We are stardust, we are golden, we are in a muddy field in Wales.
A number of bloggers have asked me about the cryptic ‘off in a field, back soon’ messages at the foot of my recent blog posts. So, I thought I’d elaborate on the annual trip which has me scheduling posts for a fortnight while I skip about barefoot in a rainy field, ‘to get back to the land and set my soul free’.
Loading up the washing machine with the last of our mud encrusted clothes mountain, I’m feeling gloomy that Dance Camp has come to an end. However, it took me years to pluck up the courage to attend this small local arts festival in Pembrokeshire. First off, I’m no dancer. My one foray into flamenco dancing ended badly and I’m not getting my midriff out for love nor money, so belly dancing is never going to happen. I find circle dancing boring, and lack the moves needed for hiphop. Then there’s the kind of free expression required for five rhythms – aka, The Wave – which, to be honest, brings me out in hives.
Luckily dancing participation is not obligatory at dance camp. Dancing anxieties aside, the festival is ten days long, which when you’ve added a day at either end for arrival and leaving means spending just short of a fortnight in a field with a several hundred people, camping and cooking together in circles of around 20 to 30. believe me, that is pretty intense. However, after hearing friends endlessly enthusing about how much fun it was and how brilliant it was for kids to go increasingly feral in the absence of screens, we took the plunge. Seven years on, we’ve never looked back.
One of the most amazing things about dance camp, or DCW, is that most people have working tickets. By pooling skills, expertise and resources, DCW is able to provide a varied array of dancing and singing classes, creative workshops, yoga, music, entertainment and therapies in the well-being area including massage and reflexology, from dawn until well after dusk. People really go to town dressing up so it feels like a non-stop carnival. There’s a fabulous cafe with food at 1970’s prices, and the site crew work tirelessly to keep everything ticking over smoothly. I worked in the creche the first few times i went, but since then I’ve run knitting workshops in the creative area, and I love it. I’ve taught all ages to knit, and introduced new skills to more seasoned knitters, while some people turn up with their knitting for a bit of a natter.
Knitting workshops aside, I spent quite a lot in the creative area this year, trying my hand at embroidered landscapes, silk painting, paper marbling, mindfulness doodling, fabric jewelry making and turning old tin cans into lanterns. I also had time to read, play loads of table tennis, catch up with friends around the open fire, and lots of star-gazing. It felt so good to be screen-free for such along stretch of time.
Usually halfway through camp there is a market day. People bring old clothes, jumble, jewelry and crafts to sell. This year I bought a nifty trivet so we can cook on an open fire at the top of our garden, and best of all, I found some secondhand books. The Selected Prose of Fernando Pessoa was a lucky find and totally unexpected – Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet is a favourite of mine for dipping into when I’m in the mood for some existential malaise.I thought the misery of the Pessoa would balance nicely with the screwball comedy of Harpo Marx’s memoir – from the sublime to the ridiculous!
Now we’re home, it’s weird spending so much time indoors again, and trawling through the huge influx of emails in my inbox that had accumulated over the fortnight brought me back down to earth with a bump. Still, now I’ve got my trivet, I can try and keep the outdoorsy spirit of dance camp alive with some alfresco cooking and a spot of constellation spotting, and, of course, there’ll always be next year.
If you fancy the idea of prancing about in a Welsh field for ten days you can find out the DCW website here. Don’t worry rainbow rhythms participation is optional.