As I've just got back from a week in Herrang, Sweden, I thought
that people might be interested in a trip report.
What is Herrang
Herrang is the annual month long Lindy Hop dance camp run by the
Rhythm Hot Shots. Other forms of dance (Boogie-Woogie, Tap) are
taught but the emphasis is on Lindy Hop. [ And it's actually spelt
with a double dot over the `a' in Herrang ]
For the week I was there, the teachers were:
Frankie Manning (USA)
Chazz Young (USA - Tap)
Chester Whitmore (USA - Tap and Lindy)
Mickey Davidson (USA)
Dawn Hampton (USA)
Simon Selmon (UK)
Rhythm Hot Shots (Sweden)
Eddie Jansson & Eva Lagerqvist
Ewa "W" Staremo
Lennart Westerlund (who just dealt with the administration)
The teaching was mostly pretty good, with one or two minor exceptions. They
had a bit of a problem with the size of the classes, but they dealt with
it by splitting the classes and running them from earlier (8.30am) till
later (7pm) than usual. It worked out as about 4 hours of classes a
day, for six days. My personal favourite teachers were Frankie (of course),
and Eddie and Eva. There was a reasonable mix of choreographed sequences,
together with individually leadable figures, across the different teachers.
The week I was in Herrang, there were ~325 people. About half of them were
from Sweden, with the rest coming from Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Norway,
France, Hungary, Italy, the UK, USA and Canada. The standard language of
the camp was English, although the Swedes come up with some lovely English
phrases (``Very welcome to Herrang'' is the one I remember best). They
have a great sense of humour, too.
I got some pretty cheap accommodation in a portacabin about 10 mins walk
away from the main centre of events, which was fine. Many people camped;
if you wanted more sophisticated accommodation it was available too. The
food was a bit basic, and worked out quite expensive, but then everything
is expensive in Sweden. Oh, the other thing worth mentioning is the mosquitoes
-- if you are planning on going next year, take along industrial strength
repellent. I've spent quite a lot of time in the office today scratching.
The weather was good for the week, making the beach a favoured destination
in between classes (although the water was cold -- this is the Baltic Sea
we're talking about here), but it did mean that dancing was kind of sweaty.
Every evening, dancing started sometime after about 9.30pm, and continued
until everyone had gone, usually about 6 or 7 am. I usually left by 1 or 2am,
except on one or two evenings. For the week I was there, the dance floor
was always packed; I caught the first night of the following weeks worth
of people and it wasn't anywhere near as crowded. The standard of dancing
was very high though -- lots of very good dancers, both leaders
and followers. It was also good that the teachers joined in the social
dancing -- I danced with most of my (female) teachers at one stage or another
in the week. [ My high point of the week came when Ewa "W" Staremo asked
me to dance, and then during the dance asked _me_ to remind her how to
do something (the Balboa basic, in case anyone is interested) ].
The only downside to the evening dances was that I have never come across
a bunch of dancers who look where they are going less. Partially compounded
by the huge numbers for the week I was there, and partly compounded by people
trying to practise the steps they has done in the classes on a crowded floor.
But it did end up being a little bit like pinball. I guess I was probably
a little English about it, but after a while I gave up apologising or
expecting apologies. It's still a little disconcerting to do a rockstep and
find that someone to the side of you has his leg *in between* yours when you
start trying to move forwards, though. I had this terrible vision of going
down and the whole place falling like dominoes . . . .
Still it was very nice to have lots and lots of people to ask to dance, and
to find that when you danced with an unfamiliar partner everything still
mostly worked. As usual, you can certainly feel regional differences in the
dancing, but nothing that would stop you dancing. Oh, except the Swedes.
Maybe I'm just biased, but mostly dancing with the Swedes felt like coming
home; everything seemed to work perfectly with all of them. My other
personal preference was the Boogie-Woogie dancers, who definitely feel
different to the Lindy Hoppers I'm used to, but are just so easy to dance
with and crisp on their spins and turns.
Well, there's lots of other stuff. A cabaret evening, ranging from sketches
about the Norwegians (apparently the butt of jokes in Sweden) to professional
performances from the teachers. There happened to be a couple from France who
did Argentine Tango, so they taught a taster class one evening (which I ended
up helping with the teaching at, as there were ~90 people at). A blues night,
a small triathlon ( with some, ah, extra events ), a sauna, talks on the
history of the music and the dance. A theme evening, which for the week that
I was there was a Movie Star night [ some pretty impressive stuff, including
a close copy of yellow suit from ``The Mask'', and some one who got the Julia
Roberts outfit from the start of ``Pretty Woman'' spot on ]. A basketball
game, some impromptu jam sessions in the cafe. Lots of stuff, really.
So in summary, if you're seriously interested in Lindy Hop, then sooner
or later you have to go to Herrang. Do yourself a favour and make it sooner.
I had a great week, and I'm looking forward to spending a longer period there