Barn Dances and how to make them work !

This page is written by a Barn Dance caller to give members of the public ideas about how to have a successful barn dance. I live near Cambridge, England.

If you are thinking of organising a barn dance, perhaps you could benefit from reading about my experiences. It could save you money and embarrassment.

Please e-mail me with any suggestions as to other topics that you would like to be covered on this site, and also any suggestions or additions either from people who have held successful or unsuccessful barn dances or are barn dance callers who have a contribution on the subject. Or just send me a message to say you have visited.


What is a Barn Dance ?

A Barn Dance (sometimes called a Ceilidh) is a collection of dances which can be done by anyone who can walk, and knows their left from their right hand! The dances are usually fairly straight forward and can be learnt on the night of the dance with the help of the caller. No previous knowledge is required.

The music may be either from a live band or on CDs or audio tapes which have been especially recorded to use for the purpose.

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Do I Really want a Barn Dance ?

Strangely, this is a question that most people who phone me and ask for a barn dance, have not asked themselves. When I ask, they have not really thought about it. Of course, if you do not know why you want one, you will not know whether to bother organising one or not. On several occasions, I have convinced the person that they want a different type of entertainment.

If you organise one, but are not committed to making it work it will fail. See below for suggestions as to how to make it work.

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About Barn Dance callers

Some barn dance callers work exclusively with one band. Others work with several bands and will enlist the services of a suitable band on your behalf. This second type will usually be prepared to arrange a dance using CDs or audio tapes for music.

Many callers are not professionals, that is, they have another job outside dance calling. Paying more for a professional may or may not give you a better evening. Sometimes a caller who only does a few dances each year will give a better performance as they are more committed to having a good time, but you run the risk of getting a bad caller who never gets repeat bookings. Professionals can usually be relied on to give a fairly good performance.

Most bad amateur callers give up fairly quickly, bad professional callers soon go out of business.

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What makes a really good Barn Dance ?

The big answer to this question is not what you would expect. Most people who telephone me ask for a live band and think that having a live band will make the evening go well. In my experience, this is only a small factor.

Live bands usually sound better and give a better atmosphere to the evening, but obviously you will be paying for more people to give up their time so expect to pay up at least five times as much for a dance with a live band.

There are more important factors to consider

Please remember, most barn dances go very well and everyone has a very enjoyable time.

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Contact Information

If you would like more information about anything on this website, or have anything to add, please send me an e-mail.
To avoid getting masses of junk mail, I have slightly hidden my e-mail address. , but with the "x" removed.

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Copyright : This information is completely free of copyright and may be used for any purpose.

Print it out, tell your friends, take note of the suggestions.

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Last revised: 2nd June 2005.