I’m spending a couple of days in Stockholm with my friend Tomo, recovering from Herrang. Here are some pointers from me that might help your Herrang experience be more enjoyable and stress-free:
Be Flexible: I’m not talking about your body (although it’s important to stretch out before and after dancing.) I mean, the dance camp is run fairly laxly and idiosyncratically. Things may not happen with the efficiency and speed that one might imagine from a Swedish-organized event. Your deluxe accommodations with a private bathroom that you reserved might turn out to be a trailer next to an outdoor shower that you are sharing with six people. Lots of things — from meals to registration to getting into the Daily Meeting — involve standing in a long line. Chat with your neighbor and enbrace the chaos.
You Will Get Sick: With hundreds of people sharing very enclosed spaces and holding hands for hours at a time, it’s unavoidable that you are going to catch whatever is going around the camp. Welcome it as part of the Herrang Experience. Oh, and get better first before going dancing and spreading it to others!
Plan on Dancing after 2AM: The dance camp has been “at capacity” for a long time, particularly in the later weeks of the camp. This is evident during the main dances in the Folkets Hus dance hall, which is usually packed to the gills from 10PM to 1AM, and doesn’t really get comfortable till much later. Lots of people opt for taking a long nap after the Daily Meeting finishes at 10PM and showing up whenever they wake up.
The Banana Bread in the Ice Cream Parlor IS that Good: I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s worth stalking the baker at the Ice Cream Parlor to get first dibs on a fresh batch of banana bread.
Plan for Rapid Changes in Weather: Herrang can go from pleasantly warm and sunny to rainy and freezing cold within a few minutes. Pack accordingly.
If You Must Perform for Cabaret Night, Bring The Funny: You are at a dance camp with hundreds of very talented performers. If you volunteer to put on an act for cabaret night, you better either plan on being very funny or excelling at your craft. The “hip hop routine” you learned at your local dance studio or your warbled version of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” that was such a hit at karaoke is not likely to wow them at Cabaret Night.
Go to the Daily Camp Meeting: The Master of Ceremonies Lennert is a virtuoso of the deadpan and keeping you informed and entertained for an hour. The Camp Meeting is definitely a highlight of the whole experience and worth getting in line for up to 45 minutes ahead of time.
Don’t Suggest If You Won’t Volunteer: Most of the services at Herrang evolved from one or two people deciding to do something and it becoming a permanent part of the camp, from the ice cream parlor to the Cabaret Night. If you go up to a staffer and suggest something for the camp, don’t be
surprised if they put you in charge of making it happen.