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How to choose which International Dance Festival to attend!

Kizomba Embassy Ambassadors dancing Kizomba-Kizomba Embassy

How to choose which international dance festival to attend!

At the time of writing this article, the United States, Israel, UK, and several other countries are making fantastic progress in vaccinating their citizens against Covid-19.  Therefore with these new high levels of vaccinations, I thought it would be a great time to write about how to choose which international dance festival to attend. 
Before choosing which international dance festival you want to attend, it is important to ask yourself the following questions. 
  1. How financially prepared are you for the trip? 
  2. What type of experiences do you wish to have?
  3. How much time do you have for your trip? 
  4. What countries do you wish to visit? 
Finances-Cash money

Finances

Let’s start with finances since this is a very important issue to cover before traveling. 
Traveling internationally is amazing as you get to experience different cultures, food, customs, meet new people, etc, but it is not cheap.  Therefore it’s vitally important, to be honest about how much you can afford to spend on the trip.
You don’t want to run out of money or go into debt just to be able to travel and dance. Normal expenses for an international trip include flights, lodging, meals, local transportation, travel insurance, health insurance, currency transactions fees, cell phone fees, and departure fees.
Protip: Write up a detailed budget for your trip! Make sure to cover all planned expenses and also add in an extra cushion since things never go as planned. Also, pack a spare no currency transaction fee credit card for emergencies.

Dance Festival Experience

What are your dance festival goals? What type of dance experience do you wish to have? 
For example, if you are looking for a more intimate small kizomba dance festival, then the Japan Kizomba Festival in Tokyo, Japan would be a good fit for you.
This festival is small and allows you greater access to the international artists who perform, teach and dance with the attendees at the festival. 
On the other hand, if you were looking for a massive international dance festival, you may want to consider the Croatian Summer Sensual Days Festival which will include international artists and dancers from around the world.
This festival which is held back to back with the Croatian Summer Salsa Festival is approximately 11 days long and is two festivals in one. It is a massive international dance festival in which dancers take over the whole town of Rovinj, Croatia. The average number of dancers at this festival is anywhere between 12,000 to 15,000 and growing each year.

Small Dance Festivals

Small festivals allow you the opportunity to get to know the other dancers and have more interaction with dance artists. You will also have a much better chance of dancing with your favorite artist at these festivals.

Midsize Dance Festivals

Midsize festivals fall in between with a good number of artists and instructors but without the crazy lines, you often find at large festivals. Additionally, you will find many more workshops at these festivals.

Large Dance Festivals

Large dance festivals will have 24/7 activities, thousands of dancers & have multiple classes, going on at the same time. These festivals will be packed with international instructors but you may not be able to see the instructors well in classes due to the massive number of attendees.

Hybrid Dance Festivals 

Hybrid dance festivals such as Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba Festivals, also known as SBK Dance Festivals are festivals, at which you will find all three types of dances and music.  These festivals are very popular in the United States in both midsize and large dance festivals.
A good tip to assist you in choosing a festival is by looking at the artists who will be teaching and performing there. For example, at Kizomba Embassy you can see the latest kizomba artists & instructors from around the world.
Each one of them has their dance style which you can check out on their Ambassador page. Once you find the dancer with your preferred dance style you can then see where they will be performing and teaching overseas. 
For Kizomba Festivals worldwide check out the Kizomba Embassy Events Calendar. For Bachata lovers check out the Bachata Embassy Festivals Calendar.
Another helpful tool in choosing your first international dance festival is YouTube.  Here you can check out previous videos from previous festivals.
These videos frequently cover workshops, parties, and past performances, which will give you a good idea of what to expect at that festival. 
You can also research your first International Dance Festival by reading reviews from previous dance festivals. You can read a recent blog post here that included a short review for the first-ever Korean Kizomba Festival held in Seoul, South Korea. 
These types of reviews will give you a good idea of how well organized the festival was and how well it was received by the attendees. 
ProTip:  Don’t make the same mistake as other dancers have when choosing a festival such as a Cuban Salsa Dancer from Miami, Florida, who attended a Salsa Festival in Seoul, South Korea.  The dancer didn’t realize that while the skill level of salsa dancers is high in South Korea, the preferred Salsa style there was On 2. 
Or the Urban Kiz Dancer from Europe who traveled to the SAWA Dance Festival in the Washington, DC area only to realize that it was mostly a traditional Kizomba Festival.

Kizomba Embassy Mountain View

Preferred Countries & Vacation Time

What are your preferred countries to visit and how much time do you have available for your trip?
Many young dancers in the USA and Asian countries get very little vacation time off each year.  Some just have two weeks off so it’s important to maximize your vacation days and long weekends. 
If you live in Europe you most likely have at least one month of vacation and many paid holidays throughout the year, however, salaries are normally much lower. 
Protip: Many dancers who are required to travel for work often set up their business trips to coincide with weekend dance festivals. 
By mixing a business trip with a weekend dance festival, these smart dancers save significantly as they only have to pay for the cost of the festival hotel for a couple of nights, while their airfare and other expenses are covered by their company. 
These dancers also can minimize the number of vacation days that they take for a dance festival since they are traveling for business. When you see a dancer at festivals all over the world, they are frequently taking advantage of their business travel to enjoy attending these dance festivals.
To further narrow down your options let’s take a look at some regions, where you may want to attend your first international dance festival.

Asia

Asia has countries that range from super-expensive such as Japan to budget-friendly such as the Philippines or Thailand. In particular, Southeast Asia has many good budget-friendly options but watch out for some super expensive locations such as Singapore. You will find many smaller dance festivals in this region.

Europe 

European countries in eastern Europe are often much cheaper than western European countries. Portugal on the other hand is probably one of the cheaper countries to visit in Western Europe. 
Just remember popular western European cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome are very expensive. You will find a variety of festivals here from small to very large festivals.

Africa

Africa can be surprisingly expensive for a first-time trip especially if you want to do some extra tourist excursions such as going on a Safari.  It also depends on the quality of hotels and restaurants you choose.  Sometimes you will find a lack of available hotels and overpriced restaurants in certain areas.
Having a trusted local friend or contact can make a huge difference in lowering the cost of your trip. Most dance festivals in this region are smaller in size.

Central & South America

This region offers many budget-friendly options! Just remember that there are also more expensive cities here such as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!  This region will feature mostly small to midsize dance festivals unless you add in Samba for Carnival in Brazil or Salsa in Cali, Colombia.

North America 

Many cities across the USA and Canada are super expensive for foreign dancers.  Try to stay away from New York City, Honolulu, and San Francisco where accommodations and food costs are sky-high. 
Los Angeles has some more affordable festivals as they are frequently held in areas near the Airport during low occupancy weekends. Austin & Dallas, Texas are also known for more budget-friendly dance festivals.  You can find all sizes of dance festivals in this region.
ProTip: if you are short of vacation days make sure to pick a dance festival that is scheduled on a holiday weekend with direct nonstop flights to that city. This will allow you to take a red-eye flight and thus cut down on using your vacation days traveling.   

Caribbean

The Caribbean is another popular vacation area for Americans & Canadians, however many of these islands are very expensive for accommodations and food.  Islands such as Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Curacao are expensive while the Dominican Republic is one of the most affordable. This region features mostly small dance festivals.

Middle East 

The Middle East countries vary in price however it is much more important to know the local laws and customs which may impact your dance vacation. Remember it is illegal to dance in public in some countries in this region such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  This region often holds small festivals with most being held in Dubai. 
Remember the time spent traveling to and from the festival from your location is very important if you want to maximize your time on the dance floor and minimize the number of vacation days needed for your trip. Traveling to festivals located near international airports/ train stations is easier to get to than festivals held in smaller cities with limited international transportation options.

So before you plan your first international Dance Festival follow these tips!

  1. Make sure that you know what type of style of dance will be featured at your Festival!
  2. Make sure you know the approximate size of the festival.
  3. Make sure you do your homework to see all of the available transportation options to get to your Festival.
  4. Make sure to write up a budget for your trip!
  5. Make sure to check that you do not need a Visa or special permission to attend and travel to your Festival.
  6. Join the festival Facebook group to see other friends who may be going and possibly share accommodation with them.  This will also keep you updated on any last-minute changes to the festival schedule.
Good luck & I hope you have a wonderful experience attending your next International Dance Festival!

Brian Moran CEO Kizomba Embassy

Brian Moran 
CEO of Kizomba Embassy
Brian Moran is a Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba dancer from New York City.  He has been fortunate to live and work abroad in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean for over 13 years. While living overseas, he has attended hundreds of international dance festivals and events and has taken classes with some of the top professional Salsa, Bachata, and Kizomba Instructors worldwide.

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