Floor Spot Guidelines

[updated 18th March 2020]

From Bernard Puckett, poet, singer and MC at the Islington Folk Club, who posted them to Folk 21. Many good points, and it’s possible that they might still be incorporated at some point into the ‘Floor singing for beginners’ document if they’re not already there. However, any new version of that document is likelier to appear on the Wheal Alice blog than here.

Floor Spot Guidelines

1. Turn up early. Don’t expect a prime spot if you are not willing to do the grave yard spot.

2. Look and listen. By seeing the residents start the evening you might get some idea as to the style of the club.

3. Instruments should be in tune before getting on the stage.

4. Keep introductions brief. They are for information and entertainment. Don’t confuse the truth with something interesting. Never pre-empt criticism. Never apologise. If in doubt, say nothing. Don’t be boring!

5. Don’t sing a 10-minute song until you can sing a 3-minute song.

6. Plan and rehearse your introduction.

7. Rehearse your song, a lot.

8. Practice on a sympathetic audience, low profile night or other venue.
If you can’t entertain ten people don’t expect to entertain one hundred.
Does it entertain one, you? Have you recorded your self, performed to the mirror? What does your best friend think?
As the Islington Folk Club is London’s premier folk club I would expect any inexperienced floor artist to have ‘blooded’ there new stuff, tried his material out, at a smaller, less high profile venue, sing around or tried it out on friends.

9. Get on. Do it. Get off.

10. Less is more!

None of this applies to residents as that’s why you’re in a club!

You might think that some of this is a bit hostile and even arrogant, but the Islington Club really does have a heck of a history and reputation. It’s probably not the best place to make your floor-singing debut, but I’d be surprised if you were to spend a wasted evening there. (Disclaimer: I haven’t been there myself since I left London 13 years ago, and probably several years before that, so your mileage may vary.)

David Harley

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