What is a blues dance exchange?
A blues dance exchange is a weekend-long exchange of ideas and learning typically involving classes/workshops and dance parties. Most major cities have their own annual event, each with a slightly different focus. (For example, Sweet Molasses Blues has an emphasis on choreography, while Blues Muse has many follow-focused classes and workshops.)
Why should I go?
First and foremost: because it’s fun! Exchanges bring a different kind of excitement and energy than your regular local event. You’ll meet people from different dance scenes, and you’ll be able to geek out about everything and anything dance-related with people who are just as excited to talk about it as you are! Because the weekend can be a whirlwind of learning new things and amazing dances with wonderful people, it’s a great way to “level up” your dancing. By the end of the weekend, you’ll start to notice changes in the way that you move. Be sure to pace yourself, though–exchanges often offer more than is reasonable for any one person to do!
How much will this cost?
Registration prices vary from exchange to exchange, as do prices for food and transportation depending on the city. For scholarship recipients, Blues Dance New York will subsidize the cost of registration and travel and help you sign up for housing; however, it will be your responsibility to plan your own transportation and food.
How long does an exchange last?
About three days. Most exchanges start with a social dance on Friday evening. On Saturday and Sunday there are classes and workshop that begin in morning and end in the late afternoon/early evening (usually with a break for lunch), and more social dancing on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Some events also serve late-night food to keep your energy up so you can be on the dance floor!
Where will I stay?
Most events offer free housing on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be matched up with a local dancer who is offering a place to stay, usually on a couch. Please be respectful of your hosts: clean up after yourself, don’t be too loud or messy, and be sure to thank them profusely! For more detailed information on housing at events, check out this FAQ that Melissa created for Nocturne Blues a few years ago.
How will I get around?
Probably via public transportation. Sometimes you’ll find other dancers/friends who drive, but most people just travel in small “flocks.”
What should I bring?
Anything you would ordinarily pack for a weekend away, plus: comfortable clothing for classes, clothing for the social dances in the evening (many people enjoy dressing up for events), several clothing changes and/or a small towel if you sweat a lot, extra deodorant (but avoid strong perfume/cologne), and a water bottle. You might also want to consider bringing portable nut-free snacks, a hand fan, breath mints, hand sanitizer, and anything else that will make your weekend more comfortable!
Who else will be there?
Everyone and anyone! Newbies, veterans, locals, international dancers… depending on the city and the event, you’ll be making new friends from all over the world! You’ll also get to take classes and workshops with non-local instructors who you might not ordinarily get a chance to learn with.