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, and the 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 coordinate with them and arrive early enough to finish the check by 7:00. It is very difficult for the caller to be heard in our hall over the sound check. The caller leads a beginner’s workshop at 7:00, and they often ask the band to play for part of the workshop. The dance runs from 7:30-10:00 with a brief break.
Sound and piano
We have a full sound system with four main speakers, two monitor speakers, direct boxes, mixer, eq, a variety of microphones, etc. You don’t need to supply anything; although if you want to bring your own direct box, microphone, etc. that’s fine. We have a few music stands. 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 a relatively new acoustic piano (upright) on the stage. We keep the piano in good working condition and have it tuned twice a year.
What to expect (mostly re: pay)
Admission is $10-$20 sliding scale, with students at $5. First-time dancers get a coupon to attend a subsequent dance for free. Rent is $150 week and our expenses (insurance, etc.) run about $25 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 the size of the band). We make no pay guarantees. Pay is provided in check form.
What we expect
In order to be good neighbors and to maintain a good relationship with the hall, we must stop the dance at 10:00pm sharp. Also, do not play music outside the hall after 10 pm.
Lastly, the Phinney Neighborhood Center does not permit alcohol consumption at the dance. No exceptions. If you won’t follow this rule, we won’t pay you.
We’re happy to provide lodging with the organizers or other members of the community. Please let us know your needs, including pet allergies, well in advance so we can make arrangements. Many of the accommodations that we can arrange require that guests use no fragrances, including clothing.
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 pm. If you have a complex setup, you can make an arrangement to arrive earlier. We suggest that you arrive around 6:15 to set up and tune up. Your sound check runs from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm.
Waltzes and other couple dances
We typically have a waltz at the end of the first and second sets. 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 the band.
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 (you) or the organizer (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.
New for 2022
Since many of our returning dancers haven’t danced consistently in a while, we recommend running individual dances shorter than you might otherwise. 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.
Gender free terminology
Our dance uses the terms “larks” and “robins”.
Choreography to fit the hall
The hall is relatively small. Some moves can be particularly unsuccessful, such as down the hall (lines go all the way to the bottom) and star promenade (crash in the middle) . 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 floor has some interesting topography. Sometimes a large gap appears in the lines. Encourage the dancers to rectify this during moves such as long lines.
We post the callers’ set lists online, if you want to see what’s been called in the past and avoid a dance that was just called last week, go to set lists. We have a notebook to record your set list. Please take a minute at the end of the evening to list the dances you called – just names and authors (if you have them), not the choreography.
We don’t have hard and fast rules about programming, but our dancers prefer contras. Limit yourself to one non-contra dance in an evening. 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.
Prior to 2020, the beginners workshop typically had between 5 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 if a large number of beginners arrive after the workshop.
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.