Ottawa Contra Dance


Help out to make contra dances a success in Ottawa! Your commitment could be as small as two hours a year or it could be more ... whatever your interest.

If you want to help with outreach (i.e., getting the word out), please contact Emily at

We particularly love lots of volunteers for the actual dances! The tasks are not hard and we'll help you learn them. If you are interested in helping, take a look at the tasks below and contact Neville

Volunteer roles at a dance:

Approximately ten volunteers run one dance, more if there's an afternoon event that same day. Here is a brief overview of the roles (more details further below).

  • Floor Manager (1): Responsible for the whole evening from start to finish.
  • Set-up Assistants (2): Help the Floor Manager and Greg (sound) set up the hall.
  • Door Welcomers (4): Look after the welcoming/entrance.
  • Shoe Police (1): Make sure that those arriving have clean shoes to enter the hall.
  • Refreshments(1): Buy and set out the refreshments plus ensure the refreshment station is organized and replenished.
  • Tear-down (2+): Help the Floor Manager and other willing dancers to put everything away.
  • Plus... there are always committee members helping with other details (e.g., book-keeping, membership, announcements, etc.)

Volunteers: Remember that at time during the dance, you can ask the FLOOR MANAGER for help/advice - they are responsible for making sure the night runs smoothly including that you are supported. If you can't find the Floor Manager, feel free to ask one of the committee members!

Set-Up Assistants (2)
Two people help the Floor Manager and Greg (our sound man) bring in equipment and set up for the dance. Be present at the hall at at 6pm (evening dance) OR 130pm/2pm (afternoon dance - depends on event) and help until everything is ready. Tasks are listed under the role of the Floor Manager + any additional support that Greg needs. (One of the set-up assistants is dedicated to Greg for sound set up ... this person will be someone whom Greg has trained before hand.)

Door Welcomers (4)
Be on the door from 7pm until the break for evening dances (or 230pm until the break for the afternoon dances), rotating on and off every few dances with the other door volunteers. (NOTE: There are 4 official volunteers for the door every evening but committee members and other dancers who want a break will also relieve those officially on the door.) The role includes:

  • Confirm table set up: When you sit down, make sure the welcome table is nicely set-up(e.g., member buttons out; flyers with schedule out; email list signup out; etc.)
  • Welcome folks: Be welcoming to those arriving(e.g., Are they new ... If so, where heard about the dance? Would they like a schedule for future dances?). This is a big part of the job for door welcomers!
  • Collect & track admission:
    • Track EVERYONE who comes into the hall on the tracking form using the various categories (e.g., regular, member, student, children, the band & caller).
    • Collect admission: Everyone pays except (a) Children 16 and under; (b) the floor manager; (c) the two set-up volunteers; (d) Greg and Melanie (sound);(e) band/caller and their partners; (f) 1-2 'hosting' volunteers who are billeting the musicians/callers. NOTE: These people still get tracked on the form.
    • Keep track of how many people are in the hall and if there are over 160, let the Floor Manager know as capacity is 175 and the Floor Manager will need to monitor this. (This includes the band... everyone!)
    • Make sure every new dancer is given a '2nd dance free card' and explain that it will get them in free the next time they come if they bring it... we'd love to see them back!
    • When collecting 2nd dance free cards, make sure people have written their name and email on their form. (If they don't want to give their email, that's all right but please ask!)
    • Note: Members usually have their buttons but if someone doesn't, you can check the member list in the membership binder.
    • Check student ID if possible.

Shoe Police (1)
This is not as serious as the title suggests... the shoe police make sure that those arriving have clean shoes to enter the hall!

  • Arrive at 7pm and stay just outside the entrance to the main hall until 8:15pm.
  • When you arrive, make sure that the shoe brushes are out and that there is a mat in front of the entrance to the main hall.
  • In a light-hearted and warm way, check with people to make sure that they have clean & dry indoor shoes to enter the hall.
  • If they don't, explain that the city has asked us to take special care of the floor which means making sure shoes are clean and dry.
  • Point folks in the direction of the shoe brushes and the mat, asking them to brush and wipe before entering.
  • There should be a fun 'shoe police' hat donated by Andrew. You can wear it if you want!

Refreshments Volunteer (1)
Looks after making sure lemonade and cookies are present and served ... it keeps the dancers and musicians happy! Also make sure the refreshment area is replenished and clean. :)

  • Before the dance, purchase frozen lemonade and cookies... keep your receipt!
    Evening dance only: 6 lemonades and 3 boxes of cookies, two fairly plain (Marie, tea or oatmeal) one nicer box/plastic container for the band and caller.
    Afternoon AND evening event: 9 lemonades and 4 boxes of cookies.
  • Make the lemonade before the dance. Fill the juice container with water and put in all 6 frozen lemonades. If afternoon/evening event, save a few for the evening to top up the container.
  • Make sure the water containers and lemonade are out and some cups are available for purchase at the door.
  • At the start of the dance, deliver the special cookies to the band and caller. At the start of the break (NOT BEFORE!), put out the other boxes of cookies for the dancers. There are 2 boxes of cookies for evening dancers, 1 box of cookies for afternoon dancers.
  • Monitor the refreshment area periodically throughout the dance to ensure that it's organized and replenished (e.g., water containers full). We would like to avoid others entering the kitchen and this is a key way!
  • Give the floor manager your receipt and get the money you paid back from them.

Tear-Down Volunteers (2)
Help the floor manager (and any dancers willing that evening) put everything away. Look at the 'after the dance' part of the Floor Manager's job to know what to help with. Please help until everything is put away and cleaned.

Floor Manager (1)
This looks like a pretty big role given that you are responsible for the whole evening from start to finish, and if there is an afternoon dance, that too. However, it's a really rewarding job and with support of the committee members and other volunteers, it's pretty darn easy! :)

Before getting to the hall

  1. Arrange with Catherine (613-725-3709/613-293-8011) a time to pick up the equipment. This can be done anytime during the week before the dance. Make sure you pick up the stuff! :)
  2. Print a copy of the Volunteer Roster for the event.

Before the dance

  1. Introduce yourself to Eva (or other building staff working the desk). Let her know that you are the Floor Manager and if there are any issues, questions, etc to please let you know. Also ask her to let you know when her head count reaches 180 people.
  2. Place rug stored in chair/table room by the back entrance into the main hall (the rug is located behind the storage door). This is very important to be done early as Greg/musicians bring in gear and the the floor needs to be protected.
  3. Put up the two quilts. The Red one needs to be put up before Greg starts to set up his sound equipment so get it done first thing when you get in to the hall.
    • Red one- insert the rod (knobs at each end) through the sleeve at the top of the quilt. Use the extendable poles to hoist the quilt up onto the rack (keeping the hall banner in place).
    • Blue one- use the Velcro tabs along the top of the quilt to hang it from the balcony railing. Start this quilt on the second narrow railing after the first large post from the top of the stairs.
  4. Set up the tables and chairs.
    • Put away all the round tables (except one that stays in the corner by the kitchen).
    • Put chairs along both long walls, put two small square tables halfway down those sides.
    • For the entrance, put out 2 small square tables, one just outside the door for the shoe sign and brushes, one just inside the hall between the main door and kitchen door and one large table just inside the door on the other side (away from the kitchen) for admissions.
  5. Put out the shoe brushes and the shoe sign on the small table just outside the door.
  6. Set out table cloth, flyers, email sign up list, member buttons, etc at the door tables.
  7. Set out name stickers on the other small table.
  8. Set out lemonade container, water containers + rug for dance floor under the juice containers. Make sure that there is a supply of cups for purchase at the desk.
  9. AFTER Greg has finished the sound check, put up the lights (Christmas lights) around the base of the stage. Plug the lights into the outlet behind the band.
  10. Set up the four fans, one in each corner. The two at the front of the hall should be plugged into the outlets near the speaker stands AFTER the sound check is done as well.
  11. Make sure the temperature is set to 68 degrees (see building administrator).
  12. Put the sandwich board outside on Richmond Road
  13. *You are responsible for managing and thanking all of the volunteers. This includes pre-dance checking in with the various volunteers to make sure present & know what they need to do.

During 1st half of the dance

  1. Check in regularly with the door volunteers and with Eva to know how close to capacity we are. If we hit 180 people, let one of the committee members know.
  2. Leave all lights on for the lesson but turn the back and middle sets of lights off at the start of the dance. (The switches are by the door in the kitchen. Leave on FL as it is the front set of lights needed by the caller.)
  3. Make sure volunteers are on the door until the break, and check in with them to answer any questions, that they are rotating and giving each other breaks.
  4. Check in with committee members to make sure someone set to do announcements before the break.

At the break

  1. Settle up with the refreshments volunteer. Take their receipt (put in the cash box) and provide them with the amount of the receipt, rounding up to the nearest dollar.
  2. Put the cashbox on stage under the caller's podium (this should include the 2nd dance free cards).
  3. Put out collection box at the door for latecomers.

During 2nd half of the dance
There shouldn't be much. Just be aware of any trouble shooting needed. ++++ Thank volunteers who helped out today as you see them. :)

After the dance

  1. Make sure the band and caller are thanked. The volunteers too!
  2. **Direct the tear-down volunteers and anyone else who is willing regarding the various tasks that need to be done.**
  3. Count money in the cash box with committee member using the tracking sheet.
  4. Give cashbox to committee member.
  5. Return tables and chairs: All chairs along walls to be put away and small tables used at front door also put away. Put up four round tables along the west wall and put six chairs around each. Or whatever the building manager (Eva) wants.
  6. Make sure all the supplies are put away (front desk materials in box, quilts down and folded, juice container washed out, sandwich board brought in, etc.) and then EITHER take with you and return to Catherine's home or help Catherine get it loaded into her car.
  7. Dance Floor: The floor must be left very clean (a specific request by the building manager). Use the dry/dust mop on the whole dance floor. If required, use the wet mop on any muddy, wet, or salty areas. This is NOT the wet mop in the broom closet of the entrance way; rather, it's the wet mop stored in the same room with all the tables and chairs.
  8. Kitchen: The kitchen needs to be left clean too. Wipe counters and make sure sinks are clean. If the floor is dirty, sweep and mop.
  9. Garbage/recycling: Empty all garbage in kitchen/hall into one black bag and take to the dumpster outside behind the hall. Also, empty recycling bins by putting recycling into one large blue box outside the back door of the hall.
  10. Thank Eva (or other building staff) and confirm nothing else is required.
  11. Be the last one out of the hall to make sure that everyone has left and the hall is clean.