Updated: Mar 21
Despite all of the legitimate Covid-related hesitations, your desire to travel and dance is almost irrepressible, am I right? Well, there are countries where you can still take advantage of dance classes, socials and congresses for Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk, etc. Here I'll help you think it out.
In #1 you'll get one awesome resource to help you research which countries to travel to.
Don't skip tip #3. This secret might surprise you... unless you are a #danceaddict 😉
In #4 learn of one congress organizer's impressive effort to ensure Covid controls in a reasonable manner.
1. How do I find out which countries are open for tourism during Covid?
Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic are the only countries that are very open as of publishing.
Current DanceVacay: Lisbon, March 2022 The only requirement for entry into Portugal from the US was proof of "a negative Covid viral test" taken within 24 hours before departure. The layover in Spain, without exiting the airport, was fine. In both countries you must fill out an extensive form that I suggest you do in advance. Follow me on Instagram and click on my "stories" for views of Portugal and the dance scene there.
Each country, even if on the same continent, has very different circumstances as well as different requirements. Lisbon has more than a 90% vaccination rate while in France it is 78% and doesn't permit unvaccinated visitors from the US.
I strongly suggest you bookmark this Covid restrictions, country-by-country summary by Kayak and reference it when considering any travel. Keep in mind the following:
What are the visa requirements for my passport going to that country?
Is the country even open for visitors? You might see flights being sold to enter the country, but they could be for nationals or permanent residents only.
Are their Covid restrictions so tough that you might not get to dance or points of interest are closed?
Is there an outbreak in the country or are the levels reasonable?
Does the airline require a PCR test required or will the airline accept a Rapid antigen test to fly?
What are the travel and quarantine restrictions for the vaccinated vs non-vaccinated?
Does the country require you to quarantine when you arrive?
Does the country require travel insurance (health insurance for tourists)?
Avoid traveling on long weekend or holiday, which would mean long lines and/or test supplies run out. Many Christmas and New Year's travelers have missed their flights exactly because of this. With millions of travelers needing to get tested, shortages are inevitable!
Plan ahead. Do you have enough money or room on your credit card to pay for inflated flight prices in the case airlines cancel flights and you want to return home?
Do you have enough money in the case that you are locked out of your home country for an extended period of time?
Once you've checked the Kayak site and - importantly - have reviewed the country's website they have linked to and have ascertained it's a green light for you to travel, I would suggest you rent your own hotel room. Hostels might be tempting for the price, but the health risks in light of Covid are pretty high to yourself, considering you're sleeping and breathing the same air as many people who may or may not be cautious.
AirBnB's and other shared living sites are almost as expensive as hotels nowadays, but still worth checking out.
Best advice for finding lodging: reach out to friends in the country you're wanting to travel to and ask if they know of anyone in the dance community that has a spare bedroom they rent out.
2. Take private lessons
Social dancing and getting to know other dancers through dance classes is a major draw, but when countries increase restrictions and fine locations for holding dance socials, reach out to your favorite teachers around the world. Ask those dance stars if they'd be willing and able to hold intensive, private classes for you.
Artists have been highly impacted by the restriction on activities that Covid has hoisted upon everyone around the world. If dancers can't dance, they can't earn a living. No audience, fewer shows, no congregation of people, no classes, no dancing... no money and they sadly must do other things with their time to make ends meet instead of pushing their dancing and art.
Taking private classes isn't just in the interest of the dance instructor, but in the interest of keeping the arts alive and well.
Objectively speaking, your support for the arts during a time where artists are fledgling is a good to mankind.
3. Is there an underground dance scene?
Reach out to local dancers in the countries you're wanting to travel to, preferably friends of friends, to find out if there's an underground dance scene there.
While DanceVacay is neutral on the subject, neither condoning nor judging the decisions of adults, the fact is that there are dance scenes that simply lay low and avoid attention.
It's unlikely you'll find any evidence of dance parties in certain cities because there is an understood rule that no one is to record nor post on social media. Often, they don't want the judgment and in cities where restrictions are tight, they don't want to get shut down.
Workarounds include: private house parties, holding events in locations far from the city center, where outbreaks are lower and restrictions are less enforced, or private dance studios where it's invite-only. The controls by the groups vary extremely - even within the same city. It can go from hundreds of people dancing, mostly unmasked and no certification of any kind, to small, vaxed-only, invite-only and proof of testing required for a small dance class or private party.
If you're a minimal risk taker and are worried, don't be shy to ask for details before you go to a city about the level of caution that the dancers in that city tend adhere to. Ask:
Are masks required in most classes and events?
Is proof of vaccination and/or a negative test required when attending classes or a social?
Realistically, how strictly do dancers adhere to mask and testing requirements?
How is that controlled?
Is the ambiance of the dance community more on the paranoid or carefree side of the spectrum?
4. Are dance congresses safe to attend around the world?
Again, everyone is handling the risks of Covid completely differently. Read the invitations thoroughly to see what, if any requirements they are putting in place. I've seen some congresses not mention any kind of Covid controls, outside of the honor system of not attending if you feel sick.
Conversely, some congress organizers don't want to take the slightest risk whatsoever and have cancelled, offering reimbursements or to hold your pass until next year.
A good example: in Orlando the Unity festival, organized by Christian Solas, had testers on hand. Without exception, every single person, from staff, volunteers, instructors, DJs to attendees, had to be tested by their testers and sit in the testing/waiting area until they received their results before they were allowed to register and enter the festival's cordoned area. To register and be allowed to enter, you had to show ID and the negative test on the special card they had made for the testing. Outside tests and proof of vaccines did not get you in the door.
This was well coordinated and there weren't even rumors of dancers having fallen ill. The Unity festival was a great model for organizers who want to employ tight controls.
2020 "after movie" of the Unity Dance festival
As of 2020, prepping for travel is more cumbersome and hazardous, but still doable. At the very least, this has given you a pulse for what's going on in the dance scene around the world.