"What are barn dances and ceilidhs, do they differ and (if so) how?"

Whatever you call your dance party, it is an opportunity for everyone to have as much fun as possible dancing and socialising with everyone else. Your caller (who is actually a Master of Ceremonies, a presenter and a prompter all in one!) will select a variety of dances for solos and couples (probably including change partner dances) in lines, circles and square formations with sequences ranging from the easy and straightforward to those which challenge your guests without baffling them. Whilst the most common terms used for this sort of entertainment are Barn Dance or Ceilidh, often you will hear people refer to Hoolies, Ceilis, Twmpaths, Hoedowns, Bush Dances, Breakdowns. Square or Country Dances. Strictly speaking each of these terms refers to a specific dance genre. Whilst 2-4-1 is best known for selecting dances across a wide spectrum of dance categories in order to maximize the enjoyment for all present, both Barbara and Henry are also able to present an event using dances appropriate to a particular theme - American, English and Scottish being perhaps the most popular.

"What is dancercise and how can I get involved?"

It has been estimated that on average exercise only extends one's life by the same amount of time as the total time actually spent exercising. To avoid this "Catch 22" situation you need to make sure that you choose a fun exercise regime that you really enjoy. This is what led 2-4-1 to develop Dancercise. Based on traditional Line Dances set to good upbeat Western music Dancercise is healthy exercise and the fun and laughter that goes with it releases endorphins in the brain - an important part of the body's immune system. Suitable for all ages (with or without previous experience) Dancercise has been shown to be one of the most effective activities to retard the onset of Alzheimer's disease.Contact 2-4-1 for further details about joining or setting up a group near you.

"What do you charge; we don't know if we can afford a barn dance?"

Actually a Barn Dance or Ceilidh is probably the best value party entertainment around. Since every 2-4-1 event is bespoke to you we can't and don't quote prices up front. There are so many factors affecting costs - date, location, venue, timings (both set up and performance), lighting and amplification requirements, number of guests, live or recorded music, party or specialist disco, etc, etc. We find that in practice it is easiest for you to detail what you have in mind and for us to cost it for you. We do this entirely for free and it puts you under no obligation. If this results in a proposal within you budget - then fine, job done! If, on the other hand, it looks as though its going to be too expensive, 2-4-1 has acquired many moneysaving tips and wrinkles over the 50 odd years we've been providing this kind of entertainment. Hopefully, by adopting some of these, we can get you back to within your budget.

"I don't know whether to opt for live or recorded music; should I hire a band, a caller or both?"

These are questions many people ask. With 2-4-1 this is not a problem. Although both of our callers can provide a full event disco-style, they also work with and have their own bands. Tell us all about your event and we will advise what best fits your circumstances and budget. Were you instead of asking 2-4-1 to approach a band directly it would tell you that you must have a band (but that's simply because that's all that it can offer!).

"Can we have a CD/DVD or observe one of your dances?"

We regret that for copyright reasons we are unable to provide you with a CD that would be truly representative. "We don't care just how we look 'cos we ain't gonna have our picture took" is part of an old square dance call. We respect people's privacy and feel that to video them without consent is going too far. Attending a function usually necessitates obtaining the organizer's consent. We are willing to do so, but, as all 2-4-1 events are bespoke and unique to their clients, you will not gain much of an insight from being a "fly on the wall". Because of the inevitable delay this would introduce, there is a very real danger of the date you had in mind getting booked by another client.

"How much notice do I need to give in order to book you?"

Since 2-4-1 represents good quality and value we are much in demand. The short answer, therefore, is "as long as possible". Some of our clients book us on a "same time next year" basis. Most brides' magazines suggest that you book wedding entertainment at least 2 years ahead. A few months ahead will usually suffice, however, particularly if you have some flexibility over your date or you are seeking a Sunday through Thursday booking. In contrast with bands or groups who sometimes exist in name only, or are simply one or more regular artistes and a number of substitutes (who if you are really lucky may have played together before your event!), when you book 2-4-1 you get 2-4-1 with either Henry or Barbara or perhaps both. Consequently early booking is advised. Nevertheless some dates are not as popular as others (Friday the 13th for example!) and we do have last minute cancellations from time to time. Very, very occasionally we have been able to do a dance for clients who have only been able to give us a few hours notice; so it is always worth contacting us. WE always endeavour to help and our agency ABDC has a number of approved artistes that we are able to recommend when 2-4-1 is booked elsewhere.

"How long is a Barn Dance or Ceilidh?"

Some dancers seek their "24 hour badge" which means exactly what it says. However, for anyone not used to dancing, a maximum of about 2 and a half hours of barn and line dancing is about right. Factor in an interval (whether or not you are providing refreshments) to split the dancing into two sessions and you've probably got a full evening's entertainment. If you want to extend the evening then it would be best to continue the dancing as a party disco "to dance the night away". One of the many advantages of using 2-4-1 is that it can move seamlessly from barn dance to disco and even back again if required.

"Can we have a bit of dancing before/after our main event?"

Provided you opt for 2-4-1's recorded music option this can work well. Because a band needs more space and can take longer to set up and clear down this is more difficult to arrange. For this dance spot to feel really worthwhile you really need to allow for it to be at least an hour long.

"Are ceilidhs and barn dances OK for all male or all female groups or parties where there is a significant imbalance of the sexes?"

The short answer is "yes". During the Gold-rush prospectors had to dance together as it was many years before ladies made it to the mining camps. There is a long tradition of same-sex dancing In the Scottish Regiments, and (if we are using recorded music) We also have many Western and International Line Dances (ie "no partner" formations) available if you opt for recorded music. Unfortunately bands just do not have the necessary tunes for these dances in their repertoires. Over the years we have conducted many very successful dances for Scouts, Guides and single-sex schools as well as hen nights and same-sex marriages.

"How much space do we need and is there anything special we need to provide?"

Strictly speaking all you need is an adequate space for the dancing (including the artistes and their equipment) and convenient access to mains electricity. If you are using a hall which has a capacity figure you will need to reduce this by about 30% since barn dancing or reeling requires more space than ballroom or a regular party disco.

"Is there a minimum or maximum number of people you need for a successful dance?"

Barbara and Henry are both skilled in creating a party atmosphere with even a small number of guests, but you really need 20 or so dancers to facilitate a good variety of dances and to give people a chance to sit out from time to time. There is no upper limit. However if you plan to invite more than 250 guests you will need to discuss this with 2-4-1 at the time of booking as we may need to set aside extra resources.

"None of us (only a few of us) have done any of this sort of dancing before. Will this work?"

This is not a problem. Both Henry and Barbara are used to encouraging and teaching absolute beginners. 2-4-1 also has plenty of dances that work with persons of mixed ability. Sometimes going wrong to music is half the fun, provided you have an idea what you should have done. Without that knowledge the dance ceases to be fun. 2-4-1's callers are experts in "reading the floor" to ensure the dances they select match your ability.

"Are there any age restrictions / Is this dancing suitable for people with disabilities?"

The people who attend our functions can be any age. We frequently have parents who bring babes-in-arms, although children need to be at least toddlers to participate actively. Some of our oldest dancers admit to being in their 90s., We've successfully called for wheelchair groups, persons with physical or learning difficulties and dancers who do not speak English. 2-4-1 even has a special "sit-down" dance program for the elderly frail.

"Can you include some of our favourite dances or tunes?"

Thanks to modern technology 2-4-1 caries a huge amount of material to cater for all types of dances together with "disco" music from the 40s to the present day. This means there is usually no problem if we are calling with recorded music. When calling with a band, however, we are more restricted. If there are specific dances or tunes that you would like included it is safest to request these in advance.

"Are there other things we can do besides dancing?"

When you hire 2-4-1 you hire a complete entertainment package so really you do not need anything else. However we are able to call upon the resources of ABDC Entertainments and therefore are able to offer you "extras" such as Jazz or Function Bands, Singers, Pipers, Harpists, Casinos, Rodeo Bulls and Quick-draw Machines - in fact the whole A to Z of entertainment (anything from Acrobats to a Zydeco band) - all supplied by carefully selected quality-approved artistes.

"What about Licenses and Insurance?"

Not the most pleasant of subjects, but nevertheless a very important one. All the electrical equipment used by 2-4-1 has been properly tested and carries current PAT certificates. We hold a PPL permit covering all commercial recordings used and Barbara and Henry hold public liability insurance of 5 million UKP each. Please remember that, if you are hiring a hall or an hotel, you do need to check with the premises that it is licensed for the performance of singing and dancing and carries its own public liability insurance.

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