Attending your first weekender can be an exciting and fun experience. However, it can also be a bit daunting and physically/ mentally demanding. To ensure you have a great time, take home fab memories and avoid the overwhelm, here are some tips for remaining balanced at your first (or subsequent) dancer weekender:
Be the Labrador
Anyone who has listened to our podcasts will know by now that I do not naturally enjoy walking into big groups of people, peeps I already know is one thing, peeps I’ve not met yet is a whole different other. And from conversations I know I’m not alone. However, many years back through chats with friends, some coaching and personal development, I started to find and feed my inner labrador.
What on earth is that? It’s the side of me with boundless joy for new things, meeting people, being playful and being in the present moment. It’s stepping into the belief that a room of new people is a whole bunch of awesome humans and potentially new amazing friends that you haven’t met yet.
I found when walking in with a smile, open heart and mind and some curiosity, it helped other shy people open up to me and has been the beginnings of many wonderful friendships.
So please do come say hi! The established event dancers are probably shy to bound over to you, but undoubtedly they would love to get to know you, show you around and have some dances with you.
Find a buddy
Going on your own but know at least one other person from your community? Buddy up for a drink, a hello in the ballroom and check in with each other throughout the weekend. It helps make us feel at home and will make saying hit everyone a bit easier for you both 🙂
While it’s tempting to dance all night long, taking breaks is important to give your body and mind a rest/ prevent burnout.
Take a break every few hours to sit down, stretch, drink water and catch your breath. This will also give you time to socialise and connect with other attendees.
Checking the schedule ahead of time and planning the classes etc that you want to do can help ensure you can prioritise rest breaks too.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
One of the most important things you can do for your body is to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, cramps, headaches and emotional dysregulation.. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after the event. Take regular smaller sips rather than big gulps as this will hydrate you better.
If you’re not a big water drinker, you can also incorporate electrolyte-rich drinks such as coconut water or sports drinks but do remember to alternate with the water.
Fuel Your Body
Eating nutritious meals is essential for fueling your body and keeping your energy levels up. It’s a good idea to bring healthy snacks with you, such as fruits, nuts, and energy bars, so that you can have something to munch on when you need a boost. Try to avoid heavy, greasy foods and instead opt for lighter, more nutritious options.
Having easy to make food in your room also means not waiting when hunger suddenly attacks.
Most hotels still have fridges in the rooms you can check on booking, if not icepacks can keep food cool for a few days if you have a cool box, and the reception can re-freeze icepacks for you upon request.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is crucial for recovery and rest, so make sure you get enough of it. Whilst it may be tricky to get your 7-9 hours of sleep each night, you can plan your schedule to maximise the sleep time available. It means choosing to prioritise either classes or late night social dancing and being ok with that choice.
Ensuring you have a good level of sleep the week before and after the event will also help you stay balanced and re-set your circadian rhythm quickly.
To maximise your quality of sleep, bring earplugs and a sleeping mask, This helps avoid being woken by roomies on different schedules or just the unfamiliar sounds of an unknown place.
Pillow mists and comforts from home like wind down tea can also help.
Stretch and Warm-Up
Before hitting the dance floor, make sure to warm up. This will help prevent injury and keep your muscles from getting too tight. You can also take breaks during the event to stretch and cool down.
Many events are now running stretch classes to help with this. Brining a yoga mat and massage tools like tennis balls can also be super helpful.
Our mental wellbeing is a huge component of how well we learn and perform. Dance events are a huge overwhelm for your body and mind. Allow yourself space for quieter period and self check ins.
Allowing yourself time for a little meditation, journaling, a walk outside or any other mindfulness exercises you find helpful is essential. This can help you stay grounded and reduce stress during the event. And we all know we enjoy dancing so much more when we are relaxed!
Quality over quantity
Know this is the first of many
Much like a kid in a sweet shop it can be so tempting to want to do EVERYTHYING, but any seasoned veteran will tell you that never ends well. All dance weekends are crammed full of exciting things to learn and do, particularly West Coast Swing Events. But you need to choose.
As your first event know it’s ok to not compete. Or to not do classes right before competition if you’ve decided you that’s on your list for the weekend.
It’s also great to cheer on friends in competition, but many non competitors will gladly take a break during competition times so they can feel the full benefit of classes and socials.
It’s ok to skip some classes no matter how good they are, doing them all will slow down absorbing the information from them and exhaust you.
Want to see the Pro-show? Maybe take time for a nap between dinner and the Pro’s coming on. They run late and dancing starts right after, so you need to be well rested.
These are of course by no means exhaustive, but we hope the above can help you love your first and subsequent events.
Even seasoned event dancers will have low points in a weekend when they notice they are more emotionally reactive, tired or in need of some self or community care. It’s normal and natural on such exciting and jam packed weekends. Remember to listen to your mind and body and take it slow when you need to. Other dancers will always be happy to give a hug, take a walk, find some food or chill out and chat if you need it, so please do ask.
Most of all, Weekend dance events are an incredible smorgasbord of learning, challenge, playfulness, connection and fun. If you aren’t feeling those, adjust something until you they come back to you.
See you out there on the dance floor!