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Frequently asked Questions about Barn Dancing;

- Why have a barndance?

- What's the difference between a barndance and a ceilidh?

- Is it the same as linedancing?

- How long does a barndance last?

- Is barndancing easy?

- Should we book a disco as well?

- Should we have a "first dance"?

- Should we have food for the guests?

- What do we need to provide for the band?

- How long do we take to set up?

- Do we need a barn for a barn dance?

- Quicksilver seems rather expensive- how come?

- How do we go about booking the band?

 

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Why have a barn dance?

Because barn dances are fun. For everybody. Put on a disco for a mixed age-range gathering and you're probably going to alienate at least half of your guests from the start. Barn dancing, on the other hand, appeals to everyone from kids to grannies and it's simply the best way to get everyone mixing, fooling around and having a great time. And if Uncle Arthur and Auntie Jill are so plastered that they collapse in a heap during the eightsome Reel, or three-year old Kylie accidentally drops her marbles in the middle of a Circassian Circle, so much the better!

What's the difference between a barndance and a ceilidh?

To be honest, not a lot. There are various different branches of Barndancing- the Irish Ceilidh, the Scottish Country Dance, the American Hoedown and so on, but they all follow a pretty similar pattern. If you want , we can specialise in a particular area, doing just Scottish tunes and dances for example, but usually we mix them all together, doing a selection of the most popular dances from each tradition. If you do have a chosen theme, be sure to let us know beforehand; it can be quite embarrassing if we turn up dressed for a formal scottish dance only to find all the guests dressed for a hoedown!

Is it the same as linedancing?

Definitely not! With linedancing, although you're stood in a series of lines, everyone dances on their own, with no interaction apart from following the person who's leading. You don't have a partner, you don't change position, and there's no mingling of the sexes- in fact it's mostly women who'll get up for a linedance. All in all, although it's fun in its own way, it's a far less sociable activity than barn dancing. Often when people are organizing a western-themed dance, there's some confusion about what type of dancing it should be. Make sure you decide properly in advance and let us know. We do play for linedancing as well, but we would use a different caller, and possibly a different lineup for the band, maybe including drums and electric guitar.

How long does a barndance last?

That's partly up to you. We've done dances as short as ten minutes, or as long as five hours, but the ideal is obviously somewhere in between. If you consider that a single dance takes around 15-20 minutes to explain and then perform, you really want at least four dances in a set. The ideal would be something like two sets, each of an hour to an hour and a half, with maybe half an hour's break in between. We can tailor the timings to fit in with anything else that's going on during the evening; speeches,buffet, raffle and so on. We're sometimes asked to play some background music during the dinner, which is fine, but don't expect live music all through the dinner and then a long dance as well; the band will be worn out and the guests will have heard more than enough of us by the end. We can play for longer than that, but experience shows that even in the best of circumstances, enjoyable exertion will eventually turn into boredom and exhaustion if you try and stretch it out too long. For a wedding, a good way of finishing is for all the guests to form as long double line, making a tunnel of raised arms through which the bride and groom can walk, saying goodbye to everyone before they part.And do the band turn into pumpkins after midnight? No, but we do get more expensive!

Is barndancing easy?

It's as easy as you want it to be. We always work on the assumption that, unless we're told otherwise, our audience is completely new to barn dancing. The caller explains each dance in detail, going through each step in turn until everyone knows what they're doing. As the evening progresses you'll be introduced to more and more different moves- the do si do, the right hand star, balance and swing, the arch,the ballroom hold and so on, so that it may become possible to do gradually more complicated dances. The caller will judge how difficult to make it , based on how the guests manage with each dance. Sometimes, particularly with a Scottish group, many of the dancers will be quite experienced and can easily master quite advanced things like the Eightsome Reel. On other occasions , whether because of lack of experience, an excess of alcohol or a surplus of left feet, the audience will stick with the very simplest dances (and still get them wrong!)

Should we book a disco as well?

There are arguments for and against- it's really up to you. Up to a half of all our wedding and corporate bookings also involve a disco, and it usually works out fine. It allows the entertainment to go on for longer (with maybe two hours of each, preferably with the disco coming on second), it gives more variety and will please some of the people who consider themselves too cool for barn dancing. It also usually means we can get home earlier! On the other hand, a disco can sometimes spoil the mood created by the barn dance, it will often be a lot louder and will tend to drive away a lot of the oldies.

Should we have a "first dance"?

For a wedding the couple frequently want a first dance where they get up on the floor for a smooch to either a gentle waltz or to one of their favorite romantic songs, whilst all the guests gather round hooting and hollering and taking endless pictures. Whilst by no means necessary, it's a good idea in that it will focus everyone's attention on the couple, and also on the dancefloor, making it a lot easier to get everyone else dancing straight after. If you have a request for a particular song that you want the band to play then so long as you give us sufficient notice we're very happy to do so.

Should we have food for the guests?

This is usual but not essential, As well as being thirsty work, dancing is a great way to build up an appetite, and some food half way the evening provides a welcome break. What kind of food you provide will depend on who's doing the catering, on your budget, and on whether you have a theme for the evening. If you're doing it yourself, something like chilli or a ploughmans is good because it's cheap and easy to prepare. If it's a wedding, and the guests have already had a meal, a light buffet is usually adequate. If you're doing a particular theme for the dancing (Western , Scottish etc), obviously there's the opportunity to serve the appropriate food.

What do we need to provide for the band?

We bring our own PA, a cd player for background music if you request it, and we have our own caller. You need to provide is a reasonable space for the band to set up (we don't need a stage), a power socket, and some refreshment. If a meal is provided for the guests , it's considered normal politeness to offer that to the band as well. With a buffet this is no problem, but with a sit -down meal it is often not possible or practical, and we'd appreciate you asking the caterers to sort out something for the band in another room. And if we've left home in mid-afternoon and are not going to be home till well after midnight, a small plate of cold sandwiches is going to make the band somewhat grumpy!

How long do we take to set up?

We generally arrive an hour before we're required to be set up and ready. We accept that we often have to be set up before a meal starts, even though the dancing might not start till afterwards. It also often happens that we have to set up whilst the room is being cleared of tables after the meal, in which case it will take us about 20-30 minutes ( a little longer if we have a drummer). Dismantling and clearing the PA at the end of the night takes about half an hour.

Do we need a barn for a barn dance?

We've done barndances in barns, palaces, school halls, hotels, marquees, fields, ballrooms, kitchens, stately homes....the truth is you can do it almost anywhere. However, there are some obvious common sense factors to take into account. You can normally expect somewhere between a quarter and three quarters of your guests to be dancing at any one time, so if you have 100 people, then ideally you want room for 75 people to dance. You can calculate on roughly 2 square metres per person...however, when it comes down to it, we will always make do with what ever space we're provided with. Ideally you want a proper "sprung" dance floor for the whole dancing area. Frequently in a hotel a dancefloor is laid on the carpet; this is often a mixed blessing because if it's too small (as it often is), people will end up dancing on and off it, and possibly trip on the edges. We usually suggest it's better to have no dancefloor than one that's much too small. If you do go for a real barn, make sure it's waterproof and has some heating, and try not to get hay on the dancefloor (which makes it slippery) or on the stage (which produces an unpleasent reaction from our accordionist Mike!)

Quicksilver seems rather expensive- how come?

A quick comparison with some other barn dance bands will show that you can get another band for maybe half what we will charge. You can also get a cheaper venue, cheaper food- you can get a mate to do the disco and you can water down the beer! I'm sure you get the point. If a musician is charging 50 for working on a Saturday night it's because he isn't a professional. What you are paying for when you book a band like Quicksilver is the highest musical standards, years of experience of dealing with every kind of performance situation, absolute reliability and professionalism. Your semi-pro or amateur musician has very little to loose from putting in a poor night's work. We depend absolutely on our reputation and have everything to loose- we want to make sure that every performance leaves a very happy customer and lots of enquiries for future work.

How do we go about booking the band?

If you're interested, get in touch- by phone or email. The first question will be the date; we're a very busy band, and to be sure of getting us on a Saturday night you should speak to us at least six months before- though it's always worth trying us at shorter notice. As soon as you make the enquiry we'll pencil the date in, and won't take another booking without consulting you first; but please don't leave it too long before you make a decision. Let us know what sort of occasion it is, the proposed location and a rough idea of times, and we'll give you a price. We're prepared to travel anywhere in the country, but we're based in London and the price will go up if we have to travel a long distance. If you like, we'll send you a cd of some of our music. People often ask if they can come and see us in action, and unfortunately the answer is usually no; since virtually all our performances are for private functions, we often don't have any control over who's allowed in, and we've had various mishaps in the past when we've invited people to a venue only to have them refused at the door by the management, to our great embarrassment! So if having heard about what we do, listened to the music and read the quotes from satisfied clients, you want to go ahead, you send us a deposit and we'll send a simple contract on which we agree the date, time, location, fee and so on. When you sign and return the contract you can consider us booked. Payment of the balance will be at the end of the evening, preferably in cash but a cheque is fine otherwise.