flying home

There’s something strange about being the only person in a block of apartments after spending two weeks in the constant company of at least 200 people. Especially when those 200 people are almost always in constant physical contact with each other.

The second camp – Camp Savoy – is over, and I’m taking an extra night in the student housing to recover before I fly out of Heathrow tomorrow night. The weather has been utterly wonderful: very warm, very sunny. This could be a university campus anywhere in Australia. Though the food marks it as singularly British. Otherwise, there are very few English accents about – this being a university campus and all – and I’m really quite enjoying doodling about on my own.
Could do with a bit of company, but still
how could I complain about such a long, glorious evening with such wonderful warmth and cooling breeze? And after all this sitting about on the hilly lawn under the student accommodation, reading The Guardian (which I’ve missed) and beginning to think again, I’ve a lovely clean, dry bed with sheets and no early morning missions ahead of me.

The last two weeks have been incredibly intense. Herrang was the perfect exercise in indoctrination: intensely, physically demanding days with round the clock dancing, where doing a beginners class in aerials at 12midnight (midday Herrang time) seemed perfectly logical and plain black tea was a precious commodity to be traded illicitly and only between friends. I have surely joined a cult, and am in dire need of deprogramming.

Living with constant physical exhaustion, sleep deficiency and irregular meals have taken their toll and my health has once again dropped. The Herrang bug has been hanging about in my sinuses since late last week, and pushed me into naps every afternoon. Expensive classes with world-class lindy hop egos be-damned. There’s rest and recuperation to be done. My lungs are beginning to fill and the Horrid Cough has returned. I predict much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the plane takes off.

Flying with feet as sore and mangled and swollen as mine were last week resulted in a pain so spectacular I would have bawled like a baby if I’d not been so tired I fell immediately into a sleep that defied even take off. While the effects of constant dancing haven’t quite worn off – there are some disturbingly numb spots on my toes and recurring bouts of pins and needles – I’m hoping these couple of days of rest will make flying a bit more comfortable. I’ve regained some higher brain function and have managed to stay awake all day, though I’ll probably find myself all awake and twitchy at about 1am, looking for some dance floor action. But for now, it’s 8:34pm and I’ve not napped today. I must be getting better. There’s also been no dancing, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. Over two weeks of dancing every day for at least eight hours is kind of addictive. I’m in endorphin withdrawal, I’m sure. How will I cope with Melbourne’s dark and horrible winter?

Pft. It’s such a lovely, warm evening, it’s hard to imagine Melbourne’s crap weather. For now, while I’ve borrowed from Lionel Hampton, I think Miles Davis is the only possible musical alternative for this evening.

laundry report

My backpack full of clean laundry, care of Eva’s washing machine and a night break between camps, is now more a mixed bag. I am down to the non-dancing underwear (where the dancing underwear seems to have largely disappeared: I’m sure I’ve lost knickers in the Herrang laundry. Despite Grace’s best efforts) and once again wishing I’d brought some thai fisherman’s pants with me. But who’d have thought loose, cotton nappy-inspired trousers would be the perfect garment for a dance camp in Europe? Note to self for future reference, I guess.
The wedding clothes proved just as irritating as I’d thought: sure, I could have dressed up for the blues nights at Herrang (one can never be over dressed for blues night), but then I’d not have felt as comfortable as I did. Ah well.
I’m going to have to hunt for something clean for flying in. Something I can bear to wear for 24 hours straight

Future Herrang visits: more trousers. More loose, comfy cotton trousers. More thai fisherman pants. Ten tshirts is enough. Bring bike pants to manage inevitable Chafing Issues. Never too many pairs of underwear or socks. Bring only machine-washable, quick-drying clothes. Care not for crinkles. Swimming costume an essential for shy-bies (not that I had the opportunity to see if I was shy). Sheets. Say yes to a sheet. Hat. Sarong – another essential.

How will I manage Melbourne’s winter weather and fashion requirements? Especially now I’m at least a size smaller than I was before I left. Goddamn this super-responsive metabolism. It adores exercise. And dancing truly is the best exercise there is.

learning in herrang

class_tent.jpg

this is one of the places we learn – another tent. there are two tents (savoy ballroom and roseland), where we do our classes. we also learn in the hall upstairs, and in the dance banaan, outside, which is a sort of pagoda thingy.
we also learn in the gym:

tap_lesson_in_the_gym.jpg

doris

here is a pretty picture of doris in herrang. that’s my arm there next to her, but i looked crappy so i took me out.

eating in herrang

here we are lining up for breakfast. things are moving slow…. note the cheese. cheese is big with the swedes. we eat a lot of crackers as well. the food is bloody good.

and here we are eating in the tent.
the tents are important features on the herrang landscape. we eat in them, we learn in them, we practice in them. meals are my favourite thing – good food and lots of good company.

lunch at the marina

we had lunch at the marina the other day. i don’t know what day it was. i can’t even begin to try to figure that out. maybe wednesday? quite a few of us trudged into the woods to look at a few of the many old mines in herrang. it was interesting. then we went looking at old buildings, then down to the marina for lunch. it was very nice, as you can see. australia, america/vietnam, sweden and england are represented in this picture.
i want to swim at some point, but i don’t know if it’s going to happen.

laundry report

things have gotten dire. last pair of knickers. last pair of pants. all else is in the laundry, being washed. it may or may not all come back to me. then i have to get it dried. tricky in this climate. they have these big drier thingies that look like fridges, and they’re pretty good. but there’ll be that moment between getting up and walking the 10minutes across town to the driers where i’ll have nothing to wear. lucky herrang is 24hours a day.
i am so sweaty all the time, i go through clothes at a phenomenal rate. so does everyone.

herrang fashion: loose, comfortable trousers; tshirt, thongs or sandals by day, and the same with dance shoes at night. loose, comfy tshirts for men, smaller, tighter tshirts for women. the dress standards are definitely casual. except on the party nights. then people dress up like fools: check out these pictures.

this one is my favourite. that nursey there is a lovely german boy. and the wrestler is a lovely girl. ah, herrang.

still in herrang

but now i have a cold. everyone’s got it. and now i do too. poop.
didn’t stop me staying up til 7am dancing. the thing that’s really giving me trouble are my feet – the joints in my toes are really really hurting. i worry that i’ve done something nasty to myself… oh well.

the dancing is good. my dancing is now better than it has been in a million years. the dancers are also good – good company, good fun, good music, good dancing. it’s like being on holiday with a couple of hundred totally excellent people who love to dance and do interesting things. …which i guess is actually the situation. i’m still very tired, but now that i’m nocturnal, it’s not so much of a problem. the sun is only down for about 6 hours at night, so it’s not so hard to stay up. i’m super fit again, and have dropped so much weight i have to safety pin my pants on. last week i was doing classes, so that was 4 and a half hours of dance classes during the day, with one or two casual classes and a bit of practice as well. then hours on end of social dancing. all we do here is eat, dance, talk and muck about. and people sleep whenever and wherever they can. in the cafe between songs. in hammocks, in the gym on mattresses, on the grass between classes.
the cutest thing i’ve seen so far has been two swedish girls squashed into a hammock sidebyside, battling with a mosquito net. they were giggling and tired and hidden away under a tree. very sweet.

herrang

now i am in herrang. they have wireless internet here, but i simply don’t have the brain to do anythign complicated with it. it’s been a wonderful week – lots of dancing, but more excellently, lots of talking and makign friends. there are quite a few hundred people here, from all over the world (mostly europe), and all of them are interesting people who like to do things.
my dancing is now kicking arse, but i’m absolutely exhausted and getting the beginning bits of the herrang cold. sore throat, congestion in the sinuses. my cough has returned. but i feel good.
i am not, of course, working terribly hard. but my hindbrain is ticking over.
people are very interested in my work, and have offered some really interesting comments.
i simply can’t write any more now. i’m tooooo tired. and brain dead. 24 hour dancing takes it out of you.