Camberley Reel Club
Library - The MC: an Asset or Necessary Evil?

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By John McDonald
Published in Berkshire/Hampshire/Surrey Border Branch News, April 1993

For some time this topic has been echoing around my circle of friends and acquaintances in dancing. This might be a good time to bring together some of the better ideas.

A primary task is to set the timing of the evening, as being forced, from lack of time, to omit any second half dance is disappointing for the dancers, and is, in a word, incompetent. However good timing is not achieved by accident, but by preparation. In advance of the evening, the MC should calculate the time it takes to dance each item on the programme, without an encore. The organisers have set a time for the end of each half of the programme. Thus, it is not difficult, working from the end of each half, and allowing, say, a couple of minutes between the end of one dance and announcing the next, for the MC to write on his programme the latest starting time for each dance.  Comparison with his watch will immediately indicate whether there is time for an encore or the insertion of an extra.

Based upon the maxim, ‘He who pays the piper…’ , it is quite in order that the MC, in consultation with the organisers and, perhaps, some of the experienced dancers on the floor, asks the band to adjust their tempo, so that the maximum number of dancers enjoy their evening.

This leads to the thorny question, ‘To recap or not to recap?’  There will always be some dancers with good memories or who have done their homework. There will be dancers for whom a glance at a recap sheet or Pilling is enough. But even those have no time for a word with their friends between dances. My experience has shown me that the social atmosphere of a dance really improves, provided the recaps are brief, clearly spoken and given without reference to the printed word. Not for every dance, but for some, when appropriate, the MC can add interest by including some anecdotal comment about the source, the deviser or the music. Finally, to acknowledge the playing of the band throughout the evening, encourages them to play even better. To introduce them individually, personalises the rapport between musicians and dancers.

In conclusion, choose your MC with care, as you would the venue, the band, the programme, the refreshments. It all adds up to dancers thinking as they leave, we must come back to their next dance - they organise it so well!