Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is this right for my group? Nobody knows anything about square dancing.

    This is our most frequently asked question. Square dancing, contra dancing, barn dancing, American folk dancing – call it what you will, it’s for everybody. It’s a way “just plain folks” have had fun for hundreds of years. You don’t need any special skills, or any knowledge of or experience with other types of dance. If you can walk, you can square dance, and we’ll prove it to you in seconds.

  • You mentioned “contra dancing.” What’s that?

    Contra dancing is just like square dancing, but done in long lines of couples (and occasionally in circles). It survived in the Northeast through the twentieth century when it died out nearly everywhere else, and since 1970 it has enjoyed a nationwide revival. We’re proud of our New England heritage, and we always do at least one simple contra dance at our parties.

  • Not everyone has a partner; there are many more women than men. Will this be a problem?

    Not at all! Most of our dances aren’t gender-specific, and some don’t require partners at all. We have dances for singles, couples, trios – even “blobs” of any number. Whatever the age range, boy/girl ratio, couple status, or other personality of your group, we can work with you.

  • How far in advance should we book you?

    We generally book dates 3 to 12 months in advance; Saturday evenings in the spring and fall are usually in the greatest demand. But if you need a caller on short notice, feel free to contact us – there’s always a chance that one of us will be available.

  • How much will it cost?

    A caller with recorded music costs no more than a good DJ. A traditional dance band is surprisingly affordable compared with other types of live music. We work with you to give you the fun, excitement, and “people connection” you’re looking for within your budget.

  • What do we need to provide?

    You provide:

    • The people (get your publicity out early, and make the party sound exciting!)
    • A flat, level dancing space (if you need a space, let us know – we may be able to help)
    • An electrical outlet within 50 feet of our table (with no coffeemakers, etc., on that circuit)

    We provide:

    • A professional quality sound system (including a cordless microphone which you may use for announcements, blessings, toasts, etc.)
    • Live or recorded music (square dance music plus other types of listening and/or dance music to suit your preference)
    • Complete instruction of all dances, tailored to the ability of the group
  • How much space do we need?

    We recommend at least 10 square feet per person – 15 is even better. (For example, a 20 by 30 foot area equals 600 square feet, which would be adequate for 60 people and ideal for 40 people.) But we’ve worked with many group sizes in many different kinds of dancing space. Let us know what you’ve got – we can almost certainly work something out.

  • How many people do we need?

    Almost any number can play. We’ve called for a dozen girls at a 10-year-old’s birthday party, and for 500 people in a city park. Although square dances are done in groups of eight, not all our dances are squares, and not all require people to take partners. We do suggest 12 to 20 people as a minimum (to allow for folks who may want to “sit one out”). Maximum crowd size is limited only by the space available.

  • How long should a square dance last?

    We recommend 1½ to 2 hours of square dancing for most groups. One hour is possible, as a bare-bones introduction to dancing, but it can be frustrating if your group loves it (as most do!) and wants more. Two hours is usually enough for folks who aren’t used to lively dancing.

    Parties often last 3 to 4 hours; we typically play music for slower dancing and background music to fill out the time. But if your group wants more than 2 hours of square dancing, we’re happy to keep calling!

  • What should we wear?

    While square dancing doesn’t have to be strenuous, you will get warm doing it. Comfortable clothing is a must! Wear layers so you can toss them aside if need be. Shoes should be comfortable and fit well; low heels are best, flats are good. No high heels, please!

  • How should we decorate the hall?

    Many folks associate square dancing with the South or the West (particularly Texas), or with a rural atmosphere. In reality, this kind of dancing has been enjoyed all over the U.S.A. and Canada, but if you want to use a cowboy or farmer motif, go right ahead. Themed decorations can be bought ready-made, but it’s more fun to design and make your own – especially if children are involved in planning the party.

    Something more generic is fine too. Crepe paper streamers in bright colors can be hung on the walls and stretched across the room – but keep them well above grabbing level! If the dance is outdoors or in a tent, you can use strings of lights instead of streamers.

  • What about food and drink?

    Have plenty of drinking water available throughout the event, no matter what else you provide. Refreshments can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. They can be available continuously, or saved for an intermission (for large groups of children, we recommend the latter). If you serve dinner, allow a bit of time between the meal and the dancing.

    We will call at an event where alcohol is available, but you should know that it’s not at all necessary for “breaking the ice” – the music and dancing will take care of that. If alcohol is served, we suggest beer and/or wine.

  • What should we tell people in our publicity?

    The most important thing to emphasize is “No experience necessary.” Make sure everyone knows this will be an “audience participation” event, not a team of performing dancers for people to watch. Each and every dance will be instructed. No one needs to know anything about square dancing, or any other kind of dancing – in fact, it’s assumed that no one does. There will be an experienced professional caller, who specializes in – and enjoys – working with groups like yours.

    The second most important thing to tell people is “Wear comfortable clothing and low-heeled shoes.”

  • What else can we do to make our event a success?

    If your event consists mainly of dancing, or dinner and dancing, just leave it to us. We usually find that most people get up and dance, even if you – or they – think they won’t.

    If your event includes several featured activities – such as games, contests, face painting, storytelling, or performances – it’s important to give the participatory dancing its own time and space. The dance area should be in a prominent location, and there shouldn’t be anything major going on to attract people away from the dancing.