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. (http://dcbachata.com/download-the-app)
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. 🙂