The Balboa Experiment

The Balboa Experiment

The Next Chapter

Brand new venue!
 

Open to all levels!
 

Simplified application process.
 

Options for non-dancing
partners and children.

The Premise

Spend a week in a luxurious oceanfront beach house together with top international Balboa professionals, special guests, and an intimate selection of your peers from around the world.

Multiple weeks accommodate different levels of experience and interests--from beginners through masters.

You choose what you want to work on, how, and with whom.

Get unparalleled one-on-one and small group access to our team of Faculty & Guest Mentors.

Each day contains a balance of sessions with ample free time and open social dancing every night.

The FACULTY

Our Faculty are chosen together with our formats with the singular focus of producing the highest-quality learning environment.

Each week features a panel of at least four or five of this year's set of Faculty Mentors plus an additional three or four Guest Mentors (exact configuration can vary week-to-week).

Nick Williams

Kate Hedin

David Rehm

Sylvia Sykes

Bobby White

Teni Lopez-Cardenas

The house

For 2024, The Experiment is moving just down the beach to its finest venue to date. Newly-constructed in 2019, the oceanfront beach house boasts around 16,000 square feet and an impressive range of features:

28 bedrooms & 33 bathrooms

Three kitchens

Gym/exercise room

Numerous spacious living rooms plus nooks for quiet retreat

Private pool & three hot tubs

Theater room

Arcade & game rooms

Free wifi & laundry

28 bedrooms & 33 bathrooms

Numerous spacious living rooms plus quieter sitting areas/nooks

Three kitchens

Gym/exercise room

Theater room

Arcade/game rooms

Pool/hot tubs

The Essentials

Dates

Applications typically open in September for the following March/April. See the Admission Timeline on the Admissions page for the full set of this year's exact dates and deadlines.

(For over a decade The Experiment has occupied much of the same March-April timeframe, growing to as many as 6-7 weeks each year prior to the disruption of the pandemic. It is our expectation to return to at least 5-6 weeks over the next 1-2 years, with further growth scaled to application demand.)

Location & Transportation

The Experiment is (still) currently located on the east coast of the US in the remote Outer Banks of North Carolina, with flights through Norfolk (ORF) airport. A charter bus is provided at the beginning and end of each week to make the near two-hour journey between the airport and house.

Charter Bus - The bus departs Norfolk (ORF) airport each Sunday promptly at 4 pm. (Flights should arrive before 2 or 3 pm to allow for luggage and at least minor delays; the bus cannot wait for you!) The return bus should arrive back to the airport the following Sunday around 12 noon. (Flights should depart no earlier than 2 pm to allow for bus delays and check-in/security.)

Airport Hotels - Those who cannot arrive or depart in time on the same day as the charter bus are recommended to stay at one of the hotels near ORF airport.

Driving - Those driving can either park at the airport and use the charter bus, or alternatively meet at the bus's drop-off destination at Harris Teeter grocery (new location/address!) no later than 6 pm on their opening Sunday. (There they can join the other arriving participants and be given further directions including where to park.)

Accommodations

New for 2024, all bedrooms now have the same base physical configuration with only two people per room and a private bathroom. See the Accommodations section within the application form on the Admissions page for a detailed overview of accommodation options.

Meals

Standard admission includes three professionally catered meals each day on a fixed schedule. Meals are served buffet-style with separated ingredients, including vegetarian/vegan, non-dairy, and low-carb options, along with basic drinks. A sample menu will be provided in advance so participants know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

Snacks - Outside of catered meals, participants are responsible to bring their own snacks or additional beverages. It is also a well-established tradition for attendees to bring regional or international delicacies and desserts–or the ingredients to make them–to share with fellow participants.

Public Kitchen - Separate from the main catering kitchen is a Public Kitchen available for participant use. This is mostly used for making coffee/espresso, tea, and snacks that participants bring for between meals or late at night; although new for 2024 it is now a fully functional kitchen that individuals may occasionally cook in to meet their additional dietary needs. (Note the Public Kitchen is not stocked with any consumables.)

Grocery - On the way from the airport, the charter bus stops at a Harris Teeter grocery for participants to pick up any desired snacks, additional beverages, or supplemental groceries before being transported to the house.

Daily Schedule

Each week consists of six days and seven nights starting on a Sunday evening and ending the following Sunday morning.

Each day begins with a late breakfast at 10 am, morning session at 11 am, and lunch at 1 pm, followed by several hours of afternoon free time. The second half of the day resumes with a late afternoon session at 4 pm, dinner at 6:30 pm, and the rest of the evening free with open social dancing starting around 9:30 pm.

This routine is broken up each week by a range of optional electives and non-dance activities, a formal night, and a morning off towards the second half of the week.

Pricing

The base cost to participate for a week at The Experiment--which includes accommodations and meals for the entire week plus ground transportation--is $1285 total per person, split into two payments. See the Admission Timeline on the Admissions page for this year's exact payment schedule.

Refund Policy - See the Terms & Conditions section at the bottom of the Admissions page.

Payment Plans - The Experiment remains committed to offering payment plan options, although the exact details for this year are still being finalized as we are in the process of investigating several alternate payment plan providers. If you might require such an option, please note this (and any relevant details) in the Final Notes on your application, and someone from The Experiment will reach out with further details when they are available.

The FAQ

Why the move to the new venue?

The new venue was recently constructed and offers many advantages over previous options, including more overall space, greater accommodations and amenities, a competitive price, and even logistical advantages for backend operations (which should help us better meet some of the challenges of running an event since the pandemic).

In particular, the new configuration of accommodations will enable us to decrease to no more than two people per room, and provide more options for those who have expressed interest in bringing a non-dancing partner and/or children (including dedicated space for the possibility of on-site childcare).

Why is there an application process?
How are applications processed?

Apart from the unique setting and session formats, logistically in a sense The Experiment can be thought of just like any larger camp which has multiple tracks. These camps all have to determine the placement of participants within those tracks, commonly done through some form of ‘level test’, in conjunction with managing logistical constraints such as lead/follow balance and available space.

The main difference in this regard is simply that each track at The Experiment is a different week occupying different dates, which means the level test process has to somehow be done in advance and therefore online. Ultimately then the application process simply serves as a combination of typical event registration (including tracking important housing and dietary needs), plus essentially an online level test to determine placement (again, factoring in both dance level as well as logistical constraints such as available space and lead/follow balance).

Applications are reviewed and sorted across multiple stages by a panel of approximately eight to ten judges (with occasional consultations with outside advisors), in a process which typically takes over a month and 50+ man-hours each year. All participants are required to go through this application process each and every year without exception.

Is there any kind of invitation required?

No! The Experiment has never used any form of closed invitations and has always been open for anyone to apply through a public application process. In fact all participants are required to go through the standard application process each and every year without exception.

Is it true The Experiment is now open to all levels?

Yes! For over a decade we have been consistently expanding the number of weeks and developing our formats to accommodate an ever-increasing range of dancers. This experience has culminated in our ability and confidence to now welcome the full set of all levels, from beginners through masters.

(While unfortunately the number of weeks in a given year has to be decided long before applications can be collected for that year, application numbers from previous years are used to determine the number of weeks in the following year. More applications this year means more weeks and spots next year.)

Do I need to be a teacher or competitor?

No! While The Experiment does attract many dancers who may be known elsewhere as teachers or competitors, the program has always been open for anyone to apply and to choose what they want to work on, including many who are only interested in working on their social dancing.

Do I need a partner?

No! Applicants have never required a partner in order to apply or participate, and around half of all participants attend without one.

Are there any COVID-19 Policies?
What is the Refund Policy?

The answers to these and similar type questions are now located in the Terms & Conditions section at the bottom of the Admissions page.

Which week is which?
How can I pick a week?

Candidates apply to the program and are grouped/placed into a specific week as part of the acceptance process. It is not possible to apply for a specific week and in fact the configuration of the weeks (which one is which) is not predetermined and can change from year to year.

What about music?

Each week features one or two Head/Guest DJ(s) who may coordinate music together with participants who volunteer to DJ. Volunteering is very relaxed and informal, with a chance to talk to the Head DJ in person about your range of experience and comfort before being given any DJ slots (normally just 30-60 minutes at a time).

How does bringing a non-dancing partner or children work?

See the Families section within the application form on the Admissions page for a detailed overview of possible options.

Are there volunteer positions?

Each week has a few dedicated support staff positions (in addition to the set of participants) to help perform daily household maintenance. These are highly sought-after, full-time volunteer positions which offer another opportunity to support and be a part of The Experiment, including living in the house with everyone and social dancing in the evenings. However unlike a paying participant, support staff cannot participate in sessions (although they can audit/listen in on portions of them).

Conversely, as an unfortunate consequence of the format, The Experiment is unable to offer work-trade opportunities–i.e. volunteering in exchange for a discount–as each week requires the complete set of fully-paying participants to operate.

If interested, please complete the following form: Request to Join Support Staff. Note that support staff are not usually determined until sometime in December or January (after enrollment has been finalized).

The ARCHITECT

The Experiment was conceived, founded, and is currently directed by David Rehm. Aside from operating The Experiment, David is a professional dance workshop instructor specializing in the partnered swing dances, Lindy and Balboa, and widely considered one of the top Balboa dancers and instructors in the world. For over two decades he has been regularly featured teaching throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

Outside of dance, David enjoys learning about and is a passionate speaker on a range of his special interests, including a variety of technologies such as electric micro-mobility and VR & AR; the intersections of language, philosophy of knowledge, and pedagogy; and public education and advocacy for autism, aphantasia, and SDAM. He is also an avid PC gamer who has spoken on the topics of gaming culture and video games as art.