Both Montreal and Ottawa have seen lower attendance this fall and we
got word that it's similar in Brooklyn. Are any other local dances seeing
this too? Any idea what might be causing this? Since it happens to both
Canadian and American cities I doubt it's the political climate.
For the last three years, one of our older dancers has been declining with dementia--and her husband, not a good dancer himself, continues to bring her to our dances. Invariably, they create chaos on the dance floor.
Most people on the board of my dance organization feel it's important to continue to include these dancers until such time that the husband decides it's time for them to stop coming. On the other hand, I'm concerned with the effect that they're having on other dancers. I've heard at least one dancer say that she considered not coming to a dance when she saw that this couple was there--and certainly this couple's presence is diminishing the dance experience of many of the dancers who've come to our events for the high level of dancing that we were able to deliver in the past.
Has anyone else wrestled with this sort of problem? If yes, what did you do (or not do) about it?
Hi Dana ,
In the SF Bay Area, we use a sign-in sheet for liability purposes (I’m told) and dancers can self check “member, non-member, or student” and pay that rate. $12 non-member, $10 member, $6 student. However we also have $20+ “supporter” and “pay as you can” and negotiable family rate (at my dance we ask adults to pay and offer any amount for kids).
I can send you a copy of that sign in sheet if that’s helpful.
Another dance in our area uses a simple tally sheet for $5 youth, $10 others, $ pay as you can.
I also put out a talent tip jar, since our rent is based on 40% of the door take, and our talent is underpaid at our dance compared to other dances in the area.
I’ve found that most people pay the asked price, $10-12, and a couple pay extra or donate to talent and a couple pay less.
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2017 19:04:17 -0400
From: Don Veino <sharedweight_net(a)veino.com>
To: Shared Weight Organizers <organizers(a)sharedweight.net>
Subject: Re: [Organizers] record-keeping for sliding scale admission?
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
Like Heitzso reported, I've successfully used a tally sheet broken into
range values to manage statistics on a sliding scale admission scheme in
the past (hint: make the most common expected price band amounts have the
larger tally area). I've moved on from that since.
For my weekly dance I didn't want to administer the complication of a true
sliding scale, yet wanted to try a similar concept to see how our community
might engage with our revenue issues. As a result we've gone to a "You Pick
A Price" scheme, described here: http://mondaycontras.
This has worked out extremely well, with self-selected admission payments
greatly skewed towards mid and higher amounts. Very few pay the least
stated amount or lower and several give us additional donations on top. The
net effect is we have been able to pay each of our performers something on
the order of $10-20 or more on average vs. our prior standard admission
scheme (while still enabling financially challenged folks to participate if
they can't volunteer).
I set up a cheap Android tablet with the Square POS (Point of Sale) app on
it to manage the admissions scheme. After a short initial training period
our door sitter volunteers have come to praise it and can process
in dancers quite quickly. You can see our "process manual" here:
http://mondaycontras.com/pages/volunteering/door-sitting-process.php . The
Square app itself is free and cash transactions incur no charge - credit
card transactions do pay a fee (we only offer cash sales publicly). The
reporting is quite good and you can manage cash drawers and see sales
reports by item.
Should you decide to go with Square and find the information I've supplied
to be helpful, I'd appreciate you signing up via one of the referral links
from the groups I'm working with (you and the selected group will each get
free credit card processing for 180 days/first $1000 of sales as a result):
Concord Scout House, Inc. https://squareup.com/i/SCOUTHOUSE (preferred,
greater use of credit cards)
Monday Contras Dance Committee https://squareup.com/i/MONCONTRAS
*Note: you must sign up by clicking on one of these links to obtain the
credit*. There is no way to gain the credit if you sign up in their
standard way starting at their regular web site or via the link included in
a retail reader package. They are very firm on this.
You do need at least Square's basic mag stripe reader to set up the app for
the first time. However, they will send one for free upon request after
sign up or will rebate $10 to cover a retail purchase (units available at
Please give me a shout with any questions,
On Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 8:12 PM, Dana Dwinell-Yardley via Organizers <
> Hi all,
> Our dance in Montpelier is considering several models of raising
> admission, including going to a sliding scale admission instead of a fixed
> If your dance does sliding scale, how do you keep good records on
> attendance? We would ideally like to track how many people paid what dollar
> amounts, as well as a total attendance figure and average payment.
> Also, does anyone do a tiered payment system ($8 low income, $10 regular,
> $12 dance supporter, or something like that)?
> If you used to charge a flat rate and now do sliding scale, has your
> average admission gone up or down?
> Thanks for helping us make a good decision! Our committee is meeting again
> on Oct 29, so having responses by then would be very helpful.
> Dana Dwinell-Yardley
> graphic design & layout
> Montpelier, Vermont
> 802-505-6639 <(802)%20505-6639>
> Organizers mailing list
Our dance in Montpelier is considering several models of raising admission,
including going to a sliding scale admission instead of a fixed fee.
If your dance does sliding scale, how do you keep good records on
attendance? We would ideally like to track how many people paid what dollar
amounts, as well as a total attendance figure and average payment.
Also, does anyone do a tiered payment system ($8 low income, $10 regular,
$12 dance supporter, or something like that)?
If you used to charge a flat rate and now do sliding scale, has your
average admission gone up or down?
Thanks for helping us make a good decision! Our committee is meeting again
on Oct 29, so having responses by then would be very helpful.
graphic design & layout
Paul and all,
I’m curious what the child age ranges are for the family & community dances? It sounds like they are young? So then all the middle school kids and older go to regular contras?
I’m hoping to start a dance in SF bay area in CA, but not sure if it should be a family dance series, an old time square dance series, or?
Thanks Emily for getting this conversation going
SF Bay Area
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2017 23:47:18 -0400
From: Paul Rosenberg <paul(a)homespun.biz>
To: Emily Addison <emilyladdison(a)gmail.com>
Cc: organizers shared weight <organizers(a)lists.sharedweight.net>
Subject: Re: [Organizers] follow up to family dance questions :)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
I?m curious: what were the two dances that DeLaura led at Ogontz?
My series has been going since 1994. Generally it?s monthly from November through April. I am the regular caller.
In the early years, I was inspired by seeing Peter Amidon and Andy Davis leading family dances, and I used a lot of their repertoire:
Chimes of Dunkirk
Bridge of Athlone
Sweets of May
Old King Glory
Brandy Rump Bump
Head and shoulders
Down in the Valley
Little Johnny Brown
Step it Down
Chee Chee Cha
Heel & Toe Polka
As the years went on, I learned more and more fun unique dances. Another factor in my repertoire change was my change in attitude. I became disenchanted with the evolution of the contra scene, with dance evenings becoming monotone. Contras only. No more circle mixers or squares. No more chestnut contras. Very few easy contras. Choreography that is ?unforgiving?. So I quit calling at contra series and for the last ten years or so, all of my dances are family and community dances.
I find that lots of contra callers seem to want to groom the children to become contra dancers, and their choice of dances at the family dances are generally just simple contras.
My goal is to provide a fun, exciting repertoire of dances appropriate for young children. Some may be a bit like contras, and some dances are totally different
We have several dances that children request at most of the family dances:
Hoe Ana (Polynesian sit-down canoeing dance I learned from Sanna Longden)
Old Dan Tucker (longways dance I learned from a PE teacher)
Any dance with a ?Peel the Banana? figure, like Virginia Reel, Sweets of May, or Bridge of Athlone
Funga Alafia (West African dance)
Other dances the children love, but don?t request necessarily:
Zemer Atik (Israeli dance)
Looking for a Friend aka Hang Peng You (Chinese)
7 Jumps (Danish, learned from Marian Rose and many other sources)
Mi Cuerpo Hace Musica (Puerto Rican)
Dance du Castor (Quebecois)
Baanopstekker (Dutch dance)
Can?t Jump Josie (American singing game)
Clap Your Hands (American)
Buffalo Gals (Square)
Chay Chat Koolay (West African)
Yan Petit (Catalonian)
Le Bus (Quebecois)
Damat Halayi (Turkish)
Penguin Dance (I forgot where I got this)
Marching Through Georgia (Square)
> On Oct 17, 2017, at 1:37 PM, Emily Addison via Organizers <organizers(a)lists.sharedweight.net> wrote:
> Hi Paul, Perry, Jeff, Chrissy, and David, AND others too!
> Thanks so much for all the feedback. :) I wasn't online for about four days so I've just been catching up and am learning SOOO much!
> I'm going to follow up with a few of you regarding some additional questions that your posts peaked.
> I'm curious though about PROGRAMMING for FAMILY DANCES.
> This is something that Jeff and David both brought up... the idea of perennial favourites and consistency.
> I'm wondering if there are specific dances that your family dance series LOVES or goes over really well. For instance, I remember two that DeLaura Padovan did at the Ogontz family week that kids just went crazy for. And they clearly had done them previous years... everyone was SOOO into them.
> I hadn't thought about the idea of consistency and kids being able to ask for dances they really liked etc until Jeff and David raised these ideas.
> Having a repertoire of some super awesome crowd pleasers would be great.
> Organizers mailing list
Hi Paul, Perry, Jeff, Chrissy, and David, AND others too!
Thanks so much for all the feedback. :) I wasn't online for about four
days so I've just been catching up and am learning SOOO much!
I'm going to follow up with a few of you regarding some additional
questions that your posts peaked.
I'm curious though about PROGRAMMING for FAMILY DANCES.
This is something that Jeff and David both brought up... the idea of
perennial favourites and consistency.
I'm wondering if there are specific dances that your family dance series
LOVES or goes over really well. For instance, I remember two that DeLaura
Padovan did at the Ogontz family week that kids just went crazy for. And
they clearly had done them previous years... everyone was SOOO into them.
I hadn't thought about the idea of consistency and kids being able to ask
for dances they really liked etc until Jeff and David raised these ideas.
Having a repertoire of some super awesome crowd pleasers would be great.
I am wondering whether most dance series have liability insurance - particularly small ones.
Insurance for a dance series from CDSS costs $450, $550, … depending on the number of dances plus $85 membership fee every year. I suspect other sources would be more expensive. For a small dance with few financial reserves, the extra fees each year could easily drive it to extinction.
I know that sone venues require that the group has insurance, but not all do.
What is the risk of not having it? Any recent incidents in the past few years?
I’d think possible suits could be from dancers or musicians/callers who got injured or thought they were treated badly, venues where there was damage to the site.
What about ASCAP copy infringement suits? Have there been any of these?
Greetings from Minneapolis/St. Paul!
We are in our fourth year of a once-a-month family dance immediately
preceding the regular Saturday evening contra. We run 6:30pm - 8:00 pm with
a break for a snack in the middle. The contra dance runs 8:00pm - 11:00pm.
We charge $10/family of any size (and any definition), plus we tell family
dancers that they are welcome to come to the first hour of the contra for
free. That's plenty late enough for most families with small kids. Most
families that stay just watch, but some kids do try it out.
We have a somewhat unusual arrangement because we have two dance halls, a
small one and a larger one. We run the family dance in the smaller hall,
meaning that we can run right up to the start of the contra without
interfering with sound setup, teaching session, etc. A lot of
early-arriving contra dancers will stop to watch the family dance on their
way in. Having the two spaces also means that we can have kids with extra
energy to burn racing around in the small hall while the contra is starting
in the big hall.
We have a separate band/caller for the family dance and the main dance. We
run the family dance on a shoestring budget -- everyone who calls or plays
knows they'll probably get gas money and that's it. So far, we've been able
to find callers and musicians willing to do it primarily for the fun and
We've found that we have almost no 'core' family dancers who are there
every time. But we have several families that come 4-5 times a year. (We
gave up on June-July-August dances this year, so we're doing 9 per year.)
As with contra, word-of-mouth is the most important way we've gotten folks
in the door. We did get some people through an interview my daughter and I
did on a local bluegrass radio show -- you can find it at
http://tapestryfolkdance.org/programs/family-folkdance/ (click play next to
"family dance on the radio").
One thing you didn't ask about that I think has been important is the
continuity of programming. Our three regular callers have an overlapping
repertoire of dances, so kids will usually see some of the same dances that
they did the last time. And kids that come frequently begin to know dances
and can request specific ones. My daughter has called dances occasionally
since we started (she's 12 now), and hopefully we'll get one or two other
kids up to calling a particular favorite dance themselves.
Another important point you didn't mention is safety. No dancing with small
kids on dad's shoulders. No whirling kids round and round with feet off the
ground. No kids wandering off by themselves to explore other parts of the
building. NEVER have a situation where a kid is alone with an adult that is
not a parent or other caregiver. And make sure that there are ingredients
available for all food provided so that parents can check for allergy
issues or other dietary restrictions.
That's what we have going on here. It's working pretty well, except that we
need some new blood on the organizing committee so that people can step
aside before they burn out. But that's a common need for all sorts of
community projects, isn't it?
Hope folks are having a good fall!
I'm writing about a question regarding family dances and linking them more
Here in Ottawa, we have four family dances a year... 3-530pm with a potluck
after. They're always on the same day as an evening contra which starts at
730pm with a beginner lesson, dance from 8-10pm. There's not much overlap
in audiences and we'd like to have some of the families with the younger
and middle aged kids, naturally flow into the contra dances while
maintaining our awesome contra dance vibe (not feel overly family dance).
We're looking to learn from others on how they might have a better link
between the two.
I know Belfast does a great job and Syracuse also has Family dances rolling
If you do this, might you be willing to share some info?
Things I'm wondering about include...
1. What is the timing of the different parts of the dance(s)
2. Is there food/potluck/? involved?
3. How does the transition happen between family and contra?
4. Do younger kids stick around and not dance when contra starts? If so
where are they and what are they doing?
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
7. Other things you feel are important details/considerations?
Maybe you have a totally different model...
With much thanks!