What to Expect When Hiring Entertainment

So you have a big day coming up – congratulations! Whether you are getting married, organizing a product launch, or surprising your best friend with a birthday party, certain events need something special to make the night memorable. That’s where live entertainment comes in.

Live entertainment makes memories
The first thing you can expect is for live entertainment to make your event memorable. Never in my 20 years as a professional entertainer have I ever heard of someone who regretted investing in a performer. But I have heard plenty of people lament about boring parties where everyone stood around eyeballing the punch bowl.


Nefabit and Delilah at a 50th Birthday party in Pearl City, Hawaii

Performers break the ice and bring people together
Let’s face it. Not everyone is a born social butterfly. The last thing you want on your special day is for people to stand around looking bored. Balloons are pretty, and cakes are tasty, but they won’t get people talking. Entertainment will give people something to talk to one another about, something to take pictures of, and a reason to let loose and enjoy themselves. Remember, the number one goal of a party is to celebrate.

So you want to hire entertainment – now what?
The first step is to figure out what you want. What type of party is it? Who or what it for? What’s the theme? If you don’t have a theme – figure it out, then come back.
If you’re throwing a party for your six-year-old daughter, why not hire a princess to  come in and take pictures and dance during the tea party? Or perhaps pony rides (my mom did this for one of my birthday parties, good job mom!). Moroccan themed sweet 16? How about some beautiful bellydancers to dance and teach everyone a move or two? 20’s themed gala? Get yourself a big band and some charleston dancers.
Now that you have an idea, now it’s time to start shopping.

What to look for in a performer
When hiring a performer, I recommend that you look first and foremost for professionalism and personality. Many performers are extremely talented, but don’t have a lick of business sense. Look for someone who has professional cards, a website, returns your call promptly, and has good speaking skills. Likewise, there are many performers that are highly skilled, but are seriously lacking in charisma, likeability and social skills. This is especially important if you want someone to mingle with your audience, dancing through tables, making balloon animals, what have you. You need the entertainer to wake up the wallflowers, not be one herself.
Once you’ve found a performer that makes a good impression, do look at pictures and video to see if they are actually good at what they do. Someone who gets a lot of work likely does for a reason.

party lesson

Nefabit (far right) after performing and teaching at a birthday in Liberty Lake, Washington

Take a hard look at your budget
I’m going to tell you right now, performers are not cheap. Neither are floral arrangements, DJ’s, catering, venue rental, photography, etc. If you want something elaborate – a wedding, corporate holiday party or opening night, you had probably better pony up a decent budget.
Professional performers will charge in the area of 200-300 or more, depending on your event. And they deserve every penny. Between phone calls, contracts, research, preparing sets, music editing, rehearsal, packing, hair/makeup, driving, wait time, performing, mingling, photo ops, and driving home, a professional will have invested 8 hours or more in your special day. 300.00 sounds like a lot of money, but for 8 hours of work that works out to 37.50 per hour. A good wage, certainly. Performers spend thousands of hours honing their craft and if they are good enough to be able to make it a career, you can bet your beans it will be worth the money.
Keep in mind that things like travel, wait time, and equipment, may incur additional fees.

Plan Ahead
Once you have found an awesome professional to dazzle your guests,  cross your fingers and hope he or she is available. The best performers are in high demand – the farther out you book your show, the better your odds are. I can very rarely squeeze in a show booked within two weeks. For example, as I write this article, I’m booked out Wednesday- Saturday this week and Thursday-Saturday next week. Keep in mind that wedding seasonholidays and prime time hours (6:00-10:00pm) are hardest to book. If you must book last minute, be prepared to be flexible. You’ll have the best luck if you book at least 4-6 weeks out, longer for anything around a major holiday, especially Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Details, Details
Make sure you go over all details with your performer. Try to know as much about your event and crowd as possible. And be prepared to answer a lot of questions. Here are some questions I ask my clients:
Is there a stage or dance floor?
Am I dancing on the stage or among the crowd, or both?
Are guests standing and moving around, or seated? Dinner or theater style?
How many guests are you expecting? What is the age range?
Is there a DJ? Do you have a sound system, or do I need to bring one (for an upcharge)?
Is this a surprise? Is there a guest of honor? Will there be an announcement?
Is there a private, locking room I can change and stow my belongings in? How far is it from the performance area?
That’s just an example. A lot of my requirements are listed in my contract. Please be willing to discuss the event in detail with your performer. Doing so will ensure that he or she knows what to expect and can prepare accordingly, ensuring that your event is as perfect as possible.


Nefabit entertaining guests at a Halloween Party in Worley, Idaho

The big day
It’s your special day! how exciting! No doubt you are going crazy with details, racing around like a chicken with its head cut off. I highly recommend that you have an assistant who knows the entertainer is coming, where the dressing room is, etc. This person can meet the performer and show him or her to the dressing room, run the music to the DJ, etc. Another option is to have someone continue running things front of house while you do this yourself. Be prepared to pay before the performer begins (or better yet in advance of the show). Once everything is ready, sit back and enjoy the show! Don’t forget to take pictures of how much fun your guests are having, and hopefully take a moment to enjoy your party as well.

Have you ever hired entertainment? How did it go? Tell me about your experience.

Interested in hiring dancers? Click here. If you’re looking for something else, let me know, I’m happy to make referrals to dozens of talented performers in the area.


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