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Dance clubs (ballroom, jazz, ..) in the US and Canada sometime require participants to sign a waiver. Briefly, the waiver says: "Dancing is inherently risky. I hereby waive injury rights."

Dance clubs do this to avoid getting sued out of existence if someone is injured on the dance floor. The liability is on those who injured them, not the organizers of the dance club or the dance club itself.

My question is: For this statement to be binding, does it need to be accompanied by a date of birth and a confirmation of participants' IDs? Could the process be simplified by adding this statement to a web site and stating that "By clicking here, I certify ..."? (If a web form suffices, how can the organizers confirm this was not added after the fact?)

I have the impression that in North America people generally consider their DoB private and will not be too glad to write it for something such as a dance club. Ironically, and despite the frequent noise in the news about how privacy rights in Europe are stringent, the culture there tolerates asking participants in something as innocuous as language courses to write down their DoB, which people there gladly, or at least habitually, do.

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    Surely the answer depends on the jurisdiction, but it seems to me that the point of the DOB/ID requirement is twofold: to establish that the person is competent to execute the waiver (not a minor) and to establish the identity of the person executing the waiver. A signature is probably sufficient for the latter, but could be more complicated as it might require handwriting experts should there be a dispute. – phoog Oct 18 '16 at 17:01
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    I write in "Over 18" on waivers rather than put an exact birthdate (US). I never want to give more (correct) personal information than is absolutely required for the transaction at hand. This tactic hasn't failed me yet. – pseudon Oct 18 '16 at 20:16
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The more common practice in a U.S. waiver would be to state something like "I agree that I am eighteen years of age or older." or twenty-one or whatever the relevant age is, with a line for a parent or guardian if someone is not of age and is not an emancipated minor.

If the information is true, the waiver is binding without a date of birth. If it is not true, the club can at least say that it was acting in good faith and wasn't reckless or negligent in allowing the person to dance even if the waiver itself isn't valid because the minor doesn't have the capacity to sign a valid waiver.

Sometimes the form would also require a driver's license number, but only very rarely an actual date of birth.

If alcohol is served, in the U.S. it would be customary (and usually mandatory) to check ID at the door.

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In the USA (at least) there are well-established laws and precedents for "inherent risk" activities. The two that come to mind are participants in equine events and activities, and spectators in sports events (i.e. baseball and hockey...polo...and possibly car racing).

In the equine case, the law recognizes that there are practical limits to the actual physical control that can be exerted over a 1000lb+ animal, and that the animal's "state of mind" can't be predicted the way a person's might be. Nor can it be said, in the case of the hockey slapshot-shooter, that he can control what happens to the puck after he fires it at the goalie at 110mph. It might be deflected into the stands.

This indemnity would be erased, however, if the equine handler deliberately goaded an animal, or if a hockey player clearly launched a puck into the spectators intentionally, well-outside the conduct of the game...an additional example if a baseball batter strikes out and flips his bat into the stands, striking a spectator (compared to his bat splintering upon contact with a fastball and shards flying into the stands)

So where am I going with this? Dance clubs aren't dealing with 1000lb angry equines, or random accidental probabilistic events...they're dealing with human customers, into whom they are pouring alcohol. In this view, there's a strong argument that the venue "sets the stage for disaster." Subsequent to an injury, I imagine that the extant "due diligence" practiced by the venue would be the deciding factor in a settlement.

Back to the OP's question though: if the venue has a clear and effective entry procedure, which weeds out those who lack adequate ID that also confirms their being of legal age, then the lack of validation of DoB on the TICKET FOR ENTRY would be moot.

  • The potential scenarios are endless, even with just a few 120-180lb homo-sapiens. Some dancers show off their abilities with moves that endanger others (for instance: heels in the air, in various ways). A dancer may make a perfectly harmless move, yet an older person could fall as a result and break a hip. (etc) It is fair if the dancers are held liable for dangerous moves, but my point was how the organizers can protect themselves—as organizers, but not as dancers. You make it sound like it would be insane to have just a friendly gathering of dance buffs without setting up a corporate shield. – Calaf Oct 19 '16 at 3:46
  • The preamble on this answer is very informative. But I can't tell what you're saying in the last sentence: Requiring a patron to provide an exact date of birth has what effect? – feetwet Oct 24 '16 at 17:17
  • Requiring a patron to prove they're old enough to pass the entrance into the club means that the ticket they bought to enter doesn't need to itself have a birthdate on it. Likewise, if the patron was required to buy with a credit card, and had to provide ID at the show with the same name as the credit card... – dwoz Oct 27 '16 at 1:49

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