How to Prevent Hangovers at Dance Socials or Festivals

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There’s always a special guest present at every dance festival… our good friend alcohol! And why not? Alcohol is delicious and comes in many forms. It’s everywhere: room-parties, hotel bars, hallways, even elevators. I know people who carry flasks in their pockets and purses… always prepared. There is much so liquor and beer, no wonder we tend to abuse it. We have a few too many and the next day we pay the price.

The inspiration to write this article came to me after a group of my dancing friends and I got together for dinner. We started sharing stories about some of the parties at recent festivals. We landed on the ‘drinking’ topic, which led us to talk about different ways we deal with hangovers the next morning. What’s interesting is that everyone of us had our own cure for a hangover. Five people… five different ways to deal with a hangover! I decided to do some more research about it, even reached out to more dancing friends and ask them how they cure their hangovers.

The results of my small research are by no means scientific. They are very preliminary and varied. Not even the internet had a consistent answer. I found pages and pages with more than 20 remedies for the common hangover. The bottom line here is that more research is needed in order to discover what works, particularly for us dancers drinking at festivals and parties. Nonetheless, after chatting with many fellow dancers and reading many articles about hangovers I reached to the conclusion that hangovers are easier to prevent than to cure. With that in mind I would like to present to you the best 5 ways to prevent a hangover at a dance festival. And because I feel that more research is needed about this topic, I invite all our readers to comment about it in the section below, and also share their own ways to deal with ‘the morning after’. Perhaps together we can find the cure for this terrible illness that aches us all, in the name of science…. and dancing!

Why do we get hangovers?

In order to prevent hangovers, we need to take a quick look at why they happen and why our bodies react the way they do.
When we drink, the alcohol travels to the stomach, where about 1/4 of it is absorbed, with the other 3/4 absorbed in the small intestine. Once it’s absorbed, alcohol passes trough the blood vessels and into the bloodstream. The heart then pumps the absorbed alcohol into the entire body, reaching our brain. This whole processes happens quickly, within a few minutes actually.

On average, a healthy body can metabolize, or process, one drink (12 oz. (355 ml.) of beer, 5 oz. (148 ml.) of wine, or 1.5 oz ( 44 ml.) of distilled spirits) per hour. This rate is affected by many factors, including age, gender, height, weight and health. When we drink too much or too quickly, we exceed our body’s capacity to process alcohol, and you know what happens… we get drunk!

brainOur body needs to get rid of the alcohol, so it starts pulling water from other organs to dilute it. This causes dehydration, a very common symptom of someone who’s intoxicated. Even the brain is deprived from water, which causes it to shrink. As it shrinks, the brain pulls on the membrane inside the skull that attaches it, which causes the typical painful hangover headache. (OUCH!).

But we are not done… that horrible nauseous feeling associated with ‘the morning after’ is caused by a substance called acetaldehyde, which is produced by the body when alcohol is metabolized. The liver is in charge of getting rid of this toxic substance. However, when we drink too much or too quickly the liver can’t keep up, and the toxin stays in the body longer. Also, alcohol increases the production of acid in the stomach, and when it reaches unsafe levels the stomach has to throw it up. Sounds familiar? Of course it does!

OK! So now let’s go over the things we can do to prevent these nasty symptoms.

5 ways to prevent hangovers

Never drink on an empty stomach.

Having food in your body slows down alcohol absorption and it reduces the formation of acetaldehyde in your stomach. Whatever you do, don’t skip dinner before the parties and social dancing. Having a good meal will also give you energy, which you will need if you want to dance until the early morning hours.

Drink water

As dancers we get dehydrated twice as quickly because we are doing an intense physical activity. As we sweat we loose water, and as we drink we also loose water. Remember that for every 8 oz. (250 ml.) of alcohol we drink, our bodies will expel about 27 oz. (800 ml.) of liquid. That’s more than 3x the amount of water! So, in addition to your flasks, carry a bottle of water and drink it before, during, and after the parties.  Keep in mind that at some festivals the hotel staff takes a long time to refill the water stations, so having a water bottle handy can give us and advantage.

Do not mix drinks

I swear to you this is true. Even mixing different types of beers in dangerous, which is what I did at the Portland Salsa Congress this past summer. The next day…. ufff!
The reason is quite simple. Each type of alcohol has it’s own ingredients and flavorings. When we combine them all in our stomach we are creating a toxic mixture that our bodies have to eliminate. Mixed drinks or cocktails are also dangerous because they are made with more than one type of liquor. So stick to one type of drink, and wait a few hours before switching to another.

Just by following the last three pointers you will significantly reduce the chances of getting a hangover, but in case you want to be extra careful…

Drink light liquors

Dark liquors (red wine, brandy, whisky, bourbon ‘reposado’ and ‘añejo’ tequilas) have a high concentration of congeners. Congeners are impurities which are formed during the process of fermenting and distilling alcohol. They are toxic to us, and they do contribute to a nasty hangover. Light liquors like vodka white wine and gin have less congeners, and therefore decrease the chances of having a hangover.

Take vitamin B.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, “alcohol burns up B-vitamins, especially vitamin B-1 (thiamin).” When we deplete our bodies of these vitamins, we have a much harder time recovering from drinking, leading to a nasty hangover.  Dr. Weil recommends taking a B-complex vitamin supplement plus extra thiamin (100 mg) any time before drinking alcohol. As a matter of fact, the “anti-alcohol” and “no hangover” products we see advertised on magazines and the internet contain vitamin B for that purpose.


Every one of my fellow dancers agrees that after a hangover is present there is really nothing else to do. Only time and plenty of sleep are the only two things that seem to help for sure. This is rather tricky, because sleep is something that we deprive ourselves from at dance festivals. In addition to all the things I mentioned above, scheduling good periods of rest and sleep seems like a good idea.
How about you, dear reader? What steps do you take in order to avoid a hangover? Or what is your advice to deal with the morning after? Please leave your responses in the comment section below, and be safe out there!

Just dance….

External Links:

Click here to see a video about what alcohol does to the brain.
Click here to see a video to learn more about hangovers

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