Swing Conventions, Part 1

August 12, 2016

A dance event (aka convention, weekender) is a combination of workshops, dances, and shows. It’s usually held over a weekend at a hotel in a major city, like a conference. Small dance events or workshops usually attract 50-500 dancers while larger events (conventions) attract 500-1500 dancers. There’s a whole circuit of conventions all across the country, and at least 2 or 3 going on somewhere in North America on any given weekend.

Conventions are amazing. They attract hundreds of dance addicts from across the country who show up partly for the workshops, but also partly for the party atmosphere! For many, it’s a huge social network. Because many convention-goers are experienced dancers, the level of dancing you will find is guaranteed to be higher than the level at your local studio. But, beginners are welcome and highly encouraged – you will not be the only one! This is a great opportunity to watch, dance, and learn with a concentrated group of dancers who are your level and above. Attending a dance event will exponentially elevate your dancing, accelerate your learning, increase your confidence, and expand your social network. It can also change your life!

The primary reason I attend dance events is for the training. From my experience, here’s the breakdown of what you’ll find:



Each event hires multiple top international professionals to teach workshops and judge the competitions. Workshops are offered generally between 10am and 5pm. There are several workshops offered at once, using multiple ballrooms, and each workshop is geared towards a different level of dancer and/or a different topic of technique or style. Workshops are a great way to meet and learn from different pros and get inspired by working on new skills. Each day, there can be anywhere from one to 5 workshops offered at the same time, depending on the number of workshop rooms the event has booked at the venue. Workshops are taught by invited dance professionals from the local area or high-ranked professionals and Champion dancers from all over the country. Workshops are highly recommended for the beginner/intermediate dancer.



Most dance instructors and competitors take advantage of having access to many top dancers in one place by taking private lessons. This is where they can get elite coaching, get a “checkup” on their dancing, and pick up some new moves or tricks. Targeted workshops are also occasionally available, such as judging clinics, dance instructor clinics, and critique sessions.


Social dancing

Some would argue that this is the best part of the whole weekend! The social dancing part of the weekend is a major focus, since that is the whole reason we became involved in dancing, isn’t it? There is open social dancing all evening long 6pm-6am, and is only interrupted by competitions/shows. Dance -til-dawn parties allow the opportunity for night-owl dancers to keep dancing until 2am and beyond. The event makes arrangements with the hotel so the ballroom doesn’t close ‘til the wee hours of the morning, if at all. Then everyone can sleep in because the workshops don’t start till 11:00am. You will be having so much fun you won’t care what time it is. Dancing is a physical skill. Like swimming, you only get better by doing it. So jump in!

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