Planning your event

So you want to hold your own ceilidh? There isn’t anything too difficult about organising a dance but like most events, it will be much more successful with thorough planning.

Thankfully, having organised these dances before I can provide you with a few suggestions – some are obvious, others are maybe things you won’t have thought about.

You probably already have a clear idea in your mind why you are holding the dance (birthday party, wedding, fundraising etc.). But you should also give some thought before you start parting with any hard-earned cash about some other key considerations.

What about the venue or deciding on the music? There is also some useful information about what will happen on the day – ensuring the only surprise you have is how much you enjoyed the dance!

Firstly, you need to be thinking well ahead of the dance, maybe 6 months to a year ahead depending on your requirements.

The things that you will need to organise and book in good time are:-

  1. the venue
  2. the band/caller
  3. the invites, posters and advertising (you need to know that enough people will actually turn up and dance!)

Why not download my Organisers Checklist…

A non-returnable deposit may be required by the band or venue at the time of booking. See also my ‘costs’ section about the deposits I charge.

The Essentials

But before you do any of this, you should give some thought to the following points regarding the viability of your dance:-

  •  Will I be able to invite/attract enough dancers to make the dance a success?An obvious point but one which is often overlooked. Put simply, without adequate dancers there simply is no dance! There is no question you can hold a dance with the bare minimum of dancers. For instance, the smallest set dance consists of only 3 couples; there are even dances which can be done as a single couple. But – only having 6 people at your dance won’t provide you with much of an atmosphere even if they are the life and soul of the party!You should aim for a minimum number of 30 people but 60+ will certainly give the dance some life-blood.

    Remember too that unless they are an extraordinarily keen bunch, not everybody will dance every dance. If you are lucky, roughly 50% of the number attending will be on the dance floor at any one time – so a room of 30 dancers seated will only equate to about 15 people (that’s just 7 couples) actually dancing.It is also easier to attract existing couples onto the dance floor rather than single people who will need to find a partner. For instance, a ‘works do’ may look well attended but there may be few if any actual couples. Chatting to a colleague at the water cooler is one thing; inviting Sandra from Accounts to dance a polka with you is a whole ball game! Therefore the ratio of those seated to those dancing may be much more than the 50% guideline!

  • Will I be able to cover the costs of the dance?

    If you are putting on a family event this may not even be an issue. However, if you are fundraising clearly you must ensure you not only break-even but raise the funds you expect to. Undertake some careful budgeting, particularly if you are hiring a venue or a large band. Make sure if you are charging for tickets, that the expected sales of these will cover your costs. You should be aware of how many tickets you need to sell to break-even.

Once you are confident your event is viable, go ahead and source a venue.