Even though I believe I have the ability to hold my own with anyone, being overlooked as soon as you enter a room because you not "home crew" known or popular.
Here are my observations about the congress/festivals after attending 5-6 over last six months:
1. There is a small coterie of dancers that are regulars. Who will find them at 75% of the festivals.
2. The promoters and DJs are pretty popular even when to they may not be good dancers.
3. There is always a cliquey crowd that will keep dancing among themselves.
4. At every congress, I have seen a few really good leaders (probably unknown since they are there for first time or are not regular on the Congress circuit) who get asked to dance far less than those in first three category.
5. I haven't seen too many bad leaders get refused.
6. There is too much home crowd dancing, almost like it is a comfort zone. In the hey days big congresses in USA, this was a no-no. But in Europe it seems to be exact opposite. (yesterday one of the follower from my hometown was talking to some NY leads. I was smiling as I heard her say to them "I get to dance with you guys every other month, so it is okay if we didn't dance. I am here to dance with the others whom I will never get a chance to dance with").
7. Those in first three categories like to congregate and crowd near certain section of the floor (usually it will be closer to the stage or DJ) despite plenty of space elsewhere on the floor (especially during the last two or three hours).
8. If you discover a new follower who is good, after a day or two she will be swallowed by #1 and #2 types
9. Most followers lack fundamental skills. You wonder who teaches them.
10. There are leaders who have no business being on the dance floor.