One of our favourite types of gigs is playing and calling for barn dances. We'd already been playing for dances when we landed in Sydney in 1981, when we formed "Colonial Two-Step - the mini bush band". With me providing the music on piano-accordion (the perfect one-person orchestra) and Bill doing the dance calling and providing rhythm with lagerphone and guitar, we were the first duo providing quality barn dances without resorting to tapes. We were also very busy, and the constant work proved to be invaluable in honing our skills as barn dance presenters. Since returning to New Zealand in 1986 we've continued to play for 30 - 50 dances a year - both for adults and for families.
What is a barn dance? Well, the Scots and Irish call it a ceili or ceilidh (both are pronounced kay-lee), in the U.S. and Canada the nearest equivalent would be a hoedown, square dance or perhaps a contra-dance, in England it's a barn dance, in Australia it's a bush dance - it used to be called folk dancing, and has even been called "new wave folk dancing"! Call it what you like - a barn dance involves a caller who tells people what to do (nicely!), a repertoire of dances (circles, longways sets, square sets, couple dances, etc.), music to dance to (preferably live music!), and some willing dancers - a most important requirement!
Have a "sneak peek" at one of our dances by clicking on the video below.
We've gradually put together two really great dance programs. We play for a lot of family dances for PTA's and community groups with a bunch of fun dances that involve parents and kids dancing together (wait 'till you try the Tunnel Dance!). It's just a great way to bridge the generation gap!
What are these crazy people doing? To get a closer look, click on the photos.
At family dances, kids are encouraged just to dance with a friend or a parent. Enjoying the dancing is the main thing - they'll come to the boy/girl thing in their own time! So there is not a lot of partner changing at family dances. Family dances last an hour and a half - typically 7 - 8:30 p.m. with a pot-luck supper at the end.
Adult dances usually start a bit later - 8:30 p.m., and last until 11:00 p.m. The dances are a wee bit more complex than the family dances, to make them more interesting - but they're still very easy to pick up quickly - after all, it's a fun night, not a dance lesson! They involve a lot of changing partners, so by the end of the evening everyone knows each other! It's a great social mixer. A shared supper in the middle or at the end rounds off a great evening out.
These dances can take a fair bit of room - don't clutter too much of the dance floor with tables (a square set of four couples - that's eight people - will take up an area of about 2 1/2 metres square). We'd prefer a stage to work from if at all possible - being able to see the dancers is a definite advantage.
Barn dances can be held outdoors if there is a level area available - just remember to organise a "Plan B" venue for bad weather. A power source is needed, and a stage is preferable, and remember that if it runs after sunset, you'll need lights - the dancers need to see where they're going, and Bill needs to see the dancers.
Barn dances really come into the heading of "a night to remember" in many peoples' minds, with a great evenings' entertainment being recalled and related years down the track.
To book a "Bill & Kath" barn dance, contact us by email, phone or fax (details below) or check out the Bookings page.
Bill & Kath Worsfold - Kiwi Entertainers!
RD 3 Warkworth 0983, New Zealand