You may have it down pat at the venues you frequent: you know the other dancers, you know the bands, you know the floor. It gets to be so easy after a while! You go out, meet your friends and dance your face off. You know pretty much what to expect (aside from surprise pecking), and what to expect is fun. But what happens when you venture off the dance floors you know and love?

Whether you’re travelling to attend a dance event, or just travelling and hoping to dance, there are a few challenges you might face when dancing outside your scene. They’re easy to overcome though, and who knows? Before you know it you could be dancing your way across the globe!

Find Someplace to Dance

Thanks to the power of the intertubes you can do a lot of research on what’s happening at your destination before you get there. Search for groups or swing schools in the city you’re going, check out the venues and the bands, try your darnedest to figure out what the floor’s like. Facebook’s a great help, both for finding upcoming events and making connections with other dancers.

The Right Shoe for Every Floor… Is All The Shoes

If you’re new to dance travel, you’ll soon see why Lindy Hoppers pack so many shoes. Bring a couple pairs so you’ll be set whether the floor is sticky or slippery. If you like to dance in heels you might bring a couple of options there too. Oh, and probably an option in case the floor’s in really bad shape and you don’t want to ruin your good shoes. And the pair that goes with those pants. You should probably just bring all your shoes. 😉

I Ain’t Got Nobody

Let’s dance! Yeah! It’s just… what if you don’t know anybody? How do you get out there? If you don’t know very many people it can be a little trickier to get on the floor than you’re used to. Instead of grabbing your friend or classmate, you may have to go in cold and ask someone new. Don’t worry – even the most confident among us can get a little shy in these situations. This isn’t all that bad though… I like to remind myself that I’m about to renew my faith in how friendly and welcoming Lindy Hoppers are. And that’s exactly what happens 99% of the time!

Voulez-vous dancer? Vuoi ballare? Would you like to dance?

It’s pretty common that many scenes have fewer Leaders than Followers, so while I’m going to speak right to the Followers here, this definitely applies to both dance roles.

I’ve heard from many Followers throughout the years that they’re too uncomfortable asking strangers to dance and prefer to be asked, but that makes it difficult to dance anywhere when they travel. I can’t stress it enough: this is the time to step out of your comfort zone! Why not give it a try?

There are a couple things to keep in mind here:

  1. Look for someone standing around the dance floor;
  2. Look for someone whose body language says they’re ready to dance (e.g. they’re tapping their feet, moving along to the music, not otherwise in a conversation…);
  3. Lindy Hoppers are generally super friendly folks and it would be pretty rare for someone to turn down a dance if the above conditions are met!

Filling Up Your Dance Card

Hot tip: Ask for introductions! After a dance, ask your partner who you should dance with. They’ll introduce you to their friends and your dance card will fill right up.

Another strategy I use a lot: once you’ve had a dance and if you want another, stay on the floor after the song ends and you thank your partner instead of making a “bee-line” off to the side. Everyone’s milling around after the song ends, looking for a partner. It’s the perfect time to find your next dance!

Getting Inspired

My favourite thing about visiting a new dance scene is noticing the trends. What music are they most excited about? What’s the excellent Follower styling? What is every Leader leading? For example: London is super into partnered JUMPING! right now and Parisian Leaders are leading side-by-side chugs like it’s their job.

Who couldn’t use a little excitement outside of what’s tried and true? Go forth, get inspired! Just make sure you bring that inspiration back for the rest of us so this dance we love keeps growing!