless of gender orientation, overall I often prefer professional attire other than a dress and was confused if I would even be let in unless my wearing of suit and pants was official crossplay. Being that the Ball is my favorite event, I brought 3 different outfits in fear I might not be let in! This was a huge hassle on my suitcase though that I would like not to repeat.

I would say also that the dress code was quite variant(?). Many of the gals I danced with had apparently snuck back onto the floor in heels not safe for the floor, and were quickly reprimanded. I had been under the impression however that they would not be let in at all. By the time I arrived there was in particular one staff lady who was keeping things very tight in the shoe district.
However, and perhaps it was due to the late nature of which we arrived, a few of my group members whom I had reprimanded and argued with over their attire (t-shirts hidden under cheap kimonos and a suit jacket but still quite visible) were still let in. I was happy that we were not turned away to go change for such, but also confused at how they managed to pass the inspection.

All in all, the only real frustration I had with the Ball (aside from missing so much of it!) would be that the dancing style for each song was not promptly changed- often not showing up until we were well into the song and causing a halt on the dance floor, and that we were yelled at to leave while attempting to gather our stuff when the ball ended. (However, when we explained the staff lady did apologize, so our feelings weren't too hurt. As to the prior, would a set list be possible? I'm sure it's been asked before but I haven't yet read why there isn't both.)

Just a quick personal side note, but were all the more experienced dancers there early? By the time I got there hardly any of those left seemed to know what they were doing- no one followed the dance suggestions or patterns of the dance floor (occasionally making it difficult to dance such waltzes and so) and I found that all but one dance partner I had did not take any of the classes or have any experience, leaving me teaching or attempting to teach all night! : / My partners were all lovely people but it made me a sad panda to not be able to put my ballroom dancing skills to use.

I absolutely loved the new location! I truly hope you have it at Parkside Hall again, as the ample space to relax, practice, and dance both on and off the wooden floor were wonderful indeed. Very comfortable setting, closer to the convention (or at least the hotel at which I stayed), and the tape marking the direction of dance were excellent! Thank you for a great time!
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 12:44:38 AM »

I already posted this in another feedback area but ill put it here too. And i agree with previous posts, i saw a TON of girls breaking dress code. Very much so in the realm of shoes. I went out and bought shoes that fit the dress code and then saw girls walking around in stilettos....i have a ton of stilettos, a few that would of matched my dress better and were taller so i wouldnt of been stepping on my dress all night. I borrowed it from a friend who's a bit taller then me so i couldnt get it altered to my height, but then i couldnt compensate with higher heels cuz they werent 'allowed'. I understand we want a good crowd turnout for the ball, but its very frustrating to see the code basically thrown to the wind when others have made the effort to be in proper attire. So yes it stinks to turn people away, but...well, too bad, your not up to code. I don't know how the code could of been any more explanitory, i mean i read it and understood it just fine. Heels the size of a nickel...pretty explanitory, go to your closet, grab a nickel, grab your heels, measure. Dresses no higher than 2 inches..put your dresses on, grab a ruler or tape measure, measure.
All in all just stick to the dress code you put up Fanime because nothing is more frustrating to say no to one person and then turn around and say yes to another who is wearing the same basic stuff.
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 12:51:43 AM »

Understood - that's the main reason I'm waiting for the report from the vendor on the floor condition.  Depending on how mangled the floor is, the shoe restrictions can be adjusted.
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 07:11:44 AM »

In the future, if you feel you see a dress code violation you can always ask a Rover to check it out for you.  It is at times hard to see specific things with so many people in the room at once.

-Kevin
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 07:37:23 AM »

I'd like some opinions on the high heel restrictions while we're waiting for the report back from the vendor.  I especially want to hear from the experienced ballroom crowd. Here's the background:

The heel height restriction is based on a concern for personal safety.  Heels higher than four inches do tend to contort the foot and possibly imbalance the wearer.  Couple that with a slightly slick dance floor (which ours now is) and your chances of taking a nasty spill is increased.  Our dance floor also has about an inch of rise from the level of the carpet when installed, which does increase the hazard of tripping, but I'm not quite as worried about that since almost everyone will instinctively step on the floor rather than shuffle their way on. 

The nickel heel diameter restriction is based on protection of the dance floor.  Even on a ballroom dance shoe the heel can have a hard rubber tip that driven with at least 50% body weight can generate enough force to dent a hardwood floor.  Some of the members on our team who have that type of shoe have plastic heel protectors that mount on the tip to protect the floor.  Would it be fair to allow heels in as long as these are used? 
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 08:49:04 AM »

I think that there needs to be better enforcement of the dress code actually at the event, since the enforcement seems spotty at best (and perhaps too strict in some of the areas where it is enforced).
unfortunately there was some misommunication between the staff itself and the rovers
when i was workin door, i had one girl who, after being allowed in by a rover, unfortunately got kicked out by one of our staff members due to her show size.
so for anyone and everyone that had been let in and then kicked out, i/we apologize for that
hopefully we can find better ways to communicate with the rovers so that we're all on the same page as far as  dress code goes

i also agree with your idea of makin the dress code gender-neutral. i believe that'll allow more ppl to dress freely, as one of my friends did a couple of years ago, since she went to the ball in a suit that was on par with her cosplay

All in all, the only real frustration I had with the Ball (aside from missing so much of it!) would be that the dancing style for each song was not promptly changed- often not showing up until we were well into the song and causing a halt on the dance floor, and that we were yelled at to leave while attempting to gather our stuff when the ball ended. (However, when we explained the staff lady did apologize, so our feelings weren't too hurt. As to the prior, would a set list be possible? I'm sure it's been asked before but I haven't yet read why there isn't both.)

Just a quick personal side note, but were all the more experienced dancers there early? By the time I got there hardly any of those left seemed to know what they were doing- no one followed the dance suggestions or patterns of the dance floor (occasionally making it difficult to dance such waltzes and so) and I found that all but one dance partner I had did not take any of the classes or have any experience, leaving me teaching or attempting to teach all night! : / My partners were all lovely people but it made me a sad panda to not be able to put my ballroom dancing skills to use.
to touch up on a couple of ur points:
- again, miscommunciation between those at the door and what we as staff actually wanted so that was just a general problem for most of the night
no clue as to how they got through security (altho im personally glad that they did) but that just tells us that we need to work harder on makin sure ppl are bein watched for their dress code

- unfortunately for the dance display, this is a new system that we worked with this year so there were some glitches that we had to deal with
we do have a prior set list and everything but we had to feng-shui a lot of things because we didnt have a projector this year and all that other stuff

- i wouldn't know about the more experienced dancers but even i coudl tell towards the end that ppl were kind of just dancing around and jumping around
im glad that u were able to teach some other people how to dance and hope that next year things might be a bit difference
as a side comment: maybe you can ask any of us staff members for a dance, since most if not all of us have some experience in all of the dances
:D just a thought for next year

i really hope that even with all the misgivings of the ball this year that u still had fun

I'd like some opinions on the high heel restrictions while we're waiting for the report back from the vendor.  I especially want to hear from the experienced ballroom crowd. Some of the members on our team who have that type of shoe have plastic heel protectors that mount on the tip to protect the floor.  Would it be fair to allow heels in as long as these are used? 
hey alfred. my only issue wit this is that not everyone would have the opportunity to get those plastic heel protectors. i saw rose's heels and they had the heel protector but her shoes are also pretty basic ballroom shoes. mine for example aren't normal ballroom heels and i have no idea if i could find heel protectors to fit my heels. you cant expect ppl that dont normally do ballroom dancing to get heel protectors especially if they're only goin to use it once or if they dont have the right heels for those protectors (im not sure if they come in certain sizes)
my general point is that makin the heel protectors sort of a regulation would actually deny a lot of the people that come. just a thought

- jackie
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Charis

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 10:10:55 AM »

One thing that actually bothered me a lot about the dress code was the distinction between cosplay and non-cosplay -- specifically the "boots are allowed for cosplay but not if you're out of cosplay".  Now, I'm a cosplayer, and what I wore to the Ball was formal cosplay, but I find it unfair that I could hypothetically wear boots but (for example) a friend who wasn't cosplaying couldn't.  (I tend to prefer dress boots as formal shoes, mostly because I like the extra bit of ankle support they provide.  Not sure if I'd have run into any problems because I wound up sticking to the shoes I'd worn earlier in the day, which are actually leather-soled ballroom shoes, but the principle still stands.)

I know, in people I've talked to, there's been a lot of friction to rules being in place for "personal safety".  While it's true that someone not used to 4" heels will be awkward in them and more likely to do damage, there are people who are perfectly comfortable in them -- and the same people who might be awkward in 4" heels might be equally awkward in 2" ones.  Heck, the people used to taller heels might also be, simply because they're used to that way of holding themselves.  I understand that rules need to be painted in broad strokes for ease of application, but that's one that might want to be reviewed for wording.  The same people who will chafe at heel restrictions for safety will understand better if it's for something like protecting the dance floor.

If you do allow heel protectors, it would be nice to have examples and/or links to places where people can find them.  I think that might be a nice middle ground on the heel size restriction.  (In general, providing specific examples in the dress code could be really helpful -- possibly with pictoral examples so there's less room for argument.)

Adding my vote for the nongendered clothing guidelines as well.

While waiting in line for the Masquerade, a friend who'd been turned away from the Ball before looked across and saw a girl who was wearing the same flats he'd been told he couldn't wear into the Ball the year before -- and his had been part of a cosplay.  I don't recall whether I saw the girl inside later or not, but I know my friend was kind of grumpy about it.  It does seem as if there's an unevenness of application in the rules, and while I understand there will always be exceptions and rules realistically can't be unilaterally applied, consistency would go a long way.

Question: I know the dress code was posted up in multiple locations, but was it in the programme book?  I never actually wound up looking at mine this year. <_<;
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 11:23:33 AM »

@Charis - was your friend actually given a reason why the shoes were verboten?  Not dressy, mark the floor, etc.?  We tried to stick pictures in the dress code this year, but couldn't find a balance between text and pictures - and if we tried "this not that" photos we probably could have put out our own program :)

As for safety considerations, there's a sliding scale involved.  We banned boots this year because of stomp injuries last year.  However, we had a crowded floor that might have increased the likelihood of stomp injuries.  This year none were reported (I think the only real injury this year was someone running into a trash can), probably because our dancer density on the floor was much lower.  So, if we somehow end up with last Year's density on this Year's dance floor next year, then is there anything we can do to lower injury severity and likelihood.  Our concern over high heels also has this as a consideration.

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2012, 11:54:23 AM »

Pictures up online, rather than in the programme book! :D It gives people a reference beforehand.  I know we can always ask here, but for those going shopping it gives a vague idea.  (IMO, it'd be especially helpful with soles -- one can't always test out shoes in a store for whether they'll mark or not.)

I don't recall what reason he was given in '11 as for why the shoes were forbidden; I know it wasn't marking concerns.  Probably formality, though they are what's appropriate with the cosplay and time period in question (it was on the style of Chinese flats).

I really do appreciate that you guys are always quick to comment and provide feedback on the attire questions thread, though -- even if we don't always like the answers, it's good to know earlier rather than later, and to know WHY makes things at least more understandable. :)  (I forget -- are the attire guidelines on the Fanime site linked to that thread?  If not, it might be useful; sort of a "if you have any questions at all, PLEASE ask here first".)
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2012, 12:16:57 PM »

@Charis
We'll definitely take that into consideration! If we don't get pictures up on the website, do you think having them here on the forums would help? I just checked the Fanime website and didn't notice a link to the forums other than music requests, so hopefully the attire question thread can be linked on that page next year as well.

I'll have you know that we seriously appreciate the feedback you all are giving us! Without this, it would be mainly a discussion with fellow staffers and that is hard getting all the varied opinions on the subject. Though we have several ideas milling around already for next year, I definitely like open communication between us (the staff and instructors) and you (the con-goers). :)


On a personal side-note, what does anyone think about changing the 2-inch-above-the-knee rule for skirt/dress length into a "fingertip" rule? There were so many ladies I noticed who, after passing the rovers and dress code check, had miraculously had skirts that were much higher than mid-thigh. Do you think that if a fingertip rule was put into play, it would be more successful over what we have now? It would be easier to check on our part, but it would also help with maintaining the atmosphere we strive so hard to create for everyone.

- Rebecca
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2012, 12:23:56 PM »

On a personal side-note, what does anyone think about changing the 2-inch-above-the-knee rule for skirt/dress length into a "fingertip" rule? There were so many ladies I noticed who, after passing the rovers and dress code check, had miraculously had skirts that were much higher than mid-thigh. Do you think that if a fingertip rule was put into play, it would be more successful over what we have now? It would be easier to check on our part, but it would also help with maintaining the atmosphere we strive so hard to create for everyone.

- Rebecca
hey becca, i dont think that that'll do much of a difference. i personally had my own mistake when it came my dress but it was also a last resort. from my experience wit high school and skirt lengths and rules, it's almost impossible to fully enforce those rules. we should just straight up draw a line at the knee and enforce that. we had rulers at the door and it was still hard from what u noticed and anyone else too. just my input :)
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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 12:33:09 PM »

I'd like some opinions on the high heel restrictions while we're waiting for the report back from the vendor.  I especially want to hear from the experienced ballroom crowd. 

I guess I count as 'experienced ballroom crowd,' but not sure if you meant a non-B&W Ball-affiliate :)

I'd say that in general, the reason for the heel height restriction falls into three categories (from a ballroom perspective): personal safety, floor integrity, and (in all honesty, most importantly) the safety for those around you.  Particularly when it comes to high-floor density -- you're less likely to slip and kill yourself than you are to step on someone and really jack up their foot.  The higher the heel, the more it'll hurt.

I actually was wondering to myself this year if having heel protectors would help bridge that gulf between stiletto and acceptable - but the thing is, most heel protectors are designed for ballroom shoes, which already naturally have a wider base to begin with.  They won't work on stiletto points.  Still, if your shoes are straddling that line, they're pretty cheap - the last set I got was about $4.  I'm guessing they'd be $6 now, maybe?  You can get them from any ballroom shoe seller; most large cities has at least one peddler of such goods.  The real reason most people have them is that A) it preserves the heel tip for longer and B) they're non-marking.  Benefits your wallet, benefits the floor.

Does this answer your question, Okach?  Hmm.


Also, side comment re: dress code in general - I was actually hoping the fact that I've shown up every year in pants would indicate that yes, you can be dressy without having to wear a dress.  Guess we'll have to make that explicit!  :)
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Okach

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Re: Black & White Ball Dress Code Discussion
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2012, 12:54:37 PM »

@saebel - we can also ban spiky points with the test of whether you are afraid of having it stick in your head if it is swung at you.  ;).  Thank you for the info.
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