Festival Time for a New Dancer

#OmniTips for Social Dancers

A corner of the zouk room dance floor at the 2017 DC Zouk Festival

If you haven’t been to a dance festival yet, you absolutely should! They are the pinnacle of fun in the social dance world, a chance to immerse oneself in the magic of social dancing for days at a time. You meet new people, learn new technique and dances, and discover new music!

But if you’ve never been to a festival before, the experience can definitely seem overwhelming. Never fear, Omni is here! Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your festival experience.

Part 1: Buying your ticket and room

  • Book a room at the festival venue. Most festivals are held in a hotel, and having a room there is super convenient. Usually, they go for discounted rates for event attendees. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny. When you’ve danced till 6 am, it’s great and much safer to be able to walk to your room rather than worry about driving back to where you’re staying. It’s also convenient for quick naps or last minute makeup touch-ups.
  • Organize a group of friends to go with you. Getting a hotel room with 2–4 people is much more affordable, and it’s always nice to have your buddies with you at a festival, especially if it’s far from home.
  • Volunteer for your ticket. If you’re really strapped for cash and you don’t mind missing a couple of workshops or a few hours of social dancing, you can usually get a free pass to a festival by volunteering at the event. This is also a great way to connect with the organizers and make valuable friends in the dance scene!
  • Buy your ticket as far in advance as you can. If you want to just buy a ticket, do it this way. The prices go up as it gets closer to the date of the festival. Most festivals cost around $90 for a full pass when you buy far in advance, but within a month of the festival it may have nearly doubled in price. If you end up not being able to go, you can always sell your ticket to someone who didn’t get theirs in time.
  • Ask around for a discount code. Most instructors or people involved in the event will have a discount code that will take off anywhere from $10–20. This might not seem like much, but it makes a difference!

Part 2: Important Things to Bring

  • Notebook — Write down a summary of the concepts in each workshop and/or private lesson to remember for later! I prefer physical notes over phone notes or videos because it’s all in the same place and harder to accidentally delete.
  • Multiple pairs of shoes — don’t expect yourself to dance in heels for the whole weekend, especially if this is your first festival. Bring flat shoes and a tennis ball to massage your feet at the end of the night!
  • Multiple outfits — minimum of two per night. Festivals are HOT, and since you’re dancing longer than any normal social, you don’t want to have to dance in the same outfit all night after it gets sweat-soaked!

Part 3: Pacing Yourself

Unless you have an IV drip of caffeine running through your veins, you are not going to be able to do everything. It’s important to prioritize the activities you want to do most so that you leave fully satisfied!

  • Plan your schedule ahead of time. Decide what workshops you’re interested in and plan on attending those. If there are two workshops you want to take that happen at the same time, decide between you and a friend who’s going to which workshop, and teach each other what you learned later! Looking ahead is also great if you’re volunteering — you can schedule your shifts around which workshops you want to take.
  • Take breaks and hydrate. Especially if you’ve consumed caffeine or alcohol, hydrating is especially important. Make sure you are consuming plenty of electrolytes as well, or you won’t retain the water. I like to take a one-song break every six songs or so. It’s easy to forget when you are having fun that your body is not a machine, and needs time to rest and recuperate. I’ve accidentally danced myself to the point of dizzyness/faintness before, and it’s not something you want to experience!
  • Leftovers are your friend! I am a big fan of ordering extra food to go when you are all out to dinner. When it’s 3 am and you’re dying for a snack, the hotel sandwich that costs $12 just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll be glad for that extra pasta or burrito when the time comes! It’s also wise to do a grocery store run during the day and get plenty of drinks and snacks for the night so you don’t end up paying hotel prices for them.
  • Take. Naps. No amount of caffeine is going to replace actual sleep. I like to nap from when social dancing ends around 5 or 6 AM to 9 AM before workshops start, and then in the early social dancing hours in the evening right before performances. This minimizes the chances of missing out on anything fun.

Last but not least… just dance with as many people as possible! With these #OmniTips, you are on your way to having a fun and fulfilling festival experience! Go out there and enjoy!

*Are you an experienced dancer? What are your tips for getting the most out of each festival? Let us know in the comments!*

See you on the dance floor! ❤

— Elena “The Rhinestone” Rovito

About the Author: The Rhinestone is the Creative Director of the Omni Movement and an avid social dancer. She loves having fun dances with partners of all levels!

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