Why Attend a Festival or Square Dance Week-End?

By Pat Tardiff for Harvest Moon Classic

It's expensive and you have to dance on carpet with all those strangers that dance better than you do. Sound familiar? Have any of these excuses kept you from venturing into unexplored territory?

I've been dancing for 8 years and many of those years were lean financially, which required that I plan ahead and scout out a room mate whenever possible. After-parties and late night chats allow me the opportunity to know others at a festival as individuals, not just dancers.

I know there are couples that consistently attend local dances together. Why not expand your horizons, together, at a week-end festival? Some of the greatest moments at a festival come from some of the craziness shared at an after-party. For myself, I enjoy taking advantage of the health facilities at the hotel. I reserve a block of time to frolic in the pool and/or Jacuzzi and I have found it's a whole lot more fun with friends to share it with. I too dreaded the thought of dancing on carpet until I learned a secret -- leather soled shoes! It makes all the difference in the world. Vinyl or smooth plastic soles will work as well. For those of you who prefer todance in tennis shoes, try a wide strip of 'Gorilla' tape (found inTrueValue hardware stores) on the sole (avoid using any tape on the heel). Another aid is silicone spray. At any festival where there is dancing on carpet, look for a scrap of carpet in the corner along with a can of silicone spray. Scuff your shoes on the carpet, which has been sprayed with the silicone. Be careful not to overdo it.

And all those 'strangers' that dance better than you do. Don't you believe it! Those strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. Dancing to callers other than your club caller, with dancers from all stages of development, all add up to a growth experience. Any dancer can learn to laugh at their less than perfect execution of their least favorite calls. Relax, keep smiling and allow others to help. We've all been new dancers once in our lives (more often if you have progressed through various levels). Practice, practice, practice! But remember, this is supposed to be FUN. It really isn't about perfection. Smile and don't forget to breathe once in a while.

If you decide to stay at a hotel for the week-end, please make it the hotel where the festival is being held. The ballroom space being utilized is very costly and the only way it is possible to hold the festival in a hotel is by swapping ballroom space for room nights. If you find a room down the street where you save a few dollars, please keep in mind it could make the difference as to whether or not room nights are met and whether or not the festival can continue.

Each festival I attend is like a family reunion. It's the only place I get to see so many of my dancing friends from far afield. Try it--you'll love it!

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