If you’ve been taking classes and maybe even started venturing out to try social dancing the next adventure for you should be traveling to a dance weekend. You now speak the international language of dance and one of the most fun things you can do with this new found skill is to travel to another city anywhere in the world, have a dance with someone you’ve never met, and be amazed at how well it goes! Not sure where to start or what to expect here’s a handy guide:
Types of Events
Dance Camps: These are weekends or even a whole week with classes from one or more sets of teachers and often social dancing as well. This kind of event is great for those that like intensive/immersive learning opportunities. They’re also really great for getting to know other dancers since you will spend a lot of time with the group of dancers in your classes. Some events have leveled streams, others are multilevel, some offer taster classes in other related dance styles. Some events may also include competitions as a small part of the event or even as a focus. There are several camps that run over Christmas/New Years and in the summer that offer a whole week or multiple weeks of classes and events. Examples of dance camps: Swing Revolution, London Swing Festival, Lindy Shock, Herrang, Swing Summit
Exchanges: An exchange is a full weekend of social dancing (usually without any classed). These often feature live bands, and some combination of evening dances, late night dances, daytime dancing and social events. Exchanges are great for dancers who want to dance dance dance as much as possible and also chill out and meet new people from all over. Examples exchanges: Leeds Swing Exchange, London Lindy Exchange, Arctic Lindy Exchange
Top Tips for Attending Dance Festivals
Where to Look: If you’re looking for an event to attend, Swing Planit is a good one-stop-shop. Your local teachers may be able to recommend events that are popular with dancers in your area. If you want to know what events we’ll be teaching at have a look at our Dance Weekends page.
Plan Ahead: If you’re a single leader you may be able to spontaneously book an event the week before but be aware that some sell out way in advance. It’s a good idea to be looking ahead several months and take note of when bookings open for events you want to attend. If you’re a single follower, booking onto events in Europe can be a challenge–try to register as soon as bookings open to avoid being put on a waiting list. Or, even better, try to find a leader to book with either by asking around in your local scene or posting a message on the event’s facebook page or in a group like Followers & Leaders Let’s Book Together
What to Bring: Let’s just start by saying it’s totally fine to pack twice the amount of clothing and shoes for a dance weekend that you would for any other weekend trip! If you haven’t been dancing for very long be prepared for your feet to take a bit of a beating. Definitely bring more than one pair of shoes to dance in, in case one pair becomes uncomfortable or isn’t a good match for the floor at a venue. It’s also a good idea to bring some plasters and moleskin tape or blister plasters. Bring cool comfy clothes for classes. Depending on where you are staying you may need to bring a sleeping bag, towels, ear plugs/sleep mask. Evening socials may have a theme, if you plan to go to a dance in fancy dress plan a costume that will be comfortable to dance in. If there are no themes you may want to just bring some nicer outfits for the social dances. (Pro tip for those who wear dresses: lot’s of dancers wear shorts under their dresses so that they don’t have to worry about showing their pants). Social dances may be a bit more crowded and hot and sweaty than what you’re used to so you may also want to consider bringing extra tops, a fan or a sweat rag.
Make the Most of It: The best way to make the most of your dance event experience is to DO ALL OF THE THINGS–especially the things that make you a bit nervous! Ask strangers to dance, enter a competition, take a tour of the city, take advantage of all of the learning opportunities. If you are taking classes bring along something to take notes on after class or make sure you have space on your phone to film the recap that many teachers will do at the end of a class. Dance weekends are also a great opportunity to take private classes from teachers you like. If meeting new people is a priority, try to stay with local dancers rather than in a hotel if that’s an option, volunteering at the event is another great way to meet people (if volunteering isn’t offered as an option when you register just ask the organiser), taking classes is also a good way to get to know people or if you’re attending an event with no classes make sure to take part in whatever tasters or social activities are offered.
Avoid Burnout: Dance weekends can be pretty full on! Here are our best tips for avoiding fatigue: If possible try to stay as close to the venues as possible (to minimise travel time and maximise napping time!). Scope out the food options ahead of time for lunch and dinner (and consider how many other dancers will be there at the same time) to avoid having to wait a long time to your food. More waiting=less napping. If you prefer less crowded dance floors and a good night’s sleep, you’ll probably want to arrive right at the start of the evening dance. If you want to be able to make it to the end of the late night (and get up for class the next morning) you may want to have a good rest over the dinner break and arrive a bit later to the evening dance. Either way, you might want to consider booking the day after the event off of work so that you have a day to recover! If you’re taking classes don’t be too hard on yourself! Get geeky about your dancing during the classes and have a bit of a practice of your new skills at the social dances, but make sure you also give yourself a bit of a break to just enjoy dancing so that your head doesn’t explode.