The Cat's Whiskers
Barn Dance Band
The Cat's Whiskers, one of the country's most popular and experienced Barn Dance Bands, play for Ceilidhs, Hoe-downs and Barn Dances at weddings, parties and clubs - from village hops to numerous guest appearances at all the major English folk festivals. Our caller will guide you through all your Favorite Barn Dances while the band provides the music [click for sound and video examples] from a wide repertoire of traditional music from England, Scotland, Ireland and America. The Cat's Whiskers Barn Dance Band performs mainly around the West Midlands (Birmingham, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire)
Read on for more on how to run a really enjoyable Barn Dance ...
Why do I want a Barn Dance anyway? Listen to our music, watch some video clips Barn Dance, Ceilidh or Hoe-down? Band Biography What happens during a Barn Dance? What they say about us How should I prepare for my Barn Dance? Band CDs and other items ... Come to one of our Barn Dances or Band Workshops Resources for dancers, callers and band musicians
Contact David on 01527 65483 or send an email to:
If we can't help you, we'll happily recommend another Barn Dance Band - with no agency fees to pay!
Everyone is encouraged to get involved - the ideal social event for all ages
Mixer dances break the ice by getting everyone to meet each other
Aimed specifically for beginners and those with 2 (or more) left feet
The caller (Barn Dance instructor) tells you all you need to know, explained in simple terms
Exciting, strong music from the band - but not too loud to stop you chatting to your friends
So it's particularly suitable for -
A birthday party or anniversary
Club, church and office socials
Scottish Burns Nights
Students 'freshers' events
Well, they're all:-
Happy social occasions for all ages
No dance experience necessary
Everyone is encouraged to join in and mix with the crowd
The caller simply explains all the steps beforehand
Then he prompts you again as the band plays
But they're different because:-
Barn Dances concentrate on traditional English dances.
Ceilidhs include more energetic dances and louder music.
Scottish ceilidhs include some of the popular simple Scottish dances, such as 'The Gay Gordons' and 'The Dashing White Sergeant'. Kilts entirely optional!
Hoe-downs include American square-dance and contra-dance figures.
But don't worry about the technicalities; we'll be happy to help you choose the style of event best suited to you and your guests, and can even adapt the programme during the event where appropriate.
Barn Dances often start about 8pm, and go on for about 3 hours including breaks, but we can usually cater for most other times (daytime or evening, 7 days a week).
The band and caller will arrive about half an hour beforehand, in time to set up their amplification and instruments. The band holds Public Liability Insurance to safeguard your guests, and all the equipment is regularly safety-tested (P.A.T) - often obligatory when hiring public halls.
The caller will enquire if there are other items to take place during the event, eg. refreshment break, raffle, speech from the happy couple. The caller will adapt the Barn Dance programme to accommodate these extra items.
When everyone's ready the caller invites people - in a pleasant and encouraging way - to come onto the dance floor, and explains the steps of the dances in non-technical terms.
The instructions are repeated as the music plays - so you don't have to be Brain-of-Britain and remember it all.
As the evening progresses, the caller will assess the experience-level (and possibly the alcohol-level) of the dancers and adapt the programme accordingly from a wide repertoire of dances and music.
A short break is usually appropriate about half-way through the evening. This is an excellent time to serve any refreshments you had planned. During the break this the band can provide recorded background music on request.
Your primary job is to provide a hall full of fun-loving adults and children, who are looking forward to a great evening's entertainment.
You should consider whether refreshments are to be provided, and make appropriate arrangements. Similarly consider if a bar is required.
At the start of the evening advise us what other items you intend to take place during the evening - speeches, presentations, etc - so the caller can plan accordingly.
Try to find time to join in the fun with all the guests.
We will be happy to discuss your plans with you, and advise on the best way to run the evening.
Ring us - or email - to see which dates we have available. Please note we sometimes have commitments to dates more than two years ahead, so early booking is advisable if you have a specific date in mind.
We'll be very pleased to talk through with you the plans for your event. Where appropriate we can do this 'face-to-face' via Skype video link.
If you wish we can then put the date provisionally in our diary - without in any way committing you.
When the rest of your arrangements are in order, contact us again to complete the details.
We'll send you a simple, short booking form, summarising the requirements as we understand them.
You check over and sign the booking form, and return it to us - no deposit necessary. We will mark the event as 'definite' in the band diary, and reply to you that it's all confirmed.
If your event is open to the general public we can publicise it for you on the 'local Barn Dances' section of our website, if you wish. But of course it's 'no publicity' until you specifically tell us otherwise.
On request we can usually arrange for you to visit another of our Barn Dances or festival appearances local to your area, where you can meet us and get a taste of what we offer.
Contact David on 01527 65483 or send an email to:
|Studio Recordings||Live on stage with caller||
Video Clips (file sizes up to 7 MB)
|English Ceilidh||English Barn Dance||Bridge of Athlone||Circassian Circle|
|Hornpipe||American Hoedown||American HoeDown||Sicillian Circle|
|'Gay Gordons' Scottish jig||American Reel||American Square Dance||Circle Dance (2)|
|Irish Reel||Cumberland Square Eight||Aunt Hessie||Square Dance(1)|
|Waltz (for late evening?)||Clopton Bridge||View from the stage||Teaching The Steps (2)|
(1):video courtesy PPT Video Productions (2):video courtesy Tim Lewis
or see these and other video clips on YouTube:- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
The Cat's Whiskers Barn Dance Band usually comprises three musicians playing fiddle, accordion and keyboard (sometimes a few other things too), but we can provide more or less musicians as required. We have over 70 years experience of music making between us, and a similar time spent on the dance floor learning to appreciate good dance sound. Does this make us each over 140 years old? - not yet!
|We have played many times at the country's top folk dance clubs and festivals, including
Lichfield, Southam and at the national centres for English traditional dance
(Cecil Sharp House in London, Halsway Manor in
Somerset). Occasionally with teams of experienced dancers we attend overseas dance festivals (Denmark, France, Spain).
We have worked with many of the country's top callers, and with guests from Europe and America. Once we understand the background to your event we will select the caller most suitable for you, and make all the arrangements on your behalf.
Just to thank you and your team for a really great night. We were overwhelmed by people saying how much they had enjoyed it, you and your team, the great music and the splendid caller. I am still hoarse from laughing(Judy). So thank you from all of us for a great night. (Judy, Robin and Margaret, Dorridge, West Midlands)
Thank you for an absolutely brilliant evening! I can't think of a single thing I would have wanted to change: your band and caller are excellent and you really got people involved and enthusiastic. In addition, the setting up was so efficient and low stress - a real help. (Mrs.J.S, Leamington Spa)
To use the Black Country version what a bostin night we had. The weather might have been awful but no-one thought about that once the barn dance started. It was quite simply a brilliant fun packed evening. The caller was superb - and very patient - and we lost count of the number of people who said they had had a brilliant evening. Without hesitation I would recommend you and your excellent colleagues to anyone who want a party or a social event. Disco's are old hat. Have a barn dance with Cats Whiskers and you will not go wrong. (Mr.R.D, Rowley Regis, West Midlands)
Sue, Emma and I thought the band were fantastic last Saturday night, and were really everything that we had hoped for for our party. The music itself was excellent, and the dances chosen were great for getting our guests to mix together. We had loads of positive feedback from guests - they thought the music was wonderful and were very keen to get involved! (Miss.E.P, Oxfordshire)
Thanks so much for playing at our wedding - we had a fantastic time. I was especially looking forward to the Barn Dancing and I wasn't disappointed! I knew we were on to a good thing when [the hotel proprietor] asked us if he and his daughter could join in the Barn Dancing. (Mrs.H.J, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire)
I think I can safely say that we all enjoyed a fantastic evening of dance and merriment! With the added bonus of raising approximately £2000 for the church wall fund - we are awaiting the final figure. There have been so many complimentary comments about the event, particularly The Cats Whiskers expertise and obvious enjoyment. (Mrs.J.S, Burton On Trent)
Robert and I thoroughly enjoyed the great entertainment that Cats Whiskers provided in the evening. The caller did a superb job of getting as many as possible involved and the smiles on our guests faces was good testament to the fun they were having. The band was fantastic, from the simple booking process, the way you catered for all our needs and the superb entertainment you provided; we wouldn't hesitate in recommending your services. (Mrs.T.C, Warwickshire)
I had a wonderful 60th birthday celebration. The music was great and [the caller] amazing. How she managed to get everyone dancing was nothing short of a miracle. We have had lots of excellent feedback at what a great time everyone had so thank you all very much you were fantastic. (Mrs.E.W, Malvern, Worcestershire)
Wow - thank you for your wonderful music at my 40th birthday party. You were all so professional and the caller's instructions made my friends and family look like accomplished barn dancers! Everyone has made positive comments on your playing and making my party go with a real... ye hah! (Mrs.R.L, Breewood, Staffordshire)
Many thanks for your wonderful music which was all we hoped for and more. We have had nothing but praise for you all and how refreshing and unusual it was not to have a disco!! A few who were unsure about the idea ended up thoroughly enjoying the entertainment and the day was a huge success. (Mr. and Mrs.S.C, Bridgnorth, Shropshire )
We've had lots of comments from our friends and family about how great the band and caller were. It was just great to see so many of our guests up on the dance floor as well as my husband who normally has two left feet! It was just fantastic - we're so pleased (Mrs.M.W, Aynho, Oxfordshire)
You were all 100% professional and completely focussed on ensuring we and our guests had the most enjoyable and memorable wedding reception possible. Thank you. (Mrs.A.B, Rugby, Warwickshire)
The band were fantastic and really made the night. It was a huge success and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I would have no hesitation in recommending you for other events - my sister may actually be in touch soon about her 30th birthday next year! (Mrs.T.D, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire)
Thank you again for playing at my barn dance last Saturday. I have received many complimentary comments about the evening and particularly about the music and your wonderful caller. (Mr.A.J, Kings Norton, Birmingham)
Thank you so much - the party was a great success and everyone enjoyed the Barn Dancing from the youngest toddler to the eldest grandma! It was great fun. (Mrs.A.C, Redditch, Worcestershire)
Thank you so much for providing the music and caller for the ceilidh dancing in the Princess Hall of Cheltenham Ladies College. We appreciate that you helped people to join in as much as possible amd we all had a great time. People really enjoyed the music, thank you so much. (Mr.& Mrs.R.E, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)
We absolutley loved the barn dance at our wedding - as did all of our guests. We were so pleased by how many people joined it and everyone said how much fun they had. (Mr.& Mrs.G.B, Pershore, Worcestershire)
I enjoyed myself enormously and the whole experience made my 40th Birthday an occasion of enjoyment and exhilaration, rather than an occasion to bury my head in the sand and cry!!! I particularly liked the fact that it was a very family-friendly activity and that everyone could join in. (Mrs.J.H, Shirley, West Midlands)
The band and caller were super, playing all the pieces we wanted and more. I have some lovely memories of seeing friends and family mixing up and dancing with people they would otherwise have never met! (Mrs.H.H, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)
Thanks so much to you - I can't tell you how many lovely comments I've had and how much everyone enjoyed it, it was a great success. Hope to see you again and I will definitely recommend you. (Mrs.K.D, Banbury, Oxfordshire)
Everyone had a fantastic time and the day was much enjoyed by all. I think I will be struggling next year to find an activity to beat the dancing. (Mrs.K.L. Birmingham)
Thank you so, so much for making our wedding extra special with your Barn Dance! I had only ever been to one Barn Dance, my husband had never experienced one, but we enjoyed it so much, we will always remember it! Your music and caller got everybody involved - the youngest 'dancer' was three, the oldest in her early eighties (Mrs.A.B, Pershore, Worcestershire)
We had a fantastic time on the 23rd, and all our guests loved the barn dance and are still raving about it now! The whole range of ages got involved and thank you and your band the Cat's Whiskers for making the whole evening a great success. (Mr. and Mrs.A.D, Banbury, Oxfordshire)
Everyone who I have spoken to since the event agree that the 'band' were brilliant and I couldn't agree more. The comments have been that the music and instructions for each dance was exactly what was needed. What can I say except that I would whole heartedly recommend you to anyone and I think you have created a few additional fans amongst my friends. (Mrs.T.H, Droitwich, Worcestershire)
Please pass on my thanks to all the band- you were fantastic and really made the celebrations special! I have lost count of the positive comments I have had about Saturday night- everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. (Miss.C.B, Harborne, Birmingham)
Everyone had a wonderful evening - even the non-dancers appreciated the music. We cannot fault it except it went too quickly! We're already looking forward to the next time. (Mrs.J.McC, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire)
The children didn't want it to end and some guests who'd never been to a barn dance before now want to do more! We loved every minute, even though it flew by in a flash. We will remember it for a long time to come. Thank you for adding to our special day. (Mrs.S.B, Alveley, Shropshire)
Thank you so much for your fabulous music and calling at our wedding on 2nd September. I can't tell you what a fabulous day we had and we so enjoyed the dancing. We've had loads of praise for you from all the guests. (Mrs.S.C, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire)
The kids had an absolute ball and have been pestering their respective parents like mad about when they can do it again! Victoria and I could not be happier with how it all went - our focus was on providing a great day for our guests as well as ourselves and with your help we did so. (Mr.A.T, Kidderminster, Worcestershire)
Thank you for such an enjoyable evenings entertainment. The feedback we have received has all been positive. I don't think we would win any dancing awards but be sure that everyone enjoyed the music and patient instruction. Another big win was that people could communicate without the need to shout over constant drone of loud music. (Mr.N.P, Kingswinford, West Midlands)
John and I ,and all our guests, had the most wonderful time dancing to your excellent band. The caller was fantastic, as were his instructions, and all the dances were pitched at exactly the right level. We have some wonderful photos of everyone whizzing around the dance floor and it has definitely been one of the most memorable parts of the whole day. (Mrs.P.M, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire)
The dance floor was full and everybody had a great time. The caller gave even the most nervous barn dancer the confidence to give it a try and many guests have since commented on how much they enjoyed the evening. Thank you for helping to make our wedding reception such a special occasion. (Mrs.K.S, Wolverhampton, West Midlands)
Thank you ever so much for the super evening that you and the band gave us all. It was the most enjoyable evening that we will remember for years to come. (Mr. and Mrs.J.D, Worcestershire)
We had a wonderful night with you on Friday - I haven't laughed so much in one evening! All nations and ages were up on the dance floor - even boys from the school - just brilliant! Thanks again. (Mrs.S.E, Walsall)
Just to thank you and the rest of the group for a lovely evening, lots of laughter and good fun. I felt I must contact you to say that EVERYONE commented on a superb night with an exceptionally good band. (Mrs.P.M, Wednesfield)
From teenagers to pensioners we have been told that this was their best party ever. Thanks to you all for providing the main entertainment for a really memorable evening. (Mr.W.R, Telford, Shropshire)
We all had a fantastic night. I have had a lot of really good feedback about both the band and the caller. It was really good to have something different from our usual band or DJ and I think people will remember it for a long time to come! (Miss.A.C, Pearson Education)
All the guests we spoke to reiterated how much fun it was as well, many of whom (the younger, 'disco audience') had never seen a Ceilidh band play before and they were congratulating the caller by the end! That is a mark of success. Please pass on our thanks to the band for rounding off a perfect day in an excellent stress free way. (Mr.W.H, Stourbridge, Worcestershire)
Everyone talked about how good you were and we all had a wonderful time. I had so many people getting in touch with me about to say it had been the first time they had ever been to a barn dance and what fun you made it. (Miss C.L, Harborne Birmingham)
The evening was a great success and the feedback from the staff has been fantastic (Solicitors firm, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire)
I would like to thank you and the other members of "The Cats Whiskers" for making Nicky's birthday party an enormous success. We all had a fantastic time and you can be assured that we will recommend you to everyone we know. (Mrs.L.W, Offchurch, Warwickshire)
We received an amazing amount of positive feed-back from staff and the event was seen as a huge success. It was easy to follow the instructions given and I hadn't had so much fun on a dance floor for years. (Miss.J.R, Worcester)
You and your colleagues are to be complimented on your musicianship and rest assured that when Golden and Diamond arrive, you will be top of the list to entertain us with your excellent playing. Would you please pass our thanks on to [the caller] who was a brilliant choice, and who choreographed the evening with humour, patience and fun. (Mr.A.J, Badsey, Warwickshire)
It was such a pleasure to meet you all and everybody had a really fantastic time! The last dance was hilarious and a brilliant finale to the whole event. (Mrs.C.C, Burford, Oxfordshire)
Thank you so much for your research and adapting the dance for Pat, that was the icing on the cake! and for the very professional handling of the evening. It was the best party I've been to! (Mr.K.J, Droitwich)
In behalf of my team of organisers, I would like to thank you for the wonderful music and the very professionally handled Ceilidh. Everyone only had good words for it. In fact, we've had quite a few enquiries as to when the next one will be. (Miss.K.N, Smethwick, West Midlands]
One comment that stood out for me from one of our team, was that they said they NEVER dance at any parties they attend and this was the only time they have ever danced at a party and they thoroughly enjoyed it! Overall it was a fantastic evening and I think we would all definitely do it again. Thank you again for a great evening. (Miss N.J, Boots PLC, Bristol)
Thank you so much for entertaining our guests on August 13th. Everyone had a brilliant time and we have had so many positive comments about the Barn Dance - it really was great fun! (Miss.E.C, Rugeley, Staffordshire)
Your contribution to the evening was wonderful and we loved the fact that age was not a barrier.We were so glad you were part of our day. I know that James and emily will remember you always. (Mr. and Mrs. L.W, Kidderminster, Worcestershire)
The feedback from my guests has been great and everyone, including myself had a fantastic night. Thanks for helping to make my 40th birthday a memorable one. I will definitely recommend you should anyone require a barn dance band. (Mrs.K.H, Dudley, West Midlands)
I think you all hit just the right note for the evening and the dances were well chosen for the level of ability of our guests. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope that there will be occasion to have you back to Shelsley in the future. (Mr.M.T, Worcestershire)
We were absolutely delighted with 'our band'. So indeed were all our guests ... We will have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending you to our friends and colleagues. (Mr.A.S, Milton Keynes)
Thank you for a wonderful evening, everyone really enjoyed it and said that having the Barn Dance really made the day and created a great atmosphere. (Mr. and Mrs. M.C, Redditch, Worcestershire)
Many thanks for your major part in such a happy party on Saturday. We were particularly delighted that some of the youngsters commented on how much they'd enjoyed themselves, despite expectations to the contrary! Our three were very quick to thank us on the way home afterwards, and said how much they'd enjoyed dancing. (Mrs.C.M, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire)
We really enjoyed the whole experience and the feedback from our friends has been nothing but positive, it was fantastic! We loved your music and really appreciated the efforts that you went to to get everyone up and involved. It certainly was a party to remember! (Miss.S.B, Northampton)
Thank you SO much, it was an absolute pleasure and everybody had an amazing time. You were all wonderful! Be assured I shall be contacting you for every significant birthday from now on. (Miss.J.T, Selly Oak, Birmingham)
Thank you for your brilliant music at my 70th birthday celebration on Saturday March 31st. It was a night to remember and we all had a great time! I will not hesitate to recommend you. (Mrs.S.R, Coventry)
What a great night and the biggest thanks must go to the band. We have been inundated with congratulations and everybody has commented on the quality of the music and the caller (Mr.J.F, Leicester)
Material we've presented at music workshops:-
Sheet Music Midi ABC Noteworthy Composer Play In The Band Pete Mac's books Tricky Tunes
For software tools for musicians and callers, click HERE
For links to barn dance related Internet sites, click HERE
A list of tunes associated with dances of a different name: click HERE
Here you can download descriptions of some popular Barn Dances, together with associated computer generated music files (MP3 and MIDI formats) and the music score in Noteworthy Composer and ABC formats. Most of the music is fully orchestrated for melody, rhythm, bass, counter-tune, and of the length and speed usually associated with the dance, so you could use it successfully to run your own Barn Dance.
|Barn Dance Name||Dance notation||Music in MP3 format||Music in ABC format||Music in MIDI format||Noteworthy score|
|I want to be near you||X||X||X||X||X|
|Strip the Willow||X||X||X||X||X|
|Cumberland Square Eight||X||X||X||X||X|
|Canadian Barn Dance||X||X||X||X||X|
|Dashing White Sergeant||X||X||X||X|
|The Gay Gordons||X||X||X||X|
We would love to see you at any of our public Barn Dances. You should note that the majority of our work is for private events (birthdays, weddings, corporate sessions, etc ) and so not listed here. If you wish to meet us to discuss your own forthcoming dance, it is very probable we can get permission for you to attend one of these private events - please contact us to select a location suitable for you and we'll make all the arrangements.
All the events below are understood to be open to the general public, so that you would be welcome to attend any of them. Some may be ticket-only, not available on the door. Contact us for more details, ticket prices, etc.
|Sat.8th June 2013||Dorridge||PTA||Beginners|
|Fri.28th June 2013||Redditch||School event||Beginners|
|Sat.15th March 2014||Worcester||Pride & Prejudice Ball||Intermediate|
From time to time we run teaching sessions for Barn Dance Band musicians. These not-for-profit sessions usually take place at dance festivals or local education centres, or on behalf of dance clubs. Entrance is usually by prior arrangement or ticket, but some are open to the general public. Please get in touch to discuss the session and any available course material. Some material from past sessions is available to you on this website.
|Sunday 9th June 2013||Bromsgrove, Worcestershire|
|17th - 21st Feb. 2014||Symonds Yat, Monmouthshire|