Date: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:41:25 am
To: "Caller's discussion list" <callers(a)sharedweight.net>
From: "Greg McKenzie" <grekenzie(a)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Callers] Recruiting new dancers
Thank You Richard for this topic.
You did a great job of describing the situation. Word of mouth is key. All
of the other methods of "getting the word out" are ancillary at best and
should be regarded as serving to support the word of mouth effort. Flyers,
for example, are there to remind folks of what they heard from someone else
and substantiate the reference they have heard. This is one reason I think
flyers should be limited to only the vital information needed to
participate. Flyers work better when they do *not *attempt to persuade
anyone or tell them *why *they should attend. In a similar vein flyers
should also not attempt to describe or define the dance. Assume that the
reader has already heard about the dance from a friend or an acquaintance.
Using some reverse psychology is important. If the reader thinks the flyer
is "begging" for new participants it can be a turn off. In this respect
small dances might consider setting an exclusive tone in the sense that it
is a "best kept secret" rather than a poorly attended dance. I have seen
this work for small dances in our area. When dancers "discover" a small
dance and view it as a private secret other dancers become very interested.
Some dancers will keep the secret for fear that lots of new people will
destroy the "charm" of the small dance. This also works for newcomers.
You are absolutely correct about the role of young people. Here in Santa
Cruz, CA the area dance society has welcomed young people to become key
players in the dance community. Several are on the Board of Directors,
several are musicians at dances, and at least one is a caller.
I don't, by the way, view this process as one of "recruiting" new dancers.
I view it as a way of opening the dance events to the wider community. That
is a different perspective. If we view the dance as a community social
event the goal shifts from one of attempting to convert newcomers into dance
enthusiasts to one of simply opening the dance to a more diverse and
interesting community of participants. An effort to "convert" people or
"get them hooked" requires too much energy and is not consistent with the
explicit message that "all are welcome" and "no experience is
- Greg McKenzie
On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 8:21 PM, Richard Hart <rich(a)harts.mv.com> wrote:
While looking through old email messages, I found your query about new
dancers and the thread of responses. I'd never read them until now (think I
was away then), so forgive me my considerable delay in responding. I attend
and call a number of dances in New Hampshire, and a few in Mass. and VT, as
well. Some are fairly small, while others are much larger. Here are a few of
my observations on this subject of attracting new dancers.
1. I have often asked new dancers how they heard about the dance and came
to try it out. At least 95% of the time, the new dancers say that they came
with a friend who recommended it to them. Most of the rest were existing