For those unacquainted with them, English barn dances are social occasions where, frequently, many of those present have little experience of this type of dancing. Easy dances are therefore a must.
This site gives the notation for a basic repertoire for a beginning caller. It was originally put together for my own purposes but other people found it useful. No claims to be comprehensive. It's just a list of some that I used to use myself as a beginning caller, mainly chestnuts plus a few that took my fancy. There are lots more around, but there's more than enough here to make a basic repertoire.
The excellent webfeet site (a useful place to look for bands) has this to say:
"A good Barn Dance caller has the ability to encourage reluctant dancers onto the floor, help them through the evening with matter-of-fact explanations and minimum of jargon. It's his or her job to get everyone involved with the understanding that a good proportion of them might not know the dances or have a very vague recollection from years before."But you can add to that that the caller should be able to choose appropriate dances for the occasion — choosing slightly challenging ones for some groups, or simple but energetic ones for other groups, or a mix, as needed. Ideally, the caller and the band should be able to get a good match between dances and tunes, too.
The original version of this site was made in the 1990's, all stitched together, learning as I went, hosted on the free webspace that came with my ISP. Now, many years older and no longer calling nor even dancing much, I had considered letting the site quietly die, but it seems people still make use of it; so here is an updated version, with its own website.
I am Colin Hume of Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England. I am a caller and dance writer and have run hundreds of Barn Dances. I now call mainly for experienced dancers, but I'm well aware that there are many more people who want to dance the dances on this site than those on my main site, ColinHume.com
In 2017 Thomas handed over the site to me. I rewrote it in PHP, but I haven't made any major changes as far as you the users are concerned: most of the words are still Thomas's. Where I've made big changes or added a chunk of text it will be prefaced by this "Colin says" arrow, so you'll know which of us to blame! In 2020 I handed the site over to CDSS.
This website is now sponsored by The Country Dance and Song Society.
"CDSS connects and supports people in building and sustaining vibrant communities through participatory dance, music, and song traditions that have roots in English and North American culture."