Greetings to all!
Our National Square and Round Dance Convention is almost upon us and we hope that many of you will be there to have a lot of fun, meet old friends, make new friends and just have a really good time.
The Federation is pleased to be awarding caller training bursaries to the following people, subject to proof of successful completion of the course. Zoe Fingas, Rick Gerris, Gail Mottashed, Brian MacIsaac, Luke Periard and Merv Reid. They will be attending the caller school which is being held prior to the National Convention.
The Federation has also award recruitment bursaries to some clubs. There are funds available to assist clubs in recruiting new dancers. For information about applying for assistance, please go to the website: http://squaredance.on.ca/
An amount of $500 has been allocated by the Federation for square and round dance promotion. This year we will be advertising in the program at the Havelock Jamboree and also in the program of 4th Line Theatre, Millbrook, ON. If you know of places where you think we could advertise next year, please contact Howard and Jean Lander at email@example.com.
It is getting to that time of year when all clubs are thinking about recruiting new dancers. There are people out there who would love to square dance but how do we reach them? You best advertising is via your current dancers. We survey our new dancers each year and 80% come by word of mouth. In many communities, there are a number of free advertising opportunities through radio and TV community notice boards. Use all the free publicity you can find; ask all your members to help. Give them business cards to hand out wherever possible.
Talking about new dancers, clubs should advertise for singles. According to the 2016 census, 28.2% of households in Canada are occupied by single people. (In 1951 this was 1.8%). Compare that to 26% which are couples with no children. Unfortunately some clubs still have a mindset that square dancing is a couple activity. You are losing out on recruiting wonderful potential dancers and club members.
Now that you have decided to recruit singles it is a good idea to plan how to successfully run your club. Our personal experience is from running our basic and mainstream club, Otonabee Squares in Peterborough. Our attendance each week is 8-10 squares and 52 of our dancers are singles. (Total membership 113). When our new dancers attend their first night we gather them together (men and women) and request that half dance on the left side (the man’s side) and half on the other side. We have seen some clubs put all their new lady dancers on the ladies side for the first year and then end up not having partners for them down the road. (Some women are willing to give up their partners for the basic teach but when it come to mainstream they want their partner back so all these new dancers are left sitting out.) If your force singles to pair up with the same person on a regular basis and they are not compatible, you may lose them both.
Another tendency in some clubs is that they want the singles to pair up. In other words they are willing to accept singles only if they become a couple with another single, thereby sending a message that they are valued only if the “couple up”. We teach all the dancers to quickly square up when asked. Singles get into a square raise their hand on the side they want a partner. They often are paired up with another single but are not forced to dance with the same person every week. This way everyone gets to meet more people and couples can stay together if they wish. Fortunately many of our couples enjoy dancing with a variety of other people and getting to know everyone better; those couples who do not wish to be separated will not have to split up. One caller mentioned that singles don’t last long. This is not our experience and I think it is caused by poor management by the club.
There are computer square dance rotation programs. See this site: https://www.ceder.net/sqrot.php. We do not use this at the basic and mainstream club level but at plus and higher it has its advantages. It will put everyone into a square including assigning a partner for the singles. It is often the higher level clubs which tend to be couple focussed.
We hope all clubs will have a successful recruitment for the Fall start-up.
Howard and Jean Lander
Ontario Square and Round Dance Federation
Public Relations and Promotion