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Beginners Square Dances - Southeast Michigan - MI

Beginners Square Dance Classes
Dave Smith - Caller
SE MI Square Dance Clubs
South Lyon Square Dancing

Dave Smith - Square Dance Caller - South Lyon, Michigan

Frequently Asked Questions:
Should we have a meal before the Square Dance?
I've found that if you have a heavy meal right before a square dance, you generally get participants who are not very enthusiastic or comfortable participants.  They are weighed down by the heavy meal, feel lethargic and gassy, and generally not much like dancing, and a lot more like sitting around.  I've found that this is often a popular format with adults (having the meal first and then the dance).  While this is an understandably attractive option, it is not a very good one for a square dance as people with a full belly are not likely to be able to fully engage or fully enjoy the square dancing.  So what I would suggest is:
a. Advertise the dance in such a way so it is understood that a whole meal will not be provided (so people don't come hungry) and then provide light appetizers and beverages for people to snack on along the side of the hall.  In this case, there is not a need to set up tables for everyone to eat at.
b. Provide a dinner first, but keep it very light.  Don't serve large portions of meat or cheesy dishes which will bog people down for several hour afterwards.  Some great options are salad, soup, bread, spaghetti, baked potatoes, and vegetables.   Hold off on the desert until after most (or all) of the square dancing is over with.  

DJ Service: I am not a DJ.  I can play a limitted selection of country music before the dance and during breaks.    If you need me to make announcements, or you need to use the microphone for an announcement, that is fine too.  You will not need a DJ for  a square dance party.  I have enough country music to play in between dances.  If you are having a dinner before the dance, I do not usually arrive early to play music for the hour or so while the group eats.  I usually arrive 1/2 hour before the actual dance start time to set up, and will be ready to go by the dance start time.  So if Dinner starts at 6pm, and the dance starts at 7:30pm, I would get there at 7:00pm to set up and be ready to go by 7:30pm.  If you want to have music playing while eating dinner, I suggest using a CD boombox.
How long do the parties last?
The range is one to three hours.  (for high school or college student groups or singles groups, I'm happy to do up to 4 hours at no extra charge) You need to gage how long your group will want to dance, how many breaks you want to take, how energetic the group is, etc.  The average square dance party is about 2.5 hours.  The cost to hire a caller is not based on the length of the dance but on the night and relative demand.
What is the difference between a square dance, a hoedown, and a barn dance?
There is no difference, they are all ways of saying the same thing.  All of these are good titles to market your dance, and I highly suggest using one of these as a description of your dance in the invitation or flyer.
Can kids participate?
If they are paired with their parents, this works fine. Another great idea that works well is to have teenagers dance with elementary age kids.  (e.g. a teen dance group could sponsor a square dance and invite elementary age dancers to participate.  This would usually be an all girls event.) Over age 12, they can be paired with each other without problem.  Young kids paired with other young kids generally does not work well.  They tend to just run off after a while.
Is square dancing mainly for older people?
Club dancing is often done by older people, but most of my clients are not elderly.  I do quite a few college groups, I've done high school age groups, many family dances with kids and their parents, and many groups of young adults.  I also get some groups that are older, and it works fine.  As long as you can walk well, you can square dance.  Of course, younger people have more energy and can dance more - so I've always thought the best dances are those for HS/college age groups.  They just have the most fun.
Should I hire a DJ too?
No!  There is never a need to hire a DJ in addition to a square dance caller.  One of the major mistakes party planners make is planning to many activities, and therefore doing none of them justice.  Plan on the square dance taking up a minimum of a two hour block of the party without interuptions (except breaks).  I generally don't accept engagements where a DJ will also be present because they don't usually work out well.

What about having other events at the same time, for variety?
I've called at dances where they have  Bingo going in one room, hayrides out back, games, a bonfire, etc.  I'll say right now that this is not a conducive situation to having a good barn dance.  If you are doing these activities, schedule them before or after the dance, not so they occur halfway through the dance, during the dance, or during the breaks.  It pulls people in to many different directions and leads to a chaotic party, and not enough people dancing at one time to make it good.
Does a square dance make a good surprise party?
No. It is always best to tell your guests that they are coming to a country hoedown, a square dance, or a barn dance.  To surprise them with this is asking for a low participation rate, as they will not be mentally prepared to get out on the floor and try it.
Do you bring a demonstration group?
No.  This is neither desirable or necessary.  Your group will be dancing within a few minutes of getting on the floor.  The instructions are given in an easy and fun way, so that no complication can arise.  If you're group is only interested in watching square dancing and not participating, then I am not the caller to hire.

However, if you are interested in having a group come to a nursing home and dance for them, I may be able to help organize this.  The price would be about the same as to hire me to call for an evening.
Will we do the Virginia Reel?
Yes - always.  The Virginia Reel is the oldest and most loved of all American square dances and no square dance party would be complete without it.
What is your goal as a caller?
The most important thing to me is that everyone has great fun.  Nobody goes to a square dance party to learn to be a great square dancer, or to learn the "correct" way to do the dances.  Rather they go to dance, to socialize, and to try something new.  If you want to learn the fine points of square dancing, take one of the many year long classes which are offered by local clubs.  If you want to have a great time square dancing for just one night - hire me.
How many people do I need for a square dance?  What's the maximum?
Eight people would be the minimum for one square.  It's usually best to aim for at least 3 squares (24 people), as a smaller event may lack some energy. The maximum would be around 150 people, as that's about the max my sound system can effectively cover.  The average event I call has about 50-100 people at it, but I've done many events with 150, and quite a few with only 25 people.  I provide the same high quality program to a small group as I do to a big group, so feel free to hire me for any event, big or small.
What about alcohol?
I am fine with the moderate consumption (2 or 3 drinks) of alcohol at square dance parties.  It often loosens peoples inhibitions (self conciousness) to dancing, and can make the evening a little more fun. To much alcohol obviously makes people lethargic and they won't feel like dancing.  Check with your rental facility to make sure you are allowed to consume alcohol there.

Where does the caller you set up?
Please have a sturdy table set up along one of the walls of the dance hall (not in the center), with plenty of room on either side for speakers to be set up, about 25 feet on either side of the table), and an extension cord running to the table for the caller to set up on.

What about having a dance outdoors?

It's a bad idea - don't do it.  It's usually to hot or to cold for comfortable dancing.  Humidity can also be a factor.  Often it will rain or threaten to.  People can sprain their ankle on uneven surfaces.  I've done lots of outside dances, and I highly discourage this option, as it usually doesn't work well.

Why do you only give discounts to college/high school groups, singles groups and daddy daughter dances?

There are certain types of dances, which I've found from experience, just work better than others and are much more fun for me to call.  The dancers get into it more and really enjoy it more at these types of events, and as a caller, I get more joy out of calling to very enthusiastic groups.  So naturally, I am willing to give a significant discount to groups that have proven over time to be the best suited to square dancing.   I like to have successful dances, where everyone dances and has a great time.  When that happens - I enjoy it too.  It is no longer work - just a joy to be a part of.

College/High School ($50 discount)groups just have a lot of energy and are just at that point in life where they can best appreciate, but perhaps least afford, a square dance.  Young people love to dance, have the energy and the fitness for it, and are frankly able to enjoy square dancing much more than their older counterparts. 

Singles ($50 discount) groups, of any age, surprisingly have much the same energy and enthusiasm for dancing that student groups do.   

Daddy daughter dances ($50 discount) are a great tradition in our country, and I think should be encouraged.  Daddy daughter dances always work out very nicely.  They are easy to market and always get very good attendance compared to other variations.

Family Dances with parents partnered with kids.  ($30 discount) These work well as a school event.  Each kid should have an adult partner.  This allows a wide variety of simple square dances to be quickly taught and danced, and ensures a good time for both parents and kids.