London Swing Festival Blog: Discussion

Why Do Leaders Sign Up Late? A Discussion

Last weekend we released a blog post and a poll asking why leaders always sign up to events late. We received some excellent feedback and a variety of thoughts, suggestions and ideas around this subject. Some of this we are working on or have tried in the past and some thoughts were new to us or simply not feasible for our set up. We’d love to continue the discussion, if you’d like to share further thoughts feel free to add to the poll. Below is a summary of some of the ideas shared anonymously by various dancers:

Solutions and Suggestions:

  • Create an early bird discount or other staggered pricings on tickets
  • Offer group bookings to local scenes so people can travel together and persuade friends of all roles to sign up together
  • Offer couple tickets, or couple tickets only
  • Offer Solo Jazz and Follow workshops
  • Employ better advertising methods
  • Create more urgency to sign up
  • Teach everyone to dance both as a lead and follow (as a scene)
  • Encourage more men to learn to lead and/or more women to learn to lead, and help them to stick at it
  • Set up a ballot system for people to register interest in an event and then do a draw for the tickets
  • Create a scalable event
  • Offer refunds to create more flexibility for attendees
  • Offer tickets without a lead or follow description
  • Offer a discount to leaders

Insights and Thoughts:

  • Dancing is more popular with women and women tend to follow, so there are more follows than leads
  • There are more follows in the scene (65% follows: 35% leads according to one event organiser) therefore the issue is with supply and demand. This creates more of an urgency for follows to sign up as places are more limited for a greater number of people
  • The rate of registration across follows and leaders is the same but there are simply more follows than leads (according to one event organiser)
  • There are lots of other events in Europe competing for the same number of dancers
  • Many people (including leaders) have a work schedule that makes it difficult to know their availability for festivals months in advance – the flexibility to book later is therefore prized
  • How much of this is related to gender? Is there a correlation between forward planning for swing events and the gender of the leads and follows registering?
  • Followers would sign up late too if they could!
  • Blaming leaders for a systemic issue is not fair
  • Some leaders said that they have had to sell on tickets or not attend events they have booked due to other work or life commitments. It’s such a hassle that it’s easier to just wait til later to register for festivals
  • Some leaders prefer to wait to see who of their friends is attending before registering
  • Some leaders said will wait to see which friends they can take off the wait list
  • Some leaders said they book later because they can. ‘Leaders can always get a place’ is a thought iterated frequently in the poll
  • Some leaders said they book early onto events that they know to sell out quickly, to be well run or events that they definitely don’t want to miss
  • Some leaders said might sign up late as they had intended not to attend but last minute they can’t resist
  • Some follows offer incentives to leads to book on with them, and sometimes this coercion has greater advantages for leads than just booking themselves


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