Most events offer at least some amount of free housing, which means that visiting dancers request housing and are assigned local volunteer host dancers. This system may sound odd at first glance, but it is extremely common (even standard) for swing and blues dance events. Staying with a local host means that you make a friend in a different city, and generally a means of transportation while you’re in town, and it can add a lot of joyful camaraderie to a dance weekend. However, it is important to realize that housing is generally limited, so sign up early. Nothing irks an organizer more than last minute housing requests. Also, remember that your host is not your mother. They’re not responsible for feeding you, and it is essential to communicate with them before the event so you know if they’ll be able to transport you and if you need to bring pillows, towels, etc. Also, once you’re there, be a considerate guest and don’t leave messes around or be too disruptive when you come home late at night. It’s also a good idea to leave your host a small gift, pay for a meal, or maybe send them a thank you note. The important thing is to say thank you, one way or another.
Some events (mainly large ones) are located entirely in hotels and most (or all) attendees are expected to stay in hotel rooms for the weekend. Still more have recommended hotels for those who either prefer that route or miss the cutoff for free housing. In this case, there will usually be a reduced rate for the dance event, but it’s still obviously more of a financial commitment. Even so, as long as you get a group of people to split with you, it’s usually not too bad. Most importantly, try to plan ahead; throwing a group together at the last minute is usually difficult. Try not to shy away from hotel events if you can swing them, because it is nice to have everyone in the same building and be able to just wander down to class in the morning and back upstairs in the wee hours of the morning.
Hostels are often not a viable option for dance events, but on occasion they can be. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, bear in mind that they vary widely. You usually pay for a bed, which can be in a room where many other people are staying or a private room, and they’re priced accordingly. Since they’re cheaper than hotels and often have communal kitchens available for guest use, hostels can be a great back up option for saving money.
One of the major benefits of dance travel is that once you start, it’s easier to keep going because you’ll start accumulating friends in different cities. While it is nice to make new friends via hosting, most people who have been traveling for awhile have someone to call for a place to stay in almost every city they visit. Bear in mind, however, that the rules of being a good, considerate houseguest still apply…that is, if you ever want to stay with them again.