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Choosing your venue

All venues are different, below are some things you really need to think about when choosing where to hold your event.

There is a lot of information on this page and it is important. Please take the time to read it, it may save you from a disaster and even save you money.

Whether you're looking for a Vocalist in Knaith, a Kids Disco Broomfleet, a School Reunion Disco in Burton, a Group in Cadney, a Singer in Frodingham, an Engagement Party in Kexby or something else in our area, we are here to serve you.

Is the room fit for purpose?

Think about the layout of the room you're considering booking and imagine what each activity will entail. Fill it with guests in your mind's eye and see if the layout works.

Where will the entertainment be, where will the disco and or band set-up, where is the Bar, where are the toilets, where is the dance floor, where will any food be served and eaten and where can people sit and relax or chat? What about the smokers - we have to face the fact at least some of our guests are going to need to pop out for a cigarette?

So many questions but it does matter if your event is going to be the success it should be.

It is no use having a wonderful dance floor if it is going to be filled up by people waiting for drinks, or if it's going to be continually crossed by people going from one part of the room to another. People need space to dance without worrying about crowds standing about on the floor or drinks being carried across it creating a very significant hazard to everyone.

If the bar is in another room you'll probably loose at least half your party, and those you don't will have to carry drinks about which is a pain for everyone. The same applies to food service. It can be great to keep the food away from the party area but only if there is seating in both areas. You don't want food traversing the dance floor if you can avoid it, but you also don't want to exile anyone who wants to sit down and rest. You may also want to close the food area once service is completed to regain guests who might otherwise congregate there.

Think about the inevitable spillages, is there going to be someone on hand to rapidly clear them up or are you going to have to go off and find someone? Are the necessary mops etc. available?

What documentation is needed?

Many venues are pretty lax about checking documentation so this question may be met with a blank stare. At the other extreme they may require copies of Insurance certificates (always ask what the minimum acceptable value is - some venues insist on £5m or even £10m and many small operators, assuming they are insured, will only be covered for lower amounts), PAT testing schedules, Risk assessments, Policy statements etc.

If your venue requires documentation make sure you check with the entertainment provider before you book, get them to obtain confirmation from the venue that they meet the necessary criteria otherwise you could find yourself without any music etc!

At the very least you should, for your own satisfaction, security and safety ensure you have seen a valid Insurance certificate and details of PAT testing for your entertainment provider's equipment, even if the venue doesn't insist on seeing them.

If you are asked for them to provide a risk assessment be aware that many entertainment providers use a standard sheet which is far from comprehensive and may not be acceptable to a professional venue. Our risk assessment policy booklet runs to some 16 pages, and that's before the actual assessment is performed. A standard policy MAY be acceptable but if they need an individual assessment make sure your chosen provider is capable.

Marquees and other tent or Gazebo structures provide their own challenges.

  • They need to be secured properly against the effects of wind. Even a small gazebo can easily turn into a kite and destroy equipment when it blows over
  • They typically need more than double the power for the sound system over an equivalent sized room.
  • Sound will escape and potentially annoy neighbours.
  • The sides may be sloped to such an extent it is impossible to raise speakers or lighting to an adequate height.
  • Access needs to be ensured in the event of bad weather.
  • Equipment needs a level dry surface to stand on.
  • Specialist dance floors are often required to ensure the safety of guests.

The Bar Unless you are supplying the bar it's worth checking out their prices and the range of drinks on offer.

The last thing you want is a massive bill, your bar float disappearing too soon, or your guests complaining at the cost. Any of these can put a real damper on your event and leave a bitter taste for a long time afterwards, and not just from the beer! We've been to venues where drinks for four cost anywhere from under £8 up to an eye watering £23, and no that wasn't for exotic cocktails!

Check if they have any food, snacks, crisps etc. available. Many people like something to help soak up the alcohol as the evening progresses, or just to nibble on, even though they may have eaten earlier.

Make sure you know when last orders will be called, when they will stop serving drinks and when you are expected to clear the venue.

Food.
Service. How are you going to ensure everyone gets their food on time? With a sit down do where the food is prepared and plated in advance this will normally depend on the number of waiting staff, but where there is an element of self service it is all too easy to end up with your first diners having finished a course before some have even started. If it is a single course or buffet this may be acceptable to you but if there is more than one course it can lead to a nightmare situation with table desertions by guests and delays. We had one wedding where the first dance was delayed by over two hours due to food being delivered to tables in rotation by too few staff. The top table was served first and other tables followed in turn. The caterers did not even attempt to serve dessert until the main course was cleared and pretty much no one waited around for cheese and biscuits or coffee. What was worst was the top table was on the dance floor and we had to intervene to get it cleared and removed so the evening could progress.

Dietary requirements.Have you thought about people who may have a limited diet?

Make sure, unless you're already absolutely certain, that you ask your guests if they have any special dietary needs and work out how you're going to cater for them.

The vegetarian and vegan options are nearly always remembered but what about allergies? Coeliacs cannot eat Wheat, Barley and Rye. This rules out things like normal cakes, pastries, batter and many sauces - although cornflower is fine. Some people are dairy intolerant and whilst this is easier to cope with you still need to know. Do you have any guests with a nut, shellfish or other allergy?

How are you going to identify food that is suitable for each group of guests?

How are you going to avoid them feeling singled out?

How are you going to ensure they get enough to eat and people without special dietary needs don't eat all the food specifically prepared for those who do?

Lighting.

It's important to know the lighting arrangements in your proposed venue.

Can you control the room lighting yourself or do you need to call out a duty manager every time you want an adjustment? In some hotels particularly, lighting in function rooms is so tightly controlled there is nothing you can do for yourself. It can take several minutes to get the lights turned up for speeches for example, and a further period afterwards to get them turned down again since the manager will disappear.

Is it possible to dim the lighting or is it an on/off situation? Many halls have fluorescent lighting that cannot be adequately controlled, with huge banks switching on and off from a single switch. The inability to control lighting can spoil your experience.

You should also consider the effects of natural light, if you're having your function in the middle of summer and your venue has windows that cannot be covered you'll lose much of the atmosphere until it gets dark outside.

Sufficient height is essential if you are having a light show, any ceiling height below about 3M is going to seriously impact on the show and 4M or above is desirable. Many lasers cannot be used safely where there is insufficient height. Look out for low beams across the room, these will create shadows as well as sound challenges.

Access

Access and parking are important to us, but they are important to your guests too. Think of the people who'll be attending your event and if they'll be able to cope with getting into your proposed venue. Auntie Mabel in her wheelchair may have a problem with stairs as may George with his arthritis. Where will all your guests park? Will they be able to park near enough, particularly George and Mabel? Is there public transport or easy access for taxis to take those who may not be driving?

How loud do you want your music? Always ask if there is a maximum acceptable volume level.

Do you want quiet areas where guests can talk and relax aaway from the dancefloor?

Check with your proposed venue if they have sound limiters installed. If they do see if you can attend an event and check for yourself if the permissible volume levels are acceptable to you. It's worth going later in the evening once things have ramped up to see what the experience is like. If you can, ask the people providing the entertainment if they've had any problems with the limiters. Make sure you apply a like for like test if necessary, remembering if you're wanting heavy beats and the gig you visit doesn't, you may still have trouble even if they're not.

If you're having a sixties or classic Motown night it's probable that the volume levels won't need to be really high, music from this era tends not to have the heavy bass beat of more modern music and hence, whilst sounding loud, is actually producing sound in the area where your hearing is most sensitive. However if you'll be having Karaoke you may find that an enthusiastic singer will succeed in turning everything off. We had one of our Country Singers plunge us into silence during a loud passage in one song.

If you're into modern music with heavy beats, and youwant to 'feel' the beat, a lot of extra power is going to be needed, the chances are this will entail large speakers known as 'Subs' or 'Bass Bins' plus additional amplification.

We have a selection of these speakers, ranging in size from compact subs, adequate for most venues and 'pop' music, which are roughly a 70cm cube, up to some sizable units which weigh in at a massive 85Kg each. These can literally shake things off the tables when given a bit of power behind them.

The need to match the equipment with the music and the venue is essential. A Marquee is going to lose most of the sound through the sides and roof, soft furnishings are going to soak up the sound and a large unfurnished room is going to cause it to bounce and echo. For the neighbours the experience may be traumatic and this is one of the reasons some venues have been forced to install automatic sound limiters!

If the sound level exceeds their preset limit they switch off power to our equipment. This will spoil your event in two ways. Firstly it may mean the volume has to be kept at such a low level it ruins the experience. Secondly, if the level is accidentally exceeded everything stops until the limiter is reset and our equipment has time to self test and re-start. You obviously don't want this happening. These power interruptions can damage equipment and it's not unknown for some mobile entertainers to refuse to work at venues with limiters.

We can work with sound limiters, and have equipment to ensure we do not break the limits whilst maximising the perceived volume we can deliver, this is an additional service not included in our standard quotations, please see our equipment page for more details of how we cope with sound limiters.

Smoke Detectors. Always ask if your proposed venue allows the use of Haze, Fog or Smoke.

We do not normally use smoke as such, but since tobacco smoking has been banned from public venues it is often helpful to have something in the air to get a more dramatic effect from light shows. Certain laser displays, particularly 3D animations, are totally dependent on something in the air to project in to.

Depending on the airflow and room size we try to use an almost invisible, water based, haze or light fog but some venues ban the use of smoke, haze and fog machines for fear of tripping their smoke detectors. Under normal circumstances this would not happen with our equipment. The only types of detectors that will be foolish enough to think our Haze is smoke are the older ionisation or optical type detectors as they sense the fog/haze particles as smoke. Unfortunately many venues impose a blanket ban on anything in the air as it's the easiest option for them. All our atmospheric effects use water based solutions that are harmless to asthmatics and leave no residue.

If the venue is concerned it's often possible for them to disable the detectors in the area where the 'smoke' will be present. This shouldn't compromise safety since there should also be manual fire alarms and there will be plenty of people in the area.

Entertainment Set up Area for your Disco, Band or other Artists.

Depending on the type of function and equipment needed the area in which your entertainment is going to be set up will have some specific requirements.

  • Area;
    • If you're having a Disco there must be sufficient area for the disco equipment. This will include a table or it's equivalent, the sound equipment and speakers as a minimum plus probably space for lighting equipment too. We normally look for an area of at least 4M wide by 3M deep. We can set up in a smaller area for small events but it tends to be cramped and may mean equipment is not optimally configured for your enjoyment, worse it may get in the way. See also the section on Marquees as they pose their own challenges.
    • If you are having a Karaoke more space will be needed in front of the disco area for the singers, there will also need to be room for a screen on a stand from which they read their words, this'll be between them and the audience as it'll determine the direction they face, you don't want them with their back to you!

    • Live entertainment

      Before even starting to think about the 'sound stage' and space requirements, don't forget live performers have the lights on them, a DJ or Disco has the lighting effects on the dance floor and the audience. They are completely different types of lighting too! Discos will have effect lights, normally with dancing beams of light and lasers, this is completely inappropriate for band illumination where intense light is needed so you can see them, whereas a DJ should be all but invisible!

      A solo singer such as a tribute act who uses backing tracks will probably have similar space requirements to a Karaoke (above). There is however a but and it's a big BUT, if they are bringing their own equipment and they are not providing the Disco there will be two sets of equipment not one!

      We can help. Unlike many mobile discos or DJs we are used to providing equipment that professional performers are happy to use. We can either provide the full package for you including both a disco and the band or vocalist, or liaise with your live artists so there will be no duplication of equipment, keeping space and disruption to a minimum. This may even save you money as the performer can just turn up and do their thing rather than having to do a full set-up and take down. Remember as well, many artists like to get out into the audience and interact so you may need to allow space for this.

      Bands, Groups or other artists who are bringing instruments will need even more space. This can be considerable. Even a small party band will probably need at least 4M x 3M and that is a bare minimum, more typically you'll be needing about 5-6M wide by 4-5M. Add this to the requirements of a Disco and all of a sudden you're looking for a very large venue. You have to remember that a band has a totally different set of requirements than the Disco, and although some of their equipment could probably be used for disco purposes the reverse would almost definitely not be the case.

      Once the Band has finished they'll want to get off, and there will be a degree of chaos whilst they take their equipment down and out of the building. You may even find they won't set-up until after your function has started. Weddings often start quite early and run very late so the live acts won't want to be hanging around for hours waiting for their turn.

      Sometimes a Band may offer to do you a disco. Normally only one member would stay to DJ it, as the rest will only come in for the main event and will want to get off after doing their bit, and will be taking most of the equipment with them. This will inevitably cause a lot of disruption and it is unlikely the DJ will be as well equipped either professionally or with music and lighting, this is not their speciality.

      Again we can help, by providing the complete PA and Band lighting, with professional audience side mixing (which is likely to be a lot better than many bands could do on their own) and use this with a small amount of additional Disco specific stuff to give you a complete entertainment package. As with vocalists we can either provide the artists or liaise with your chosen group, potentially saving money but at least meaning almost everything will be in place before your event and will stay there until afterwards, minimising disruption. Plus of course you don't need to double up on space requirements and may save money.

      You want your guests dancing with each other not the equipment!


  • Power; There should be plenty of power points near the set-up area. Trailing power leads across areas where your guests are going to go is not an option.

    Depending on the size of venue and type of event even a Disco can have quite heavy power requirements. A single 13A socket is NOT going to suffice for anything but the most basic set up.

    Ask what power is available from the circuit, just because there is a double 13A socket does not mean we can draw 26A. There may be other things on the circuit that supplies the sockets and the fuses or trips on the circuit may be set to a lower limit. If it's a large venue and you're having a bit of a rave, several 10s of KWs may be needed although normally two or three 13A sockets is more than enough - so long as they can all supply full power at the same time.

    We had one venue where we were given 4 13A sockets and assured we could use them all at full rating but subsequently found the bar fridges, pumps, microwave and display lighting were all on the same circuit, and the breaker was only a 16A one. The first loud bass track tripped the whole lot out. We ended up having to use a single amplifier and only a few lighting effects to keep the power on!

    We use plugs with in built RCDs, these protect everyone in the event of failures, breakages or spillages of/on mains equipment and cables. These RCDs will not deliver power unless the earth at the socket is properly connected. Again we have had a problem at a venue where we could not understand why we were not getting any power until it was discovered the circuit's earth was defective.


  • In short, with a certain amount of preparation and some judicious questioning, you can easily make sure the venue you choose is going to be just perfect for your special event. As the old saying goes

"To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail".

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