#FrugalCongressLife Survival Guide: Masters Of Bachata Takeover

[Disclosure: At the time of this writing, I have no direct affiliation with Masters Of Bachata Takeover or Ferocity Dance Company, except that I am a loyal yearly attendee of this event and Kat Arias is a favorite dance instructor and personal friend of mine. I have, however, not been hired by her or anyone else to promote the event at the time of this writing (as much as it probably is going to sound like it), nor have I been hired by or am affiliated with any of the other businesses whose services I describe, and everything I am writing is my objective opinion and advice. Parts of this entry will sound like a love letter to the event, but they do constitute my actual opinions. 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.]

[The Masters Of Bachata Takeover was set to conclude for good after the 2018 festival, but per Kat Arias’ Facebook Live announcement of 11/12/18, Masters Of Bachata will remain in Virginia Beach until at least 2020, and possibly longer than that if the event continues to grow in attendance! Let’s all come out strong and keep this excellent event going!]

Maybe I have a soft spot for this outstanding weekender because its 2016 edition was my very first dance festival-type event, but the Masters of Bachata Takeover, a weekend-long mini-dance congress created by the inimitable Kat Arias of Ferocity Dance Company, a championship-winning dance school whose reputation speaks for itself, remains my favorite dance event of all time despite, or maybe because of, its smaller size and more intimate nature compared to other larger dance congresses.

The Masters Of Bachata Takeover is located for the foreseeable future in the breezy, laid-back beachfront community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, at the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel (5700 Atlantic Avenue), a uniquely laid-out but clean and beautiful two-tower hotel ensconced in a breathtakingly gorgeous beachside setting. The event features a variety of local and international artists, instructors, performers, and DJs.

Following a Thursday night pre-party at the Mambo Room Cultural Dance & Event Center in the nearby town of Norfolk, VA, the weekend’s main events begin on Friday night at the hotel with an evening workshop from 9pm-10pm and social dancing from 10pm until 4am in the hotel’s lone ballroom (a unique aspect in itself in contrast with the multiple ballrooms at most dance events). Saturday begins with dance workshops in the ballroom from 10am-4pm, followed by an incredible day party on the hotel’s outdoor deck right by the beach (weather permitting) from 4pm-7pm, and nighttime social dancing in the ballroom from 10pm-4am. The music for all parties is mostly all subgenres of bachata with a few short blocks of salsa, kizomba, zouk, and reggaeton, and performances happen at midnight on both Friday and Saturday night. Sunday picks up anew with workshops in the ballroom from 10am-4pm and the weekend’s official events conclude with another amazing day party from 4pm-7pm, again located on the hotel’s beachside deck if outside temperatures haven’t dropped too far south by this time.

If the outdoor temperature is too cold for an outdoor day party, as it was on Sunday in 2016 and on Saturday in 2018, the day party is moved to the not-as-spectacular yet usable and aesthetically pleasing event hallway directly outside the ballroom.

In addition to being a top-notch event, Masters of Bachata is one of the single most affordable dance events on the east coast for those within driving distance. With the right logistics, it is possible to have the full congress experience for less than $250 for the entire Quadforce of Dance Congress Expenses, and even for less than $200 if you got the super early bird full pass.

This is one of the most affordable dance events out there today, in addition to being one of my personal favorites. Below is an extensive guide for navigating the particulars of this top-shelf event and having an amazing time #FrugalCongressLife style!

The Masters Of Bachata Takeover takes place on the weekend before Thanksgiving every year.  Since the month of November has five weekends in 2019, putting Thanksgiving on the 28th, the 2019 Masters Of Bachata Takeover will take place the weekend of November 22nd-November 24th, 2019.  Confirmed artists and DJs for 2019 include Fausto & Kate, Luis & Andrea, DJ Emerzive, DJ Selo, and DJ Soltrix.

PASS:

Early bird and super early bird full passes become available in the days after the festival for a very low price, usually about 2/3 of the regular pass price. We advertise any flash sales or promotions for passes on our Facebook page.

Party-only passes become available at a much lower price in the weeks before the festival and include both the day and night parties. Obviously the full pass is the preferred option – the workshops at this festival are always amazing and the international artists won’t be here again for a long time so learning from them while they’re here makes sense. However, if you’re hard up enough so that it’s between you buying a party pass or not going, I’m sure Kat will gladly take you buying a party pass over not going.

If you enjoyed yourself at this year’s event, then get yourself a super early bird pass for next year’s event. Personally, if I miss this event it’s because I’m dead or in jail and I hope neither of those things happen ever so me getting my super early bird pass is a no brainer!

LODGING:

Without question, no matter how frugal you are or what your specific comfort levels are, the event hotel is where its at for this Congress. I have scarcely even looked at any other options… I briefly checked out AirBNBs once right before attending my first year, but they are literally just as expensive or more so than the event hotel. Every year, Ferocity reserves a massive room block at the event hotel with prices as low as $69 per night for a non-oceanfront room, $89 for an oceanfront room, and $115 for a partial oceanfront suite. Staying at the event hotel is a no-brainer at these prices; this is one of the rare congresses where I always get a solo room at the event hotel because of how inexpensive a room is, but a four person roomshare can be as low as $18 per night for a non-oceanfront room. Despite these rock-bottom prices, the Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront is no budget motel — it is a clean, comfortable, beautiful, and aesthetically pleasing place to lay your head after a long day and night of dance.

TRAVEL:

DRIVING:

Driving or ride-share is your best best, period.

Parking is a bit scarce on Atlantic Avenue itself, but there is a lot at the event hotel with abundant off-street parking, more than enough for all of the hotel’s guests, and they give you a paper permit that you put on your car dashboard for the duration of your stay showing that you are a hotel guest and permitted to use their lot. If you are in a roomshare, you may be able to get an extra permit from the hotel if your name is on the room; if not, there is some street parking on the side streets around the hotel.

FLYING:

The closest airport is Norfolk International Airport, which is about a 25 minute drive/Uber ride from the hotel, which will undoubtedly be a very expensive trip, but one that can probably be split with attendees who are also flying, with some coordination. There sadly does not seem to be any public transport options from the airport. Also, sorry Spirit heads, but Spirit Airlines does NOT go to Norfolk, so you’ll have to look to another airline that does go there.

BUS:

Megabus is your best bus option for getting to Virginia Beach.  There is a Greyhound Route, but it is complex and staggeringly long (7.5 hours from DC) so I am not including it.  Also, good luck catching Greyhound on a rare day when they are actually reliable. I am also not including the Amtrak route in this post as it is just as long and complex.

Take Megabus to the Virginia Beach stop at 19th Street and Pacific Avenue.  From there, the hotel is about a 6-14 minute UBER ride away, or about a 16 minute trip on the 035 Hampton Roads Transit bus toward Shore & Pleasure House.  To get to the 035 stop, walk about 5 minutes down 19th Street toward Pacific Avenue, turn right on Arctic Avenue and the top will be on the left.  Take the 035 toward Shore & Pleasure House to Atlantic Avenue & 56th Street, and the hotel will be visible from the station.

To get back to the Megabus stop, go back to Atlantic and 57th and take the 033 bus to Arctic and 19th.  From there, head south on Arctic Avenue toward 19th Street, make a left on 19th Street and walk to the Megabus stop from there.

For more info on Hampton Roads Transit, visit https://gohrt.com/

This will be close to a 6 hour trip from the DC area and longer from points further away, but if you have no other way to get there and time to kill, this is your option.  Book soon if you are going this route, buses are limited and spots will fill up.

FOOD:

There are several Wal-Marts located up and down I-95 that you can stop at for pre-event frugal shopping. I personally usually go to the one in Ashland, VA (145 Hill Center Parkway) as it is nearby and usually comes up around two and a half hours into my drive when the need for a break starts to come up. Avoid the DC Wal-Marts; in addition to being inconvenient to get to, they are a bit more expensive than the suburban and small-town Wal-Marts by virtue of being in DC and having higher operating costs. There are also several Food Lions and an ALDI in Virginia Beach, all within a 15 minute drive of the Wyndham.

For your emergency caffeine and food needs, the hotel has a vending machine located on the walkway between the rooms and the event lobby that takes cards and cash. The walkway vending machine received an impressive upgrade in 2018 and now also carries a wide variety of drinks and food items including kale chips!

For your one daily meal out, the Surf Club Ocean Grille, the hotel’s attached restaurant, is a solid option. I highly recommend this restaurant for its relaxed and calming beachside atmosphere, friendly staff, convenience to the hotel, and excellent interpretation of comfort food staples, particularly the fish and chips if they are serving them, or the smokehouse burger otherwise. The hotel restaurant’s only downside is that it also operates as the hotel’s room service hub, so expect fairly sizable wait times for food despite a dearth of people physically in the restaurant. Despite this, the food is very good when it arrives. The fish and chips are some of the best I have ever had.

If you are looking for a top-notch lunch spot in the area, Citrus Breakfast and Lunch, at 357 N Great Neck Road, is an excellent casual sit-down restaurant serving breakfast and lunch staples in a light, airy, pleasant atmosphere. I go to this place every year for a friend’s birthday brunch and it is very enjoyable. The food is amazing and extra little touches like truffle flavoring in the burgers and pumpkin pie spice on the sweet potato fries bring it to the next level.

An excellent buffet option near Citrus that I had the privilege of checking out at the 2018 festival is Yukai Japanese & Seafood Buffet, located at 1952 Laskin Road in the Regency Hilltop Shopping Center.  This buffet has been voted by Yahoo Travel as the best buffet in the state of Virginia, and I can see why.  $15.99 will get you all the food you can eat at this Japanese seafood buffet offering over 40 different kinds of sushi, chicken and pork dishes, American comfort food staples, and a wide variety of fruits and desserts.

Both of the above places are about a 15 minute drive from the hotel, but are well worth the drive.

If you want to stay closer to the hotel, there are various fast food chains, most notably a Dairy Queen, along Atlantic Avenue. Keep in mind that parking is scarce along Atlantic Avenue, so you may want to UBER to any food spots along that road.

Finally, there is a 7 Eleven located at 3908 Atlantic Avenue that I can’t not mention, because it is where I get the all-important smorgasbord of caffeine that has fueled my drives home on Sunday night after a long and tiring-in-the-best-way weekend at Masters of Bachata. I got home from Masters in one piece in 2016 mostly thanks to this 7-Eleven.

You can see that having an unforgettable experience at this magical weekender without burning holes in your wallet is entirely possible. If I’m not there, something has happened to me… I make sure not to miss this one otherwise. See you there!

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