How Do You Know When You're Ready for a Dance Weekend: Report from ABW 2016

Colorado Goes to ABW 2016

Colorado Goes to ABW 2016

By Vicky Youcha

June 16-19, 2016 was the Sweet 16 Anniversary of the All Balboa Weekend in Cleveland, Ohio. There were more than 400 people in attendance and about 13 were from the Denver/Boulder area. The large attendance is just one sign of our growing Balboa community. Dance weekends are a great way to make friends, learn new stuff, and dance a lot.

So how do you know if a dance weekend is right for you?

I started going to Balboa events when I was comfortable at the Intermediate level. I didn’t have to think about my feet all the time, and I was comfortable social dancing. I’ve never been to a Lindy event so can’t speak to similarities and differences.

Here are some of the things I think about in advance of an event:

1.     Cost – it adds up quickly. There are some events that are local or drivable – that definitely keeps costs down. Otherwise, airfare is a big expense. Add in registration and hotel and the total can be between $700 – 1000. Ways to save include volunteering, sharing a hotel room, and buying groceries to cover breakfast and lunch.
2.     Who are the teachers? Weekends are a great opportunity to learn from dancers who are not part of the local scene. Plus, you can often arrange to take a private lesson – but add that expense ( $60 - $120/hr.) to your budget.
3.     Who else is going? I like to know at least a couple of other people.


Once I’ve decided to go, I start worrying. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited too, but by nature I’m a worrier. Here’s my go to list of dance weekend worries. Yours may vary.

1.         What if I pack the wrong clothes?
2.         How many pairs of shoes should I bring?
3.     What if I’m the worst dancer in my class, at the dance, at the whole weekend?
4.     Will anyone eat with me?
5.     If I do the level testing, will I get bumped to a lower level?
6.     What if I can’t do any/some of the things being taught in my class level?
7.     What if a lead/follow tells me I suck?
8.     What if no one dances with me?
9.     Is this really how I want to spend my money?
10.   Will I be the oldest person there?

So what are the worst things that have happened? I’ve brought more shoes than I could ever wear. I’ve brought clothes that should never have seen the light of day. I’ve eaten alone, been bumped to a lower level, been told my dancing sucks, and wondered how in the world anyone could do that move.

On the plus side, I’ve also:

  • Had great classes with amazing teachers. Our own Heather Ballew was teaching -- what a treat.
  • Danced till my feet hurt so much I could only walk in flip flops – note to self: pack flip flops or sandals
  • Danced with generous, talented nice people
  • Watched incredible competitions with the best dancers in the world. Heather placed third in the Open Jack and Jill with Jeremy Oth! And she competed with Marshall Lanners who one first place in the Pro-Am Competition.  
  • Learned to be a better dancer 
  • Smiled a lot

I keep going back and having a wonderful time in spite of my worries and setbacks.  I go for the amazing teachers, friendly people, great music, and lots and lots of dancing.

Why do you go to dance weekends? If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for?!

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