The Guide to IAGSDC Convention Chapters 7-9

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What really happens at Convention?

The idea of spending four days square dancing doesn't sound terribly exciting at first. However, the same thing could be said for other LGBT community events, such as choral conferences, leather conventions, or imperial courts, all of which are similarly popular and entertaining.

Meal tent for 2005 convention

Like those events, there are many different types of activities at any given IAGSDC® Convention. Some examples:

  • Special "challenging" dance tips (these are labeled "WFH" or "TNP")
  • Hexagon squares (Six couples dancing per square.)
  • Gay Callers Association Caller School (Usually held just before Convention.)
  • Progressive squares
  • "Variety" dance tips
  • Honky Tonk Queen contest (More on this – some would say, "regretfully" – later on.)
  • Dance workshops
  • Vendor booths
  • Women's hospitality lounge
  • Moonshine tips (Nude square dancing.) (Yes, really.) (We'll talk more about this later on, honest.)
  • Bar tours
  • Pre- and post-convention tours
  • Nightly cabarets (sometimes with "open mike" nights)

Mostly, Convention is about meeting old and new friends, and dancing with them, and realizing that you're part of a global community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender dancers ... and their friends and family.

When to start planning your trip

Some dancers plan to attend Convention many months in advance, while others go at the last minute. As you'll see shortly, planning ahead can save you quite a bit of money.

For most Conventions, you'll need to make three sets of arrangements:

  1. Convention Registration
  2. Travel Arrangements
  3. Hotel/Housing Arrangements

Most Conventions allow hotel room reservations to be made one or two years in advance. The rules change frequently, since Convention is held in a different city and hotel every year.

Convention registration generally can take place as much as three years in advance, depending upon the committee staging each particular Convention.

Convention Registration: The early bird gets the discount

Rick Hawes welcomes Paul Perrotta

It's a simple equation: the earlier you register for Convention, the less you pay. Since planning a Convention is a long-term project (four to six years), each future Convention committee needs "up front" money to place deposits on suitable hotel and convention space. That "seed money" is raised largely through advance Convention registrations at discounted prices.

Here's an example gleaned by averaging rates from several past conventions:

  • Register 3 months before Convention (or at the door) .......................................$200

(Also known as "full price".)

  • Register 6 months before Convention..............................................................$180
  • Register 12 months before Convention............................................................$165
  • Register 13+ months before Convention..........................................................$150
  • "Early Bird" Registrations..............................................................................$125

(That's a $75 savings for planning ahead!)

Note those "early bird" registrations: they’re a special deal. It's now common for most Convention committees to offer "early bird" registrations at a substantial discount. "Early Bird" registrations are usually only sold at the current Convention, for events being held two or three years in the future. A limited number of these registrations are sold through either a lottery or on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. Often, early bird registrations are sold early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, so remember - losing a little sleep can now save you a lot of money later.

Your first year as a dancer, you won't have known about any of the advance registrations. However, once you attend your first Convention, you can start purchasing discounted advance registrations. Over time, the savings really add up!

As of 2007, some conventions began offering discounted admissions to first-time dancers! These discounts are sometimes underwritten by All Join Hands, and sometimes offered directly by the convention committee. Check to see if your first convention is offering discounts for first-time attendees.

(Back to the Guide To IAGSDC Convention Table of Contents.) (Back to Guide Chapter 6.) (Forward to Guide Chapters 10-11.)

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