Swing Dance

Lessons learned from Lindy Shock

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.

Ali and Katja at Lindy Shock 2011 by Eric Esquivel
Ali and Katja at Lindy Shock 2011 by Eric Esquivel on Flickr

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.

6 replies on “Lessons learned from Lindy Shock”

thank you for these drops of true lindy – wisdom!

i’ d add:
– never depend on a brand new pair of shoes! (my pinky is still purple)
– don’t forget to warm up before lessons and stretch a little after them
– know your weak points on beforehand and ask each teacher for some advise
– get connected to local dancers. you will learn much more about the country and, additionally, you might end up invited for next year’s camp.
– apart from chewing gums and undershirts, some deodorant should also find its way to your bag

For the breath I have with me a toothbrush and some toothpaste. A girl told me that using chewing gum is like using cologne on shit. You still can smell the shit under the cologne.

Stretching is good also during and after parties.Don’t avoid gazes from people you’d like to dance with. If they don’t come to get you go for it yourself. Get a nice suitcase, the time you lose trying to decide what to bring and how long each tshirt must last usually is not worth it.

And most of all, remember to have fun!

i don’t know… Sometimes the best way to stress yourself out is to put too much pressure on yourself to have fun.

Mouth hygiene by tooth brush is one thing, but fresh mints or chewing gum are another in this case. When dancing your mouth dries out quickly, so a regular fresh mint will help to keep a fresh level, also drinking water regularly. Chewing gum constantly helps to prevent the mouth from drying out. In contrast, this is where it gets yucky: fast dancing, a dry mouth, perhaps a bit of hunger from low blood sugar level and you easily have bad breath, although your teeth are still clean – in case you brushed them after the last meal. So I agree with Duncan. Chewing gum as a dancer and regular mints are a very good advice!

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