Return Of The Blog, COVID Updates, and State Of The Scene

…and we’re back. Despite my graduation from coding boot camp a few weeks ago, my schooling isn’t so much finished as it has let up a little bit, which still gives me more time to come back to this blog.

Unfortunately I return to this blog with the COVID-19 situation at the worst point it has ever been here in the United States. The much anticipated and highly feared second wave of COVID-19 kicked off at the beginning of November and has left a trail of death and devastation in its wake. Cases are surging out of control in many states and recent Thanksgiving travel and indoor gatherings will likely further exacerbate these surges. Hospitals and ICUs in many states are being strained to the breaking point and are close to running out of resources and staff. Many states have returned to the restrictions imposed in the spring in order to try and slow the spread of this new wave of the virus and California has reintroduced a limited stay-at-home order.

As for social dance, it has more or less stopped cold again in most of the country. Here in the Washington DC area, several medium sized events both indoors and outdoors held earlier in the fall resulted in outbreaks of positive COVID-19 cases and everything basically stopped after that happened. Most of the rest of the country has also stopped social dance, with the exception of a couple states that are continuing at near pre-pandemic levels despite reported outbreaks at dance events and some of the worst COVID numbers in the country (you know who you are).

The good news is multiple vaccines are on the way and an end to this pandemic is in sight. Vaccine candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna both displayed over 90% effectiveness and 100% safety in phase 3 clinical trials and both companies have applied for emergency use authorization by the FDA. A third candidate, a collaboration between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, demonstrated up to 90% effectiveness and 100% safety in phase 3 clinical trials and could also go before the FDA soon.

If approved, the first round of vaccines could start going out to healthcare workers and hospital workers as soon as two weeks from now. Production and distribution will ramp up then to teachers, hotel staff, and other essential workers into the first half of 2021 and the majority of the general population is projected to receive the vaccine around May or June (possibly a bit later). Distribution will be somewhat tricky as both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require storage at -94°F, but it is doable. Storage requirements for the AstraZeneca vaccine are reportedly not as stringent, making it easier to distribute.

For the remainder of this year and the first half of 2021, we will be watching and providing updates on the COVID-19 situation, the vaccine situation, and the state of social dance in the United States in Europe, as as well as preparing some new features and surprises so we can hit the ground running again once it is safe to social dance and hold large events again.

As for covering the few dance events that are happening this month into the first half of 2021, our stance is very simple. We will not cover ANY social dance event that is scheduled to happen before enough people are vaccinated to make large gatherings a safe prospect again. Based on what we know now the earliest this could happen is June, although there’s a good chance it could be a bit later than that.

In the meantime my personal suggestion would be to find another hobby until it is safe to social dance again. We love social dance, we dearly miss social dance, and social dance is our lifeblood, but the long-haul symptoms of COVID-19 in particular are very scary and are permanently debilitating. Let’s be honest: social dancing before it is safe to do so is not worth risking permanent disability resulting from a long-haul COVID infection, and this is not even touching on exacerbating the already out-of-control community spread of the virus. I personally plan to get back into bicycling for the next 6-8 months, both to replace the endorphins I’m missing from social dance and to shed some quarantine pounds in anticipation of my return to the floor.

One last very important reiteration: for heaven’s sake, please wear a face mask when you go out in public. There really is no good reason not to wear one, and covering your nose and mouth in public while a rapidly spreading airborne virus is killing hundreds of people daily is just common sense self protection as well as courtesy to others. Based on IHME data, we could save over 50,000 lives this winter with universal face mask use. Anti-maskism is some of the most toxic borderline sociopathic malarkey I have heard in all of my years on this earth. The lies of anti-maskers are easily debunked with 30 seconds of Googling, and the misinformation they spread has been responsible for killing people. Don’t fall for their stupidity. Wear a face mask.

I’ll be posting significant updates as they come in.


August State Of The Scene and Hiatus

I haven’t written much on this blog in the past few months because, frankly, there still hasn’t been much to write about as of the time of this writing in the late hours of August 16, 2020, COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on America. After a relative lull in cases earlier this summer, cases are now surging again in several states, and the majority of states in America have, at the very least, seen an uptick in cases. Because of this, the vast majority of dance events, including all congresses, remain cancelled or suspended. Many dance venues have closed and others hang on by a thread.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine entered phase 3 clinical trials in July. Although encouraging progress has been made on multiple COVID-19 vaccines, the earliest that we could see one available to the general public, even if all goes well, is next spring.

The IHME is now predicting another large spike of COVID-19 cases throughout most of the country beginning in October and lasting through the winter, culminating in close to 300,000 deaths total in the United States. It is likely that the second spike will not be as severe as the second wave of the Spanish flu (knock wood, I hope I’m right there) but at the very least it could be a repeat of March and April if mandates are eased too extensively and guidelines regarding face masks are ignored.

Which brings me to my plea to everyone: PLEASE WEAR A FACE MASK WHENEVER YOU GO OUT IN PUBLIC. Face masks have been proven effective at stopping the spread of the coronavirus and much of the junk science pushed by anti-masker conspiracy theorists is just that: junk, and dangerous, deadly junk at that.

If you look at the IHME graph above this paragrapH, the short small green curve represents what will happen in the fall if we have mostly universal face mask wearing and the much steeper red curve represents the brutal and tragic reality we will face this fall if we do not have at least mostly universal face mask wearing and public safety mandates are eased too extensively. Which scenario do you want to be our reality in the fall? If, like most people, you want a scenario that involves a lot less death and suffering to be our reality, then please wear a face mask whenever you are out in public and especially in situations when social distancing is impossible. Wearing a face mask is not a political issue, it is an issue of common sense self-protection and self-preservation, as well as protecting your community.

I’m choosing not to cover the few dance events that are going on because the vast majority of them are private, and I don’t necessarily want to encourage people to go to the few public ones that are available at this time as I personally believe it’s too soon to begin social dancing again.

I also don’t know of many dance events because I’ve been out of the loop lately. This morning,I am entering an intensive computer programming school for the next three months, after having been in their prep program for the last three months. Therefore, from this morning on, this blog will go right back on hiatus again until the middle of November, at which time I will drop another state of the scene report. If something very groundbreaking and game changing happens regarding coronavirus and social dance before then, I will report on it on a Sunday as Sunday is the only day off per week I get from this intensive school program.

I hope everyone is doing well and is able to weather the storm in the meantime. If you must social dance right now, consider forming or participating in a quarantine dance bubble. If you must go to a public social dance event (if you are of a mind to do so, now is the time before things are anticipated to get serious in October), then please wear facemasks at all times and follow all of the event’s other guidelines without complaint.

The more we take steps to protect ourselves and stop the spread of this virus, the sooner we will be back social dancing, hugging, and hanging out in person like we did before COVID, and the sooner the dance congresses and festivals this blog faithfully covered prior to COVID will return. I wish everyone well, and I’ll be back in November.

“Is It Safe To Dance Yet?” A Comprehensive Update

[DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor, epidemiologist, virologist, or health expert. This article is purely my opinion and speculation based on what I know right now, which could change rapidly. Do not base any of your short or long-term actions on any of my speculation and go by what the CDC recommends. I have no affiliation with any news organizations or other organizations cited in this article.]

I did not necessarily want to write an update so soon after my last post on this subject, but with large parts of the country opening there has been serious talk of restarting dance classes and socials and I felt I needed to address this.

First of all, I am NOT entertaining any unproven conspiracy theories. Do not waste your energy by posting them in the comments.

As we all know, large parts of the country are beginning a first phase of reopening, with the virus still spreading and a cure still a long way away. Predictably, cases are rising in the parts of the country that are reopening.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear a face mask in public, which some people are protesting.

A vaccine is still estimated to be about 12 to 18 months away, although some candidates are showing promise in phase one trials. Hydroxycloroquine, the drug touted by the President and others, has been proven to be ineffective and have potentially fatal side effects. Remdesivir is showing promise, but only as a therapeutic that reduces recovery time of severe cases. There is an uptick in antibody testing, but we still do not have conclusive proof that antibodies confer immunity to the virus (which means we are still a long way from “immunity cards” if that will even happen at all). Everything from llama antibodies to cannabis is being floated as a potential treatment or prophylaxis, but we do not have anything conclusive yet.

Contact tracing and selective quarantine of those in close contact with known positive cases is a long-term solution that could allow us to reopen the country and contain the virus safely, but we do not have the infrastructure in place to do this as yet.

Despite the country reopening, and maybe even partially because of it, we are not out of the woods.

The latest IHME graphs show a large delay in the expected summer drop-off of the first wave of coronavirus cases, partially due to a reduction in social distancing and the country starting to open up.

Even with cases dropping off during the summer, large dance events, with large intermingling crowds dancing less than six feet apart from one another and touching hands, are prime examples of what is known as a “super-spreader” event. As we observed in South Korea recently, all it takes is one super-spreader event to cause an explosion of new cases even in areas with the virus contained.

Worse still, if this virus follows the same course as the 1918 “Spanish Flu”, which appears to be what is happening, a brutal, deadlier second wave of the virus could be coming in the fall. During the second wave of the Spanish Flu, millions died and many parts of the country shut down entirely. Granted, it’s not 1918 anymore and things are very different, but parallels are beginning to show. China has just placed over 100 million of their citizens back into lockdown after a second wave of cases started to come up there, making a second wave here all the more likely.

So what does all of this have to do with dance? As I said, there has been some serious talk of starting in-person dance classes and large socials again as soon as later this year and I wanted to address this.

My educated assessment, based on what we know now, that holding a large dance social or a large in-person dance class any time this year is still a bad idea. A large dance social is guaranteed to be a super-spreader event, and we do not have the contact tracing and infrastructure in place to contain the explosion of cases that will result from such an event.

If a second wave does occur in the fall, holding any large dance socials is particularly unadvisable for obvious reasons.

I would say the most we can get away with dance-wise this year, as I alluded to in my last article, is small private invite-only parties of 10 people or less with mandatory temperature checks at the door during the summer when the case-load is at its lowest, and even that is pushing it, especially given that we know that this virus spreads asymptomatically.

I miss dance dearly and want to get back to it as much as anyone, but we have to be careful, responsible and methodical about getting back to normal. We will not stay in lockdown forever, or even necessarily until we have a vaccine (keeping the country shut down that long would not be sustainable), but we have to respect the new rules until we can get the infrastructure in place to open safely. No one asked for this circumstance, but this is where we are, it is what it is, and like all other crises, it’s going to take some personal sacrifice on everyone’s part to make it through.

Salsa In Crisis (Guest Post)

[This is a guest post. All views expressed in this post are the views of the author. – #FrugalCongressLife Management]

Salsa In Crisis

By Elizabeth Silleck

Salsa is saving me in this very moment. Instead of day drinking on my living room floor eating another bag of fake Doritos from my Aldi Instacart order, I’m writing this. Don’t get me wrong—I will day drink on my living room floor and demolish those “Fauxritos” (as me and my boyfriend have started calling them) at some point this week, but “just for today”, I’ve got an on2 class to teach later, a reason to stay bloat-free, and a little spark of inspiration to tell the world (ok, that’s ambitious—to tell the few on my friends list who actually read this) how, throughout the years, dancing salsa saved my ass.

When I started taking lessons in NY, I was 25 years old. My daughter was turning 10 (yes, you read that right) and becoming more interested in her friends, and I’d spent the years after graduating college pretty lost. I’d been disillusioned with my intended career path as a social worker and quit after 6 months, and had spent a few years working with unintelligent, petty people in a small medical office run by condescending and thankless doctors. I made crap money. The few friends I’d made in college had moved on and I had less and less contact with them. I didn’t know it, but I was depressed. I spent way too much time and energy on dead-end “relationships” with commitment-phobic boys. One of those ridiculous flings actually led me to a salsa class, and I was instantly obsessed. When the thing with the boy crashed and burned, I decided I HAD to keep the dancing going.

I ended up going to a studio near my job in White Plains, NY, and that was the beginning of a complete shift in my life. I met women and men at that studio who, to this day, are my closest friends. When I say that I mean they know EVERYTHING about me, they’ve seen me at my best and my worst, they’ve been there through all the victories and really, really rocky times in life, and they love me fully, including all my flaws. They are the people I think about when I need to be reassured that there are still sane, reasonable, kind and intelligent people in the world, despite the fact that these values are constantly under attack at this time in history. Salsa save #1: my friend group.

It was right around that time that, after much hesitation and procrastination, I had finally submitted an application to the law school near my job, which had an evening program; I only half-expected that I would really go. But go I did, and life was a challenge. I worked 8am-5pm at a law firm as a receptionist/legal assistant, then went to school from either 6-10pm or 8-10pm, Monday through Thursday. My weekends were consumed mostly with studying and spending time with my daughter. The only time that felt like “mine”, that provided release, where I wasn’t working or planning or processing or navigating, was when I went dancing…and go dancing I did; whenever I could, I went to classes and workshops and socials in NYC, Latin nights, house parties and even managed a few Congresses. I had a lot more energy and needed a lot less sleep then, but I have no doubt without salsa I would have had a nervous breakdown from the amount of pressure and responsibility I had day after day after day. Salsa save #2: keeping me sane during the four years I did work + law school + parenting.

Around the beginning of those four years, at one point I fell in love. It was a real relationship, not the stuff of my EARLY early 20s. He was a salsa teacher, and I learned a lot from him. Ultimately, he broke up with me and never before (or since) have I felt my heart be crushed so completely. I almost lost the will to live, if I’m being honest—only the knowledge that I needed to be there for my daughter took that off the table. It took me almost 8 months to recover from that heartbreak, and the ONLY thing—I mean, I would cry during spin class and sometimes break down in my law school classes—the ONLY thing that distracted me from the pain was dancing. Salsa save #3: helping me manage heartbreak.

Fast-forward 14 years or so, and I’m living in Florida with a man I married way too soon, with way too many idealistic notions of what that marriage would be and nothing to back it up. The distance between us grew along with the hostility, and I found myself painfully alone. I’d made attempts to form community in Florida, but I didn’t realize, in my desperation, that I was failing to discern whether the people I tried to befriend were actually people I meshed with—I found out later they weren’t. The marriage imploded and my husband left to another state, to take another job (and tried to take my dog, too). I was left with an unaffordable mortgage and expenses, in a big empty house. And then it occurred to me, I had a skill others would pay to learn—dancing. I was already assisting newer dancers in the classes I was taking and had informally taught friends over the years, and several of the people I’d met through salsa in Florida had encouraged me to teach—since I hadn’t needed the money before that point, I’d chalked that up to a “maybe someday” thing. But then I did need the money. So I started to teach ladies’ styling at a studio, and then transitioned to another studio, where I completed a formal salsa instructor training program, learning how to follow AND lead, and teach followers and leaders various fundamental partnerwork, along with styling and shines. I was able to supplement my income, keep my mind focused on preparing for my lessons, and I ended up making a small circle of invaluable friends for the first time since moving to Florida. Having that focus on learning and practicing new material, staying mobile and active, and having in-person friends to hang with helped me to not take the dating thing too seriously, as well…and I ended up meeting an amazing man who is now my partner. Salsa save #4: helping me through divorce fallout, financially, physically and romantically.

And now, here we are. With group classes, workshops and private lessons IRL completely moot due to COVID, salsa is saving me yet again. I’m extremely fortunate and I know that—my full-time career job is thus far stable, as is my partner’s. We are safely quarantined in that same expensive house (it’s on the market, FYI!), but I’ve lost several hundred dollars per month of income, the joy and connection that working with my students gave me, the exercise, the community. And so, on a whim, I decided to try something different and, with the help of my partner, launched UWanna Dance Salsa. Streaming online classes are not the same as IRL, I won’t try to pretend they are. BUT thinking up ways to teach partner work to people alone at home, drawing on years of experience across many studios to devise well-rounded classes, looking for new music to play for my students, helping to popularize the on2 style in an area where on2 dancers are few and far between, and interacting with students via chat, all bring me a lot of joy and purpose, which I really need right now. And a little income from those classes helps to keep us stocked in Instacart Fauxritos from Aldi (AND fresh organic produce from a local farm). I also decided right away that as long as health care workers are overloaded and underequipped and working people are laid off due to COVID, I will not charge anyone on the front lines for my services, nor anyone who lost their jobs/businesses because of it—I might not be in a position to do much, but at least I can bring an hour of distraction, release and joy to the folks who are feeling this the most. Salsa save #5: helping me stay sane during a frickin global pandemic.

I say it to everyone who will listen: learning to dance salsa is one of the best decisions I ever made, and I think that will remain true as long as I’m on this planet. If salsa were a person, I’d be that annoying, clingy girlfriend with doting heart emojis in my eyes that can’t stop saying “I love you” to it. I can’t do that, so I’m encouraging you to learn, or keep learning, or try a different style of, or listen to more music related to, or one way or another connect to salsa. (*caveat: for those in the scene, I am aware that “salsa” is an umbrella-like, contrived marketing term under which numerous dances and genres of music fall; I’m not trying to be a dance or music historian right now, simply singing the praises of the dance, so don’t come at me).

There are a ton of people who have built their entire careers on this dance, know more than me, dance better than me, and are extremely prestigious in the field—I love to watch them on YouTube and aspire. I’m not that person, and I probably never will be—it’s really not my goal. My goal is to keep on loving it, and help others love it too. To express the music and the joy it brings me using my body. To put aside the things that hurt, that worry, that feel insurmountable, for just an hour and enjoy the feeling of being in the dance. To, someday, I hope, dance with my favorite leads and follows and meet new ones on a Sunday afternoon daytime social and have more of those moments when the music drops, when the turn is perfect, when the beat causes various parts of my body to pop, roll, whip without my full direction, to feel alive on the dance floor. My goal is to keep on letting salsa save me in the inevitable dips in life, and letting it bring immeasurable joy during the good times. My goal is to help you find that too, so you can do the same. So, come dance with me. You know Uwanna…

[if you want to share an inspirational story about how dance saved your life, e-mail – #FrugalCongressLife management]

The Future Of Social Dance During And After COVID-19: One Blogger’s Perspective

[DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor or a health expert. This article is purely my opinion and speculation based on what I know right now, which could change rapidly. Do not base any of your short or long-term actions on any of my speculation and go by what the CDC recommends. I have no affiliation with any news organizations or other organizations cited in this article.]

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic (otherwise known as SARS-COV-2 or novel coronavirus, commonly known as just coronavirus for short) burned through the world in March and April of 2020 leaving hundreds of thousands dead, ravaged economies, record unemployment, and overwhelmed medical systems in its wake, and continues to do so at the time of this writing on April 17th, 2020.  State-wide lockdowns and social-distancing measures have completely upended our way of life as we know it, forcing all but the most essential workers inside and away from each other for the time being. These measures, while critical for public health, have had the obvious but painful side effect of all but eliminating social dancing (the polar opposite of social distancing) for the foreseeable future.  I haven’t written much for this blog lately, because, frankly, there hasn’t been much to write about. All congresses and social dance events are cancelled for quite some time.

There has been a lot of speculation on social media as to what social dancing is going to look like moving forward. I figured I would offer up my thorough, rational perspective as one blogger who admittedly is not a scientist, doctor, or health professional, both to avoid typing the same Facebook post ad nauseum and to have some content for this blog for probably the only time for a while.

What We Know Now: A Broad View

This information is current as of 4/17/2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is a constantly developing situation and there could literally be a new development tomorrow that changes everything.

COVID-19, a respiratory virus, is known to spread through close person-to-person contact (6 feet apart or less), via micro-droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or even talks loudly.  COVID-19 is also known to spread via touching an infected surface, including the hands of an infected person, and then touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.

There have been known cases of pre-symptomatic and even asymptomatic spread of COVID-19.

Stay-at-home orders, mass quarantine, and social distancing (staying 6 feet apart or more from other people) have to date been the main measures taken to slow the spread of the virus and avoid overburdening hospitals and healthcare systems with a massive influx of cases.

The CDC has begun recommending the use of non-medical-grade face masks or other alternative face coverings in public when social distancing is not possible.  These recommendations are not a replacement for social distancing at this time.

According to data from the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, a very influential model relied upon by the White House and many individual American citizens, we appear to be hitting the peak of the first wave of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations and will slowly ramp down to zero deaths/hospitalizations per day between late May (as early as then in some states) and late June (the entire country/some states have longer tail ends of the graph). The lockdowns and social distancing measures appear to have been effective in reducing the spread of the virus and keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed by a flood of new cases, but we are far from out of the woods as of now.

If the current COVID-19 pandemic follows a similar pattern to the 1918-1919 “Spanish Flu” pandemic and other similar coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, we may see a reduction of cases when the weather gets warm and therefore at least a temporary reprieve from some of the strictest quarantine and social distancing measures. There is already evidence from new government tests that sunlight and high heat and humidity accelerates the death of the virus. Scientists are warning that this data is inconclusive as of now, and that even in best cases high heat and humidity won’t completely stop transmission of the virus. Even if it becomes conclusive and becomes the basis for a reprieve from the strictest lockdown measures, a complete return to normalcy including large social dance events during such a reprieve is unlikely.

The combination of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, a common antibiotic, is a pharmaceutical combo heavily touted by President Trump as a therapeutic and prophylactic for COVID-19.  So far, this combination appears to have, at best, dubious anecdotal evidence of improvement in non-severe cases, and, at worst, crippling side effects that outweigh the positives of use.

An experimental drug called remdesivir is currently in phase three clinical trials as a therapeutic for severe cases of COVID-19 and is showing a lot of promise.  

There are at least two candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine currently in phase one clinical trials.  If all goes well, one very promising candidate is targeted for health care workers and other emergency personnel and essential workers in Fall 2020, and for the general public in Spring 2021.  These dates are of course fluid and are contingent on the vaccine being proven safe and effective without any serious issues or side effects. The general consensus among scientists, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and White House Coronavirus Task Force advisor Anthony Fauci, is that it will take 12-18 months for a vaccine to be available to the general population if all goes well.

President Trump is hoping to begin opening the United States again in three phases starting in early May 2020.  Whether this plan is executed statewide is up to the governors of each individual state.

The United States lags behind other countries such as South Korea in both testing and contact tracing.  Apple and Google are working on contract tracing solutions using cellular phone data.  Reliable testing and contact tracing will be critical to a safe and effective reopening of the country.

There are currently experimental tests for antibodies to the virus underway that may be able to determine who has already had the virus and has built up antibodies to the virus making them immune.  This testing is inconclusive at this time, but could be a game changer. If immunity in certain parts of the population can be proven, we may be able to issue immunity cards for those who are immune, allowing them to work and go about life without having to quarantine themselves, effectively instituting more targeted quarantines and social distancing instead of blanket quarantines and social distancing for everyone. 

The Bad News: Social Dance As We Knew It Probably Isn’t Coming Back For A Long Time

The sooner we accept this reality, the better for all of our sanity.

Yes, I miss social dance.  We all do. But large social dance events are the polar opposite of what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus for the time being.  Social dance is done in close contact with many people in one night, less than 6 feet apart and touching hands continuously. Without reliable testing or contact tracing to identify and isolate known positive cases of the virus, large social dance events are too powerful a vector for unchecked community spread of the virus to even contemplate risking at this time.

This is particularly true of dance congresses and festivals, the largest scale of social dance events there is.

While I understand the desire of dance congress organizers to not owe $250,000+ to a hotel, the reality is that dance congresses tend to be petri dishes of illness in normal times, and a currently-incurable pandemic of a novel virus would not only spread like wildfire at the event, but then would spread widely in the communities of traveling attendees upon their return.  I can’t tell anyone what to do, but all I can say is that if someone insists on holding a dance congress in 2020 and you insist on going, I would highly, highly advise a two-and-a-half-week strict self-quarantine afterwards (meaning don’t leave your house for ANY reason including and especially the grocery store).

Very likely, we shouldn’t expect social dancing to return as anything approaching normal until, at the earliest, the summer of 2021, likely not until the fall of 2021 — and that’s if all goes according to plan and schedule in the search for a vaccine.  Even then, it will be a new normal; lots of people will be hesitant to return to social dance for quite some time. Face masks, other face coverings, and gloves will be common social dance accessories for quite a while once social dance returns, just to name one example.  We may also see mandatory breaks for hand washing/sanitizing every few songs rather than a long blending of songs for several hours straight. Social dance isn’t returning for quite a long time and will not be the same again once it does.

So How Do We Cope In The Meantime?

Virtual Dance Classes

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an explosion of online virtual classes for every style of dance including all styles of salsa and bachata, zouk, west coast swing, and others. This is a trend that will continue throughout the next year at least. While not a great substitute for in-person dance classes and instruction, these virtual classes at least have the positive effect of helping individual dancers keep their technique sharp pending the return of social dance and in-person dance instruction and guiding dance-monagamous couples (see below) in their dance training.

Feel free to post any links to virtual dance classes you recommend in the comments.

Dance Monogamy?

If this goes on long enough, we may see a rise in couples that agree to only dance with each other until all is clear or even moving in together to do so, as dance couples already established prior to the rise of the virus are already doing. These “dance-monogamous situationships” likely will end quickly when the virus ends, as wanting someone to dance with is a very superficial foundation for a relationship (especially a live-in relationship), but it may help some people cope with not only the lack of social dance but also extended isolation for the time being.

Dance “Quaranteams”

As an alternative, we may see a rise of group houses where groups of dancers shack up together and only dance with each other.  Whether these arrangements will become prevalent and stand the test of time remains to be seen, but this practice is already playing out outside the dance community and it could become a more palatable alternative to dance monogamy for the commitment-phobic dancer who wants to avoid dance-starvation and extended isolation in quarantine.

Private Parties

Once we have reliable testing and contact tracing in place, the first returning manifestation of anything resembling social dancing we will see, and probably the dominant manifestation for the foreseeable future, will be private invite-only social dance house parties. These small invite-only parties of 10-14 people or less will come with mandatory temperature checks, use of protective equipment such as face masks and gloves, handwashing and sanitizing breaks, and, if immunity cards become a widespread phenomenon, immunity cards as a prerequisite for even being invited. While private house parties do not quite match the experience of large socials or congresses, they do have an intimate charm to them, and they will be the closest thing to a real dance social that we will see for quite some time yet.

Other Hobbies

Of course, most dancers do have other hobbies, and this would be a good time to more deeply explore or cultivate other hobbies that are more in line with social distancing guidelines.  Hiking, running, cooking, fishing, gardening, video games… just to name a few examples. Now may also be a good time to enter an intense immersive accelerated learning program for education or new job skills, such as a computer programming bootcamp or other type of accelerated job training.  After all, what else are you doing for the foreseeable future?


Of course, this all could change. We may come up with an effective therapeutic/prophylactic that changes the game entirely and allows us to get back to normal faster. I don’t have a crystal ball. I’m just offering my perspective based on the information I have now. Like everyone else, I will be following this entire situation closely.

There Are Three Currencies In Dance Congress Life (And Life In General)

We’re going to do something a bit different with this article and talk about a foundational principle of managing currency that is very important to the deep understanding of going to dance congresses frugally.

That principle is that there are three different currencies you have to deal with when planning to attend a dance congress as frugally as possible.

Some of you play mobile phone games and have encountered games where there are two or more different currencies. You may have coins to pay for some things, gems to pay for other things, and maybe a third or fourth currency in the case of some games.

There are parallels to real life with this – when planning for a dance congress or any other type of trip, you deal with three different currencies in real life.

The first currency is money. This is the obvious one. Dollars, pounds, pesos, rupees – whatever the currency is where you are in the world at the time. Your pass, hotel room, food, plane ticket, all of that is paid for with money. Money is the first and foremost of the three currencies of the #FrugalCongressLife.

But there is a second, less obvious currency you have to deal with: time.

How is time a currency, you ask? Simply put, many of the ways you save money at congresses have you spending extra time.

Let’s say you stay offsite from the event hotel at a cheaper motel or AirBNB 15 minutes away from the event, which to be clear is something we do not recommend doing for a variety of reasons, but that some people do regardless. You may be saving money by staying offsite but for at least a sizable chunk of the money you are saving by doing this, you are spending time instead.

We’ll assume that each day of the event, you travel from your offsite location to the event for workshops, back to your offsite location to shower up for the party, then back to the event for the party, then back to your offsite location to sleep after you finish dancing. That’s two hours you have spent on commuting that you could have spent napping, taking workshops, eating a nice meal, socializing, or doing any number of other things if you had stayed at the event hotel and just had a 30 second walk from your room to the event. What money you saved is offset at least somewhat by time spent.

This is true for many other money saving strategies as well.

If you take public transportation somewhere instead of an UBER, you have saved money, but spent time, as public transportation takes anywhere from two to four times as long as an UBER ride on average.

Same thing with buying groceries instead of eating out – you save money, but spend time. If you go super frugal and make your own food at the congress, you spend even more time.

About the only money-saving strategy that doesn’t also have you spending time is buying your pass early, which is frankly a no-brainer for congresses you know that you will be attending.

Thinking of time as a currency puts a lot in perspective.

But there is still a third currency one deals with in dance congress planning and budgeting: stress.

Stress is a more abstract currency, but it could be classified as a form of currency, because it takes away from your enjoyment of the event and the absence of it adds to your enjoyment of the event. Furthermore, if you have to deal after the event with a stressful caused by a money saving decision made at the event, you have still paid in stress, but it was a deferred payment.

Let’s say the budget motel you stay in is a block away from the event hotel, but your room has a bedbug infestation and some of the bedbugs come home with you in your luggage. You have not really paid in time immediately to offset what you have saved in money in this example, but you have most certainly paid in stress, both instant and deferred. A bedbug infestation you bring home from a cheap motel is something you have to pay professionals to fix and lose your bedding and other possessions as well, so going to a cheap disreputable motel possibly carries extra payments in money, time, AND stress.

If you take public transportation to the event and the train breaks down, you are paying in stress AND time what you saved by taking public transportation instead of UBER.

If you fly a budget airline or take a budget bus line and your trip is delayed or cancelled, you have paid in time and stress as well.

If you stay at an AirBNB, you have the extra time and stress of having to manage your host’s expectations (your host is likely not a dancer and doesn’t fully understand the world of the dance congress) and clean up after yourself a bit more diligently than you would at a hotel that has a cleaning staff.

The key to effectively attending dance congresses frugally without subtracting from your enjoyment of these congresses then, is to know how to manage and balance these three different currencies and understand how one can offset the other. Sometimes it is worth spending a little extra money to save time and stress, the two other currencies of dance congress planning and budgeting. Sometimes spending a little extra time or dealing with a little stress is worth the monetary savings. It’s really more of an art than a science and something that has to be felt out and applied to every individual situation, but that is something that gets easier with time and experience.

I hope this article helped some people gain more perspective as they plan and budget the rest of their congress season.

#FrugalCongressLife Resource Spotlight: Stretching and Core Training Apps

[DISCLOSURE: At the time of writing I am not affiliated with not have been hired to promote any of the other companies or services mentioned in this article.

Any exercise program or regimen carries with it an inherent risk of injury. Consult a doctor before beginning any physical exercise program or regimen.

Read and follow any and all safety instructions on any exercise product that you purchase for your use.

All advice presented in this article is presented as is with no liability to #FrugalCongressLife or the author.]

Welcome to part two of our three part series on fitness resources for the traveling dancer for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month!

Last time we discussed resistance bands, a portable and versatile alternative to free weights and gyms for getting a full-body workout in on the go. The full-body beach-muscle workouts you get from weightlifting or resistance band training programs are certainly very important to strength and fitness for dancers. However, as I said last week, two of the most important salient components of physical fitness for dancers specifically are touched on only briefly by most weightlifting and resistance training programs aimed at bodybuilders, and can be done without a gym, weights, bands, or anything of the sort.

Those components are stretching/flexibility and core training. Training the core, in addition to training the lats, is very important to keeping a dancer’s frame solid, as much of a dancer’s frame comes from the core. Stretching and flexibility are important, particularly for follows who are led into moves requiring flexibility,

The following smartphone apps present comprehensive stretching and core training programs to increase your flexibility and strengthen your abs and core. The exercises shown in the apps are exercises you only need your body and some floor space for and can be done in your hotel room easily, although I would do them while you’re in the room by yourself if you have a lot of roommates as they do take up some real estate on the floor.

High-level dancers and performers will undoubtedly already have stretching and core training programs very similar to those shown in the apps in place already, but the apps offer an excellent framework to beginners just getting into stretching and core training, as well as structured programs.


Start Stretching from Gregory Dunn and Health & Fitness comes with a free stretching program featuring such foundational stretches as the rear hand clasp, shoulder extension, back bend, and lying twist, and two paid premium regular and advanced programs. The app also offers stats on which stretches you have done and for how long, and times you when you select a stretch in addition to showing you the proper form for the stretch in detail both with words and pictures. Stretch duration and countdown times can be customized in the app.

Sworkit’s Stretching app offers three programs: Full Body Stretch, Head To Toe Stretch, and Pilates Essentials, offering a very similar program of stretches as the Start Stretching app. You pick the amount of time you want to spend stretching in minutes, and the app gives you a structured program with a new stretch every 30 seconds, accompanied by videos demonstrating the stretch in detail, and all you have to do is follow along with the voice instructions.


Sworkit’s Abs And Core app offers three programs: Awesome Abs, Complete Core, and Back Strength. Each workout program offers exercises critical to core strength such as the plank, the situp, the 6-and-hold, the twist, the hundreds, and many others. The workout structure is identical to the stretching app.

Both Sworkit’s stretching app and their abs and core app can be connected to your phone’s health app and any music apps on your phone.

The most comprehensive free alternative on the app store is Abs Workout from Fast Builder Limited. The app comes with a staggering eight different workout plans ranging from beginner to advanced: Beginner Abs, Beginner Core, 7 Minute Abs, Ab Blaster, Core Trainer, Plank Challenge, Angel Abs, and the toughest of them all, Hard Core. Workout times range from 7 to 21 minutes. You are shown a preview of the workout before starting and letting the voice guidance take you through your workout in a manner very similar to the other apps.

The app can be configured to skip the countdown seconds, voice guidance, and halfway prompt, as well as connect to Apple Health.


Stretching and core training are some of the most pivotal exercises for a dancer’s fitness and long-term health, and we hope these apps are useful to you in reaching your goals in this area.

If the hotel-room workouts just aren’t cutting it for you, next week we will be covering a possibly revolutionary new app that could make gym access on the road much easier – stay tuned!

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Day here in the US where #FrugalCongressLife is based. We hope all our readers are having a joyous and festive Christmas holiday with your families and loved ones, whether you are celebrating the Christmas holiday today or celebrated on the 24th!