How to Find a Hall

Searching for a new venue for square dancing can be daunting. So, when our club needed a new
hall, we went all out to canvas the available spaces. Here is how we did it.

At a club meeting before doing the search, we brainstormed about what was necessary in a hall and
what we wished for. This resulted in a Wish and Criteria List. We discussed room size, kinds of
flooring, stage and acoustics. We specified the days of the month and times that the hall was
needed, an approximate start date, and the fact that we needed to be able to guarantee that we had a
hall over a year in advance. We wanted free parking and an elevator, if needed. We asked for air
conditioning that we could control, an area for eating, storage areas for supplies, use of a kitchen,
bathrooms nearby, seating for dancers, tables for the caller and cuer, and a table for serving
refreshments. Lastly, we asked for a reasonable price and listed what we had been paying most
recently. Clearly, we would not get all that we wanted, but some items were non-negotiable. At one
point we also determined places to which we would be willing to drive, which defined our area for
searching for halls.

Then I created a spreadsheet for keeping track of places we would contact. The spreadsheet had
these columns: Organization with Hall (name), Status (Yes, No, Maybe, Too expensive, etc.),
Member Handling this Hall (I split the job among a couple of club members, and this kept track of who
was handling the case), Mode of Contact (phone number and/or e-mail address), Contact Person,
Notes (this turned out to be the most-used column), Address, and Next Action (like ‘call on Monday’
or ‘call next month’). The Notes column would be used for making an entry each time I contacted the
organization, with the date and what was said.

Then we started calling places with halls. We contacted Parks and Recreation Centers, religious
organizations such as churches and synagogues, senior centers, public schools, and private studios.
We also contacted councilmen and councilwomen and the Chamber of Commerce for suggestions of
whom we might call. The notes turned out to be most useful! I had to re-organize the spreadsheet
into categories of who we contacted in order to keep track of what we had done. In all, we contacted
about 87 organizations in our area.

Then we struck gold. I got a phone call from the Veteran’s Memorial Center. I hadn’t contacted them
and didn’t know who they were, and I never would have thought to call them. Come to find out, the
Culver city Senior Center, whom I did contact, is right across the street from the Veteran’s Memorial
Center and had referred them to me. These two centers work together on room rentals. The
Veteran’s Memorial Center is in the business of renting out halls, big ones, little ones, and in-
between. Long story short, we have halls for all our classes and dances, all in one facility.
It isn’t possible to create halls out of the blue. They have to be already there. But being organized
gave us the best chance to find the halls that existed, and it paid off in a big way.

Ribbons & Souls,
Jan Bartholomew