Dancing on a Budget
Written by Steve Weinstein
- Stop playing games with yourself.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to plan well in advance. The definition of insanity (or just garden-variety neurosis) is doing something over and over again until you get it right. The people who end up spending the most money are the ones who keep saying to themselves (and anyone else who will listen), “Oh, I can’t afford it. I’m not going to do it this year. I’m cutting back.” Yeah, yeah. Your friends have all heard it before. Then, at the last minute, you have a sudden flash of everyone on the dance floor and you at home, with the cats and the computer to keep you company. Big mistake.
If there’s a party you want to go in August, the time to start thinking about it is in May, especially for the more out-of-the-way destinations like Pensacola, Palm Springs, Saugatuck, Fire Island or Provincetown.
- Buy tickets as soon as they go on sale.
Nearly all parties offer an “early bird special.” Often, tickets purchased months in advance are priced at a deep discount. With each passing month — or, closer to the event, week, even day — the ticket prices go up. The worst possible time to buy a ticket is at the door.
Promoters do this for several reasons. They go on the adage that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”; early ticket sales help to reassure them that the party will be a success. Also, many of them run tight operations, and having money ahead of time for down payments on the space, light and sound, and other expenses is worth the discounted ticket prices.
- Don’t worry about the “what ifs.”
The main reason why people wait until the last minute to buy tickets is because they’re worried that something might happen — an accident, death in the family, illness, job layoff, sudden workload, work deadlines — that will prevent them from attending.
Keep in mind that if you bought your ticket at a deep discount, there’s always going to be someone who has made the mistake that you used to make of waiting until the last minute. You’ll find a buyer through word of mouth. If not, put it out there on Facebook or Craigslist, or notes at the local gym or coffee shop. Trust me: If you’re offering a substantial amount off the price, someone will find you.
If the price differential is great enough, chances are you’ll even make a little money: If you paid, say, $150 for a “gold” weekend pass, and the same pass is selling for $250 closer to the date (not unusual), you can sell it for $175 or even $200. You’ll still be saving that person money.
- Make your own outfit.
If it’s a theme party, make an outfit instead of going to a costume store or website. And that way, you’re sure of wearing something totally original!
- Check out hidden airline fees.
Several airlines are now charging for checked bags, or, in some few cases, even for carry-ons that won’t fit under your seat. Check out the fine print and how much it would cost to ship ahead via a freight service like UPS. It may be cheaper in the long run, and most hotels will accept a package from a guest with a reservation; always notify the desk that a package is arriving and send so it is scheduled to arrive a day or two before you do.
Save at the Party
- Get the VIP ticket.
Check out the advantages of a VIP ticket. Often, the extra cost is less than the cost of individual parties or buying each drink separately, as opposed to an open bar — in which case, be sure to bring plenty of dollar bills to tip the bartender.
- Team up with others.
Find others from your city through Facebook or word of mouth who are traveling to the same party so that you can share a rental car, parking, taxicabs and perhaps a hotel room. In an ideal situation, see if you can crash at a friend’s place in the host city.
- Drink water.
Should you have a drink or two? Of course — you’re here to have fun. But over the long term, drink plenty of water to replenish fluids lost while sweating on the dance floor. Find out if the local tap water is potable; you might be surprised. New York City, for example, gets its tap water directly from reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains and can boast some of the cleanest tap water of any major city.
- Don’t check a coat.
If you can drive near the venue, or if it’s merely cool, as opposed to freezing, come as you are. This also saves time when leaving.
- Plan your meals.
One of the biggest expenses incurred at an out-of-town party is meals. If you’re on a budget, try to plan nutritious meals out of your hotel room. Buy a loaf of bread and buy the fillings at a nearby grocery store or deli. Check out the deli’s salad bar. If you do eat out, seek the less expensive mom-and-pop restaurants or trek to a less expensive part of town — you’ll have more fun than at a crummy chain restaurant, and the food will be better.
- Buy what you need before you arrive.
Another big out-of-pocket expense: having to buy sundries or other supplies once you’re in the host city. Bring what you’re going to use with you. If you’re only bringing a carry-on bag, bring just enough toothpaste or other limited items as you’re going to need. If you’ll need a lot of, say, sunscreen, team up with others and find a local dollar store.
The ‘Grateful Dead’ Weekend
On Fire Island, there’s a tradition of what has become known as the “Grateful Dead” weekend, after the hippie followers of that seminal jam band. This means a backpack and crashing where you can. While this is certainly not recommended for a big city, if you’re the type who doesn’t mind roughing it, this is the cheapest way to travel.
It’s a pretty sad situation if a circuit boy is making sandwiches in his hotel room so he can afford to go to a circuit party. How about an article on the crazy prices of circuit parties and why we have to pay more than double the rate of “straight” parties? Even lesbians pay less, such as this year’s NY Pride parties on the pier. Same venue rented for two dance parties, the lesbian one costs $25 now, $35 on the door. The gay one the next day costs $65 now, $90 in June, and probably more on the door. WTF?? Tickets to David Guetta, Kaskade, Avicii, Afrojack gigs cost less than this and those guys get paid way more than circuit DJs. VIP at circuit parties often gets you nothing more than a private section, with no open bar or complimentary drinks. Enough!
By Jeff on 05-23-2012