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New to Dance? Dance Congresses Will Blow Your Mind 🤯

Updated: Jun 3

If you're a beginner, don't wait to attend your first dance congress. What is a dance congress? In sum, a "dance congress" is a weekend of nonstop dancing with hundreds - if not thousands - of dancers at a hotel. To clarify: dance lovers organize and promote these dance congress, not the hotels. And here I'm using "dance festival" and "dance congress" interchangeably.


The endless dancing and highly social environment results in an addictive "dance high." By the end of the weekend you're happily exhausted. And what'll surprise you is that there are dozens of dance congresses around the world for every type of dance on any given weekend. This is not an exaggeration! From Tango to Lindy Hop to Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, UrbanKiz, Brazilian Zouk, Konpa, Forró, etc. You could attend a different dance congress around the world Every. Single. Weekend.

Women taking a Salsa dance class in a dance congress in Amman.
My first dance congress, ca. 2007. Amman, Jordan.

Small festivals can attract a couple hundred dancers. Larger ones can attract thousands. Larger ones, like Costa del Sol Afrofestival lasts for a week. Or huge ones, like Croatia, attracts tens of thousands and last for weeks! Normally, though a dance festival is only one weekend.


Experienced dancers I've talked with tend to state that beginners will be overwhelmed in the classes and the socials. Even so, it's irrefutable that dance congresses are so impressive that they create instant dance fans. It's worth it.

To enjoy a full experience at your first dance congress, purchase the "full pass" for full access to all classes, pool parties and dance socials.

Some congresses sell a "party pass" or a "class pass," for less, but that varies per congress. Don't pass up the opportunity to fully experience your first dance congress. Purchase the full pass!


Here are some congresses that I've enjoyed or am keeping my eye out to attend in the future:


What's usually included and not included in dance congress full pass*

Airfare and other transportation



Lodging

Usually there's a fixed price for dancers who want to stay at the official hotel. There might be "overflow" hotels partnering with the dance congress organizers. You could also find accommodations on your own.


Meals



Classes/workshops

Regular classes, aka workshops.


Special workshops

A congress might exceptionally offer a teacher's training certificate, intensive series or by-invite-only workshop that is priced apart.


Pool parties



Night parties



Dance parties and entertainment (DJ and/or live concert)



Tours, exploration of the city/country

Some dance festivals offer tours during the week before or after, but those are usually priced apart.


*Always check on the "package" or "pricing" page of each congress.


Ready for your first dance congress? Go ahead! Pick my brain! Hear about the best cities and congresses before you sign up for one!


Videos of dance congresses and festivals around the world






Sample program for "dance festivals" or "dance congresses"

The videos above help you feel what a dance festival is like, but below is an organized breakdown of what you just saw.


Thursday pre-party

A short class in the evening followed by a dance party (aka "social") at a local restaurant-bar. Since this is a great way to meet the local dancers I highly recommend trying to attend the pre-party.


Friday official kick-off

Social dancing at night

Dancers from all over the world fly in on Thursday or Friday. By Friday dancers have checked in to their hotels/lodging and are ready for the first official night of social dancing. These dance parties are held in one of the ballrooms of the official hotel for the dance congress. DJs that specialize in each style of music are contracted to play all night long.


Normally dancers are ready around 11pm or midnight. If the dance congress includes multiple styles you'll have multiple rooms for each dance. For instance, one room for Bachata, another room for Salsa and yet another room for Kizomba. Prepare yourself for an all-nighter!


Saturday... dancing ALL DAY AND NIGHT

Dance classes during the day

The organizers of the dance congress rent some of the hotel's ballrooms and have hired the best dance instructors to give classes during the day. Usually you have a choice of 2-5 classes per hour starting around 11am and ending around 2pm.

Pool party

After the classes, it's time to have a little drink, a bite to eat and dance by the pool! The dance congress has their DJs (not the hotel DJ's) play at the hotel pool and it's a dancer takeover!

Dinner break

If food wasn't a necessity that keeps humans alive, dancers at a congress would just dance nonstop. But. Sigh. We must eat.

Performances or competitions

Some congresses are geared towards competitions. Others only have performances and no competitions. Other congresses don't have any performances at all!

Social dancing until sunrise!

Remember the dancing all night long on Friday with dancers from all over the world? Repeat that. You'll be surprised the high-level dancers that you run into and just how different each person feels. At the same time you'll love that just with the base of dance classes that you've been taking that you can actually manage to dance with people who took classes on the other side of the world! You'll meet dancers from cities you never imagined had a dance scene! And now. You're officially addicted. But wait... there's still Sunday!


Sunday... more dancing

Dance classes during the day

Same as Saturday!

Pool party

Same as Saturday!

Dinner break

Same as Saturday!

Social dancing until sunrise!

Usually the competitions and performances are held on Saturday, so Sunday is a bit more laid back and dancers are starting to take their flights back home. But the hardcore dancers stay until Sunday to the wee hours of the morning.


It's hard to discern from all of the marketing (or lack of marketing) which one of the hundreds of dance congresses around the world you would enjoy the most. Let's chat.!

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