Thoughts on swing dancing and Lindy Hop, one word at a time…

10 Things to Know About Herräng

Herräng. If you have been dancing for awhile you probably know what this is, whispered among experienced dancers as the “Mecca of Lindy Hop” or “Swing Dancing heaven”.

Nina Gilkenson even said in Part 1 of her A Word on Swing interview,

“And then my other goal was to go to Herrang, see what that was all about. I heard about it, it sounded like paradise where you got to dance all the time and hang out with a billion swing dancers […] -Nina Gilkenson”

However Herräng for the uninitiated has this air of mystery about it and articles one can read online, stories one can get from friends, and videos of the event on youtube all paint a very different picture of what this event is like.

Average day in Herräng.

With this post I hope to give those who have not been Herräng but are hoping to make the plunge in the future some advice to make their stay easier.

The List

  1. Do Research: Most of the people I know who get frustrated and stressed at Herräng is due to being unprepared for the environment of the camp. A good place to start is Lloyd’s website where he literally has reviews of 10+ years of the event. Another nice little FAQ from Lindyhop Whiteboard Supreme.  Yehoodi has a nice talk show that goes over some details about the camp. Lastly I did a short AMA on reddit’s r/swingdancing subreddit about the camp from a volunteer perspective. Besides that your friends who have gone to the event personally, youtube videos, and Herräng on facebook are also  great resources.
  2. Bring Extra Money: One of my biggest complaints about Herräng is once you get to the camp there is literally no way to get additional Swedish currency, unless if you can somehow get transportation to the nearby town Hallstavik. (There were rumors one could get cash back from the local general store the Kuggen, however when I attempted to get cash back they told me only Swedish cards were accepted.) My advice? Use the Herräng cost page to figure out how much money you need, then bring an additional 1000 SEK minimum.
  3. Make Arrangements Based On Your Personality: Personally I loved the spartan-like housing of General Accommodations, however I am also a fairly big extrovert and love being around a lot of people. To individuals who need time away from people or are light sleepers, the same arrangements could easily become hell on earth. Likewise the earlier weeks of 1 & 2 have a different feel then the latter weeks 4 & 5 a.k.a. the latter is way more crowded, if possible you might want to book your trip accordingly. The important thing is to find out what makes you comfortable as a person and tailor your Herräng experience to suit that.
  4. Learn Floorcraft (If you don’t know it already) : You have two options; first you can go to sleep after the meeting at 10 PM and wake up at 2-3 AM when there starts to become floorspace available on the dance floors or you can dance in really tight quarters. I am talking about people-who-will run-into-you-while-you-are-dancing-Balboa lack of room.
  5. Be Aware of the 2 Dance Tradition: A good portion of the world outside of North America it is standard practice to have two dances in a row. Whether you choose to follow this tradition or not is your own prerogative, but it is a good thing to be aware of.
  6. Friday Night Parties & Tuesday Slow Drag Night, Bring Appropriate Clothes: For Slow Drag night, people tend to be dressed to the nines. While you don’t have to all out, dress at minimum semi-formal to not stick out like a sore thumb. Likewise for the Friday night party (themes can be found on the website beforehand) bring some kind of costume along or at minimum hit up the prop-shop the Wednesday before the the party you are attending, any time afterwards the place will probably be cleaned out of useful items.
  7. Sleep Is A Resource To Be Carefully Managed: With classes, late night dancing, possibly volunteering, and random adventures it is easy to start losing sleep. It is possible to rough it out for awhile completely sleep deprived, but remember there are costs to that. Less sleep means it is more likely that one can come down with the Herräng flu that goes around every year. In addition I have had two friends this past Herräng who missed things that were important to them simply because they decided to take naps and their body was too exhausted to wake up to alarms.
  8. Daily Meetings, Get There Early or Slightly Beforehand: Nearly every article I have read about Herräng has listed go to the daily meetings. This piece of advice is from myself who was a tech crew volunteer and helped to run about 6 of them, if you want to get into the actual meeting prepare to wait in line/queue up for a minimum of 30 minutes beforehand. Otherwise get there 10 minutes beforehand and grab a spot in the Library, Bar Bedlam, or the Dansbanan where the meeting is projected onto screens.
  9. Take Care Of Your Body: This goes hand in hand with number 7, but realize at minimum you will be dancing for a week straight. This is a large amount of dancing is on top of possibly classes and volunteering. I recommend stretching, yoga, napping, taking it easy on dancing one night, anti-cold vodka at the Ice Cream Parlor, taking it easy at the Blue-Light,  and whatever you need to prevent your body from breaking and falling prey to the dreaded Herräng flu.
  10. Go On Adventures: Last but not least, get involved! There is Mission Impossible, Friday Night Party decorating crew, Circus, and the list could go on… and on. Herräng’s environment heavily encourages participation by all attendees, part of the experience is getting dragged into a random project or starting your own.

If you have been to Herräng beforehand and have some advice you felt has been left out or if you haven’t been before and have some questions, I encourage you to post in the comment section!

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11 responses

  1. Daphna

    I think Number 3 is the piece of advice I’d give the most right now – and to me – that includes more than just the structural decisions.. Herrang is a place that lives off of counter-programming and you have to know that you won’t be at everything at once, and thats okay. And you have to figure out quickly how to make decisions that fit you, your needs, your personality, etc. Sometimes its worth it to skip a meeting to get in a more private shower – or dance at the Dansbanan when everyone is upstairs watching the band so you can have room to swing out a bit.

    July 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm

  2. Really great article… 😉 Sums up everything I could think of to tell people about Herrang for the uninitiated. I was amused by the last photo; the last piece of paper is sort of cut off, so it looks like the Swedish word for Thank you is “ack”.

    August 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm

  3. rik

    Definitely agree on these points. In general, Herrang is a camp that you get out of what you put into it. It’s a giant exercise in improv and “yes and…” with hundreds of other awesome people.

    Here’s some tips for Herrang I wrote about a few years: http://www.rikomatic.com/blog/2007/07/riks-tips-for-h.html

    August 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    • Thanks for the link Rik, lots of good advice there!

      August 8, 2012 at 1:12 am

  4. PersonFace

    Bring lozenges, cold and flu medication and some kind of mosquito repellent.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:17 am

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  7. Corinne

    It’s allll about the mosquitos. Get a net for when you’re sleeping (just use as a sheet or hang from the top bunk if you’re underneath), and bring full strength mosquito repellent! (Turns out I’m allergic to mosquito bites…).

    Having never been to any kind of dance camp before, the biggest thing for me was that for the first few days I found I was basically re-learning Lindy, pretty much from scratch (despite doing it for 4 years now and being int/adv), and being the shy/anxious type that knocked my confidence quite a bit for a few days. You do bounce back though!

    Seconding the formal-wear on slow drag night, I had no clue. Basically, Tuesdays are for dress-up and Fridays are for going costume-mad (if you want).

    Taking the official bus from the airport is a great way to make a bunch of instant friends as well!

    September 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

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