Band Setup - preparing the venue

Here are some general comments about the set up:-

  1. Free access is needed to start setting up the band 45 minutes immediately before the start time for the ceilidh or barn dance but may be longer and earlier if access is difficult. If free access and set up is delayed by venue management or for any other reason not due to the band, the start of performance may be delayed. The performance will still end at the scheduled time.
  2. The venue needs to have somewhere to park and unload the musician's vehicle/s that is close to and with easy access to where they are going to set up. There must be easy and safe access to the performance area. (e.g. no clambering up wobbly hay bales or step ladders) Access requiring negotiation of flights of stairs, a long way from vehicle parking etc. must be stated beforehand and agreed by us.
  3. If playing in an area that is separate from where the reception is taking place, setup can start whatever is happening.
  4. If setting up is in the same area as the reception is taking place, then speeches ideally need to be over by the start of set up. (If not, setup is done quietly during speeches with equipment being moved to as close as possible to the playing location before that.) Completion of set up would take place as soon as the bride & groom, or the venue [depending who is in charge of the schedule], give permission to go ahead. The aim would be to be ready as soon as possible, but almost certainly later than the original start time.
  5. The venue needs to have put a sturdy table in place where we are to play, on which a heavy mixing desk and amplifiers can be placed (typically 1.6x0.6 meters). The location of the band needs to be central along one of the sides of any dance area so that the caller can view the lines of dancers (i.e. don't tuck the band in a corner of the room.) There needs to be a 13amp power socket within 5 meters of the table.
  6. There should be lighting where the band are playing (to see music, instruments etc.), though the rest of the area could be a little dimmer (for atmosphere)
  7. We are happy to play at floor level if there is no stage available, but it is the hirer's responsibility to ensure that the band and equipment are safe from the audience.  If things get so wild that dancers are knocking into musicians and their equipment, or walking into the band's performance area, the band will stop their performance.


  1. The space needed for the band depends on the number of musicians in the line-up booked, but a rule of thumb to give you a general idea, is for 3 to 4 musicians, a space 3m by 5 m and another 1.5 m width for each additional musician. We will have speakers on stands, which have to be placed a few meters either side of the area the musicians are using.
  2. The venue needs to clear a large enough area for dancing, ensuring there are no spurious tables and chairs for people to trip on in the dance area. It is advisable to arrange the room, so that there are not big areas of table where people can hide if they are a bit shy. It is best to have people fairly immediate to the dance area, so they feel they want to stand up and join in. In a marquee, typically at least half the marquee area is made available for dancing.
  3. Flooring should be as even as possible over the entire available area. In a hotel carpet, or a completely wooden floor is ideal. In a marquee, WELL pegged down matting on reasonably even ground is fine. Small wooden dance floors laid on carpet or matting are not very good, as dancers will go beyond the dance floor, and can trip on its edge. It is better not to have the wooden dance floor at all.
  4. Equipment is often set up as the venue staff clear some of the tables and chairs from the dining area, and rearrange the room for the dancing. We have to obey the venue manager in terms of set up, so it is good for you to make sure that they are aware when we need access and where we are to set up, so that we are not delayed in starting the performance.
  5. A sound check is needed just before the start, which usually takes about 4 to 5 minutes of playing a few bars of music, making a few adjustments for the acoustics of the room, another few bars of music, adjustments, etc.
  6. If the start time is delayed due to not having free access at the required time, or not having the required facilities, then the musicians will still finish at the scheduled time. If the leader (of the musicians) is asked by the hirer to continue for longer, then 'Extra Time' charges will apply.
  7. The above applies to normal indoor / marquee venues. If you are intending any part of the performance or dancing to be outdoors, this must have been stated on the booking form and special conditions apply. See 'Preparing for outdoor events-considerations & requirements'
  8. If you are having a Disco and Ceilidh on the same evening, it is important to have them in the right relationship to each other, both location and music wise:

The band need to have room to play and locate their loudspeakers. It is best if the disco can be set up at the other end of the room from the band. If this is not possible, the disco can set up either behind the band, or to one side if the venue is big enough. However:

i) the band need to be central to the dance area

ii) If the disco is in the same area as the band, it needs to be set up and sound tested before the band arrive to set up.

iii) If the disco speakers are at the same end of the room as the band, then the disco needs to either play quietly until the band have cleared their equipment, or wait until the band have cleared before turning music to disco volumes. The band will clear away as quickly as possible. (Working close to disco speakers can cause hearing damage, a health and safety issue, and a disaster for a musician).

The Music

If there is a break (perhaps for a buffet), during the Ceilidh, then the band would normally put on a CD of some appropriate kind of folk music, as background music. [The disco could do this, as long as it was at a low background volume, so people can talk to each other.]

The first dance can either be with the Ceilidh Band or the disco. Having the first dance to music from the disco is fine, as it is a short, one off event. The caller would then get everyone up to dance the first Ceilidh dance immediately afterwards.


This applies to our bands:


Ringerike Ceilidh & Barn Dance Band


Licketysplit American Barn Dance Band


Ceilidh Idealach Scottish Ceilidh Band


Coulan Sona Irish Ceilidh Band


Hullabaloo English Barn Dance Band


Austentatious Jane Austen Country Dance Band


Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy English Country Dance Band


The Bagels Klezmer Band

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