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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

Club Organization

In the Beginning

Folk dancing in the United States is now, as in the beginning, and educational and social recreation, embodying personal fitness, self-assurance, fellowship, understanding, and, above all, enjoyment. A common interest in folk dancing is sufficient for individuals to get together to dance and, possibly, to form a folk dance club.

The Class

Although a group of people may form a folk dance class for the express enjoyment of dancing, there are other aspects of folk dancing that one may want to consider: a place to dance, starting time, the instructor(s), what is to be taught and danced, finances, equipment, and dancer responsibilities.

Many service organizations are willing to sponsor folk dance groups by furnishing them with a place to dance for little or no rental fee. Schools, playgrounds, or even a large basement can be utilized. Check for available dates that may be available at the prospective location, selecting the day and time best suited for the group's needs. It is important to obtain a hall with enough floor space, unobstructed by pillars if possible. The hall should permit comfortable dancing and allow for expansion of the group. The floor should not be sticky, nor should it be as slick as that of a ballroom. Permission should be secured from the landlord for any proper treatment of floor surfaces.

Sometimes a folk dance teacher will start a class. Other times the selection of a teacher my be necessary. Most areas have capable folk dancers who would be willing to teach at the ability level of a class (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

A class, even if sponsored by another activity, should be financially independent. This can be achieved in various ways. For example, if the hall is rented, a charge may be made at the door. If, however, the location is a school, playground, or recreational facility, the group may be restricted to asking for donations at the door or at a break during the dancing. Some sponsors may gladly help to defray the costs of a class to get it started, but this should not be a continuing policy of the club.

A group that forms a class usually has among its members at least one person who owns a record player and records that the class may use at first. Some playgrounds, recreation centers, and schools also have equipment that may be used. Later, when sufficient funds have become available, the class may wish to purchase its own equipment. At this point, the class begins to have the satisfaction of being "on its own."

There are a few essentials needed to keep a class on its feet. They include:

Club Evolution

When a class has shown a promising degree of stability, it may wish to become a club. the organization usually depends on the members forming the club.

  1. The Cooperative Club: A group of dancers with the same ambitions, desires, and friendships could form a club along co-operative, democratic principles. Such a group elects its own officers, conducts its meetings by a set of rules (such as Roberts Rules of Order), and forms a constitution and bylaws.
  2. The Director-Headed Club: Occasionally, a very capable and popular teacher will form a club along the lines of a benevolent dictatorship, managing and directing the group and, at times, assigning various responsibilities to other members.
  3. The Open or Closed Club: A club may be "open" to anyone without invitation, or it may be "closed" to some persons for a variety of reasons. Deciding factors may be:
    1. The size of the hall, necessitating limitation of the size of the membership to a set number,
    2. The level of ability of members,
    3. The amount of experience of members,
    4. The age of the members,
    5. The objectives of the group.
  • Whatever type of club is to be formed, the purpose should always be to encourage the enjoyment of international folk dancing and the related arts, and the promotion of a spirit of friendship.

    Organizational Suggestions

    Like a child who needs help and guidance to allow it to grow and attain maturity, so will a club need a guideline to keep it on the right track. Following is an outline of a bylaws for a folk dance club. Such a document may be made as flexible or as rigid as befits the needs of a particular group. It is a suggested format that may be adjusted to meet the requirements of individual clubs.


    Article I - Name

    The name of this organization shall be ______________________________.

    Article II - Purpose

    The purpose of this organization shall be to encourage the enjoymentand promotion of international folk dancing and related arts in a spirit of friendship.

    Article III - Membership

    Section 1. Membership shall not be denied any persons because of race, color, or creed.
    Section 2. Membership shall be valid as long as dues are paid.
    Section 3. Members shall at all times abide by the Bylaws and the general policies of the club.
    Section 4. Because the club is operating in the best interests of folk dancing, members shall maintain proper social behavior. Appearance at club functions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be cause for expulsion from the club.

    Article IV - Membership Fees

    Membership fees shall be payable (weekly, mnthly, yearly). The cost of membership shall be listed in the club's Standing Rules.

    Article V - Officers

    Section 1. Elected officers shall be: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
    Section 2. Appointed officers shall be: Membership Chairperson, Program Chairperson, Publicity Chairperson, Social Chairperson, Refreshment Chairperson, and Historian.
    Section 3. Duties of Officers
      President: presides at club and executive board meetings; is member-ex-oficio of all committees; appoints and/or removes committees; appoints and/or removes appointed offices; and acts in emergencies.
      Vice President: assumes the duties of the president in his or her absence; acts as Parliamentarian; keeps a record of all club property and its location(s).
      Secretary: keeps a correct account of business proceedings and a list of standing committees; handles all club correspondence and keeps a constant check of members for correct mailing list; gives notice of business or executive board meetings as required.
      Treasurer: is custodian of club funds; collects all monies; pays bills; gives financial reports at business meetings; prepares a budget; prepares written financial report at the end of the term of office.
      Membership Chairperson: handles smooth induction of new members and keeps constant watch for absenteeism, etc.
      Program Chairperson: is in charge of dance programs; shall provide for proper maintenance of club equipment, music media, indexes, etc.; shall purchase dance music when necessary; shall appoint someone to handle the program each dance session.
      Publicity Chairperson: is in charge of all club publicity and the club news bulletin.
      Social Chairperson: handles special events, such as, parties, club trips, etc.
      Refreshment Chairperson: handles the club's refreshment supplies; appoints refreshment committees for each dance night; follows through on committee progress before, after, and during dance sessions.
      Historian: maintains the club records, scrap books, and library.

    Article VI - Elections

    Section 1. Officers shall be elected by a majority vote for a period of one year.
    Section 2. Officers shall be nominated at the April business meeting. Voting, by secret ballot, shall be at the May business meeting.
    Section 3. Officers shall take office on January 1st and hold office until December 31st.

    Article VII - Amendments

    These bylaws can be amended only by a 2/3 majority vote of those present at a business meeting. The entire membership must be notified in advance that an amendment is to be considered at a particular business meeting.

    Article VIII - Dissolution

    In the event of dissolution of the club, all bills will be paid and the remaining monies, musical media, and equipment shall be turned over to a charity of the remaining members' choice.

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    Running the Club

    With a guideline to follow, a club still needs a way to run itself smoothly. This can be accomplished at business meetings. Such meetings may be held on a regular dance session or on a different day. Alternate meetings could be held at the homes of the members. A copy of a set of rules, such as Robert's Rules of Order, Revised should always be at hand for reference. Meetings begin "on time" with the president calling for order. The Secretary then reads the minutes of the previous meeting, which are then approved as read or amended. Then follow the reports of the Treasurer and the various standing committees listed in the club's Standing Rules. Next in order is "Unfinished Business," followed by "New Business," which might include obtaining teachers for the next month, a teaching schedule, items for the club bulletin, publicity, party night, etc. The meeting may be adjourned after the date, time, and location of the next business meeting are fixed.

    Club Name

    There are various methods for choosing the name for a club. Possibilities are:

    1. Folk dance or ethnic terms (e.g., Veselo Selo Folk Dancers),
    2. Sponsoring organization or predominant profession of the members (e.g., Valley JCC Israeli Dance),
    3. Name of the founder or teacher (e.g., Kayso Folk Dancers),
    4. Country or region in whose dances the group specializes (e.g., Kypseli Greek Folk Dance Center),
    5. City in which the club meets (e.g., Pasadena Folk Dance Co-op),
    6. Geographical location of the club (e.g., Conejo Valley Folk Dancers),
    7. Special interests of the members (e.g., Alpine Dancers of Santa Barbara),
    8. Day of the week (e.g., Tuesday Gypsies),
    9. Humorous names (e.g., Barleycorn Country Dancers).

    Club Badges and/or Emblems

    To show association with a club, or as a means of identifying club members and meeting other people, the club badge with the group's own emblem is frequently a prized possession. A plain name badge may be best for a group that just getting started, but later on a plastic badge with emblem, name slot, and jewler's pin can be purchased at a relatively small group expense. An alternative is a badge ("button") maker. club emblems and be designed around the group's name, dancers in action, etc. If the club is fortunate to have artistic members, it can take care of the toughest part of the process more easily. Most badge manufacturers, however, have their own artists who can develop any idea inexpensively.

    Special Events

    Parties and special events can add much interest to a club's schedule. Some groups might want to hold a regular monthly party night, sending publicity to other clubs. If the group serves refreshments at regular dance sessions, the refreshments for parties could be a bit more elaborate. Sometimes, the club might wish to go as a group to a picnic, to the mountains, to the beach, on a hay ride, or to a festival. Such a trip can be made more enjoyable and exciting by chartering a bus, which would free all participants of driving tensions. Other special events could include teaching by well-known master teachers.

    Club Dissolvement

    Occasionally, because of poor attendance, lack of interest, or loss of available dancing facilities, etc., a club may reach a point where it is no longer practical to continue its activities. A fair and equitable arrangement should be made in the club bylaws for the disposal of the remaining treasury monies, musical media, and equipment. A charity of the sponsoring facility could be made the recipient. Another possibility would be ther merger of the club with another group, pooling their resources and equipment and enabling the members to dance with their friends without the burden of trying to keep a dying club alive.

    The Federation

    The purposes of the Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc. are:

    1. To encourage the enjoyment of international folk dancing and related arts, and the promotion of a spirit of friendship. to assist in the formation and development of Folk Dance Groups where such assistance is requested or desired.
    2. to encourage research in authentic folk lore, folk music, folk dance costumes, and folk dance techniques; also mutual cooperation and exchange of dance techniques, instruction, and leadership among folk dance groups.
    3. To encourage monthly festivals in which all may participate.
    4. To encourage institutes and camps, based on folk dancing and related arts.

    Federation Assistance

    Providing assistance in various ways, the Federation:

    1. Lends a helping hand and gives guidance to folk dance groups and individuals,
    2. Makes available scholarships to folk dance camps,
    3. Publishes a monthly magazine containing information pertaining to folk dancing, costumes, music, and other related arts, as well as providing an outlet for club information about activities,
    4. Gives support to Federation and regional festivals,
    5. Gives Member Clubs a central uniting organization to which they may turn for assistance,
    6. Establishes institutes where new and old dances may be taught by the foremost exponents and teachers of folk dancing,
    7. May have a Teacher Training Program for the promotion of better and more enjoyable teaching,
    8. Has a Research and Standardization Committee that researches the origins of costumes, music, and folklore, and standardizes descriptions of the steps, techniques, patterns, and routines of dances,
    9. Helps beginners' classes,
    10. Compiles a directory of Member Clubs, Associate Members, Past Presidents, and more.

    Federation Business

    The Federation holds regular business sessions called Council Meetings at the monthly Federation festivals. Council Meetings are conducted in much the same way as individual club meetings. A delegate attends from each member club. Associate Members and guests also are encouraged to attend the meetings. Everyone has a voice, but only the delegates may vote. Minutes of Council Meetings are sent to officers, associate members, and all club delegates. Close association with the Federation and its Bylaws and Standing Rules helps folk dance clubs become better organized through a guided and guiding organization.