I’ve got back from the excellent Lindy Shock swing dance camp in Budapest on Wednesday, feeling exhausted but with some serious new dance technology under my belt.
On the flight back I reflected on how my experience was affected both by how I prepared and how I approached things while I was there. I’ve learned a lot from previous camps – primarily that sleeping and eating are purely functional activities designed to maximise dancing fun – but still made some basic errors.
Here’s what I learned:
What I did (Credit to James Russell for a number of these):
- Don’t burn out too early – If you’re doing classes, be wary of your limits and don’t stay out too late the first couple of nights.
- Sleep twice a day – a few hours in the evening between classes and parties and a few hours in the wee hours between parties and classes. If you can get some proper REM sleep in both sessions, you’re doing pretty well.
- Sugar-load – After a few hours hard dancing and drinking water you’ll have used up a lot of energy. Give yourself a time out to demolish a couple of chocolate bars and cups of sweet milky tea. It will give you the boost to keep going on through.
- Overestimate the amount of cash you’ll need – You don’t want to have to take a tiresome trip to an ATM between classes.
- Eat well – You’re going to be burning a lot of energy and sweating a lot, so make sure you load up on protein, carbohydrates and salt.
- Take lots of chewing gum
- Mark your water – At LindyShock you couldn’t take your own water into the parties, so everyone had these big 2-litre bottles. I identified mine by taking off the label and tying it around the neck of the bottle.
- Try out new material on people from your class – if you pull it off it usually raises a smile.
- Bring all your undershirts! – undershirts can drastically decrease the number of times you have to change. I don’t sweat nearly as much as some people, so my evening plan is to arrive in undershirt+shirt+tie, change into undershirt+tshirt after a couple of hours, then have another tshirt as a backup.
- Dance with your regular scene as little as possible – there are a ton of exciting new dancers out there: what are you doing spending half the night dancing with people you can dance with every week? (caveat: obviously if someone from your local scene asks you to dance, normal rules apply!)
- Remember to personally thank teachers after each lesson. Also if you’re having a good time, let the organisers know: everyone gets a warm fuzzy glow.
What I didn’t do:
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before travelling – lack of sleep can really suck the fun out of everything and it’s really hard to get back to a decent energy level.
- Condition your body beforehand – make sure you’re dancing (or at least exercising) the week before you go, otherwise you might end up doing something stupid like screwing up your knee the night before a class with Skye and Frida.
- Do it early or you won’t do it at all – if you wait for the right time to dance with that teacher/hot guy/hot girl or to jump into a jam, you’ll end up never doing it. The right time is Now.
- Bring your own shower gel and sponge – feeling extra clean is so important for confidence and mood.
- Travel light – It’s tempting to expand the amount of stuff you’re taking by packing more stuff into your hand luggage. Don’t. Hauling a heavy bag around the airport is not fun – stick it all in your hold luggage.
- Arrange a private – If you can afford it, one-on-one tuition with a good international teacher can be transformative (or so I’m led to believe). However, this takes a bit of forward planning…
- Take a big enough bag to the parties – Digging around in a packed-tight bag for your next change of shirt is a pain.