Swinging Molly FAQs

The band – and reduced line-up options

The full band consists of 3-4 musicians and one caller. Our core band line-up is:

Fiddle – Alice Little
Guitar – Kev Dempsey
Double bass – Howard (Mitch) Mitchell
Caller - Pete North

We also work with bodhran, harp and drum kit to add to our sound.

This line-up can change when one member is not available on the date requested, or where unavoidable circumstances such as illness mean we need a replacement. We have regular stand-ins for all band members, and we will always provide a high quality band.

We sometimes offer a reduced line-up, working with two musicians plus caller. This can keep costs down, but you lose the fuller sound that the whole band provides.

How does it all work?

If you’ve not been to a ceilidh before, then read on! A ceilidh is like a barn dance: it’s a chance for all generations to get up and have a go, no experience required. The steps are ‘called’ in a walk-through and then prompted once the music starts so everyone can follow, whether or not they have done it before. We do a range of dances, some familiar and some not so familiar, to keep things interesting for regular ceilidh-goers.

The band plays a mixture of traditional and contemporary English tunes, which we arrange ourselves. We can also provide Scottish music if that is your preference. It’s lively music to keep the dancers energised, and also interesting to listen to if you’re taking a break from dancing or chatting with friends.

We pride ourselves at keeping dancers on the floor and not having to bully people into dancing: at a Swinging Molly ceilidh there is no pressure to dance, people simply want to dance with us!

If there is a lull (especially in hot venues or when it is nice weather outside) we’re happy to play some tunes while your guests catch their breath, then we’ll announce the next dance when everyone is ready.

The first dance and other requests

If you are planning a wedding and want to play a recorded track for your first dance, you can run this through our PA.

Alternatively we can play a waltz for you – please listen to the tracks on our myspace site if you would like to practise in advance!

Most popular for the first dance is for us to do a called dance involving everyone in the room to start the evening off, with the bridal couple at the top of the set.

We’re happy to play particular tunes and dances at your request: there is a section on our booking form where you can let us know about these.

Timings

Most ceilidhs last for 1-3 hours. The length of your event does not affect the price, as we only take one booking per evening.

We like to arrive an hour before the first dance in order to set up our equipment and sound-check. It is not usually possible for us to set up earlier in the day, but we are very efficient at setting up and often do so in less time than it takes to clear tables from the room to create space for the dance.

Please bear in mind that if your event is running late we will do our best to make up time by setting up quickly, but we do need to set up properly and this takes time; and we will not be able to over-run significantly past the agreed end-time.

If the event is longer than two hours we would usually put an interval half-way through the evening. This is usually for about 20 minutes. If you plan to serve food in the interval you may need a longer break to allow everyone to collect their plates, eat and digest before the dancing starts again: allow 45 minutes to an hour.

Afterwards it takes us around 20-30 minutes to pack up our equipment.

Overall, we like to be flexible, so if your event is running a little late, or if you want to change the interval arrangements, just speak to us and we’ll do what we can to help make your event a success.

The venue, and other requirements

We are often asked what space we need: we can generally work with any space we are given.

As a general rule, aim to find a room with a capacity a little larger than the number of people you expect, for example, if you expect 100 guests, make sure the capacity of the room is at least 120, especially if you intend to have chairs and tables out at one end.

Bear in mind that the band needs space at one end of the room, even if there is no stage as such. When setting up the room please leave at least 3 metres from the wall as a stage area for the band and our equipment. If your venue is a marquee with sloped sides please measure this space from the point at which it's possible to stand up!

Bookings and payment

If you are interested in booking the band, all you have to do is send us an email or give us a call. The key information we will need to know is:

Date of your event
Rough timings (if you know – afternoon or evening is usually enough)
Location

We are usually able to give you a quote straight away, and will send you our booking form to confirm all the details before putting the event in the diary.

Our booking form gives details of how to pay: all payment must be made in advance of the event, and we will require a deposit upon booking to put your event in the diary.

Refreshments

If you are serving food to your guests, we would be very grateful if the band could also eat during the evening (either alongside your guests or separately). You may need to speak to your caterers about the extra numbers. There is a section on our booking form where you can let us know whether or not this is possible.

PA and other equipment

We bring all the equipment we need for our events, including an MP3 player to provide recorded music during the interval. If you would like to plug your own MP3 player in during the break, this is fine: just let us know.

It is not possible for you to hire our equipment before or after the ceilidh, please make your own arrangements.

We cannot reduce costs for using equipment provided by the venue: while it can be convenient not to have to lug heavy speakers around, we do not want to risk not being able to connect properly, etc – so we will always bring our equipment even if there is some already provided.

To use our equipment we need access to a plug socket with a standard 13amp supply.

Insurance, etc

Public Liability Insurance is provided by New Moon.

All our electrical equipment has been PAT tested.