The programmer for a given night of dancing is responsible for opening the dance hall, programming and playing the music, accounting for the night’s money, and closing the dance hall — or for making sure these tasks are being correctly handled by someone else.
All of this is perfectly easy. Here are the details:
Opening the dance hall
Needed: The key to the front doors and the key to the cabinet cart.
The dance hall at Folk Dance Brunswick is opened by the programmer for that week. To get the needed keys, the programmer should attend dancing on the previous week, if possible, or, during the week, track down the current key holder and arrange a hand-off.
Shortly after 6 p.m., unlock the front doors.
Turn on the foyer and dance hall lights as needed. (Several of the other lights in the vicinity are motion-activated and will turn themselves on or off.)
Get a white folding table from the storage closet off the east end of the dance hall, and set it up in the southwest corner of the room.
Get our sound-system cart from behind the door of the conference room next to the storage closet, and roll it out to a spot next to the white folding table.
Get 6 to 8 folding chairs from the storage closet, and set them up along the windows and diagonally across the northwest corner of the room.
Unlock the cart, remove the (fully cabled) laptop computer, and put it on the white folding table. Plug the power cord from the back of the cabinet into the wall socket.
If the computer isn’t fully cabled (i.e., if someone took the cable system apart the week before), here’s how to reassemble it:
- The power cord for the computer is a round plug with a yellow core running from the back of the cabinet. Plug it into the back of the computer on the left side.
- The audio cord is a short pigtail with an arrow-shaped preamp and a 1/8” patch cord running from the back of the sound system on top of the cabinet. Plug it into (preferably) the USB port on the back of the computer.
- Then turn the computer on by pushing the button with the white dot at the center above the keyboard. On screen, the windows used to search and play our music files should open by themselves.
- Find and set out the mouse and mouse pad, turning the mouse on (using the tiny red–green switch on its underside).
- If the computer was turned off last week instead of simply being put to sleep by closing the lid, follow the instructions taped to the lower right of the keyboard for changing the Windows Media Player to our usual configuration.
Out in the foyer, drag one of the small tables to a spot next to the dance-hall door.
From the supplies on the bottom shelf of the cabinet cart….
- Get the money jar, sign-in book, basket of nametags, and orange folder with financial stuff, and set them out on the table in the foyer. Open the sign-in book to the next fresh page, and title it with today’s date and column headings for “Name” and “Contact Info” (so people can sign in, and we can collect their information for future emailings).
- Get the little white tube of pushpins and two sheets of newsprint, and pin the sheets to the large bulletin board in the dance hall.
- Using one of the big black Magic Markers, label the sheets “Program [with today’s date]” and “Requests [with today’s date].”
Test the sound system by clicking and playing a music file or two from our library, and get comfortable with it. The sound system’s volume knob is on the front of one of the tweeters (the small speakers) mounted across the top of the system.
If anything goes wrong, don’t worry. Other dancers will arrive shortly, and they’ll be happy to help you.
Programming and playing the music
Don’t worry! Programming a great night of dance music for Folk Dance Brunswick is easy and fun — especially if you work with a partner or mentor who knows more about the names and styles of the dances.
The dancers will do most of the dirty work for you by putting up requests! The art of good programming is to mix together the requests and your own choices for an entertaining variety of fast and slow dances, line and circle dances, couple dances, and dances from many countries.
As the evening progresses, accommodate as many requests from the Requests sheet as feasible.
Early in the evening, the dances should be on the slower, easier side so that the group can warm up and beginners and newcomers feel welcome. Later in the evening, they can get faster and more challenging.
The programmer should also aim to balance the items on the request list, avoiding, for example, too many difficult dances or dances from a single nation or region — especially consecutively.
Keep in mind the composition of the group on any given night. If there are a lot of newcomers, you might program more of the simple dances. If the gender ratio is 3 to 1, you might cut back on the couple dances.
If you don’t know the style, speed, or other suitability of some of the requests, consult with your partner or mentor or simply ask one of the other regular dancers to help you pick a good one.
To achieve a good balance, you can of course mix in a few of your own choices. It’s one of the perks of the job! But beware the danger of overindulging. Every programmer will have an individual style, but the program should reflect the group more than the programmer.
In addition, one or two new dances should be taught, and dances that were taught over the past two or three weeks should be reviewed to help fix them in people’s minds and expand our repertoire.
- To get new dances taught, call or email a couple of our peer teachers earlier in the week — with plenty of lead time — and ask if they’d be willing to teach a new dance.
- To get recently taught dances reviewed, check recent programs (at http://www.folkdancebrunswick.com) to see who taught them in the first place. Call or email these peer teachers — again, with plenty of lead time — and ask if they’d be willing to review their dance.
To find and play a dance on the Folk Dance Brunswick laptop computer….
- Search for it alphabetically by name in the music archive (right-hand open window on the screen) and double-click it.
- This will cause it to “jump” to the player (left-hand open window on the screen) and start playing a few seconds later. If the dancers aren’t ready, click the Pause/Play button in the player.
At 6:30, write the names of the first two or three dances on the Program sheet, announce the first dance and its country of origin, and play it. Invite requests.
Announce each dance and its country of origin as you go, and write its name on the Program sheet. Also, write the name of whoever is going to teach or review a dance next to the name of the dance.
Keep the series of dances moving along pretty promptly. Before one dance ends, know what the next one will be.
At a quieter moment sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m., announce that “It’s time for announcements!” — and invite anyone who has announcements to speak.
At 9:00 p.m., dim the hall lights and end the evening with a slower, quieter, more meditative dance that everybody can do.
And again, don’t worry. Anyone will be happy to help you at any point. Have fun!
- Resources for programmers Old programs to learn from are posted on our blog, at http://www.folkdancebrunswick.com. On the Database page on our blog you’ll find a complete (long!) table of the dances we do, along with their country of origin, level of difficulty, style, tempo, date last danced, and more.
Accounting for the night’s money
If the treasurer (Cynthia) or her appointed substitute aren’t present, the programmer should process the night’s donations as follows:
- Count the money in the jar.
- Put $25 or so in (mostly) singles and (a couple of) fives back into the jar to make change next week.
- If you are programming on the first Friday of a new month, find our prewritten check for the month (i.e., written by Cynthia) in an envelope in the orange folder, put it into a Quick Pay envelope from the bookshelf near the receptionist’s desk out front, fill out the information requested on the envelope, and put the envelope into the Quick Pay box as our rental payment for the use of the dance hall.
- Prepare a bank deposit slip (from the orange folder) by filling in the name Folk Dance Brunswick, the dollar amount of the remaining balance of the night’s receipts, and our bank account number (from the orange folder).
- Seal the money and deposit slip inside one of our little Folk Dance Brunswick envelopes in the basket, and write “BSI deposit” on the outside.
- On the form in the night’s sign-in page, fill out the information requested — the total amount of money taken in, the amount returned to the jar, the amount to be taken to the bank, and the name of the person who’ll take it to the bank.
- Drop the envelope into the night depository box at Bath Savings Institution, 3 Pleasant Street, in Brunswick (just around the corner from us), or arrange for someone else to do it.
Closing the dance hall
Close the lid of the computer (but don’t otherwise shut it down), and return it to the top shelf of the cabinet cart, leaving all cables connected, with the cables flowing out of the front of the cabinet.
Be sure to turn off the mouse (or its battery will drain and die) by clicking the tiny green toggle on the underside to its red position, and return it along with the mouse pad to the top shelf of the cabinet. If needed, there are spare batteries in the plastic tub.
Make two photographs (in case your hands were wobbling in one shot!) of the Program sheet, and email their images, full size, to Alison for posting on our blog and Facebook page, or arrange with someone else to do it. Put the sheets themselves on the bottom shelf of the cabinet or throw them out.
Collect and repack all supplies from the foyer table, and return them to the bottom shelf of the cabinet.
Lock the cabinet, lightly closing the doors over the cables, and roll it back to its place behind the door of the conference room.
Return the white folding table and chairs to the storage room, and put the foyer table back where you found it.
Turn off the lights in the dance hall and front hall. (The foyer light is automatic and stays on.)
Arrange with next week’s programmer (because he or she will be opening the dance hall next time) to hand off the needed keys for the front doors and cabinet as you leave the building.
Lock both front doors. Hand off the keys to next week’s programmer.
— Bob’s your uncle! —