Quadforce of Dance Congress Expenses #1: The Pass

[Any advice in this blog does not constitute legal or medical advice and is provided as is with no liability to #FrugalCongressLife or the author.]

When planning to attend a dance congress, it is self-evident that the first thing one will spend money on is the ticket to the congress itself, commonly known as the pass.

Because, again, I like to ELI5 things, there are several levels of dance congress passes, listed here from most expensive to least expensive:

VIP full pass: all the access of a full pass (see below) plus some extra perks that vary depending on the individual event but may include front row seats at the performances, a t-shirt, an exclusive VIP dance area or party, etc.  Extra perks included with a VIP pass will be specified by the event organizer.

Full pass: gives the pass holder access to all scheduled congress activities… workshops, day parties, performances, night parties, you name it, you have access to everything, with the possible exception of separate bootcamps not included in the pass that may be an extra cost, usually clearly specified by the event’s organizers.  Obviously, VIP perks are not included with a full pass, but you have access to everything else.

Performer’s pass: Similar to a full pass, but offered exclusively to individuals performing at the event

Party pass: access to only the event’s performances, night parties and any night workshops that may be happening (which is rare)

Full individual day pass: access to all non-VIP scheduled congress activities on that particular day, minus any bootcamps or other activities not included in the price of the full pass (see above)

Individual night pass: access to only the event’s performances, night parties, and other activities on that particular night

So now that you know the different levels of congress passes, I’ll get into all the #FrugalCongressLife strategies I know of to get your passes for as little money as possible shortly, but first, this PSA, which I feel should not even need to be said but sadly is still necessary for some people.


I think I can confidently make this statement and most people will agree.  Dance festivals cost a lot of money to put on, between artists/instructors, hotel expenses, travel, rented dance floors, DJs, lighting, and everything else in between, and they are usually put on by an individual who is doing so as a labor of love and making little if any money, and are lucky not to lose money.  You are not acting on any kind of moral imperative or fighting a big greedy corporation or any of that kind of nonsense by sneaking in to a dance festival, you are simply screwing over an individual who is organizing the event as a labor of love for the dance community, and are helping contribute to the demise of dance events in that particular community.  Many dance events have also ramped up security in response to people sneaking in and you will likely be caught and thrown out anyway.  So just don’t do it.

Ok, now with that PSA that really shouldn’t have been necessary out of the way, on to the LEGIT #FrugalCongressLife strategies for getting your pass for as little as possible.

Full Passes vs. Party Passes:

I generally recommend buying the full pass for as many congresses as possible, because there may be workshops that you want to take and financially supporting the event as much as you possibly can is best practice for helping to ensure the prosperity and continued success of that particular congress.  There are ways to buy a full pass as frugally as possible that I will cover next.  However, I understand that this is not an option for everyone, and this is the #FrugalCongressLife blog after all.  If it is really between buying a party pass or not going for you, I’m sure any event organizer would rather you buy a party pass or day pass than no pass at all at the end of the day.

Early Bird Gets The Frugal Worm:

BUY.  YOUR.  PASS.  EARLY.  As early as possible.  For the vast majority of dance congresses and festivals, early bird full and/or VIP passes and even super early bird full and/or VIP passes are generally offered at a very low cost immediately following the events announcement (usually a year out or more from the time of the event) and passes then ramp up in price leading up to the day of the event.  It literally pays to get your pass early.  I make it my personal practice to have 90% of the full passes for congresses I plan to attend at the full pass level in any given year by the end of January that year.  It has saved me hundreds of dollars on congress passes over time, and it does serve a good purpose as event organizers frequently have to pay advance deposits on the hotel, etc.

Dance organizations and promo codes:

If you can get into a dance organization, many of them offer discount codes for as much as 25% off any level of congress pass.  I will cover a few such organizations in future posts.  Sometimes, promo codes are also offered to the general public outside of dance organizations – keep an eye out on Facebook, Meetup, or local dance events for these.


For most dance congresses, volunteering to work a certain number of hours at the festival during certain shifts performing tasks such as processing registrations, moving equipment, or driving artists to and from the airport will get you a full pass to the festival in exchange for this work.  These volunteers are essential personnel, and a festival would not run nearly as smoothly without them, so they are always in demand, but volunteering obviously has its upsides and downsides.  I personally have no experience with volunteering at a congress or festival, as this is not a preferred option for me and not one I have yet had to take.  See this post on Laura Riva’s excellent dance blog “The Dancing Grapevine” to determine if volunteering at a congress is right for you.  I will be soliciting guest posts detailing people’s personal experiences with volunteering at dance congresses after I have completed the entire Quadforce of Dance Congress Expenses.

That is all I can think of as far as the pass goes.  If you have any other LEGIT #FrugalCongressLife strategies for getting the pass for as cheap as possible, sound off in the comments.  Next up… travel!

– Owen

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