DIY or organising your own Barn Dance !!
Here are some guidelines to help someone organising a
barn dance for the first time. The suggestions are obviously not sacrosanct;
but have been compiled from experience gained of playing and calling for
Barn Dances over the last 15 years. We hope that they are helpful!
Find yourself a nice spacious hall. (if you want to put a figure on it,
20 square feet or 2 square metres of dance area, per person dancing, is
comfortable, plus the extra space round the outside for tables, and 12
feet by 9 or 4 metres by 3 for the band)
Get yourself a good band and caller; it makes all the difference!
Run from say 8 - 11:30
Check what time the hall must be cleared by, and arrange for the band to
stop half an hour before that
Check on access arrangements, keys etc. The band will need to get in, about
an hour before the start
Have a bar, or allow people to bring their own refreshments (tell them
which). It seems to lubricate the evening
Advertise the dance (if you like, use the poster you get with our booking
letter) and ensure people know they are coming to a barn dance
Organise a break in the middle with food. Simple food is best and quickest,
so everyone can get back into the dancing. Things like any of: Chilli con
Carne, ploughmans, Chicken / Fish and chips, or baked potatoes, filling
and salad, always seem to go down well. Don't forget about the vegetarians!
Have a raffle; it raises money and breaks up the second half. (Try awarding
the prizes in reverse order to keep the suspense right up to the
Plan it well ahead and advertise so people can get it in their diaries.
Work out how to get people to commit early so you don't go through the
"Should we cancel, its only a week off and we've only sold ten tickets."
Perhaps offer a discount for tickets paid for, before a certain date. Many
bands (for obvious reasons) have high cancellation fees, especially if
this is done in the last week.
Encourage people to come in a group (perhap a discount again); it's better
for ticket sales! and its more fun!
all, do get yourself some helpers and spread the work out, so that you
can all enjoy yourselves and have a really good time!
Don't run past 12; invariably some people will leave and the reduction
in numbers diminshes the by then atmosphere of fun.
Don't spread straw on the floor; this makes it very slippery and painful
when people fall over. Also do take care with straw bales if you have a
mind to use them, because of the fire hazard. We regret that the band will
stop playing and leave the hall, if straw bales and smokers are present
at the same time.
Don't arrange the seating out of sight of the band. For some inexplicable
reason, people seem very reluctant to get up with this layout.
Don't organise a three course sit down meal with coffee (unless you are
talking about a wedding of course.) We have never known this take less
than an hour and a half, and you only have the band available for 3½
Don't advertise it as a Country and Western Evening; they are altogether
Don't organise any competing attraction, or have the food available across
several hours; this detracts from the dance.
Try not to have the bar in a different room from the dance. You lose most
of the men!
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