Please arrive early enough so that you can begin the sound check at 6:30 (or earlier if you anticipate a long sound setup.) The caller-led workshop is at 7:00, dance starts at 7:30. The dance ends at 10:00pm sharp. Please cater your program to the crowd, in terms of difficulty and dance type, to the shorter-than-most evening and to the often crowded hall. We need to keep a W-9 form on file for all performers. Please do not enter or exit the building using the doors on the Dayton side unless you have particularly difficult equipment/instruments to load via the stairs to the parking lot.

Place and time

The dance is in the Community Hall of the Phinney Neighborhood Center. The center's address is 6532 Phinney Avenue North in Seattle, but the Community Hall is actually off of Dayton Avenue, one block east. It's the brick building off the lower parking lot, and at the bottom of the stairwell. Click here for a map and directions.

The sound check begins at 6:30, so please arrive early enough so that you can set up and tune up prior to the sound check. Our sound person often arrives early, so if you have complex sound needs, please arrive early to allow for sound check to end by 7:00. It's very difficult for the caller to be heard in our hall over the sound check. There is a beginner's workshop at 7:00, which the caller leads, and often asks the band to play for. The dance runs from 7:30-10:00 with a brief break.

Sound and piano

We have a full sound system with two main speakers, two monitor speakers, three direct boxes, mixer, eq, a variety of mics, etc. You shouldn't need to supply anything, though if you want to bring your own direct box, mic, etc. that's fine. We have one music stand. We have a rotating schedule of sound people, so if you need to talk to the sound person, please ask us for the contact info of your sound person in advance. There is an acoustic piano (upright) on the stage. We keep the piano in good working condition and have it tuned once or twice annually as necessary.

What to expect

We typically get between 100 and 130 dancers, though we sometimes get more, and occasionally get fewer. The beginners workshop typically has between 4 and 15 people, and beginners often show up after the workshop. Most of the regular dancers are fairly competent, so you can use some more difficult material. However, on any given night, the number of beginners or less advanced dancers may be significant, so be prepared to back off to a simpler program, if necessary. On the other hand, our regulars are very good at integrating new dancers, so don't be alarmed even if we have a large batch of beginners arrive after the workshop.

Admission is $8, with various discounts: seniors and sponsoring org. members at $7 and students at $5. First-time dancers get a coupon to attend a subsequent dance for free. Rent is $1.50/head for more than 75 people with a minimum rent of $112.50 and our expenses (insurance, etc.) run about $40 per evening. We split the gate as follows: one cut to the caller, one cut to the sound person and up to four cuts to the band (depending on size.) This usually comes out to about $1/head for a 3 person band as long as we get more than 75 people. We may deviate slightly from this formula in the case of very large bands, traveling bands and/or callers, etc. but it should give an idea of what to expect. We make no pay guarantees.

What we expect

In order to maintain our non-profit status, we will provide a W-9 form and we require that all performers complete it. For international performers, the equivalent form is the W-8. Due to increased scrutiny by the IRS, we will collect updated forms from all performers throughout 2015. This form has no information besides your name, address and SSN. You only need to fill one out once, no matter how frequently you play for us. If your address changes, we need an updated form. If you already have updated this form with Seattle Folklore Society (SFS) for 2015, we don't need another form. We will not report any income unless the total income you receive from the SFS (including ECCD) in a single year is more than $600. Otherwise, the form just sits in a filing cabinet collecting dust. The Seattle Folklore Society privacy policy states that we won't share the information on this form with anyone except to report income in the situation described above. We need to be firm about this requirement - if you want to get paid, you need to complete a W-9 or W-8. We will provide these forms, but if you want to fill it out yourself, you can find it at W-9 (instructions.) International performers should use the W-8 and instructions.

In order to maintain a good relationship with our neighbors and with the hall, and to be good neighbors, we must stop the dance at 10:00pm sharp. Furthermore, we must minimize use of the doors at the bottom of the stairs that lead out to Dayton Avenue. Unless you have unwieldy instruments or equipment, please load and unload via the doors up the stairs and out to the parking lot. Please refrain from playing music outside the hall after 10 pm.

For bands

If you've never filled out a gig request form, or if your information has changed since the last time you did, please fill one out now, even if we've already confirmed your booking. This is the best way to communicate sound needs, publicity info, emergency contact info, etc.

Please check that we have your personnel correct on our band members list and let us know if we need to make any changes.

Even better, the blurb we use for our publicity will be much more effective if you write it. You know yourselves better than we know you. Please send us a short description of your band.

Timing of the evening

Our sound person is usually at the hall by 6 or 6:15pm. If you have a complex setup, you can make an arrangement to arrive earlier. Please arrive no later than 6:30, and in time to finish your sound check by 7pm.

Waltzes and other couple dances

We typically have a waltz at the end of the first and second sets. Given the short evening, we don't recommend a hambo, schottische or other couple dance after the break. (Many of our dancers don't know those forms anyway.) However, it's up to the caller and band.

For callers

99% of your task is making sure that people are dancing and having fun. The remaining 1% consists of some announcements that we'd like made over the course of the evening. The only people making announcements should be the caller or us. If other people have announcements to make, they should ask the caller or us to make them. Please make one or two announcements between each dance, rather than all of them at one time. We want the dancers to dance, rather than standing around for 5 minutes of announcements. Again, the announcements are minor compared to ensuring that people enjoy themselves.

Because of our agreement with the hall, we must end the dance promptly at 10:00. Please watch the time at the end of the evening and leave enough room for a last waltz that ends at 10 O'clock sharp.

Crowded conditions

While we make no guarantees about attendance, we sometimes have a packed house. Please be prepared to call compact dances. Moves such as down the hall can be particularly unsuccessful. If you've programmed dances requiring a lot of space, be aware that you may need to adjust your program and/or your teaching.

The Phinney "Ridge"

The floor has some interesting topography. There's a slight ridge running lengthwise about halfway down the hall. This means that there's sometimes a large gap between couples at that point, while the top and (especially the) bottom of the sets are squashed. You may want to encourage the dancers to rectify this during moves such as long lines.

The anti-center-set syndrome

Our hall is just barely wide enough for three lines, but not comfortably so. As a result, we have the opposite of the "center line" phenomenon common at some other dances. The center line is shorter, and crowded by the two outer lines. The outer lines widen out just beyond the end of the center line and this can sometimes cause "turbulence" and lead to confusion. Because of this, some of our regulars prefer not to dance in the center set, so the shortness of the line and turbulence are compounded by a higher percentage of new dancers.

Short evening

Note that our dance is somewhat shorter than a typical contra dance and we have a strict end time. This sometimes catches callers by surprise. You can probably call about 1-2 fewer dances than at a typical 3 hour dance. We also recommend running individual dances shorter than you might otherwise. Given the short evening, we don't recommend a hambo, schottische or other couple dance after the break. However, it's up to the caller and band. We typically have a waltz at the end of the first and second sets.


We don't have hard and fast rules about programming, but our dancers generally prefer contras to squares, mixers, English country, etc. As we've grown we've found that on a busy evening only about 2/3 of the crowd can fit on the floor for a square dance, leaving many dancers forced to sit out. We ask that you restrict yourself to one or two non-contra dances in an evening, and not to call back-to-back squares.


Our dancers are sometimes quite talkative and inattentive of the caller, particularly for hands 4. Some callers take offense at this, but we consider it a sign of a healthy, social dance. However you choose to handle this, be forewarned.

Give back to the community

We are blessed with a large group of young (or young at heart), enthusiastic and pretty skillful new callers. We encourage this by giving them guest spots and split evenings as often as possible. Please let us know if you'd be willing to have another caller do a guest spot or split an evening. If you split the evening, we will do some sort of pay split as well.
Webmaster: Matt Fisher (
Last modified 01/27/15.