How to run a ceilidh — online booklet by Derek Kingscote: addressed to organisers rather than callers, but check it out anyway
Barn Dances and How to Make Them Work — archived online page: also addressed to organisers rather than callers, but again, worth checking out
A Caller's Check List — "a list of questions to ask when someone asks you to call a ceilidh for them" by Hugh Stewart. Read this!
http://round.soc.srcf.net/dances/calling.htm — Brief and very good advice on calling for the first time, from Anthony Stone
So — You want to be a Caller, by Charles Bolton. Small booklet of useful advice. Now available online from DLBMusic (see below).
Calling for Contra Dances: A Basic Text by Tony Parkes. Second edition now out. Published by Hands Four Books. A substantial and well-considered volume. Although aimed at American readers and New England-style dances, much of the advice on calling applies to English barn dances. Covers Getting Started, Delivering the Calls, Choosing your Material, Working with Music (i.e. tape/band/etc.), Sound Equipment, Calling for Special groups, etc. An excellent read. Highly recommended for beginning callers willing to put a bit of time into self-improvement.
http://colinhume.com/callers.htm — suggestions for callers, by Colin Hume. Very comprehensive. Might easily be too much to digest at first, but it has good stuff.
http://www.users.waitrose.com/~cresby/songs/calltips.htm — "Mr Red" has collated useful little tips from a number of callers
http://www.sailpb.com/barn-dance-bands-and-caller.php — Tony Slinger has helpfully listed a sample programme of dances
Community Dances Manual, originally pub. by EFDSS, in 7 booklets, now extensively revised in the 2005 edition.
The Barn Dance Book by John Reay, pub. by Barn Dance Publications, Surrey, 1990. Good set of 65 varied dances, occasionally idiosyncratic. Tunes too, but only one tune per dance. Section on dancing and playing a country dance band.
Callers' Choice vols 1 and 2. Pub. by EFDSS (see above). Two volumes, with nearly 20 useful dances in each volume, with some tunes. From EFDSS or DLBMusic.
The Barn Dance series (Barn Dance Party, Barn Dance Fiesta, Barn Dance Shindig, …) by the Ring O'Bells Band containing a varied set of dances with tunes (two or three per dance). Accompanying CDs available, see the main stockist, Barn Dance Publications, listed below.
Elements of English Country Dance, edited by Hugh Stewart. This does not contain any dances but it describes the background, the styles, the moves, etc. in a readable and very informative way. Inexpensive. Recommended. You can browse it on-line, or buy it as an e-book or go to 'The Round' for routes to a paper version.
The Country Dance Club Book, edited by Hugh Stewart. This by contrast gives instructions for 100 popular dances, with background information and many helpful hints on how to call them, plus explanations of figures and all sorts of useful advice. My top recommendation for any caller thinking of moving on from the barn dance scene to the Dance Club scene. Read more about it here.
The Oak Tree, edited by Paul Hudson. Published by Dave Mallinson Publications, 1999. Contains 36 dances graded easy/moderate/advanced with appropriate tunes (2 per dance), plus a glossary of dance terms and two sample programmes for an evening's dancing, one for less experienced and one for more experienced dancers. An interesting and varied selection.
The Willow Tree, by Hugh Rippon and Dave Mallinson. Published by Dave Mallinson Publications, 1996. Contains 26 dances, some traditional and some by Hugh Rippon, with appropriate tunes (2 per dance) beautifully presented. All suitable for barn dances.
Twentieth Century Dances (Dawnsiau yr Ugeinfed Ganrif) edited by John Mosedale and Eddie Jones. £7.50 from the Welsh National Folk Dance Society 37 new dances, some easy some harder, some interesting new ideas to try. Includes preferred tunes for some dances, very clear and readable score. Bilingual Welsh-English (except that the titles of dances and tunes are Welsh-only, which is fine, but a guide to pronunciation might have been a good idea!)
Antony's Country Dance Database is a huge compendium of over 7000 dances. Good for looking up dances when you know the name, the source, or the author.
John Brown's Ceilidh Caller site, although it seems to have been abandoned only part-built, has a list of dances (not all of them included here) and a short informal page for new callers. You can download that page from http://www.ceilidhcalling.co.uk/docs.php in both HTML and PDF format.
Getting hold of music is the band's job, not the caller's job. There are lots of tune books in print. If you're just going to get one book, I recommend either Band Swing or Join the Band, both with good tunes already organised into sets for dancing. You can just pick them up and go. Remember to get a copy for each player: the authors have earned their royalties. Can be obtained from standard bookshops, I believe.
Band Swing and its sequel Band Time edited by Pete Mac. Published by Dave Mallinson. Has a useful idea: easy versions of some of the hard tunes, e.g. 'Son of Levi' is an easy version that can be played alongside or instead of that tricky little number, Levi Jackson Rag. ISBN 9781899512560 and 9781899512751. Note: there are second parts available for these books, provided free by the Cat's Whiskers band (bravo!) downloadable from: http://midlandsbarndances.co.uk/PeteMacBooks.html
Play In The Band, edited by Barry Moule. Published by the Cotswold Music Society. 1995. ISBN 1 870635 19 1. Also has those extra things you sometimes need, like "Happy Birthday".
Join the Band by Barbara Wood. Tunes for near-beginners as a core repertoire, with simplified parts for real beginners. Also ideal for a young person's band. Might only be available from Folk Camps publications. ISBN: 0 85418 079 6. Companion volume for transposing instruments (Bb, Eb) ISBN: 978-0-9538659-3-2.
If you have to keep the costs down, you can find a list of suitable tunes via the 'Music' page, and then locate the tunes themselves on the web. It's a very personal list. Your taste might vary.
See my other website at colinhume.com/abc.aspx?Title= for a list of tunes available there. Many are set tunes for specific dances, but there are plenty of others. See also the ABC search engines mentioned on the Music page.
Tel. & Fax: +32 (0)9 372 96 35
55 Arle Road
Glos GL51 8LA
Tel: 01242 692243
No website. Many titles kept in stock.
Used to be conservation-oriented, now trying to become modernist. Magazine, library. Membership includes insurance.
Suppose someone twists their ankle at a dance, or slips and breaks their arm. They then decide to sue for loss of earnings. I've not known this happen, but it could, and I can invent scenarios where the caller might easily be judged liable for not exercising due care. For example, one of the sets got very boisterous and the caller didn't check them; or there was a problem with the floor and a woman got her heel stuck and twisted her ankle. (That happened to my wife.) In that second case it might be held that the caller should have inspected the floor and at least have warned the dancers.
EFDSS members are insured for folk activities, including calling, and you can also insure the band as a whole, but I believe that doesn't cover loss or theft of kit.
Specialist insurance services, including explicit insurance against public liability while calling and cover against theft, are available at reasonable cost from Musicians Insurance Services (with whom I have no connection).
I've also been given a recommendation for New Moon Insurance — I checked a few sites and the comments were uniformly positive.
Finally – if you drive to do a paid engagement, you may need business insurance for your car.