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Dance Weekend Schedule Checklist

December 2nd, 2019
music, contra  [html]
When I've been booked for a dance weekend, the organizers generally send a draft schedule out a few weeks in advance to look over. If they don't send one I'll usually ask about two weeks out. There are a few things I want to check, since it's easy for organizers to miss things when putting schedules together:
  • Is there enough time for sleeping from when we stop playing until we start playing the next morning, factoring in any time getting between housing and the venue? One weekend scheduled us to play until 11:30pm on Friday and start at 9:30am on Saturday, while housing us almost an hour from the hall.

  • Does the schedule include time for our initial sound check? Generally we want ~45min to get things right before playing the first time, ~30min minimum.

  • Does the schedule include time for changeovers? About 20min for one band to get off stage and the other to get on is usually good.

  • Are there any unnecessary band changeovers? As long as you leave enough time for sleeping, having one band end the evening and then start the next morning saves you a round of setting up the stage.

  • Are we playing about the amount of time we expected? One weekend had us playing four 3.5hr contra sessions which is really a lot.

  • If we're playing in multiple places, do we have enough time to get between them?

  • Are we scheduled to play anything we don't know how to play, or that needs special preparation? We're leading a sing-along? A slot says "techno contra" next to our name?

  • Are there any tweaks that would make naps or other traveling-with-a-kid things easier?

  • Are we playing a medley, and if so is it a reasonable length? One event scheduled us to play a 1hr15min medley; after talking with the organizers we ended up playing it ABA with the other band.

  • Are we getting to work with both callers? In a typical two-band two-caller two-night weekend there's no way to have all three of (a) both bands get a night of opening and a night of closing, (b) both callers get the same, and (c) both bands get a night slot with both callers. I'd rather lose (a) or (b) than (c), but it's especially sad when we don't end up working with one of the callers at all.

This isn't the same list everyone will have: some people need more sleep, others need to minimize the number of times they get on/off the stage, others play very poorly early in the morning or late at night, and others have restrictions I haven't thought of. While there are some issues that won't be clear until you've been there and see what it's like (the building has the AC set to 58 with chiller units right behind the band‽) it's worth it to look over the schedule carefully to notice places where adjustments could be helpful.

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