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Dance Weekend Update

June 7th, 2018
contra  [html]
A few weeks ago I posted that I was thinking about organizing a contra dance weekend in Boston. A lot of things are still up in the air, but here's what I have so far:
  • Signed contract for the Cambridge Masonic Hall, Friday 2019-03-22 through Sunday 2019-03-24.

  • The Free Raisins (me, Audrey, Amy) booked to play.

  • Derek Kalish running sound.

  • Gender free (Larks/Ravens) calling.

  • Non-residential; snacks but no meals.

  • Sliding scale admission.

Here are things I still want to figure out, and would love feedback and suggestions on:

  • Bands: I've already booked the Free Raisins, and we'd play about half the weekend. For the rest of the weekend we could book either a single band or a series of other bands. The advantage of a single other band is that it's simpler and easier, plus we could book a group with more 'draw'. On the other hand, a series of bands could let us highlight excellent ones that don't yet have the track record or name recognition to play this sort of event on their own, in something like the Catapult model. However we go, I do want to include an open band session.

  • Callers: Same deal with bands, where anything on the spectrum from "two well known callers" to "a series of up and coming callers" could be good.

  • Childcare: I like the idea of offering childcare, but I don't know how this typically works. Has anyone either organized childcare for an event like this, or know people who have that I could talk to?

  • Meal breaks: Most events have breaks for meals, but some like the Brattleboro Dawn Dance the Peterborough Fall and Snow Balls just run straight through with breaks only for band changes. My default here would be to break for meals, but I could be convinced otherwise.

  • Workshops: I think workshops probably don't make sense; the space is not well set up for them. We do have the option to rent up to two additional rooms in the hall at $80/hr each, so we could do something if there was a lot of demand.

  • Where to set prices: once we have figured out callers and bands we'll have a pretty good estimate of total costs. When doing sliding-scale admission it's usually good to publicize a break-even point so people can calibrate their payments, but that depends heavily on how many dancers we're splitting the cost among. Which we won't know until after we ask people to register. So we have a circular dependency: setting the price depends on the number of people who come depends on registration depends on setting the price.

  • Gender balancing: definitely not.

  • Capacity: before opening registration it's good to think about where we would cut it off. Ventilation is often a limit, which depends mostly on how cold it is. The weekend of 3/23 averages 40F historically, so I think this isn't a limit. The hall is 47x62 (3000sqft) and BIDA dances very rarely feel space limited. Looking over BIDA admission numbers I think 200 might be a reasonable limit?

  • Payment: how do weekends usually handle payment? With something like Paypal I'd be worried about the company freezing the funds. Mailing checks is a possibility I guess? Is this a solved problem?

  • Other things I should be thinking about?

(I still don't know what organization this will be under: I'm hoping BIDA (which I'm on the board for) would like to sponsor it, and I think that will be decided at the 6/18 board meeting. This conflicts with the twice monthly JP dance, and their organizers have expressed interest in doing something joint, but I keep failing at phone tag and we haven't talked off-Facebook yet. If neither of these work out, I'm also happy running this as a Free Raisins weekend.)

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