Tips and advice for putting on a barn dance
There aren't really many hard and fast rules about organising a barn dance other than making sure there's as much room as possible for the dancing but here are a few pointers to help you plan a successful event.
What about space? Ceilidh dancing is vigorous and needs plenty. As a guideline, consider a minimum of 20 x 10 metres clear of obstructions for a gathering of seventy to a hundred people. Tables and chairs may need to be moved away after a meal. If there is no stage, the band needs about 6 x 4 metres in addition, plus four chairs and a small table. We would expect to arrive about one and a half hours before the start.
The band's instruments are mostly acoustic but we do need access to electricity to run the PA system. We don’t need a lot of power – the system can be run from one 13 amp socket but more is always useful. The power outlets should ideally be easily accessible to the stage or area where the band plays to avoid trailing leads. If the venue is a marquee or outdoors, there must be adequate protection from the weather and, particularly, rain or damp to safeguard the electrically operated equipment and the musicians and instruments.
We are happy to provide background music or, if you have any pre-recorded music on CD or MP3 player we can play that through the PA. We will also have microphones available for any speeches or announcements that you may wish to make.
We've done successful barn dances in a very wide range of different venues, from barns and halls of every description to marquees and outdoors on village greens. Provided there is enough space for the number of people attending to dance, we can manage in most types of situations.
Many venues, such as village halls, have a solid, wooden floor, which is the best type of floor for a barn dance. It’s quite possible to dance on carpet, but it’s a bit more difficult to move on. Watch out for floors that are very slippery - some venues have a tiled or polished floor and this can be dodgy when doing the faster dances. Some places offer a segmented “mobile” wooden dance floor, which the management assembles on the day. These can have quite steep metal edges and therefore pose a potential safety hazard. In this case, it’s probably better to dance on carpet than on a floor where people could trip over at the edges. For functions held outdoors or in a marquee, it’s not easy dancing on grass, and concrete can be a bit hard if anyone falls over. If at all possible, make sure a marquee has a solid wooden dance floor area, or a heavy-duty rush coconut matting. Please note - the band needs a floor covering underneath them as well in a marquee or if they are playing outdoors, to avoid damage from damp to musical instruments and equipment.