Is dancing welcome at a session?

Is dancing welcome at a session?

Hi - Our session group is considering moving to a pub that is carpeted. My main contribution to the session has been step dancing, and others dance as well.

Following is a discussion excerpt from one of our members:
- Space for dancing? I don’t think this should be a major criterion since dancing is not an integral component of an Irish session - it’s more an extension of a session.

I understand that not everyone loves dancers, and that there is a wide spectrum of talent. But if the dancing quality is reasonable and not done for every dance, is it integral or just nice to have, or is it annoying? I would like to get opinions from the wider community.

Thanks all. I’m feeling a bit down about the whole thing, so please be gentle. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mary Jo

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

yes

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Well, that’s my personal opinion. There’s nothing better than seeing
people get and dance to the music you’re making; it is supposed to be
dance music, isn’t it?

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

We have dancers occasionally-I like it….you’re right, it is dance music

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Hell yeah! I love having people dance to the music.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Dancers won’t like a carpet. In fact, viable dancing may not be possible. The feet need to slide, glide and change direction rapidly. If the floor isn’t smooth then there is the real risk of injury.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Dancers can come to our pub any time, we love to play for dancers.
Perhaps you could bring a 4x4 piece of plywood into the new pub. I have read that in the past, dancers would dance on half doors removed from houses. So once when we performed with a step dancer, and found an unsuitable surface, I ran home and picked up the biggest plywood storm shutter I had and strapped it to the roof of the car and brought it to the venue. The dancer had to watch herself, as she had little room to play with, but it worked quite well for us.
If the temporary dance floor works out, perhaps the publican could store it in the back room from week to week.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

I like dancers provided that they’re good enough to dance to tunes played by live musicians at whatever tempo. I have no use for dancers that can only dance to canned music played at specific tempos. Sean nos dancers are my favorites to play for, and set dancers a close second. I loooooaaathe playing for competition step dancers. I’m not a jukebox and I refuse to be treated like one.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Playing for competition step dancers is like playing accompaniment to choreography.

Playing for sean nos dancers is a mutually creative thing, there is spontanaiety and fun for both dancer and musician. There is mutual respect, I always feel like I’m an equal partner with a sean nos dancer or a good group of set dancers.

with the competition step dancers I feel like there’s an arbitrary and very specific way to play the tune and if it’s not exactly like the CD it’s no good for them. What a load of b*ll*x

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

And I CAN play the way they want, I just don’t ENJOY it. It’s too fast, there’s no room for variations or exploration. They may as well dance to a click track.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Dancing is always welcome in a session, as long as the dancer is respectful towards the musicians. That being said, not having a session in a place just because it’s carpeted is rather silly. A dancer, as was mentioned before, can bring something to dance on, or they can just enjoy dancing (even if they aren’t so loud) on the carpet, or they can just do soft shoe stuff.

A session is a place where people come together, enjoy each others company and create music. If a dancer is there and hears something that brings them to their feet, so much the better. Too often, in the case of competitive step dancers, they think it’s a show and it’s all about them. I’m not at all saying that is your case, but any negative response might be coming from that point of view.

By the way, I am both a musician and a dancer.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Pub, dance, tunes.
What’s not to like?

Posted by .

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Now, don’t work yourself into a frenzy, S.U.S.
Three posts in a row without anyone else in the discussion is a sign that you are getting a bit carried away.
That being said, I agree with everything you said.
Fortunately, the dancers that come to a session are generally the type that prefer to work with musicians, not with a recording.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Thanks for the honest feedback!

Our sessions are loads of fun, and dancing with live musicians is a joy. The beer and craic are pretty good, too.

The small board is good idea, and keeping it at the pub should be possible.

I try not to be a diva. I can’t say I always succeed… ๐Ÿ˜›.

I don’t dance sean nos (yet!), but Canadian east coast dancing can also be danced to any tempo, if you’re good. Then if you’re patient, a tune pops out now and then that is perfect for Irish (competitive style). I don’t dance to every tune (can’t, I’m too old) - but some tunes just make you move, whether you want to or not. That’s what made me fall in love with the music.

I look forward to any other comments.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

It’s a little broad of a question, isn’t it? "Are musicians welcome at a session?" Well, yes, but some are more welcome than others… same with dancers.
I recall one time when a nice couple came in to the pizza joint back in Portland, and sat down to listen. After a while, they got up to dance, and it turned out that they were a pair of quite accomplished swing dancers. It was fantastic…

As to the carpet issue - how solid are the tables in the new place? There’s an old tradition for you…

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Providing that you were happy to dance to whatever was being played, I’m sure that you would be welcome at most sessions.

Asking the musicians to play particular tunesets for you might be a different matter though, as dancing is only a secondary activity at a session, as has already been pointed out

I very much approve of it myself - it always seems to give the session a "lift", and goes down well with the pub customers.

At least two of our local session pubs (wooden floors!) have impromptu dancing. If you are ever in Bristol (UK) you would be made very welcome!

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

BTW - the best session pubs don’t have carpets!

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

A strip tease is always welcome at the OM, but we would be willing to settle for a well performed belly dance.

- chris

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Very occasionally down the years we’ve had a dancer or two at a session, typical the daughter(s) of some of the players, regulars or friends, and usually underage for the pub environment. It always made for a nice addition to the evening.

Never played in a pub where there was enough space for a set of dancers unless all the drinkers were thrown out.

Of course we get the odd drunk person or three that will just make up their own dance cod-irish or otherwise. This doesn’t upset me the way it does some folks provided they are enjoying themselves rather trying to offend.

- Chris

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Hi merry may… looks like you should get yerself a small wooden board to dance on. proably just over a meter square with a handle at one end should do the trick.

Not only would it be useful for sessions… but you could take it along to festivals where a dance floor is not always present.

I am probably in the same stiuation as you, I stepdanced competitively for around 10 years but have recently retired. I now dance mostly at folk festivals and teach step dance workshops. I also play fiddle and will jump up at the occasional session if provoked (or drunk)

It’s always a good idea to dance to the tune… it sounds better that way and fits in with the music. It was mentioned above that stepdancers just dance their choreography and not listen to the music. It’s not that way with some of us… but there seems to be a large majority of it. If you can teach yourself to rhythmically improvise… it helps a lot!

so to answer your question… dancing is not integral at a session… just nice to have… and never annoying if the dancer knows what they are doing.

Good luck and keep dancing!

๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Most pubs I’ve been in, your feet get kind of stuck after the first step

Posted by .

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Regardless of the dancing issue, why would the musicians want to play in a pub with a carpet anyway? It sounds dreadful

Posted .

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Spot on, llig!

To sum up pubs with carpets:

1) Crap accoustics
2) No use for dancers (!!!)
3) Tend to be chain pubs, gastro pubs and other pubs of that ilk - ugh!

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

@Merry Mary

Tell your mates that you are Merry Mary (quite contrary) and that they can change their pub if they want to, as long as it’s one that hasn’t got a carpet …. ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

… time-worn, beer-soaked bare floorboards are the best, although I suppose laminate and the like might just about be acceptable …. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

A hard floored dance area in most pubs gets sticky to the feet with normal pub use, so what set dancers usually do is to spread some talc on the floor before they start - with the management’s permission, obviously.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Ah lazy, so THAT explains that scented aroma that I noticed at the KV the last time the set dancers were in ….

… and there was me thinking that you were using perfume … ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

… French chalk would do as well - without that sickly scent!

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

There is also the noise effect - I’ve heard of some dancers who deliberately wear very noisy shoes to dance in - it’s hard enough to hear everyone in a session as it is, without a loud clacking on the floor.
This gastro-pub thing has got to go, though, with or without the carpets.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

I like a pub with a carpet. It soaks up the expectorate much better when I spit on the floor.

- Chris

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Two different pub sessions a week, neither one with a rug, both welcome dancers. Get yerself a door (or Al’s storm shutter idea) and carry on!

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Wow. I love you all! I will carry on! Up the workers!

I already have jubilee floor squares at home, and they are GREAT to dance on. Unfortunately, they can only be disassembled / reassembled so many times before the velcro joins don’t hold any more. The manufacturer also says not to use them on carpet as the velcro will catch on and wreck the rug when removed, and the floor will dip at the joins when you step there. I’m very intrigued by the GreatMat. I am going to try a sheet of plywood first, though.

Latest comment from the dissenter is that none of the sessions she attended in Ireland had dancers, and that dancing isn’t a normal part of a session. Others from the group have been very supportive, so she appears to be alone in her opinion. It’s all a tempest in a teapot, I think.

Thanks for all the support and especially the humour.

Mary

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

@Merry Mary

Print out this thread, and give it to your dissenter (Miserable Matilda?) …. ๐Ÿ™

… after she has read it, she can use it as a paper handerchief to wipe away her tears … ๐Ÿ˜‰

… tears of joy, of course …. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

well, you’re lucky if you have skillful dancers who want to work with you.

In my part of the world we get lots of competition step dancers and their mothers showing up and asking to dance…but they can’t find the beat with both their hands and they want the reels too fast and everything else too slow. It’s all about their hard shoes and battering out a pattern instead of listening to the ****ing tune and dancing the tune…and then we get the stink-eye if we don’t play exactly the same tunes and in the same manner as their canned music.

It’s hysterical how little some of them know! One time I was asked by a dancer and her mother for a slip jig, so I played them a very well-known old favorite they SHOULD know, "Na Ceannabhain Bheana". The mother had the pure ignorance to say "that’s not a slip jig". Apparently the only slip jig recognized by this tango whiskey alpha tango and her daughter was "The @%$#*!ing Butterfly"

I can’t make this up.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Dancers are welcome at our local sessions and we enjoy playing music for them to dance to.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

I have some old recordings of Tony Hill and Joe Cooley. The dancers are going full tilt and there are no carpets in the pub they are playing.

It sounds great though.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

@SUS

You are bang on! To be fair, we have some musicians who just play a stream of notes until the drummers/guitarists kick in to guide them on rhythm and tempo. I’ve been at dance competitions where some of the wee dancers are doing very advanced steps, but without RHYTHM. I had a workshop with a dance teacher who was married to a drummer, and she spent a couple of hours just teaching us that the dancers are drummers and need to pay attention to their sounds as much as their steps. Once you have rhythm, you can adapt your tempo.

Tango Whisky Alpha Tango. I’m going to use that. You’re my new hero. I usually just call someone "remarkable".

Mary

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

Sad to say I’ve had the same experience as Seosamh, it’s all too common. I’d rather have some sean-nos or some set dancers.

OK, let me refine that. Like how it’s the player and not the instrument, it’s not the dance, but the dancer. I’ve played for some fine step dancers who actually danced to the music, not just their pre-set routine.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

When I think about it, all the dancers I’ve ever seen at sessions (and it hasn’t been many) have been musicians first. So there hasn’t been a problem with fitting in music for them.

Have been at plenty of "do"s where dancers have come on and the young ones have prefered to dance to their tape. No big deal as it has usually been in some community hall type event. We have played live for even young kids though after a night of practice. Picked up some very fine musicians that way, I’m not even sure that any of them still dance.

Used to quite often get some of the kids to dance at the CCE branch during the session, and also play for ceili sets then when Owen Kelly wa still alive. I quite liked the kids dancing about in their normal clothes/school uniforms.

I bludy hate the dance competition get ups though with wigs & fake tan (!) on wee kids: boak.

- chris

Count me in as someone else who prefers sean nos though.

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

*lol @ rose among the heather

Have you ever tried irish dancing naked? I wouldn’t try it… some damage could be done!

๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Is dancing welcome at a session?

I have set up a session or two in my time and in fact I’m in the process of setting up a new session now.
This time I am placing a lot of emphasis on dance, set, step and Sean nos. What a difference it makes to have dance included. The half that’s missing I alway say, done right of course.
Dancing is a response and a compliment and very sociable.