Hi All and especially Alex, Jonathan, Dela, Carol and John,
Thanks for the comments and apologies for not writing back sooner regarding
your comments on my initial post. Too many balls in the air here right now!
I've followed up various parts below.
Carol - I've included the 'old' and 'new' emails below. They're actually
pretty close in content. I think the big difference is that the 'new'
email comes from my personal email account (a real human!) and looks like a
personal email rather than a 'form' welcome from mailchimp.
Alex and John - awesome re your collecting new people's email addresses
right at the front door when they arrive. Can I ask...
1. How many new folks do you have coming to your dances each time?
2. What's the percentage of folks who seem uncomfortable (or don't) provide
their email addresses.
3. Alex - is it a requirement of getting the second dance free card that
they provide their email address? How is that framed? (I'm not 100%
positive but I think there are rules in Canada that prevent us for
requiring addresses in lieu of a discount of sorts)
Jonathan - way high tech re having a tablet right at the dance! Wow!
Interesting stats over our last 10yrs of tracking 2nd dance free card
returns... on any given year, we get about 22%-40% of cards handed out
back. Seems pretty good but if all those folks became regulars we'd be
overrun with dancers so we have more work to do on the 'after your second
time' part. :)
Delia - sounds like a really neat strategy. Unfortunately in Canada, our
anti-spam legislation doesn't allow us to approach folks as an
organization. But maybe we should be harnessing our regular dancers by
creating an email invite that they can send out!
Thanks for all this brainstorming. I really appreciate it as we tweak
things further here in Ottawa!
> Hi Barbara,
> Thanks so much for joining us at the contra dance this past Saturday. We
> hope you had a great time!
> If you would like to share what you especially liked or didn't about your
> experience, we always love hearing from new folks as we try to make the
> dances as accessible and fun for new people as possible. (If we don't hear
> feedback, we won't know what to work on!)
> You provided your email and checked off that you'd like to be added the
> main contra dance email list so I'll add you now. We send out one email
> a week so just watch for those.
> And here are few links in the meantime:
> Our fun facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ottawacontra/
> Our website: http://www.ottawacontra.ca/view/default.asp?home
> I've also attached our beginners handout.
> Our next dance is the last of this season.... it happens June 16th. We
> start back up in early September for 2018-2019.
> Welcome to Ottawa Contra and I hope you'll join us on the dance floor
> again soon!
> :) Emily
> Emily Addison
> President - Ottawa Contra/Old Sod Folk Music Society
> OLD through MAIL CHIMP =========================
*Welcome to the Ottawa Contra Dance email list!*
Thank you for joining us at one of our recent dances, we hope you had a
At your request, we have added you to our e-mail list. We aim to send out
just one message a week about upcoming contra dances and related events.
*For more information on Ottawa Contra Dances you can..*.
- Check out our website: www.ottawacontra.ca
- Join our facebook group --- a great place to connect with other local
- Follow us on twitter: https://twitter.com/ottawacontra
If you are totally new to contra dance, a special welcome. While occasional
dancers catch on immediately, some dancers take a little while to feel the
groove and meet folks. We are a super welcoming group and all of us started
from the beginning at one point so we know what it's like! We have created
a special guide to help answer common questions you may have, you can pick
up a printed copy at the dance, or download our "New to Contra Dancing?"
If you think you may have missed our most recent message and want to look
back, check out the list archive
If you have any questions or comments, you can email us at
We hope you'll join us again on the dance floor soon.
The Old Sod Ottawa Contra organizing committee.
I'd like to hear about different people's approaches to booking bands and callers for a dance series. For example:
* Do you ask a bunch of bands and callers at once for their availability dates and then try to fill in the schedule based on the combined responses, or do you contact folks sequentially on an "if you're available for date X, you've got it" basis?
* How far in advance to you seek to book your talent? Does it vary for different people (callers vs. bands; locals vs. out-of-towners; top-tier locals vs. others; musicians who don't want to commit too far in advance because they might get offered a wedding gig; ...)?
* What if a band or caller asks you about some date and you were planning to ask someone else that you'd prefer but might not be able to get? or if you ask about availability of band X and your band contact comes back with something like "No can do, but what about (lower cachet) band Y?" or "... what about most of band X with substitute fiddler TBD?"?
* Have you found ways to mix different approaches to booking so as to get "the best of both worlds" instead of the worst?
* Are there other questions you think I should have asked and, if so, what are your aswers to them?
It would be easy to go on at length about the *potential* plusses and minuses of various ways of doing bookings. What I'd prefer is to hear about *ideas that have worked well in practice* for other organizers.
I wanted to report on a new engagement strategy that we've been using in
Ottawa these past two months which seems to be working really well and I'm
excited about! It's sending a personal email to new people as we add to
our email list. (Full disclosure - this is an idea that Alex DL from
Country Dance New York mentioned at the dance organizers discussion at the
Dance Flurry in 2017. I loved the idea at the time but it took a while to
Before I get onto the idea and implemention ---> a question for the group!
Has anyone had success getting email addresses of most BRAND new people who
show up at their dance? Right now, we get new dancer email addresses in
1. They sign up on our email sign up sheet at the front table.
2. They put their email address on the second dance free card AND check off
the box saying 'add me to your email list'. (So they actually have to have
come back a second time and hand in the filled-in card for us to get their
... ... ... I'd love to be able to figure out a way to collect the email
addresses of more FIRST TIMERS without it seeming creepy.
Anyway... here's what I wanted to share on adding new people to our email
WHAT WE DID BEFORE:
We would collect email addresses through one of two ways (see above). We
would then go into mailchimp and add those email addresses. The new person
would get a form welcome email from us (carefully worded but in mailchimp
format). They would have to hit 'confirm' before being added to our email
WHAT WE DO NOW:
I send them a personal email from my personal account (which looks very
different than a mailchimp message). I then go into mailchimp and add them
but check off that I already have permission to add them to the list. (I
also keep a photo record of them giving us permission)
WHAT WE ARE NOTICING:
- More email addresses are being added because people don't have to do
the confirmation stage. (Yes... we do have to keep proof of permission to
meet with Canadian email spam laws but the pick up is well worth it).
- We are getting a fair number of emails BACK from new dancers with
encouraging messages. They express how much fun they are having, offer
suggestions and even say they want to volunteer. For instance, I added
about 14 people last week and I got 6 responses back, two of whom offered
I've included the responses we got last week as inspiration for y'all. It
is work to send the personal message and to respond but it's also exciting
and is part of building that sense of belonging for those new folks from
I've also included a copy of the "personal email" I've been sending out.
Would love thoughts or suggestions!!!
in Ottawa, ON
Hi, we love to take part in your dances. It's a very fun way to exercise
and a great cardio workout. People are so friendly and supportive. The only
thing that I would suggest is adding a few more fans on the floor (or
walls?) Otherwise, everything else is great. Will be back for sure.
Hi, Yes, I did have a great time both times I went. Everyone was so
welcoming and I enjoyed the live band and the dancing was great. I have no
suggestions re improvements as I felt included in all the dances, even
though I was just learning. Have to miss the June 16th dance as I will be
in Victoria but plan on enjoying Contra
Dancing when it starts up again in the Fall.
Thanks for getting in touch. Appreciate the opportunity to provide input.
I love how friendly everyone is, how accepting and willing to teach.
Everyone has made me feel very welcome, I've been to 3 dances now and will
definitely be back. I should have listened to Jane sooner and gone out
when she first suggested it to me.
If you need another volunteer anytime, let me know, I'm more then willing
to help out.
Thank you for your warm welcome!
Unfortunately we will be out of town on the weekend of June 16th, but we
will look forward to the next season.
We have nothing but positive things to say – even though we were new to
contra, we felt confident after the excellent instructions plus we enjoyed
the happy friendly smiles from everyone, and loved the live music.
See you in September.
Thanks for all you do to make and keep contra fun.
I love how welcoming people are, the mix of ages and “types” of characters,
the non stop smiling.
Having zero dance or memorization experience, I would love if the calling
continued for the entire dance. Maybe for the first half of each event. Or
even if it tapered off starting with the whole first song being called and
then one round fewer each song, for example.
My fervent wish is to become very comfortable with contra Eventually and to
make it as absolute often as I can — and to stay the whole event. (Right
now I can only tolerate up to half of an event.)
I would be happy to volunteer either with set up or publicity committee etc
next season. Let me know how I can help.
See you June 16,
Thanks so much for joining us at the contra dance this past Saturday. We
hope you had a great time!
If you would like to share what you especially liked or didn't about your
experience, we always love hearing from new folks as we try to make the
dances as accessible and fun for new people as possible. (If we don't hear
feedback, we won't know what to work on!)
You provided your email and checked off that you'd like to be added the main
contra dance email list so I'll add you now. We send out one email a week
so just watch for those.
And here are few links in the meantime:
Our fun facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ottawacontra/
Our website: http://www.ottawacontra.ca/view/default.asp?home
I've also attached our beginners handout.
Our next dance is the last of this season.... it happens June 16th. We
start back up in early September for 2018-2019.
Welcome to Ottawa Contra and I hope you'll join us on the dance floor again