Beside Herrang Dance Camp there is another event in Europe which is happening over several weeks during summer time: Studio Hop Summer Camp. The event is run by Anne-Helene & Bernard Cavasa and this year it was already the ninth edition. So we will have two anniversaries next year: 30 years Herrang and 10 years SHSC!
Studio Hop Summer Camp is quite different to Herrang, not only because of the location. There are three different weeks of classes and parties, always focused on one dance: a Balboa week, a Lindy Hop week and since last year also a Jazz Roots (Authentic Jazz) week.
That means for example during the Balboa week there is (almost exclusively) Balboa dancing all day and all night. Best conditions to essentially improve the dance!
I attended the Balboa week for the third time this year and here is my inside report of the camp live during this week.
In the French Countryside
Surrounded by sunflowers, Studio Hop Summer Camp is happening in the south-west of France, on a demesme outside of the village Eauze called Escoubet – Le Domaine Du Possible, which means loosely translated “the demesme of possibilities”.
It's a vacation and event center, with different buildings, tents and hourdies for dancing and housing. Also camping is allowed and broadly used by the participants.
Another big difference to HDC is the schedule. There are fixed time blocks for classes and meals. The advantage is obvious: the campers are eating together at the same time. Of course, SHSC is smaller – with around 200-220 people – so it's easier to organise it that way.
SHSC schedule condensed
- 08.30h breakfast
- 10.00h begin of morning classes
- 12.15h lunch
- 14.15h begin of afternoon classes
- 19.00h dinner
- 21.00h taster classes or party
To be honest, I'm a little bit tired of taking classes. I attended so many workshops and camps in the last few years that I'm feeling stuffed. With that said, I attended classes when I was in the mood to, so I skipped quite a few. I mainly wanted to social dance. All night! 🙂
At SHSC there are five levels in the Balboa week, from intermediate to advanced +. The organisers take it very seriously with the level classification, the first morning session of classes is just for the level test – for all levels! Although this concept also has its weaknesses I like it.
Even better, if someone is not satisfied with the classification, they can go to the complaint office after lunch and argue and most notably dance with the instructors. That way you gonna think twice about complaining!
Wednesday (in the Balboa week) is a free day without classes. That's perfect for social activities in the camp, sight-seeing in the villages Eauze and Condon or just to sleep in and hang out at the swimming pool nearby. Additionally, also on Friday no classes are taught in the morning.
The food is like everywhere a very important factor. The expectations to the French cuisine are high and most of the time you won't be disappointed.
There is always a three course menu for lunch and dinner, (sour) house red wine included! A vegetarian option is available but don't dare to stand in the line for vegetarians without the proper wristband, the chef will kill you!
Great improvement to recent years: Even for meat eaters, there are vegetarian meals on the menu.
Evenings: Theme Parties, Jack ‘n' Jill, Cabaret
There are three! theme parties per week. In the Balboa week we had:
- White & Blue party (colour combination of the clothes)
- Pirates party on Wednesday
- Super Classy party on Friday night (everybody is dressing up)
At least a Jack & Jill competition belongs to such a week. By tradition at SHSC, also the ten finalists (five leads and five follows) have to dance with each other. New this year was that the finalists also had to judge and place themselves. I will write a separate post about this.
And of course, a cabaret should not to be missed at such an event. It seemed that there were not many acts by campers, therefore many of the instructors were prominently and creatively involved!
Three different bands in one week, wow! Unfortunately, not all of them could satisfy the expectations Balboa wise. You might know that I have quite strong opinions about music for dancers and I allow myself to level criticise at the music more often that I probably should ;).
This time, I do it the other way round: I liked the band “Magic Shook Heads” from Friday night. They had a good mix of tempos, really good rhythms for Balboa dancers and the songs weren't too long.
I was DJ'ing myself two times so I don't write a review about the DJs. I only name my two favourites: Annegret Beck and Mel Calanglang! Great job guys, I especially loved to dance to your music!
I often get asked which camp or workshop I prefer. There is nothing to prefer. I like all of them when they are unique in their own way. I would define Studio Hop Summer Camp first of all as a holiday-dance camp.
Anne-Hélène & Bernard, I love the atmosphere of your camp. Thank you for putting up this event year after year! I will definitively come back to Escoubet!
Photo credits: 1 by Studio Hop, 2 by Escoubet, 4-6 by Stefan Deuber.