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Making New Dancers Feel at Home is Key to Retention

Retention and growing clubs are topics on most club members’ minds. Here are hospitality tips for clubs with new dancers. The ideas come from the 59th national square dance convention in Louisville.

1. Don’t let people sit alone at a dance. They will be unhappy. This is especially true of new dancers who often don’t know anyone well. They will go home unsure why they are unhappy, but the reason is because they didn’t connect with anyone at the dance.

2. Invite new dancers to join your square. Work especially hard the first two months to include them. After about two months, they will feel as if they are part of the “family.”

3. Pick up students and take them home rather than expect them to drive on their own.

4. Wait two or three years before making a new dancer into an officer.

5. Close the kitchen so the club doesn’t hang out there instead of dancing and mixing with guests and new dancers. Doing this may require having a frank talk at a club meeting.

6. Include new dancers in activities outside of dancing such as a sports event or concert.

7. Square new dancers with experienced dancers, not with other new dancers. When a square forms, however, make no changes in members. People feel stupid when someone points out they are having problems. Then they will feel like quitting. Don’t split up couples unless they’re having special problems.

8. Keep new dancers close to the front of the room. Using dance cards can force new dancers to dance upfront.

9. Old-timers should avoid discussing club problems at dances. Save those negative discussions for club meetings.

(These ideas are from the seminar, “Fun Dances are Successful Dances” by Tom Davis, Jerry Junck and Nick Hartley. Jerry Junck and Nick Hartley are both callers who teach calling. Hartley has been a full-time traveling caller since 1986.)

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