I like your idea, Emily. Deerfield, NH has been struggling with attendance
as well, so this kind of approach, even though we haven't tried it before,
might be something that would bring new people to contra dancing. I am sure
that the town Parks & Recreation Department would be happy to put it on
their calendar.

Paul Pindris

On Sat, Apr 21, 2018 at 12:22 PM, Emily Addison via Organizers <
organizers@lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:

> Hi Folks,
> Here in Ottawa, we're brainstorming new ideas for attracting brand new
> people AND keeping more of those folks. We get about 15 new people each
> dance and we think we're already doing lots to support them (2nd dance free
> cards, smiley stickers to ID so regular dancers even more supportive than
> usual, etc)... ... still we don't retain as many of those folks as we'd
> like.  AND since we still haven't fully bounced back from a surprise drop
> in attendance September 2016, we're trying to get creative.
> One idea we'd like to try next year is a mini beginners course.
> Has anyone done this before?  Any stories of successes?  Tips of things to
> avoid? Course content? Advertising? etc????
> Here's are a few initial thoughts that have been rolling around our heads:
>    - Partner with the city - have it as part of their course offerings.
>    (Or as part of a rec association)
>    - Approx 4-6 weeks long.
>    - Not only about moves but knowing where to be when, transitions,
>    timing, culture, etc.
> Pros/Cons of doing something like this...??? There are many but here are a
> few thoughts:
>    - Pro: Despite our community being super welcome (at least we think
>    so), some people are just TOOOOO scared to try something so new/different
>    in a big social setting.  This could address those people who have been too
>    scared to come out.
>    - Pro: Some brand new people are ok with the steep learning curve.
>    Others find the intensity of learning so much so fast 'too much'.  We could
>    let brand new people know that this is an alternative to learning the 
> ropes.
>    - Pro: Many adults look for new activities through things like
>    mini-courses (e.g., learn how to dance!).  We'd be finding a new pocket of
>    folks.
>    - Con: Don't want potential beginners OR regulars feel that beginners
>    need to take a course before they are welcome. (e.g., like MW where have to
>    take a course before welcome at certain dances.. .... this might encourage
>    some experienced dancers who are focused on skill-level to push beginners
>    to 'dance better')
>    - Con: Having a room full of beginners would remove all the supportive
>    help that experienced dancers can provide. (Solution -- have a few
>    volunteer experienced folks come to the course)
> Another thing we're working on is having our monthly community talent
> dances be more beginner focused so that should be neat... ... but a little
> different than a condensed weekly course.
> Thanks!
> Emily
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