Thursday, July 2, 2015

Beantown Dance Camp

I’ve spent the last week dancing and having a very good time. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but various factors prevented me. Soon after I started dancing Lindy hop, I heard about a famous dance camp in Sweden called Herrang. Everybody agrees that it’s a splendid way to improve one’s dancing, but nobody says anything encouraging about the accommodations. Beantown, on the other hand, shares a stellar reputation for quality, and offers much better accommodations. I chose Beantown.

As usual, when I got there I realized that I don’t know anything. I expected this. Dancers joke about how every time they move up a level they discover a world of much better dancers and amazing new possibilities. In case I missed the point, an instructor told me in an advanced class on the first evening that my swingouts needed work. That’s bad news, because the swingout is central to Lindy. I reported the next day, and almost every day following, to the practice sessions, where I enjoyed the guidance of a private instructor who gave me some pointers each time and then sent me off to practice with whatever followers might be hanging around. I got a lot better, but understand that I still need to work at it.

Every evening we had dance parties, almost entirely to live music. I enjoy dancing with almost everybody. I like dancing with the new dancers because it’s fun to welcome them to the world of Lindy. In addition, I certainly like dancing with the experienced dancers because they open my eyes to new possibilities and help with the collaborative process of interpreting the music. I did plenty of both, along with a little watching, listening and admiring. Finally, all day every day I enjoyed spending time with dancers. We had a very friendly group of interesting people from around the world.

The class tracks during the day included materials on technique, musicality, specialty styles, routines and much more. Most of the instructors impressed me, and some of them impressed me a lot. Not wanting to miss anything, I tried to go to classes more or less all day long every day and then go to the evening dances. People warned me in advance that this would be a bad idea, nearly impossible to complete, and I did have to cut corners. Mostly I cut corners at night, going back to my dorm room soon after midnight. My morning classes generally began by 9:00 or 9:30 and I needed to get some sleep.

Speaking of the dorm room, this is not what I expected at all. I got a large and bright room with a private bathroom, air conditioning, and pleasant view. Endicott College, the venue for the camp, has a gorgeous campus with private beaches, wooded paths, fountains, numerous excellent dance floors and an expansive dining hall run by Marriott. The excellent food surprised me even more than the nice dorm room. I don’t know what kind of education the kids get at Endicott College, but it’s sure a great place to hang out for a summer dance camp.

I highly recommend Beantown and I’d love to go back.

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