Dancer Retention

by Bernie Coulthurst (Editor of Club Leadership Journal)

Spring is near! Many clubs are graduating new dancers during this season after a long winter of learning to square dance. Now we have to concentrate on retaining these new dancers. How is your club doing on new dancer retention? If you don't know, ask your club secretary to check your club records. If you are not retaining at least 80% of your new dancers after a three-year period, you may want to re-evaluate your club's dancer retention practices.

Many leaders in the square dance activity believe that our failure to keep new dancers is our biggest problem- much bigger than our recruitment problem. One caller told me recently, "If we can't retain them, why should I spend all that effort teaching them how to square dance? I think we should concentrate on retaining our new dancers."

I received a letter recently where the writer was so happy because their club finally had a class of new dancers this dance season. She said the new dancers will be graduating in early March and Plus lessons will start the following week. I guess this is the norm for clubs that dance the Plus Program...But, is it good for the new dancers?

We need to try to retain these new dancers in the best way we know how and THAT WAY IS GIVING LOTS OF TENDER LOVING CARE (TLC). Remember that these new dancers came into the square dance activity because they thought square dancing could fulfill their needs for FUN, FRIENDSHIP AND FITNESS. If these new dancers do not continue to have FUN, they will go elsewhere to have FUN. If your club members do not show true FRIENDSHIP toward these new dancers, chances are these new dancers will go to either another club where the members are more friendly or they will drop out of the square dance activity. If these new dancers can't dance successfully with other club members they will get frustrated and stop coming to your club dances.

In my opinion, the square dance activity does not have a major problem but it does have all these little problems that result in poor dancer retention. What are these little problems? They vary form club to club and area to area but there is some commonality. Check the following list to see if any o these subject fit your club. If they do, that is the area to concentrate on to better retain you new dancers this season.

The activities little problems:

Concentrate on the above four statements. Do any of them appy to your club? If they do, take some action to gracefully change the way your club operates. Dancer retention is a very important function of every club and now is the time to make special efforts to keep your new dancer dancing.

Bernie Coulthurst, e-mail

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