Herräng Dance Camp

2nd July to 6th August

Prepmode for Camp 2016
Lindy Hop, Boogie Woogie, Balboa, Solo Jazz & Tap

The History and The Present

Herräng Dance Camp, which originally started as a one-week event back in the summer of 1982, is since many years the leading and most comprehensive dance camp in the world focusing on the African-American vernacular swing dance tradition. The camp originally came about as a result of the contacts between a handful of Stockholm jitterbug dancers and mister John Clancy from New York. The later was together with his wife finally invited to Sweden to teach a down town New York version of the Lindy Hop. The event originally was meant to be held in Stockholm, but some of the organizers thought that it might be a better idea to find a more isolated place somewhere else, but at the same time not too far away from our capital. The choice became Herräng, a sleepy one-horse town in the outskirts of nowhere, but still fairly easy to reach by car or by public transportation. When the camp opened its doors for the very first time on August 1, 1982, approximately 25 dancers had signed up to participate in what was to become the future Herräng Dance Camp.

The future intention of the event was not set from the beginning, and most people, including the organizers, looked upon it as a one-shot happening. A decision was however finally taken that the event should continue, and in 1983 nearly 100 jitterbug dancers from different clubs around Sweden showed up and participated in what now had become a strictly Swedish event exclusively presenting Stockholm based teachers. During the rest of the 1980s, the development of the camp very much followed the intentions given in 1983, and for the years to come the event gradually started to slowly grow, and in the later part of the decade, the gathering counted a few hundred dancers spread out during two weeks rather than one. At around this time, it was more or less impossible to foresee the international invasion waiting around the corner, since the revival of the Lindy Hop had not yet fully taken off. However: in 1989, semi-professional Swedish swing dance company The Rhythm Hot Shots (formed in the summer of 1985), joined forces with the Swedish Swing Society (main organizer from 1982 to 1988), and made the decision to invite legendary Savoy Ballroom dancer mister Frank Manning to headline the event. Frankie's presence, personality and way of dancing quickly transformed the event from being something fairly homemade and very Swedish, to become something African-American and seriously swingin'. These for most students new influences were very well received, and in combination with the first wave of the international revival of the Lindy Hop, Herräng very soon established itself as one of very few places where revivalists from different countries could meet and hang out together, surrounded by the full concept of swing dancing.

When The Rhythm Hot Shots in 2002 was in a position of personnel transformation, the camp suffered economically and was very close to end up in bankruptcy. During the fall/winter of 2002/2003, things looked very dark for the event, and no one could at the time tell whether the Herräng Dance Camp history had come to an end or not. Finally some agreements were made, and five individual dancers (Frida Segerdahl, Fatima Teffahi, Daniel Heedman, Lorenz Ilg and Lennart Westerlund) took over the event from the previous owners. Luckily for both the new owners and the camp itself, the 2003 event never suffered from the above difficulties, instead the debts were paid and some refreshing new energy was blown into the event.
The early days of the Herräng Dance Camp was characterized by the philosophy of dancing as a sport rather than a social activity. Participants at the event rarely performed any social dancing, and the camp offered very few if any evening activities. The change came in the early 1990s with the full introduction and gradual understanding of the background and context of the vernacular Lindy Hop. In only a few years the camp changed from some kind of athleticism to some kind of partyism, still however keeping the classes and the historical background as vital elements of the event.

From an administration point of view, the Herräng Dance Camp is a monster. The underlying reason for making such a statement is that the village of Herräng doesn't offer the infrastructure needed for an event of this dimension. Accordingly, all these kind of issues sooner or later end up on our table. At the same time, it's a true privilege to have been given the opportunity to work inside such a dynamic and somehow important and appreciated organization. Many people have over the years seriously been contributing to the camp's well-being and development. Without these contributions, the event would not have been able to keep and maintain its recognized position as the true cosmopolitical melting-pot for the revival- and contemporary swing dance community.

Heartily welcome to the semi-surrealistic reality of Herräng Dance Camp.
History and the Present