Organizing an evening requires a lot of effort and stress, but the recognition of the dancers then brings great satisfaction. The important thing is not to get discouraged. Here are some tips to help you remember everything.
Choose the concept
You probably already have in mind the kind of dance (salsa, tango, rock…) and the ideal day, but think about how you could bring a little originality to your evening in order to attract more dancers and stand out from the competition. Here is a list of ideas that are far from exhaustive:
● Ask a teacher to give an introduction in the early evening. This will have the advantage of bringing people in earlier and will allow beginners or non-dancers to enjoy the evening.
● Suggest a dress-code by wearing a suit or accessory of a certain color. You will be surprised by the number of people who play the game.
● Offer haribo candy only to those who respect the dress-code.
● Organize a quarter hour American time where women have to invite men they don’t know.
● Have a demo of a dance that is not the dance of the evening. For example, bring a couple of tango if your evening is salsa. The audience will be delighted to discover something else.
● Organize a contest by drawing lots for an entry ticket number. Save drinks.
● Invite a popular music group or DJ if resources permit.
● Find a more original title than just “Salsa Night”, especially if you have a theme.
● Bring a photographer by announcing his presence: many dancers love to know that they will be in beautiful pictures.
Find a room
Finding the right place for the evening is of course the most important but also the most difficult thing.
Event room rentals are available in many locations. The price is variable, per hour or per evening, including or not insurance. Determine the capacity you need based on the number of participants expected. Check the maximum authorized schedule, which sometimes does not exceed 1:00 a. m. Ease of access should be taken into account: make sure that people do not find the room too far away and that there is parking or places to park.
If you are an association, it is sometimes possible to obtain a municipal hall free of charge or at a lower cost. However, you should do this well in advance, as these rooms are usually in high demand, and you should not miss the meeting that determines the assignments in the schedule. Pay attention to the quality of the soil.
Finally, you can choose to contact establishments that organize dance evenings, such as dances, restaurants and bars, to suggest that they organize your evening at home. They may be interested because you bring them customers, without them having to deal with advertising or music. Of course, it is more difficult to get a slot such as Saturday where they often already have an evening that works. Especially since the two-person dance audience is known to consume little. He dances, takes up space and drinks water. This is how we find some salsa or milongas evenings at the beginning of the week or on Sunday evenings. But for you, it’s a good deal, because you don’t have any money to pay and can even earn money by negotiating with the boss if the evening is a success. The DJ is usually not your responsibility because it is the establishment that collects the tickets and drinks, but you must find one or take care of the music yourself if the resident DJ is not equipped with pieces for your kind of dance.
Arrange the place
Some rooms are already fully equipped to host a dance evening, but others are totally “naked” and need to redouble their efforts (and money) to adapt them. Sound and light shops allow you to rent any equipment for an evening (remember to put them in competition). Make sure that the expenses do not force you to set an entry price that is too high compared to what is usual in the industry.
Sound: you need to install amplified speakers. The power depends on the size of the room and the number of participants. Two 250W speakers often do the job. This equipment is bulky to transport and requires a minimum of knowledge to make the right connections and adjustments.
Lighting and decoration: the basic lights of a room are absolutely not adapted to an evening because they are too bright. You must therefore rent projectors, whose intensity, orientation, colours and possible effects can be adjusted. No need for very sophisticated equipment, couple dancers just want to be in a subdued atmosphere, neither too dark nor too bright. You can make the room warmer by adding some decorations related to the theme of the evening or the dance style. For example, a tropical or Cuban atmosphere for a salsa evening.
Music: we usually use a DJ, whose remuneration is very variable because some are for fun and others are real known professionals attracting many people. Count at least 100 €. You have to take care of bringing a mixer. The common alternative is to use a playlist on a computer with software such as Virtual DJ. If you are in charge of it, plan enough songs to last the whole evening, with slow ones for beginners (often rather early in the evening) and more complex ones for advanced ones. In any case, be in good standing with Sacem: you have the obligation to declare your evening and pay it the royalties, whether your evening is free or paid for, inside or outside, small or large. Unless it takes place in an establishment that already pays it (and often has to pay the Spré as well).
Beverages: Plan a stock of soft drinks and water bottles. Often, a drink is included with the entrance ticket. Try not to plan too widely as you may end up with a stock you don’t know what to do with. The sale of alcoholic beverages requires a permit that is difficult to obtain, but dancers can do without it.
Cleaning: you must return the room in perfect condition, otherwise you will no longer be welcome. Either you take care of the household or you can use a company. But don’t expect to find a clean floor when you arrive. It will therefore be necessary to clean up also before the dance evening to offer a track that is neither sticky nor too slippery.
Make the communication
The public practicing a social dance is relatively small and therefore requires a very targeted communication to reach it.
Contact dance schools and associations to get the information out to their students. However, do not rely too much on the effectiveness of this approach: few will relay the information if they have nothing to gain, especially if they consider you as a competitor. However, the success of a dance evening often depends on the involvement of a school, with a large number of students. Partnering with one of them, naming them on flyers, making a reduced rate for their members, can therefore be inevitable.
Distribute a flyer, i.e. a leaflet, that has been designed by yourself or a computer graphics designer. Try not to overload it with text that no one will read, stay on the essentials (place, price, time…). Be sure to pay for the rights to the image if it is not free and indicate the legal notices. Find the places your audience frequents (bars, schools,…) then go there to distribute your flyers or leave a pile in plain view by asking for permission (otherwise, do it discreetly…). A common practice is to put it on the windshield of cars parked near a party of the same type: so, at the end of the evening, the dancers discover the announcement of yours.
Create a Facebook event and invite your friends by asking them to share it on their wall. Take again the visual of the flyer and take particular care in describing the evening (not all in capital letters, no mistakes, do not forget any information…). You can share it in groups and on local pages that have a report, but be careful not to spam: do it once, not every day. The event also allows you to quickly get an idea of the minimum number of participants and even to cancel the evening if you see that it does not motivate the crowd. Some people are in favour of launching it last week so that people don’t forget, others a month before. The more you target a large audience, which will even come from far away, the more you need to anticipate.
Refer to the evening on specialized websites, forums, the local newspaper… Consult this article which details the ways dancers use to find the parties. Send a mailing list if you have contacts.
Ask the DJ to help you promote through his Facebook and the microphone of the other parties he hosts. In general, ask as much knowledge as possible to help you use word of mouth.