When I first went to Germany back in the rainy spring of 2013, I had never been part of a swing dancing group. I traveled with my boyfriend of the time and spent a lovely five months learning the language of the land, getting comfortable in the beautiful landscape of Regensburg. When I left, I hoped that it would not be my first and last time visiting, and for many years I missed that lovely city. So, when I read on SwingPlanIt.com in 2018 that Regensburg had a swing dance group and was hosting their first Lindy exchange, I was excited to have a goal to work towards. I finally had an opportunity to go back to the city I loved.
Planning the trip started out with small goals at first. Since I’d found out about the first exchange only a month before the event, I didn’t have enough time to work up the funds needed to get there as soon as I liked. I made the goal that I would go the following year. I planned with only myself in mind. Then, as I shared the excitement that I had with those around, my boyfriend and some of my close friends decided that it sounded like a great idea and bought their tickets as well. Suddenly, I had not one, but four people going with me to Regensburg! I could hardly believe so many people would think so highly of my idea that they would follow me across the ocean like that!
I thought I had it all planned out more than 3 months in advance, complete with maps, AirBnb reservation, bus and train routes, and google maps for everything, including a schedule. I was soon to learn that was not the case.
The flight to get to Regensburg was uneventful, and as long as a overseas flight normally is, but I can say happily that the service on both planes was wonderful and accommodating. Once we landed in Munich, we managed to get to the new train station to make our way to Regensburg. There was a minor mishap where I misplaced our ticket, but luckily we were able to buy another and get on the correct train in plenty of time. Watching the landscape of Germany fly by, we sped towards our destination and counted the various churches that we saw, (of which there were many). At last, we finally arrived in Regensburg, and I was able to see so many familiar places. It felt like I had only left yesterday. We boarded a bus after some slight confusion with the lines, and arrived safely at our AirBnB. It was by far one of the best Airbnb’s I’ve had the delight of staying at, and was almost better than some of the hotels I’ve stayed at. The two bedroom apartment was bright and clean, with plenty of room for my four guests and I. After resting for a bit, my boyfriend and I grabbed a map and set out to wander the streets and explore, him to see the sights for the first time, and me to refamiliarize myself with my favorite city.
While Germany may not have air conditioning, they make up for it with ice cream parlors on nearly every corner. You do not have to walk far to find a tasty cold treat on a German street! While wandering, we came to the Steinbrucke, which is a lovely old bridge that spans the Donau (or better known as the English Translation, the Danube). We happened upon a flash mob of none other than our lovely soon to be friends from SwingIn Regensburg, dancing to the Shim Sham and other lovely songs. We introduced ourselves, swapped names, then headed back to the apartment to meet up with our group and get ready for the night’s dance.
Friday night’s dance at the Tiki Beat and Bar was fantastic. A large amount of people showed up and had a wonderful time dancing. My group ended up being part of a three-way tie for the Jazzy Competition that was held. The best part about that night was that the Tiki bar was literally right next door to our Airbnb, so when we got tired, we didn’t have far to travel to rest. The music was artfully selected, and the leads equally fantastic. Sadly, I had succumbed to my jet-lag faster than the others, and retired a little before midnight.
We started the next morning off with a lovely breakfast cooked by Rachel and Nate, two of our lovely travel companions, and I’ve never woken up quite that hungry to the smells of a breakfast. It was a gorgeous sunny day full of dancing workshops within walking distance of our apartment. William and Sara were our instructors, who had come all the way to teach us from Italy. They were fantastic and engaging, and luckily for us, all the lessons were taught in English. I learned a lot more about footwork, which I hope to continue building on and practicing, and I got to refine my version of the Mini Dip. It was fun to learn from Sara in particular, who had had the wonderful opportunity to learn from Frankie Manning, the King of Swing himself. When teaching about how to do a perfect swivel, she had two pieces to say to us. First, she quoted Frankie as saying “If the Lead is the King, the follow is the Queen. The King must bow to his Queen, and if (and only if) the Queen is happy, she will swivel for him.” The second piece was short and simple: “NEVER TRY TO LEAD THE SWIVEL”. (My group asked if she would come to the states and teach only that piece of advice.)
I was able to make it through the first workshop without much trouble, but had to go back to the apartment while the others stayed for the second workshop. Sometimes when you’ve travelled across the ocean, you have to be extra attentive to the signs your body gives you. If it says rest, you have to rest. You can only take what it gives you. So with the choice of forcing myself through a second workshop and not being able to enjoy the evening, or resting and enjoying the evening dance, I chose to enjoy a quiet slow walk back to the apartment through the peaceful streets of the city and relax on the balcony of the apartment. One of the things I still love most about Regensburg is the simple fact that you can walk through the streets at almost any time of day, and still hear birdsong, or individual conversations. You don’t get the noisy hubbub of city noise that you would get in any American city of equal size. It’s quiet, comforting, and feels extremely safe compared to anywhere else in the world that I’ve been.
That evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner with my host family from my last visit, and then headed to the lovely Degginger, which was a lovely cafe with more room to dance and sit. The lighting was enchanting, with string lights and large antique-looking bulbs hanging from the ceiling. I got to dance with several extremely good leads that night, and enjoyed every dance. The most fun was had watching the mix and match finals, where the finalists danced to the live band that was playing a wonderful rendition of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön”. (Though a close second was watching William and my friend Rachel try to figure out how to work the Floss into swing dance.) The whole atmosphere was that of home to me, just all the happy people who loved to dance and were extremely friendly. That’s the greatest part of dance events for me: Being able to go literally anywhere in the world and know that I’ll have friends, or be able to make friends extremely fast. And even if I don’t know the spoken language well, my dancing can talk for me.
Sunday morning was relaxed and sunny. As my boyfriend and I wandered the early morning streets, we tried our best to dodge the marathon runners that had turned the inner city of Regensburg into a maze. We found many interesting shops and alleyways, and eventually were able to make our way back to the Degginger for the Swing Brunch. The food was plentiful and extremely delicious, and dancing was easy and relaxed. Before long, we were setting up rides to be able to travel to our last destination of the weekend, Wallhalla. It is an absolutely gorgeous Greek-esque monument to famous German heroes, artists, and historical figures. It was a striking monument to behold as it appeared in the distance, and the coolest part was that we were going to go dance there! We gathered for a short while and shared ice pops on the steps to keep dehydration at bay, and enjoyed the view of the river from on top the hill. We even managed to put on another Shim Sham flash mob! However, we did get asked not to dance in the side hallway of the monument by one of the monument workers. So, we moved to the grass and continued to dance. It was a lovely way to end the weekend and made even better by the lovely people that surrounded us.
My main takeaways from this trip:
-You can’t know everything ahead of time, no matter how much you plan.
-Listen to your body. It is King. If it says stop and rest, do that. You don’t want to have to regret it later.
-Relax, what happens will happen. Everything always seems ten times worse when you’re jet lagged.
-Next time, try to add more time for exploration and adventure (and impromptu adventures with new friends!)
-Joy will always come to me from dancing, no matter where I am, or who I’m with.
-Laughter is the best medicine!
-Always take Rachel and Nate with me, they are the -best- cooks ever.
I look forward to my next big adventure, once I’m able to plan it. I have yet to decide if the next one should be another international adventure (which would have to be scheduled for next year) or one closer to home. However, I’m always open to suggestions! Where do you think I should go next?
Thanks for reading! And if you’re ever in Regensburg, go say hi to the lovely group at SwingIn Regensburg!
To learn more about the Regensburg Swing Dance venues, click here!
Instructors for the weekend:
Photos and videos taken by Swing Around The Corner’s very own (barbie_arby):
Official SwingIn Regensburg Event Photos/Videos (Taken by Sebastian Schieder)