What It Takes To Run a Salsa Weekend/Congress

Ever wondered how much work goes into a successful salsa event. While you enjoy the dancing, there is a lot that's gone on in the background to make it all happen.

I just wanted to write this little article to let you know what it takes to run a salsa congress. Several people have told me recently that they can't understand why it costs so much to attend these weekenders and I feel that some people just have no idea what goes into these events. If you do, no need to read on, because you appreciate what it takes.

It really starts months, or in some cases, a year before the actual event. You need to check your teacher list and see who is available on what dates. This is after you've made sure your venue is free of course. First steps done, no going back now.

If you've ever attended a weekend and thought that it went without a hitch, then this is because a lot of work is put in during the weeks and months before the event. Have you ever tried arranging a dinner party for 10 people, imagine doing that for 500 people or 1000 and organising accommodation for them all as well.

Some things that need done are booking teachers flights, sorting out the hotel accommodation, website setup and maintenance, promoting the event around the country, selling tickets and basically making sure people know about the event. This whole time, there is a huge personal financial risk to the organisers, which is why they always ask you to book early if you can, because it takes some of the pressure off if they know they are getting close to that magical break even figure.

When it gets closer, you have to think about getting all your teachers, performers and DJs to the venue. Just arranging trips to and from airports and making sure everyone gets there on time is a headache just on it's own ... especially if a volcano decides to erupt and cancel all your teacher's flights. Throw in all the setup for the rooms, sound equipment, fans, water, even batteries for the wireless mics.

As for the timetable, do you think that just appears in 5 minutes. Afraid not. It normally takes a LONG time to get all your classes slotted in, making sure nothing clashes and that everyone is happy. The more rooms you have, the harder this gets. So next time you sit looking at the huge timetable for a weekend, spare a thought for the person who had to put it all together.

But sorting accommodation in a congress hotel is always the most fun, honest, it's great craic. Quite possibly the hardest thing is to sort people into rooms, apartments, buildings, whatever. You think you have it sorted then find out that someone has decided to ring the hotel themselves and change their booking without telling you, great fun. Plus, when you finally have it sorted, 10 extra people ring you the day before asking for accommodation, this is after the hotel has confirmed all the rooms, meals and any additional info they need. Again, another reason we always ask you to book early so that everything can be arranged in advance, preferably more than 24 hours before the congress starts.

At the weekend itself, you need to welcome everyone in, sort out rooms, tickets, wristbands, timetables, arrange the rooms for classes, host the shows and performances and a million other things you can't even think of, including dealing with the police at 4am because the residents near the hotel were complaining. Imagine doing all this and keeping a smile on your face.

Finally the weekend is over but you still have to pack up, sort out the last bills and deal with all the leftover tabs that people didn't pay for in the hotel. And what's the first thing that people ask ...... are you doing it again next year !!!!

So next time you turn up at a weekend, spare a thought for the organisers, promoters and  volunteers who work their asses off to make sure you have a great weekend. Don't get me wrong, if they didn't enjoy it, they wouldn't do it, so we (I hope other promoters agree) appreciate each and every single one of you for coming and dancing, but it's hard work, so if you see the promoter looking a bit busy, don't ask them to get your towels changed in your room, maybe walk up and say thanks and ask if they need anything done. I guarantee they will say no, everything is under control, but it's always nice to ask.

So get out there and dance the weekend away but remember all the months of work that led up to you having the weekend of your life !!

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