You’ve taken the plunge and booked a dance festival – and you probably have many questions. What should you take with you? Is it true that people seem to turn up to dance festivals looking like they could do with a small Sherpa to carry their copious amounts of stuff? Just how empty SHOULD your house be when you have finished packing? Here are the essentials, and the nice to haves to make sure you enjoy your weekend and don’t spend half of it looking for a Tesco metro:
1) Shoes. Take at least an extra pair, and if possible, take ones with different soles. It is likely that some floors will be faster than others so you’ll want to be prepared. If you have small heels which you are comfortable dancing in, consider packing them as well as flats. It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes a change of foot/ankle position is good and can help prevent over use of the same muscles. Also remember that putting on a damp pair of shoes is the dancing equivalent of entering the seventh layer of hell. So a spare pair is always nice to have.
2) Clothes. Work out how many you think you’ll need, then add at least an extra three or four changes. You’re going to be doing a lot of work, and a lot of sweating, and believe me sometimes a dry t-shirt or fresh pair of pants is a beautiful thing. Most people change at least once during the day, and it is common to change during a long evening social too. Most lindyhoppers are tolerant of a little sweat – it is an occupational hazard after all – but good manners do dictate a change if you are sodden. You might want to take some sweat towels if you are of a damp persuasion too. This applies for both genders – ladies, please do not assume that you have to pretend to be a unicorn who never sweats. During the day, remember that classes are not the time for fancy clothes or jeans. You do not have to be a vintage kitten or a dapper gent in braces (unless you want to be). Sports clothes or leggings are great – anything cool and comfortable. Don’t forget clothes for the evening socials – there may be themes to consider. And don’t forget your LLC/local scene T-Shirt!
3) First Aid. Plasters are a must have. Pack some normal ones, and some blister plasters. If possible, splash out on Compeed blister plasters – they are a bit more money, but they are by far the best out there and will stay on your feet through anything you throw at them. Take some painkillers of your choice just in case. Hand sanitiser is also useful unless you have the immune system of a robot – you’re going to be touching many, many hands. You get added bonus points for preparedness if you also take deep heat/freezing cream just in case of niggles or pulls. If you are a wearer of make-up, consider investing in some primer/fixative spray in order to prevent getting home at the end of the night to find your eye make up on your cheeks.
4) Food and Drink. Sugar is your friend here. I enjoy access to chocolate buttons and maybe a banana. Chris takes a supply of jelly babies. Don’t risk getting hangry in the middle of a dance class, it really does make life harder than it needs to be! A good breakfast is a good idea before classes. Sports drinks or the dreaded oral rehydration sachets (shudder) can also be useful to replace lost salts etc, but at the very least have a big bottle of water or squash with you during the day – and remember to drink it!
5) Filming Device. All the teachers will offer you the opportunity at the end of each class to film a little recap of what you’ve done. Trust me, it hurts if you find your phone is out of memory just as this happens. If you have a smartphone, clear all your pictures/files off it before you go, or take a camera (how very old skool!) Just a note of etiquette – many teachers are happy to give you these video recaps for your own use, but do not like them turning up on YouTube. Please don’t chuck them on the internet for public consumption without the permission of the teachers.
6) General. A fan is always useful and easy to forget. Take some mints or a toothbrush to make sure you aren’t breathing garlic/onion/pickle over your partners after lunch. If you have copious amounts of hair to deal with (like me), consider taking a decent hairdryer, because it is my firm belief that all hotels conspire to give you hairdryers which are like being wheezed on by an elderly asthmatic. Ain’t nobody got time for that when there is dancing to be done. You might want to take a notebook to write down what you’ve learned – some people swear this helps to remember everything you cover. Finally, safety pins in the event of a wardrobe malfunction are very useful at keeping zips up/straps on your shoulders/preventing ties from flapping in faces during your epic spins.
Coming up in Part Two – getting the most out of the weekender!