Festival and retreat season is here! Some are held over long weekends, and some are weeklong intensives. I started out wanting to give a little short list of what to bring in your dance bag to survive a day (or days) of workshops, performing, watching performances, and shopping. I quickly realized I needed to tap into the vast experience of the experts (aka, my belly dancer buddies) to compile a well-rounded list of things we wish we knew when we attended our first festival. If you’re attending your first festival this summer, read through this list, and then pack your bag for what you need. Comments and questions are always welcome!
Dance clothes for workshops and performing
- In one day you might take multiple workshops and performing. It’s a good idea to bring an extra set of dance clothes if you sweat a lot like I do. Comfortable street clothes (my favorite is a cotton maxi tank dress) to change into after sweating and performing feels heavenly.
- Bring a back-up costume and music if an opportunity arises. Something easy to stuff in a bag too, like coin belt, choli, and skirt.
- Backpacks, instead of shoulder bags, may be way more comfortable if you are out and about for hours.
- Snacks in your dance bag: apples, almonds, bars, etc.
- Bring a refillable water bottle.
- If you have dietary restrictions, find out ahead of time what food options will be present or nearby (and if you can walk there). Be prepared. If you’re planning on eating after the event, know when the nearby restaurants stop serving. Yelp can be your best friend!
- Even if you don’t have dietary restrictions, either bring a box of grab n’ go meals and snack or stop off at a nearby grocery store for food because chances are you’ll be running between things at some point and need food to not crash. Plus it’s super expensive to eat at restaurants every meal.
Health, Comfort, and Safety
- Towel(s) for sweat.
- First aid kit examples of what you might pack: Advil, decongestant, immune booster, acid reducer, instant heat packs, icy hot/tiger balm, Band-Aids, Neosporin. Even if you end up not needing anything from your kit, someone probably will.
- I snore, but I’m also a light sleeper and earplugs save my sanity when other people snore. If you’re sharing accommodations, bring some for your roommates too, they will be grateful, trust me.
- Sunscreen may already be a daily habit, but slather it on when you are going to be outdoors. A cute sun parasol is also a lifesaver.
- Baby wipes, great for your feet and face! Your feet might get a lot of grime on them after dancing on floors with varying degrees of cleanliness. I know it feels so good to clean the grime off of my feet before sliding my shoes back on.
- Tampons and pads! As my highly quotable friend Morrigan Aria says “the panties you save may be your own.”
- Make a budget, but bring extra cash if you can.
- Bring a bag to carry your purchases.
- Pens and notebook, if you are a note taker.
- Phone/Camera and charger, maybe a portable electronic charging battery, not just a wall plug. (PLEASE NOTE: Record ONLY if and when the teacher gives you permission.)
- Yoga mat – it’s so nice to have this for warm ups on the floor, even if the teacher doesn’t say ahead of time to bring one, it’s always nice to have one handy. Lightweight travel mats are great, some can even fold up into little squares.
- Shoes! Ballet slippers will cushion your feet for dancing on rug over concrete, or other not-so-smooth surfaces.
- Never leave home without safety pins! Great for pinning hip scarves, belts, etc. and I’ve learned from experience the day you don’t have them is the day something on your costume will break.
- Avoid getting your dance bag stolen or pilfered through by making friends with a vendor and stash it under their table in return for snacks.
Besides all the things to pack, here are some pearls of wisdom:
- “Even if you go alone, you are not the only one there alone. See a dancer standing around alone waiting for a workshop? Introduce yourself. Ask about them. Be nice. You never know who you might meet or make friends.” -Morrigan Aria
- “And for anyone dragging along a child, make them carry their own backpack avec toys, water and snacks. My son still shudders at the mention of MedFest.” -Jenny O’Brien
- Build in chill time for yourself so you can avoid feeling depleted. Though it’s tempting to take every class that catches your eye, try not to overdo it on workshops.
Special thanks to those who shared their insights to help create this list: Elise, Greta, Izzie, Jenny, Kat, Megan, Morrigan, RaziaStar, and Zulaika.
Add your tip or tell us about your favorite music/dance festival in the comments below.
Speaking of dance festivals…
Molly will be teaching yoga June 24 and 25 at Oriental Bliss 7-Day Music & Dance Intensive in Seattle!
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