Partner dance is a powerful way to learn interpersonal connection, clear communication, and subtle body awareness—and have a ton of fun at the same time.
Join a dozen other motivated self-directed teens and two Unschool Adventures trip leaders for the dance trip of a lifetime. Beginning in San Francisco and migrating northward, you’ll participate in thriving dance scenes, learn the basics of multiple styles, and join a full weekend “Fusion” festival.
If you’re ready to accelerate your dance, meet tons of new people, learn about community, and experience the most iconic cities of the West Coast USA: this is the adventure for you.
Sept 13 – Oct 18, 2024
(dates may shift slightly)
Begin: San Francisco
12-13 participants, ages 15-20 (flexible)
Milla von Tauber + TBA
$5000 plus lunches
The priority application deadline for this trip was February 15th. Unfortunately, this trip did not gain enough applications to move forward.
↑ Imagine yourself here (UA Dance Recess 2017)
Every Unschool Adventures trip is created with specific purposes in mind. Here’s what we’ll set out to accomplish.
Partner dance is an artform found all over the globe in countless variations, each with its own history, culture, and music. On this trip, we will dive into the world of partner dancing in the United States, specifically the Fusion community.
Fusion is a new kind of social dance that emerged in the early 2000s when Blues, Tango, and Lindy Hop dancers came together at house parties and asked each other, “What happens if we try to dance together across styles?” New foundations emerged centered on human connection through movement, and this new frankenstein dance was born!
Today, Fusion scenes are growing and thriving in the US & Europe. As we embark on learning partner dance through a Fusion lens, we will also be learning about many other dances like Argentine Tango, West Coast Swing, Kizomba, and Blues. The benefit of starting with Fusion is its emphasis on connection and improvisation, making it an approachable and fun gateway into other styles. As a part of your dance education, you’ll practice body awareness, deep listening, and clear communication. You’ll sharpen your musicality, spontaneity, and confidence. Most importantly, you’ll learn to let loose, have more fun, learn to connect with new people, and build confidence on and off the dance floor, and discover a new avenue for finding community as a young adult.
↑ Video created by Milla and a previous group of fusion dance students. Imagine yourself having this much fun every day!
On this trip we will be spending time in some of the most iconic cities of the West Coast: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Eugene. In each of these cities you will have the opportunity to explore independently in small groups, navigate public transport, and see the sights that interest you. While the primary focus of this trip is dance, it will also be an excellent opportunity to get to know your home country better (or your neighbor, if you’re Canadian 🇨🇦).
We encourage you to look beyond the Golden Gate Bridge and Space Needle to discover the less-touristy and delightfully weird corners of these cities. Perhaps, like the UA Spain 2018 group, you’ll find every thrift store and boba tea store in Barcelona—or like the UA Berlin 2023 group, you’ll discover countless ways to create low cost good times in a city that seems intimidatingly expensive.
This is a skill that sticks with you for the rest of your life. Whether you only visit family and friends or do an epic adventure that relies upon Couchsurfing and the kindness of strangers, showing up as a helpful and engaged guest opens many doorways to opportunity.
We will spend much of this trip being hosted in the homes of local dancers and other community connections. This means we will have tons of opportunities to practice being excellent guests! Skills in this category include: clear communication (asking good questions, being an engaged listener, overcoming social anxiety), domestic contribution (cooking, cleaning, finding little ways to improve a space), and creating meaningful moments (like hosting games, creating music jams, or collecting life stories).
↑ scene from a fusion dance festival
Last but not least, we’ll be learning what makes a group of people a community rather than a mere association. We’ll primarily analyze this through the lens of the Fusion community, but we’ll also turn the lens on ourselves, asking: What makes this small group of traveling strangers into a community? How successful are we at coming together, despite the inescapable hardships of living in close quarters for five weeks?
In Seattle, you’ll make a very concrete community contribution by volunteering for a large Fusion dance event that Milla is organizing. In the rest of the trip, you’ll also be encouraged to look for opportunities to improve other community spaces or start your own side projects (for example: recording interviews with dancers and organizers we meet along the way).
The ability to create and contribute to community is a human superpower. The sooner your learn and practice this, the better! In this way—and many other ways—Dance Trip 2024 represents a huge opportunity to learn, grow, and catapult yourself into young adulthood.
✈️ Meet in San Francisco
✈️ Depart from Portland
Every day will be different, but here is a rough idea of what to expect.
↑ Trip leader Milla, teaching dance to the Unschool Adventure Patagonia Retreat 2023 group
Before applying, please read the Frequently Asked Questions. Then submit your online application and $40 application fee. The fee is fully refundable if you’re not offered a spot on the trip.
As with every Unschool Adventures trip, we do video interviews to ensure that all participants are good fit for the program. These will take place beginning in late February. Submit your application by February 15th (the Priority Application Deadline) for the best chance of joining this trip.
What’s covered by the program fee?
The program fee includes housing, ground transport, breakfasts, dinners, weekly laundry, dance instructions, entrance to social dances, other group-sponsored activities, and a trip t-shirt.
Not included: airfare to/from SFO and PDX, lunches, snacks, and public transport costs during your independent exploration. We recommend bringing $15-$20/day for lunches and other incidental expenses. Participants are also expected to bring a cell phone will mobile data in order to stay in touch with the group.
Who are the trip leaders?
Your illustrious trip leaders are Milla von Tauber and one more (TBA). Learn more about them on the Leaders page.
What if I’m not sure if I will enjoy partner dance?
How will flights be organized?
Unlike our international trips, there are no organized group flights for Dance Trip 2024. We will advise you on the appropriate time windows for arranging your flights into San Francisco and away from Portland, and you’ll purchase these flights independently. (Please wait until you are enrolled & we provide instructions before booking anything!)
What can we do in our free time?
During periods of free time, you’ll be free to explore local areas that (1) aren’t known to be dangerous areas and (2) stay within a reasonable radius of our homebase. Following the Unschool Adventures tried-and-true group outing guidelines, we will require that you always go out in a group of three or more people. (We make exceptions for very quick, nearby trips—the “1-person/1-block” rule.) Please understand that these rules will limit your autonomy, and we cannot make exceptions—but we do have them for important reasons.
You’re welcome to wander by foot and public transport. Rental bikes, scooters, rideshares, and other novel forms of transport are unfortunately not part of the deal (unless specifically authorized by trip leaders) due to injury and liability considerations.
Are these cities safe for teenagers?
Since our first trip in 2008, Unschool Adventures has facilitated independent exploration of foreign cities by teen groups without serious incident. While no such exploration is risk-free, we are confident that these big West Coast cities can be successfully navigated by our young adult participants with basic precautions, street smarts, and regular communication with the UA staff. If you’re unsure whether this level of freedom and responsibility is appropriate for your teen, don’t hesitate to contact UA Director Blake Boles (email@example.com) prior to applying.
Are these social dances appropriate for teenagers?
The Unschool Adventures teens will certainly be the youngest participants in the social dances we join, which are otherwise populated by 20- and 30-somethings. Milla has experience facilitating such teenage participation in adult dance spaces (through the UA Dance Recess 2017 and the High Desert Center) and will coach participants on looking out for each other and setting appropriate boundaries in these public events.
What will accommodations be like?
A big challenge to running this trip is the cost of accommodations in major west coast cities. We’re going to attempt to see this challenge as an opportunity to get creative and highlight the “community” aspect of this trip by frequently staying in the private accommodations of members of the partner dance community (typically friends of Milla). This means that you might end up in interesting situation like sleeping on a couch, a people pile on a living room floor, or sharing a queen bed with another participant. Unlike other UA trips, we won’t be guaranteeing your own, private sleeping surface every night—but we will always ensure that you have a safe and comfortable place to get a night’s rest! This is also why we’ll ask all participants to bring a lightweight sleeping bag and ground pad. We encourage you to see this as part of the adventure—and as another life skill that will come in handy in young adulthood. (We may also stay in youth hostels, in which case we’ll follow the normal UA protocol of renting out entire dorm rooms just for our group.)
What will the weather be like?
September and October tend to be lovely months along the West Coast! Rain and cold are unlikely but possible, so we will advise you bring a variety of clothing layers.
What will the food be like?
Feeding ourselves will be an ongoing, co-created project to which you’ll contribute through shopping, cooking, or cleaning. Breakfasts will be simple and DIY (think: fruit and granola), while dinners will be more substantial, with vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and carnivorous options. We make sure that everyone has more than enough to eat on Unschool Adventures trips. Snacks are your own responsibility, and we highly recommend that you keep a snack stash to avoid becoming hangry—dancing and urban exploration consume a lot of calories!
What do I need to bring?
We’ll ask you to bring a variety of clothing layers for different kinds of weather, a traveler’s tower, a few nicer/dress-up clothes for social dances, shoes for dancing, and some basic camping gear (sleeping pad + lightweight sleeping bag + makeshift pillow) that will empower you to sleep anywhere. A full packing list will be provided upon enrollment.
What are the Covid-19 protocols?
Although Unschool Adventures no longer requires proof of Covid vaccination by default, the west coast fusion dance community is still very Covid-cautious, and we will need to play by their rules in order to participate. While the situation may change between now and trip departure, it’s likely that you will need to have the most recent Moderna or Pfizer booster (launched Fall 2023). We’ll also ask you to bring some high-quality masks and 1-2 boxes of Covid tests.
When is the program fee due?
Upon enrollment, a $2000 nonrefundable deposit is due within two weeks to hold your space, payable by bank transfer (or credit card, with a 3.5% surcharge). The program fee balance is due in June.
Is there a chance this trip won’t happen?
All Unschool Adventures programs require a minimum number of participants for a program to run. We anticipate making a “go” or “no go” decision for this trip by late March 2024. If cancelled due to low enrollment, all payments are refunded.
Write Blake anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
↑ Remember, kids—partner dance changes lives.