Social Dance Festival Packing List

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This August for Estonian social dancers looks busy – from what I have seen, we have 3 festivals taking place in our country, namely 1 kizomba and 2 bachata festivals. As I am currently preparing to travel to one of them, I decided to share with you my (female) packing list for social dance festivals. I have travelled to more than 12 international events over the last 5 years, so I have had some packing practice, however everyone is different, so take it as an inspiration for putting together your own personal packing list! Now let’s get straight into the list.

Documents

I’d recommend printing out the most important papers, since technology and internet connection can easily fail.

  • Your ID or passport
  • Credit cards + cash
  • Festival pass (printed)
    Some festivals don’t require a pass and you only need to show your ID, some want you to print out the pass. Find out what your festival organisers require.
  • Location/addresses of venues you need to be at (printed or written)
  • Location/address of your hotel or apartment with contact numbers (printed or written)

Clothes

I recommend planning out all outfits and trying them on beforehand – this will help you avoid overpacking. If it’s a longer festival (e.g. a week), you can wear the same outfit again after washing, or mix and match.

  • 1 outfit for each party
    You can go in anything you feel confident and comfortable with, but make sure the clothes are dance friendly. This means stretchy or big enough to move comfortably in, but stay on when you dance, without you having to constantly adjust them. It shouldn’t be anything so loose that you or your partner could get stuck in when dancing. To avoid sweaty armpits you may want to think about breathable sleeveless tops/dresses, or bring multiple tops. Make sure your pants are breathable and won’t show any sweaty patches around your hips.
  • 1 outfit for each workshop day
    I am taking an extra top for each outfit as well, so I can change into a clean one halfway through the day. Workshop day outfits may or may not include leggings, T-shirts, a hoodie, sports bras, sport socks.
  • outfits for visiting city/travelling
    You need some “normal” clothes as well for travelling and if you have time to explore the city or go for a dinner.
  • outfits for lounging at the hotel or airbnb
    It doesn’t need to be a designated outfit, but think about what you’ll wear during your down time (if there is any).
  • swimwear and cover ups
  • If you’re travelling somewhere warm, there might be pool parties or other opportunities to swim. Events in colder climates may offer visits to sauna. Check the event schedule.
  • a costume
    There might be a themed party at your festival (check the party schedule on the festival website), so if there’s any space in your luggage, take a costume!

Shoes

  • 1-2 pairs of trainers/sneakers
    Trainers are what you’ll mostly wear in workshops (realistically I don’t think you’d survive ALL the workshops and ALL the parties on heels). You may want to bring more than one pair, to alternate and let the other pair “breathe”.
  • 1-2 pairs of heels
    Heels will be worn in the evening parties. Obviously if heels are not your thing, just take extra flats or sneakers for parties.
  • 1 pair of flats
    Towards the end of the party your feet will likely be tired and you’ll want to switch dancing from heels to flats (eg sandals or sneakers).
  • shoes for visiting the city/travelling
    They’ll be a part of your “city” outfits.
  • tote bags
    You’ll want to have all your indoor shoes each in their own bag. You can use the one they came with when you bought them, or a simple fabric tote bag.
  • metal brush for suede soles
    The suede soles of dance shoes can get really dirty on dance floors, so I’d recommend taking your wire brush with you to clean them at the end of each day. They are sold at dance shoe shops.
  • wet wipes for cleaning sneakers
    This is optional, but you can buy ones made specifically for shoes. (Not sure if it’s a good idea to use the ones made for your body. )

Beauty & Hygiene

  • hair ties / scrunchies
    You may want to put longer hair up for workshops.
  • jewellery
    Make sure the type of jewellery you wear is dance friendly – your hair, chin, fingers or your partner’s hands shouldn’t get stuck in them, no matter how crazy dance moves you do. I don’t recommend rings or bracelets at all, since in social dancing you use your arms a lot.
  • make-up products + brushes + portable mirror
    If make-up is your thing, of course. I also bring a brush cleaning set just in case I happen to have the energy and time to clean them.
  • dry shampoo
    In case you don’t have time to wash your hair, but need to look presentable.
  • wet wipes for the body & hands
    You might need them for refreshing yourself in-between workshops.
  • chewing gum and/or mints
    An essential at any social dance party or workshop!
  • deodorant
    Another essential…
  • band-aids
    In case your dancing shoes start to rub your skin too much.

Miscellaneous

  • refillable water bottle
    If you’re travelling to somewhere with drinkable tap water, it’s nice to have your own refillable bottle you can wash and use every day. Some events or venues may not allow your own drinks, do your research on that beforehand.
  • snacks
    You might want to have a little snack in-between or after workshops, even if there is a designated lunch break.
  • gym bag
    You’ll need a big sports bag for carrying all your stuff for workshops.
  • purse or smaller bag for parties
    Going to the party with a gym bag might look weird, so you’ll also want to bring a purse. You may want it to be big enough to fit your shoes in it, so you wouldn’t have to carry a purse AND a tote bag with your shoes. If your hotel and the festival are in the same building or right next to each other, you may not need it.
  • a fabric bag for dirty clothes
    You’ll want to separate what is clean and what’s not.

Other

Any other things you’d normally take with you when you travel.

  • night gown / pyjamas / whatever you sleep in
  • toothbrush + toothpaste
  • any medicines you need to take
  • female hygiene products
  • skincare products
  • haircare products
  • phone + charger
  • laptop + charger
  • headphones
  • keys + wallet
  • notebook + pen
  • earplugs
  • etc.

I hope that my packing list for social dance festivals will be a guide for what to pack if you have never travelled further to a bigger event like that before. This is by no means an exhaustive list as I’ve tried to focus more on the things you need specifically for the festival, so as to not make the list too long. Experienced festival goers who might have read this article simply out of interest – if there is something I missed that you wouldn’t go to a festival without, leave it in the comments to help others out!

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