The Benefits of Small and Large Festivals

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, both as an event organizer and an attendee. I never used to put a lot of thought into it, but after hearing two big-time performers start a sentence with “I love small events because….” I got to thinking — what do I like about them? To be simple and concise, I am going to make a browsable list below…

Have something to add? Comment below!

Big Events

  • Variety of dance genres and music
  • Variety of genre, skill, and skill-level workshops to choose from to suit your personal needs
  • More DJs to listen to
  • Often there are live concerts to enjoy
  • More people to dance with (often you have thousands of people to choose from)
  • People come from all over the country or world for the event
  • More professional dancers to learn from, watch, and TRY to catch for a dance
  • Impersonal — you can blend in with the crowd and do as much or as little as you want easily


Small Events

  • More focused theme for workshops, performances, and general skill learning
  • More of a community feel, as the range of where people travel from is generally smaller
  • More 1 on 1 time with the professionals, meaning asking questions after the workshops and dancing with them at the socials.
  • The professionals are there to get to know the people, so they hang out more and are willing to chill and have real conversations with the participants at the events.
  • The professionals use the time they have to dance with the people to guide their instruction in workshops and give tips tailored to the dance needs they see present.
  • More personal experience — people notice you, check in on you, ask your opinion (and good event coordinators use your feedback to improve the event for next time).
  • You get to know more dancers easier at small festivals, as you can catch them for a few dances instead of just one or (if you’re lucky) two.


Either type of event you go to, you are very likely to have a good time! There are just benefits to each. Personally, I’m a big fan of variety because it keeps my skills and experiences very well-rounded. I enjoy filling my dance schedule with events both big and small.

Regardless of which you attend, keep in mind that buying a pass to the event will support the event coordinator’s cause. If you like what someone is doing, remember to support them with your wallet and not just verbal praise, as these things are expensive regardless of the size! Buying your pass early also puts money in the pocket of the event organizer earlier, which allows them to pay for things ahead of time and decide if they will have enough money to add on more things for you.

First Time Congress Attendee? Here are some tips…

1. Registration – To get the wristband needed to enter your congress, you will need to stop by the registration booth with either a printed copy of your ticket or an e-ticket on your iPhone Passbook, the eventbrite app, or however else a congress may present one to you. You will probably need to show ID at the booth, so make sure you have that with you as well. Unless you have bought separate passes for night and/or day events, you will keep the one wristband on for the duration of your stay.


2. Navigating Around – At the registration booth, you should be able to get a copy of the workshop & general schedule. Hold on to this so you can find out where you need to go, when you want to go there. Some congresses are starting to produce facebook pages and apps that will provide this information to you on your phone. For example, the DC Bachata Congress has an app that has everything you need for the congress on it. It’s available for both iPhone and Android. (


3. Packing – Check the congress website to see if there are themes for each party evening. This will affect which clothes you want to bring for evening time. Don’t forget to pack comfortable clothes for workshops. Ladies – flat dance shoes are recommendable for workshops as well so you don’t destroy your feet before the social dancing begins! For the evening, make sure you pack comfy shoes, or a variety of shoes that you can rotate to spread out where your feet begin to hurt. Make sure you pack some foot care items as well to deal with any blisters, sore spots, etc.


If you plan on attending performances, pack a sweater. You will be sitting still for 2+ hours in high-blowing AC. Don’t freeze.


If attending a congress that has a pool party, don’t forget a swim suit!


4. Food – Unless you really want to get up early and find breakfast out of the hotel, it’s often helpful to pack some protein bars or fruit to help you squeeze in as much sleepy time before your first workshop. Snacks are also helpful at 3am when your body starts to get weak from dancing til dawn.


5. Video Recorder – If you plan to take workshops, make sure you have some way to record all the videos from your lessons. Last time I took just my iPhone, but ran out of space on it before the end and was frantically deleting old things. This time I’m taking my flip cam along so that doesn’t happen.



And don’t forget to make friends while you’re there! That’s the whole point of going to a congress — meeting people & learning with them as you go! You will want to maintain these connections because you will mostly run into the same people at other congresses. 🙂