I was hired for my first dance weekend partially due to serendipity. On the Wednesday
before camp, Lisa Greenleaf, the scheduled caller, contacted the programmer to let him
know that she had laryngitis and possibly other throat ailments, and wouldn't be able
to make it. The programmer called several other "big name" callers on the east
coast trying to get them to fill in at the last minute, to no avail. So then he asked me,
Wednesday while I was at work. This camp was in my home community. It was good that I only
had two days to experience high adrenaline surges (i.e., stressing out) before the camp.
Thanks go to Lisa for getting sick (only kidding), Charlie Fenton for having faith in me,
and the Latter Day Lizards for being so supportive and so much fun to work with.
My next dance weekend invitation came from programmers who happened to be at the first
camp I called. Other weekends I've been hired for since then have mostly come about by
word of mouth. Someone who's heard me call somewhere recommended me when asked.
I've programmed some dance weekends, and recommended other callers for camps. With
that hat on, let me tell you the things I think about when hiring or recommending a caller
for a weekend. First, of course, they need to be a good caller: have all the technical
aspects down, have good judgement and flexibility, and good taste in choosing the dances
they call. Almost equally important is that they're a "good camper". They
make an effort to meet the campers, get to know them, enjoy them, dance with them (when
not calling). They don't just hang out with their friends and/or the other staff all
weekend, and only show up when they have to call. I love callers who can build community
from the stage, whose first priority is to make sure the campers have a great time, not to
be the center of attention. A word George Marshall used once was "transparency".
Qualities of this include being visible when needed to teach the dance clearly and
concisely, calling until
most people have the dance, and then getting out of the way to let the band and the
dancers make their magical connection. No prima donnas please.
My first recommendation would be to call, call, call, and continue to learn and improve
your skills and judgement. I'd also recommend that you attend camps as a camper. And
when there, be a "good camper". Dance with other campers of all experience
levels. Meet people and enjoy them. Volunteer to help with set-up, clean-up. And just be
--- On Mon, 4/20/09, Jack Mitchell <jamitch3(a)mindspring.com> wrote:
From: Jack Mitchell <jamitch3(a)mindspring.com>
Subject: [Callers] First Dance Weekend
To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
Date: Monday, April 20, 2009, 10:03 AM
For those of you who have called for a dance weekend: How did you get
your first weekend gig? Did you go out looking for it? Did a weekend
approach you having heard your calling? Any suggestions? I've gotten
to the point in my calling that calling for a weekend in the next few
years is something that I'd like to set as a goal for myself, but
have a good idea of how to go about it. My current plan has been
booking some multi-gig tours with bands that I work well with to
increase my exposure, but I'd appreciate any thoughts or ideas that
others might have.
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