Weighing in from Belfast Flying Shoes
(www.belfastflyingshoes.org<http://www.belfastflyingshoes.org>) in Maine.
1. What is the timing of the different parts of the dance(s)
6:30-7:30 Community dance, with open All-Comers Band (For Community Dance only
it's $2 adults, $1 kids)
7:30-8:00 Social break
8:00-11ish Contra dance ($10 adults, $8 ages 13-20, $5 kids---price for just
contras is same price as for attending both community dance and contra dance)
2. Is there food/potluck/? involved?
No, except at our annual "birthday" celebration of the series inception. The
last few years, our birthday treats have been a potluck cupcake tower and a
Early on in the series we had a "tasty treat potluck", with savory or sweet
finger foods. This happened between the two dances, as a social break. We
eliminated it for a few reasons, including these: very few folks brought things
to share and the series was subsidizing the food, parents of young children
told us they didn't love the sweets before bedtime, it made a big mess to clean
up before the contras.
3. How does the transition happen between family and contra?
It's fast. (Too fast, one might say.) Usually it's about 20 minutes by the
time we introduce the All-Comers Band and do community dance door prize
drawing. During the transition, contra performers are sound checking, people
are milling about.
The All-Comers Band sets up in the "back" of the hall, which happens to be
nearest the entrance and is opposite the stage where the contra performers set
up. This works well for us because the sound provider can set up for contras
during community dance, contra performers can take their time to set up and
plug in and tune. Then when the community dance ends, the All-Comers Band can
similarly take their time cleaning up, so that there's less stress on either
4. Do younger kids stick around and not dance when contra starts? If so where
are they and what are they doing?
Yes, sometimes with their families (parents, older siblings). They sit down
and watch from the sides. Occasionally younger kids fall asleep at edges of
hall. When there are children who run wild, I appoint myself "chief
grumpykins" and unequivocally remind them that this is a dance and they can
dance or they can enjoy watching the dancers. (Grumpykins comes out during the
break too. I have very low tolerance of running around.)
4b. Do younger kids stick around and dance for contras?
Yes. A handful of very young kids (under 10), varies from month to month. A
strong contingent of under 18 dance at the contras, some of whom come early for
the community dance, especially when bringing friends who are new dancers.
Most of the very young kids only stay for 1-2 of the dances in the contra
portion of the evening.
5. Anyone have a play space for younger kids in the evenings?
6. What do you do in terms of callers/bands for the family and contra portions?
Community dance - All-Comers Band, with stipend for band leadership; House
caller, with stipend for calling. All-Comers Band is open to all ages,
instruments, skill levels; typically 25+ musicians each dance. Last month age
range was 5 - 75, including more than one parent/child/grandparent combo.
All-Comers Band musicians get a $2 discount on the contras plus chocolate, but
otherwise get no remuneration.
Contra dance - Varied bands from Maine and beyond; Varied callers from Maine
and beyond, with house caller leading about half the contras in a year. All
performers paid a per person guarantee, plus potential profit-sharing if there
is money left after expenses.
7. Other things you feel are important details/considerations?
We roll all the admission money into one pile; admission income from both
dances supports the entire two-dance event.
A side-effect of our schedule (very little lag time) is this: when folks who
aren't part of the community dance start arriving for the contras, the hall is
already full of people. It feels like a happening thing from the get-go, even
if most of those people end up leaving by the time folks are inviting partners
for the second dance in the contra portion. This is buoying for all concerned.
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