NOW !! A word about a vital piece of equipment !! (But,I am biased !!)
Put simply, the caller is a cross between a dance instructor and Master of Ceremonies. And is very often aware of more than just the obvious!
(and whilst the majority of callers are men, there are also a lot of women callers, so – as read in the best laid out contracts – the word ‘he’ will also refer to ‘she’).
The main duty of a caller, of course, is to ‘call’ the dances – by way of brief explanation (the ‘run-through’) of the next dance before the music starts up and during the dance itself by ‘calling’ the moves as reminders for the dancers of what to do next. He knows that most, if not all, dancers have very little or no experience of folk/country dances and that it’s important, then, to keep moves simple, especially early on, and adapt the dances to suit the abilities of the dancers.
It almost goes without saying that the caller chooses what he thinks to be the appropriate types of dances and instructs/liaises with the band over the type of music to play. In effect he is making judgements which will affect the balance and tone for the whole event acting as the channel between the band and the ‘audience’/dancers.
You should also find that he has a few tricks up his sleeve to ‘persuade’ the more reluctant participants up on to the floor, in the full knowledge that some dancers will get things ‘wrong’. So an amount of tactical and diplomatic nous is expected of him, if not, even, the injection of the odd bit of humour!
As the M.C., your caller needs to be made aware of the timetable of events for the dance – special announcements/requests, timing of food breaks, song and/or music breaks, drawing the raffle, presentations and finishing time. (See our tips page). This is all in addition to shouting last orders at the bar, acting as a wine waiter to the band, kissing the bride and giving the building a quick lick of paint before leaving!!
In short, he is the key liaison person whom organisers/bride and groom must see at the start of the dance to briefly discuss arrangements (in spite of however important the band may think they are!!)
The caller is the one to whom everyone looks for leadership qualities (and is there to be pointed at if he gets it wrong). His experience is, therefore, invaluable. Even if our agency has already discussed requirements at booking stage (which, of course, we do), always remember this – the caller is the one on the spot, on the night ! Always be ready to ask his advice ‘cos he’s done all this before !!
Many other matters to discuss with the caller can be found on our tips page and we recommend you look through this as well. There is quite a lot to think about.
Fortunately, all the callers which we recommend are more than just dance instructors. That is a basic requirement. They are as much concerned with ensuring that the whole dance runs smoothly and that everyone goes away thinking that they just might give another barn dance a whirl the next time round (or even think about booking a band and caller through our agency – now that would be nice – most of our booking come through recommendations.