It’s hard to believe that I hadn’t been to Herräng in 5 years. Time sure does fly when you’re leaving your day job, getting married, moving to a new city, etc. But I finally got back to the Herräng Dance Camp for a little more than 2 weeks this year and was able to catch the 30 year anniversary of the camp.
Admittedly, one of the reasons why I hadn’t been back to the camp in so long is that I really enjoy having some sort of a role there, and the right role hadn’t come up in a few years. After my first couple of years at the camp in ’99 and 2000, I started to take on working roles at the camp and by 2004 I was living in Sweden throughout the winter and spring helping with the camp’s administration. That year sort of killed me though, and I suffered from some pretty major travel burnout so I made my way back to Canada after various other nomadic adventures and took a year off in 2005. I did go back as a regular camper in 2006 and 2007 but it felt like something was missing.
Now, since getting involved in the Frankie Manning Foundation about a year and a half ago, I’ve found my true purpose. It feels so wonderful to visit the camp to help with something that’s so close to my heart. Since I started working closely with Judy Pritchett on the Frankie Manning Foundation Ambassador program, I feel like I’ve really found a way to apply my skill set to a worthy cause. So this year, I attended the camp as the representative for the FMF to oversee the scholarship recipients and it couldn’t have been more rewarding.
Our four Ambassadors came from widely different situations and geographical situations. Velo joined us from Taiwan where he is the organizer of a relatively new group of about 30 Lindy Hoppers. Adamas joined us from Korea where he’s been teaching Lindy Hop for 10 years but would like very much to introduce more of the history and Frankie’s spirit and touch to the dance there. Andrea is from Southern California and aspires to teach Lindy Hop to foster children with a particular focus on the Black community. And Nando is from Mozambique and is probably the very first Lindy Hopper to come out of Africa. They were such an amazing group and I felt so honoured to be there with them and to do my best to make their camp experience as rewarding and worthwhile as possible.
Unfortunately, we had pretty miserable weather over week 2 of the camp and I fell ill with the usual Herräng flu by the beginning of week 3. Cold, rainy… it even hailed twice. The sad thing was that I didn’t really shake my cold and was sick right up until the time I came home. Major bummer! This really interfered with some of my own social dancing and participation at the camp and I just didn’t dance the night away the way that I used to. I did have a few really nice dance nights though, so not all was lost.
I was thrilled to have my friend Laura come up from the UK where she’s currently living. She spent an extended weekend with us and it was so great to see her. We were particularly lucky to have one nice sunny day in Stockholm, along with my friend and student Heather. It was so nice to warm up for a day and it was nice to visit my old stomping grounds in Stockholm. I even popped in to my old gym, Friskis och Svetis, where I used to workout when the Herräng office was still on Vatagatan.
The camp is still going on and 3 of the Ambassadors are actually still there. My pals Krister, Kevin, Shannon, Clara, Riz, Terri and others are still there too for the 5th and final week of the camp. It was really nice to get back to Herräng, see lots of old friends, and watch newcomers fall under the magic spell that the camp can often emit. I know how intoxicating that first time can be and it was great to relive it through some of my friends eyes.