thoughts & photos from the blues garden

It is So Hard to describe exactly how I feel about the Blues Garden, now that we've done this for four years in a row.

The first year was just a haze of butterflies and happiness. Blues dancing was a new love then and I reacted to it like I do to any new love; very intensely and with my whole heart and body. The first Blues Garden was the first event I organised - and also the first international event I ever went to, so I didn't really know what blues dance events were "supposed to be". I just knew what I wanted to create; what I wanted to be a part of. It was such a joy to be able to look back then and see: We did it. This is exactly it - this is what we wanted to do. It was a success.

And for all I know, it is still a success. Not because we sell out (although that helps the budget side of things, of course), but because it really is quite apparent that we - toghether with the participants - create something magical. We still follow our vision. It is a different kind of work now compared to the first time, since the groundwork is already laid, and now it's more detailed work - tweaking some stuff that wasn't working perfectly, and adding details that we think could be fun - but it's still creative, and I still enjoy it. Most of the time. :)

Reading the surveys every year is nothing short of wonderful. We get so much love. One thing about the surveys that I personally love is every little detail we've thought of, will always be noticed and mentioned by at least one person. Everything we do is someone's favorite thing. Someone mentions the scavenger hunt, someone else the blues medley, the blues talk, the long breaks in the schedule, the board games, the path system, the slacker track, the bands, the café, the rainbow of paper flowers along the staircase, the snacks in the breaks between classes, the street lamp, the information folder, the Swenglish ghost (that is me! :)), the tulle roof in the big hall, rearranging the big Blues Garden letters, a specific DJ set, the umbrellas. It's so rewarding to see that the work we do is not something people take for granted; that everything we do is appreciated.

Blues dancing isn't a new love anymore, nor is the Blues Garden. I don't think anything could remain a new love for several years. (It does, after all, become apparent after a while that you also need to sleep, and eat ... not to mention clean your apartment, see your non-dancing friends & family, and now and then also earn some money to, you know, pay bills and stuff.) The love is, in some ways, calmer now - but I am one of those people who are capable of still being very intensely in love even after several years - and I still feel like I'll never stop blues dancing. (Also, becoming a better dancer does make dancing more fun ... And boy am I a better dancer now than I was. :))

I never dance as much as I want to during the Garden - there's just not enough time. That's fine, though. I have other events to go to and dance. Sometimes during the Garden, it's more important for me to just sit down and enjoy being there - just drink it in. It's all so very beautiful to me. I'm always sad when we have to take the decorations down afterward. (I'm also sad that for the most part, the rest of our dance association don't get to see and experience what it is that we do; many are still averse to blues dancing though they have no idea what we're actually doing, because they still think blues dancing is what's done at slow drag night in Herräng. It's hurtful in a way. But at least I know I'm not the one missing out.)

And now, some photos (although I take few during the Blues Garden, because I have so many other things on my mind, I always try to take a least some - I've learned that taking photos is good for my soul):

On Friday night, I didn't take a single photo, because I was playing with my band, the Sky is Crying. It was for sure up there in the list of most fun I've ever had. Playing for dancers with a band you love and trust is just THE BEST. Also, the insane amount of compliments and love I got afterwards doesn't hurt :) (Photo by our photographer, the amazing Joel Höglund.)

Saturday chilling & classes.

On Saturday night, Christoffer Johansson played. We've booked him for all four Blues Gardens so far, because he is the best. I'm still "a little" proud that we've also made the rest of Europe see that. As someone recently said, "how unfair is it that most cities have NO great blues dance bands and Gothenburg has at least three?!". :)

Vicci is for sure one of my favorite DJ:s.

Every year they promise snow and rain. Every year we get blue skies, birds singing and a general feeling of spring. The Blues Garden delivers!

On Sunday, there was the blues talk. Again, not my photo. Again, so much fun. (The photo shows this joke that I do every year, where I promise to haunt people with Really Bad Swenglish if they don't fill out the survey. And people find it extremely funny. Like, some people literally lay down on the floor and roll around, clutching their stomach. Last weekend in Dublin some people talked to me about that Swenglish persona that I do, and said I should be a stand-up comedian. For someone who has been told all their life they take things too seriously and have no sense of humour, this is a truly bizarre feeling.)

Later that night, we had a dinner with the Blues Gardeners + teachers & DJs. It was lovely. So good sometimes to sit down with good friends and not be an organiser for just a little while, you know?

And then we were dancing.

And then it was over and it's the same feeling of emptiness every time. Such mixed feelings - it is SO STRESSFUL before the event, SO LOVELY during, and afterwards it's just - wait, what am I going to do with all my spare time now ...?

Nina Simone | Buck

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