So for those not familiar with Lindy Hop events almost all events offer you the opportunity to apply for cheap or free housing. For the events I have been to this is usually local dancers who have agreed to give you a space on their floor, couch, or- if you’re lucky- a spare bed. This is what I was hoping for when I signed up for the Arctic Lindy Exchange. The other option for housing was mass accommodations where you would stay with a bunch of other dancers. My shy self shied away from (no pun initially intended) the idea of having to stay with so many people I did not know. However, as fate would have it, my friend Tale (pronounced Tal-ah, not “Tail”) were assigned to the mass accommodation and it turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences of the trip! Just for a perspective, here are some numbers related to the mass accommodation in Reykavik:
Number of people: 12-20 at various points in the week
Number of showers: 2
Number of bathrooms: 4
Number of rooms: ~5 small rooms each with space for 2-3 people and a larger room
1 Kitchen and 1 kitchenette
Had I stayed with a host I would have gotten to know maybe 3 or 4 new people. However, by staying in the mass accommodations I was able to get to know at least 12 new people over breakfast and during various shenanigans that included:
- Cleaning out the scary mold/ rotting food-filled fridge (okay so most of us just watched a single person tackle the fridge, but it was a bonding moment non-the-less),
- Going together to see The Perlan (The Pearl) and eating icecream
- Relaxing at the geothermal beach
- Good conversation at breakfast
- Impromptu dance party in the kitchen
Some of the countries represented in our accommodations in Reykjavik included the U.S. (yours truly), Norway, the UK (with people originally from France, Italy, and Poland), Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, and Germany (by far, the most represented country). It was wonderful getting to know people from so many places and be able to talk about what makes our countries different- such as America’s love for peanut butter which is made-fun-of by most of the rest of the world- and realizing that we aren’t really all that different.
The Reykjavik accommodations also proved to be good practice for when we traveled to Ísafjörðor (pronounced ee-sa-fyor-dor) and had ~40 people staying together in a gym where there was one restroom per gender, and fortunately 6 showers/ gender. Ear plugs and a sleep mask were a must! I highly recommend silicone ear plugs. You can mold them to the shape of your ear and they really work! I got up in the middle of the night, took them out and was surprised to hear at least 4 people snoring really loudly.
So the next time you travel for a dance event or really any event that brings like-minded people together, I highly recommend you consider the mass accommodation option if it is available- especially if you are traveling alone. It is probably the best way to get to know your fellow travelers, and staying with a local host is the second-best option. It’s also a great way to practice being flexible and respectful of other people’s space and time. It’s also amazing how much you get to know someone while waiting to use the only bathroom available!