The final evening of dance camp is always a
costume party with some kind of theme. This being the 25th
anniversary of the camp, the theme was simply to dress in outlandish fashion,
which lots of dancers gladly did. I
loved how several dancers were dressed as different lindy hop moves, from the
Texas Tommy to Peckin to Rock Step. (I’m
definitely going to dress as Rusty Dusty some year.)
The evening’s festivities began with a
series of “living paintings” in the Dance Barn chronicling themes from
memorable parties in Herrang history, from ancient Rome to the Middle East to
New Orleans to, inexplicably, a bunch of women dressed in Naughty Nurse
outfits. Frankie, Dawn and Chazz gamely
played along as sheiks and soothsayers in the Middle Eastern section. The whole thing was the sort of wackiness
that I expected when I came to Herrang.
Then there were a number of performances
highlighting past Herrang’s, culminating in a rousing group sing extolling the
virtues of the camp, followed by a toast.
The dance party got started after this,
with lindy hop in the main Folkets Hus floor, a Western Theme in the bar, and
disco playing in the foyer. I spent many happy hours on the dance floor,
dancing with partner after partner and taking in the good dance vibes. Yes, it was crazy crowded, but even just
enjoying the music and the dancing from the sidelines was a lot of fun.
I took a break in the Western bar, munching
on some terrible “BBQ chicken” and chatting with world-renowned lindy hoppers
Ryan Francois and Sing Lim. Ryan and
Sing are definitely from the old school of the dance, doing classic lindy hop
movements and styling that echoes the footage from the 1930s and 40s. I enjoyed listening to them talk about what
the camp used to be like back in the day and gently complain about the chaos
that is Herrang – from Sing’s bedroom which had neither a door nor furniture to
Ryan’s aeriel’s class which had no mats or spotters.
At around 2AM, I headed back to the dance
floor as it started thinning out, as only the more hardcore dancers stuck
around. I realized that every single
person in that room was there to dance their asses off and have a good time, so
every dance I had was likely to be great. And they were.
I had a couple of memorable dances with
Virginie Jensen, a renowned lindy hop instructor from France. Virginie throws
herself into the dance with such wild passion and power, she makes you want to
dance your heart out. Her responsiveness
and connection is so fine that she seems to react even as you are thinking of
leading her in some figure or move. And
she throws in tiny accents into her dancing that are uniquely Virginie, from
how she juts out her hip on 1-2 to subtle tap breaks in time to the music.
At around 4AM, I got up on the stage to
shoot some pictures of the still crowded dancefloor. The morning light was coming into the dance
hall and casting everyone in a golden glow. We all looked beautiful.
Finally, much much too late/early, I
stumbled off to my bed, tired and satisfied.