Specialist organisers of barn dance bands, ceilidh bands and folk/dance/concert groups throughout the UK

© 2018 Jigs 'n' Reels

Jigs 'n' Reels, 'Homeleigh', Claphill Lane, Rushwick, Worcester WR2 5TP

Call or Text brief enquiry to 0788 788 7917

Ceilidhs/Barn Dances at Wedding Receptions - Do they really work?

God Knows! (OK, let's lie to you – 'Course they will!!)
Quite honestly, prior to the actual day, nobody can say for certain!
In fact, you will have a far better idea than we will since, presumably, you know the type of guests that you are inviting. It works well if your guests are
1. willing to try the dancing
2. willing to act somewhat energetically, (maybe, even, sweat a bit above the usual call of duty!)
3. willing to make a few mistakes and not worry about it
4. happy to mix/dance with ‘strangers’
5. happy to listen to a few simple instructions.
It does not matter how many left feet your guests have ! Dancing ability varies from person to person. And Ceilidhs are NOT dance lessons, there just isn’t the time to teach any fancy footwork – the idea is to have some fun, mix people up a bit and get them to sweat a lot to some really good dance music! The caller’s instructions before each dance will be very brief so that you and your guests can get on with the dancing!
But – here’s a few ‘Tips’ gained over our many years’ experience

FIRST DANCE - The bride and groom should seriously consider a ‘first dance’ to start the dancing. It might be some recorded music of your own choice. It might be a very simple few moves explained by the caller to the bride and groom to get the ball rolling – and, in turn, they draw others on to the dance floor. Or – try a simple Waltz to music played by the band (whether or not you can waltz is actually irrelevant!) and the caller gradually invites other guests to join in as well.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE - bride/groom (mums, dads, bridesmaids, ushers, best man) will encourage so many extra dancers on to the floor early if they, themselves, join in from the very start, even if they have never danced before! Also, encourage known 'ring leaders/characters' (bald Uncle Charlie, famous flag-pole painter, you know the sort) to join in as early as possible. You see, the earliest dances are the easiest - but it is also the time when people are most inhibited and need to see others enjoying it and getting the dances 'wrong'. These dances can set the atmosphere for the rest of the evening. A BIG DON’T!! DON’T race straight off to the bar in another room or into that lovely sunny late evening outside and leave your guests to do all the dancing! 'COS THEY WON'T! You will be amazed at how many other guests follow your example. They will probably do what you do! And ask yourself this – why would you ever book a Ceilidh band if you don’t want to do any of the dancing yourself? (We know that you have to ‘circulate’, but you'll have plenty of time to do that a bit later in the evening)

MAKING MISTAKES: Never worry about making mistakes during dances! Just laugh it off, it's all part of the fun and your laughter will rub off on others. People watching will not want to dance if those already dancing look miserable or harassed. Personally, I never call for 'proper folk dancers' on principle since many of them seem more interested in showing everyone present how clever they and their fancy footwork are. Our agency may be a business, but our business is in encouraging fun and relaxation. Above all, enjoy yourselves!

BOOZE AND BOOZERS! If alcoholic drinks are available, encourage people to drink early on and then slow down. Dancing will also help 'sweat' out alcohol. Early drinks loosen inhibitions, tongues and feet. Please be clear about this; we are not advocating irresponsible drinking sessions! And if someone is too drunk, leave them sat down, they become a liability to themselves and others on the dance floor.

FOOD BREAKS/INTERVALS: If food is to be offered, set aside a definite interval and inform your caller as soon as possible of your plans or schedule (especially if hot food is involved !). NEVER, ever have an 'eat-when-you-like' running buffet - it kills the dancing stone dead !

LIGHTING: Keep lighting fairly subdued (ish!). Not glaring bright to put people off standing up in the first place. Definitely not dark with flashing lights (it's not a disco) or people cannot see too well when trying out the dance moves. Consult your band and caller before you get started.

FLOOR SURFACE: It is best to avoid slippery floors for obvious reasons. Conversely, carpets (and grass) are hard work for the dancers and should be avoided/rolled out of the way. And loose rugs could be fatal - MOVE THEM AT ALL COSTS !!! As for floor space, if there is 'disco' space for fifty people, you will only have room for twenty odd for barn dance.

CHILDREN: Actually, kids are often the stars of the show at Weddings - no inhibitions, showing up the adults! But, just a few words of warning to you and your guests - discourage young children from touching or playing with band gear. Not only are modern instruments very costly to buy and maintain but nearly all instruments and P.A. systems will be ELECTRICALLY WIRED - Need we say more? Everybody's safety is a paramount concern and needless accidents can mar your special event!