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Dancing Information

What dances do you do?

In a typical booking there is usually time for 8 to 10 dances - as a rule of thumb, allow 15 minutes per dance (including the time to get dancers onto the dance floor, arranged into sets and learning the dance by walking through without music first).
We don't get hung up on what the difference is, say, between 'ceilidh' and 'barn dance' (you probably won't notice any), we just aim to do fun dances you'll enjoy. But if you'd like a focus on a particular tradition or style, just ask. For instance, we can provide a whole evening of traditional Scottish ceilidh - Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Strip the Willow (Orcadian and/or normal variants), Cumberland Square Eight, Canadian (Highland) Barn Dance etc.
Typically we might start with Buttered Peas (a simple Northumbrian dance for 2 couple sets where you and your partner dance with a different couple each time) and Virginia Reel (a longways set dance popular in both Scottish & English traditions). Common dances to end the evening with are Riverside Jig (a modern Scottish dance) and Circassian Circle (a traditional way to end Scottish ceilidhs; for weddings we have a customised variant that features the bridal couple in the middle of the circle).

What space do we need? What sort of flooring should we have?

We are experienced in working with a variety of different spaces and will set the band up and adjust dances as necessary to provide a fun evening of dancing, whatever the size and shape of the venue. If you are in the process of selecting a venue, we recommend you look for a square or rectangular dance area with no obstructions or trip-hazards. Ideally the band need a space at least 3m wide by 2m deep plus space to the front on each side for our two PA speaker stands (approximately 1m squared for each). We recommend a stage is provided for the band if possible - this allows the band, and particularly the dance caller, to be seen and offers some protection to our sound equipment and instruments from the exuberance of the dancers. The caller usually needs to be able to get onto the dance floor to help set up the dancers, so a low stage is best, or front steps for higher stages. To calculate the optimum dance floor size we suggest you allow 1 square metre of space per person likely to dance at any one time. Usually space will be needed around the dance area for chairs and possibly tables, for people watching/dancers to retreat to for a break. For maximum enjoyment it is worth trying to match the size of your venue to the number of expected guests - too small a dance floor and dancers could be restricted in their movements and risk injuries from tripping over/bumping into surrounding furniture; too big a space can result in a lack of atmosphere. A wooden floor is best for dancing. However a portable disco dance floor laid over carpet is usually not large enough for ceilidh dancing and can cause people to trip as they dance over the edges, so it may be better to go without. For marquees on a lawn, some form of flooring is usually needed, at least for the band, with hard flooring being preferable to matting (as this is usually made up of separate pieces tacked together, dancers easily catch their feet in the loose joins and fall).

What exactly is a ceilidh?

A ceilidh or ceili (both pronounced 'kay-lee') is a social event with Scottish (ceilidh) or Irish (ceili) folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling. At one of our ceilidhs you will get involved in traditional dances (with instruction, otherwise known as 'calling') and be entertained with traditional tunes in between. Ceilidh dances (also known as set dances or country dances) generally involve couples (occasionally 3's or 4's) formed into a circle or longways set, square set, couple/two couple set etc. The building blocks of the dances are moves such as left/right hand turn, left/right hand star, two hand turn (swing) and do-si-do, as well as circling, galloping, casting-off, promenading, grand chain movements etc. The origin of these traditional dances goes back quite a few centuries, evolving to result in the inter-related traditions of Scottish ceilidh, Irish ceili, English & American barndance/hoedown, Welsh Tympath etc. There are more similarities than differences and some dances are found in more than 1 tradition, such as the Virginia Reel. There are also ceilidh dances created in modern times but based on the traditional moves described above. We usually pick and mix dances from the different traditions - except where otherwise requested and on occasions such as Burns Night. The dances are a lot of fun to join in with - but if you're not physically able, they're fun to watch too! If you're able but feeling self-conscious, do give it a go (after a drink or two if necessary but not too many more!) - getting it a bit wrong just adds to the general fun and makes it even more satisfying when you do get the hang of it. And that's bound to happen eventually as the pattern of each dance is repeated anywhere from 5 to 9 or more times through. You will also get more familiar with the 'building block' moves through the subsequent dances.

What do you do for the bride and groom's first dance?

There are a variety of 'first dance' options that we have provided for previous weddings and we are happy to work with you to ensure that you get the start to the evening that you want. A popular option is for the bride and groom to have their first dance to a track of music that you provide on a smartphone or other MP3 player and we play through our PA. This would usually be at the time we are booked to start the ceilidh then we go into the first ceilidh dance straight away after, whilst everyone is still on the dance floor. The band do not play cover versions of popular songs and would not recommend this in any case for choreographed first dances, as the timing is likely not to be exactly the same as the version you have practiced to. Another common option is to go straight into the first ceilidh dance with everyone - usually Buttered Peas where you stay with your partner throughout (e.g. bride & groom together) but mix up each time through to dance with different other couples. However we can do a different first ceilidh dance by request - the Gay Gordons being an example of a first dance we have been asked for before. If the bridal party do not need instruction, we can do a few times through for them, then stop and explain the dance/do a walkthrough to allow everyone else to join in.


Do you supply your own PA? Is it PAT-tested? What power supply do you need?

Jiggerty comes with a full PA (Public Address) system, suitable for venues with a capacity of up to 250 people. It draws less than 1kW which is easily provided by a normal mains supply. We require one standard mains power socket at the venue to plug into which should be not more than 5 metres away from the band’s performance area. We are able to play music acoustically if desired, from a fixed position or wandering amongst your guests, however called dances would require the use of our PA. We take our electrical safety and the protection of our PA equipment very seriously. We always check the socket we are plugging into with a socket tester and will not use any socket which the tester shows is incorrectly wired. We then plug in a Masterplug RCD adapter and a Surge Guard four socket extension lead before connecting our PA. Our PA equipment is checked by visual inspection (as detailed on page 11 of the Health & Safety Executive INDG247 leaflet Electrical Safety for Entertainers and in Maintaining Portable Electrical Equipment) with additional electrical tests (' PAT test') where applicable. If you are looking for us to perform outwith a permanent building (e.g. in a marquee or outdoors), please discuss this with us so that we can ensure electrical safety. We can only agree to use an external generator as a power source if this has surge protection and has been supplied by a reputable company. Any cabling/sockets used outdoors must be suitable for outdoor use – if in doubt, please seek the advice of a professional electrician.

Can we use your PA for speeches to play our own music?

We are happy to give you access to a microphone for speeches/announcements. There would be no extra charge if required for a time when our PA is already set up for your event, e.g. in our half-time break - this can be arranged by speaking to us when we arrive. If you need us to arrive earlier in order to provide this prior to the ceilidh (e.g. for wedding speeches), we would need to make an additional charge for our time. We can play recorded music through the PA system when the band is having a half-time break for no extra charge and/or at additional cost after the band has finished, for a ‘disco’ end to the evening (including provision of some disco lighting) - please discuss this with us if you are interested. We ask you to provide the music you want on a smartphone or MP3 player - we provide the cabling needed to connect via a standard headphone socket to our PA. We are also happy for your family/friends to use our PA and microphones to provide a spot of musical entertainment - please discuss with us in advance to arrange.

What parking and access do you require?

We require at least 1 standard size parking space as close to the performance area as possible, to provide a short, safe access route for the transportation of our sound equipment (or an unloading space next to the venue and a parking place nearby). Up to 3 parking spaces may be required as band members usually travel separately. We like to have access to the performance area approximately 45 minutes before we are due to start playing, in order to set up and sound-check. Please discuss with us if there are any flights of stairs on the access route or if there is likely to be a problem accessing the venue/performance area in advance of the performance time.

Do we need to provide refreshments for the band?

For a typical event the band will be out of their houses for at least 6 hours (allowing for travelling, setting up, performance and packing up afterwards). We would therefore appreciate you arranging refreshments for the band (equivalent to a meal and 2 drinks per person) - it is customary for the band to be invited to share in food and drink provided for guests. If this isn't possible, please let us know when booking so we can make alternative arrangements.

Can you play outdoors?

We are able to play music acoustically outdoors, either from a fixed position or wandering amongst your guests. In the summer this can be a nice way to start an evening before going inside for dances but as it is quite demanding for the musicians we would prefer to do this for no longer than 45 minutes without a break. We can also play acoustically indoors however in an enclosed space the noise of guests talking tends to prevent the music being heard by anyone other than those immediately close by. Called dances require the use of our PA and therefore to ensure electrical safety in case of wet weather, the band would need to be set up within a gazebo or other similar shelter. This should also provide protection from wind (which affects the playing of the whistle) and cold which affects both the tuning and playing of all instruments (if the musicians' hands become too chilled to work effectively). Any cabling/sockets used outdoors must be suitable for outdoor use – if in doubt, please seek the advice of a professional electrician. We can only agree to use an external generator as a power source if this has surge protection and has been supplied by a reputable company. As the British weather can bring rain at any time of year it is better if you can provide a marquee or similar covering for dancers and spectators, or to have a back-up indoor option. It is possible to dance on a lawn but not ideal, as high-heeled shoes in particular will tend to sink into the grass. Hard flooring is recommended where possible - the matting flooring offered with marquees can be danced on but there is a risk of dancers catching their feet under the tacked edges and falling.

Do you have Public Liability Insurance?

Jiggerty hold Public Liability Insurance with a current limit of £5 million which is renewed annually in March. We are happy to email a copy of our certificate to your venue if required. The original certificate can be produced on our arrival at your event if requested.

Booking Information

What if I need to cancel or rearrange my booking?

Cancellations will incur the loss of your deposit. Changing the date of your booking may be possible without penalty depending on how much notice we are given and whether we have turned away other work in the meantime - if agreed, your original deposit will be deducted from the rearranged booking cost with an additional deposit being required to confirm the new date.

Where do you travel to?

Jiggerty's standard quote is inclusive of travel for up to 1 hour in any direction from the mid-point between Bristol & Bath. Trips further than this are sometimes possible by special arrangement - please contact us to discuss.

What does it cost to book the band and how long do you play for?

Please contact us with the date and timings of your event for a quote. If you do not otherwise specify we will provide a quote for both a 3 and 4 piece band (both inclusive of dance caller). Our standard quote covers up to 2.5 hours of ceilidh music and dancing within a 3 hour period finishing by 11pm. Please note that we do not generally reduce our price for shorter performances as the time to travel, set up & break down our equipment takes up the majority of any booking. Commonly we perform 8-11pm with a half-hour break in the middle (which can accommodate food, speeches etc) or a 2 hour period without a break, e.g. 9-11pm. If you would like an earlier start than 8pm and/or later finish than 11pm, please mention this when you contact us for a quote - we are happy to tailor an evening to your requirements however playing for longer or finishing later than 11pm is likely to affect the cost. We usually arrive 45 minutes before our start time to set up - if an earlier arrival time is required an additional charge may be made. We can also provide a 'disco' end to the evening by playing recorded music provided by you on smartphone/iPod/MP3 player through our PA for an extra cost per hour. Some disco lighting is included. Please ask us about this if you are interested.

How do I book the band?

To confirm bookings we require a deposit which should be sent within a week of your last contact with us, in order to be sure that we remain available for your chosen date - please ask us for details of how to pay this (by BACS or cheque) when you are ready to go ahead. Once we have received your deposit we will send you a letter containing details of what we have agreed (date, venue, timings etc) to form a contract. We ask for the balance to be paid in cash at the event or by BACS/cheque in advance so that payment has cleared by the date of your event.