In the dance world, sooner or later you’ll hear about dance events – from your friends, during announcements at dances, or even that table of postcards – what ARE these things anyway? What’s the difference between an “Event”, a “Workshop”, and an “Exchange”, and how do you know if you want to go?
Well, firstly, there are local, regional, and national/international level events. This refers to the size of the event a little, but most likely has to do with how wide its draw is. In general, the bigger the event, the higher level of dancing, and the more people to interact with at your own level of dance, no matter what that is.
Usually when people use the words Event, Workshop, or Exchange, they are referring to something larger than local (but not always). Perhaps a Workshop is the most likely of those to also be local. Following are descriptions that refer to regional and larger events.
An Exchange is from Lindy Hop. In its current incarnation, dancers dance all night, sleep part of the day, and play the rest of the time! Generally “hosted” by a city’s scene, you’re typically registered to be housed at a local dancer’s house with a group of other dancers and you all go around and do shenanigans together. That scene packs plans for some of their most fun dances, late night dances, and activities in town into one weekend and tries to get all its friends in other cities to come dance! An Exchange may have competitions but typically doesn’t have classes, being more focused on fun. Be sure to go to the late night dances! They are the most fun of all after your 3rd or 4th wind and some mild delirium!
When you’re registering for housing be sure to say if you have pet allergies, or strong preferences regarding smoking, food, or late night or early rising. You’ll have way more fun!
Be prepared to “go with the flow” – you will be late to some things, but some of the most amazing experiences happen here! If this sounds utterly terrible to you, you may want to rent a car so as not to depend on others for transportation.
A Workshop weekend will offer classes, have dances, and late night dances, and may be hosted like an Exchange, or held in/registered to a hotel. If you don’t have a lot of friends in the scene already, it’s highly recommended you stay at the hosting hotel, with new people if possible! Go to the classes and befriend everyone in the classes. Tell all of the people you liked dancing with that you liked dancing with them and suggest that you dance that night at the dance. Ask a group of people to dinner – that’s low pressure and can strengthen ties in your new little community. If you notice someone who’s doing it naturally, see if you can combine groups! The more people you know, the more fun it’s possible to have, and the more people you love dancing with you’ll have a chance to dance with in general. It’s generally considered good to have high-level teachers of a few different personal styles. Try to take a little from each of the teachers to get a feel for whose teaching style you click with or whose dancing style you like.
Other planning tactics include taking the same style (/teachers) through the whole weekend; or the same style as your scene, so you can work on things together when you get home; or choosing someone who has a similar body-type to you to study with.
An Event (or a Dance Weekend) is a general category (like “dog”) that can mean a Workshop (“Poodle”) or an Exchange (“Labrador”) or something similar that doesn’t really have all the features of either, like a weekend of dances at a hotel that has a large draw and possibly competitions, but perhaps no classes (“Labradoodle!”)
page on Facebook – if there are no classes during the day maybe join or set up a local outing. If it’s drivable, make plans with your local community to ride share down, save gas, and strengthen your local community ties. (Just do a check-in with yourself and make sure you think you can be in a car with those folks for 3 (or however many) hours!) Be housed if that is an option, unless you’ll just hate staying with people. It will help you integrate into the community. The more connections you have, the more likely you will be to have fun and to get the dances you want. Bring lots of changes of clothes (including dress-up clothes for Saturday night), deodorant, and your dance shoes! Check in with your host if you should bring an air mattress or extra bedding. Consider taking Friday off of work to get there Thursday night – they will already be gearing up for fun; and DEFINITELY take Monday off. Seriously, for reals. This one you should do. You WILL want to be up all night Sunday and you’ve just spent the whole weekend short on sleep. You’ll want to sleep in and have a leisurely brunch and recover, perhaps with other cute people. DO IT.
Now you’re ready to dance, dance, dance! (Not responsible for excessive amounts of fun… oh, wait… yes, I am!)