The Ultimate Guide to Herrang 2011

Herräng Dance Camp 2010 is about a week away , if you are not going this year, chances are you will be, next year. Click here if you don’t have the slightest idea of what Herräng Dance Camp is all about (oh, it’s just the biggest lindy camp in the world with more than 3,500 participants from anywhere you can think of).

Our guest bloggers/Herräng experts Hong Wee and Penelope are here to help you plan your trip. Read on and you will find no excuse not to join Herräng Dance Camp 2011.

Harangue on Herrang

(for Singaporeans and yes, Malaysians too!)

So you are thinking of going to Herrang? Great! Next to my two visits to the delivery ward of KK, it was my greatest life-changing experience and I hope it will be yours too! (Unless you are scheduled for visits to KK).

A look at the website today showed that Herrang has gotten a lot more organised than in 2006, the year I went. The website provides excellent information on the costs, party themes, facilities, teachers, schedule etc.

A visit to the website is a must – not least because it’s the only way to register for class!! But beyond the smörgåsbord (start getting used to the language!) of options and information available, it all boils down to three key choices, and I shall mention just the points they didn’t put on the website.

First, choose which week(s) to go.

Herrang weeks start on Saturdays and end on Fridays. You have to choose between weeks 1,2,3,4 or 5. Civil servants choose based on their boss’ approval, dance enthusiasts choose based on the level of dancing (it is reputed that weeks 3,4 and 5 have better dancers, but I think that has pretty much even-ed itself out), while real party-goers choose by the theme of the Fri Night Party (some of us did!).

Second, choose your interest area.

For most of us, it’s Lindy Hop, though some of us may be interested in Balboa, Boogie Woogie or African Dance. If yours is in Lithuanian or Russian beauties, choose Tap. (Penelope chimes in : Herrang has gotten strict about levels — there are now auditions for Intermediate Advanced and Advanced to place you into sub-levels.  Generally, they try to be nice and polite and Swedish about it. Swedish do not demote people unless they truly stink. But, don’t overestimate yourselves because the more direct nationalities will tell you to your face you suck.  But like all things Herrang they like it for people to be adults and decide for themselves.  Is a big part of Herrang – make own decisions and take it all with an open mind.)

I would say our Lindy 1 and 2 corresponds to BeginnerIntermediate while our Lindy 3 corresponds to Intermediate/ Intermediate Advanced. For finer resolution, if you have been dancing 6 months or more, and have been socialising/swingflinging regularly, then you’re probably IntermediateAdvanced. If you find yourself surfing Lindy moves on youtube when you should be writing that project report, then you are Advanced. If you cannot count beyond 8, you should report directly to Dr Lennart Westerlund.

Third, choose your accomodation.

If you are in the Army, you’ll choose to sleep under the stars (camping). If you are in the Navy, you’ll navigate by the stars to freedom (free beds). If you are in the Air Force, you’ll check that the accomodation has at least 4 stars (private accomodation). I think for peace of mind and frequent access to the toilet, join the Air Force. Back in 2006, it was US$200 for a room for 2 for 1 week. (Penelope : Now the website has the details and pricing and types of accomodation for online selection.  Yeah, Herrang almost has 5 star hotel kinda of accom booking.)

Register, (bite your tongue and) pay, and you are ready to partttaaayyyyy!

Getting there. Whether you are flying or sailing or driving to Herrang, you aren’t going to land in Herrang. It’s most likely Stockholm (incidentally, my most favourite European city – romantic yet under-rated) from which you can order the Herrang airport transport service. I took the public-tube-bus-bus combination (“just for the hell fun of it” Zihan said) and arrived alright. If a sailor can do it, so can you! Just ask the bus driver “Den här bussen går till galen dans läger?” and pray. (Penelope : Took the bus also, is not bad and the instructions on the Herrang website for where to take it from are very accurate.  If one can follow instructions that is…  Drawback is the frequency, or lack thereof.  Upside is we also met many Herrang kaki on that busride from Stockholm.  You WILL know who on that bus is going to dance camp.)

Classes. Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot for me to say about the classes. SIMPLY SUPERB. Let yourself go, enjoy and don’t listen to your tired legs. They’re lying.

To dine or not to dine. Meal booklet available at SEK950 – same price as in 2006, though I remember it included lunch back then. For me it was a great way to socialise and meet people, plus I wasn’t travelling with Anthony, so no one prepared my breakfast. Hence meal booklet was a must. This time though….

Skip the meals if you like, but don’t skip the mud pie at cafe blue moon. Good desserts like that come only once in a….ok ok, I did promise to avoid cliches like the plague, didn’t I?

Things they didn’t tell you. Speaking of which, is it safe to go to Herrang alone? It is not. I was there alone and I distinctly got the feeling that the Lithuanian girls felt unsafe. I put in my bid for the Love Hut but did not get my allocation. (Love Hut – a decidedly Herrang thing: You write your name and the name of the boy/girl you’d like to meet, and drop it in the Love Hut Box. The organiser will inform you of your ‘chalet allocation’ and also inform the other party. He or she then decides whether to meet the mysterious you. Cushions and candles provided.) (Penelope : The nonsense thing changes every year but will be confirmed – nonsense.  It is Herrang afterall.)

Which brings me nicely round to the off-tracks. The evening meetings are a phenomenom. In the civil service, I have truly never seen anyone queueing up for a meeting. But after the first evening, I was always first 10 in the queue. Meetings are like comic-acts-striptease-dance-cabaret-singing-performances rolled into one. The laughing is good for building up core muscles.

Swimming. Well, it is summer, right? You can row or swim at the lake. No swim suit required, though the foreigners frequently wear one. The water was freezing!! Anna, a Swedish girl I met, swam for 15 minutes. Said it was good for her stretch marks. Not my priority, obviously. I lasted only 3 minutes 26 seconds. Then the communal sauna.

Some complained about mozzies at Herrang, but I cannot remember meeting any. Penelope – any ideas? (Penelope swats another : We can write a book on the mozzies there.  Came back scarred and battle worn.  Bring DEET repellent from here because it is banned in Sweden as it is a nerve agent.  Well, nerve agent is better than the enormous blond Swedish mozzies.  It really makes you realise that everything in Swedish is viking.  The first Swedish phrase we learnt was how to say “Shit mosquitoes!”)

Themed Parties. Do Herrangers dress up for parties? (Penelope : Do Asians like rice?) In 2006 it was Cowboys and Indians. We had so many saloon girls you thought you were in Texas. We also had 2 cactuses, 1 Mahatma Gandhi, a six-foot Swede with just a piece of loin cloth (every girl went home to shower after dancing with him). For props, there was a real horse drawing a real carriage, archery and shooting ranges, and a mechanical rodeo.

Let us now join our hands. ‘Our father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.... let week 3, 2011 be ‘Doctors and Nurses’, please!’

Friday Night Party 2004 – Doctors and Nurses

What to wear. Apart from the party theme, that is. During the day, T-shirt and bermudas is perfect. In the evening, a cardigan or sweatshirt will do. Once you start dancing, nothing really matters.

Final Word. Herrang is many things to me. It is Mecca because the quality of dancing there was beyond my imagination. It is Neverland because there is so much insanity. It is Home because the people were so warm and friendly. It is Hollywood because they were also talented – dancers, musicians, singers, Djs. It is Education because I learnt about a way of being, of peace in a foreign environment. That’s why I want to go there again. I am sure you will find your own significance of Herrang.

Question? Type a comment below and our experts will give you the answers!


8 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Herrang 2011

  1. Hong Wee and Penelope,

    Wow, did they teach you to write like this in Herrang?

    This was an awesomely entertaining read!

  2. I loved reading this! I was there in 2007, and it’s all this and more. Go, savour and enjoy. I will go when Doods can lindy on his own.

  3. ha! I was there for doctors and nurses! and i think its always good to BYOB since you’ll go thru duty free anyways. keeps the party going u know 😉

  4. Jo – really??!! That makes me sooooo jealous. I was really kicking myself for missing it. all those gorgeous nurses and there I was, sailing in South China Seas thinking sunsets are the most beautiful things. What a wasted life!

    Herrang doesn’t so much teach as it inspires. The things I appreciated about Herrang were the subtleties – the impromptu singing, the zany things, the friendliness, the thought of being in the same country as Victoria Silvstedt. Those, I’m afraid, were beyond my limited vocabulary. You really have to experience it yourself.

    Come, join me in 2011.

  5. whahahaa! such accurate descriptions that I was swatting mozzies and wiping sweat and getting my Red Indian headgear on while reading it.

    i should also add that in Herrang you also learn how little sleep a person really needs when there is 24 hour dancing going on at your door step ( literally)

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