Preparing your Dread Party

dread party

Making dreads by yourself is tough. It can be done if there is no alternative and you can not wait, but in all other cases you should expect to have some help. That's what the Dread Party is all about. If you've watched the "Preparing for dreads" Dread Vlogs, you're already familiar with the idea of a Dread Party. For those who haven't, basically you beg, bribe and call in favors of your closest friends and family members to help you put in your dreadlocks. At first this may not sound like the best idea: multiple people who have never had any experience with dreadlocks, pulling, tugging and backcombing away for hours on end. I'll admit, it's a bit scary to think about, but the surprising thing is, it works. And like 98% of the time it works really well.

Don't worry, complete beginner backcombers are the norm, they do fine. Just take your time and check the dreads as you do them to make sure they are coming out tight.

Now if you know that putting together a dread party is not an option -- maybe you're new in the area and have no friends -- maybe all your friends are on World of Warcraft, in any case a dread party is just not in the cards. If that's the case you can find some tips for choosing a capable salon that can put in your dreads or help you put them in, at the bottom of this page.

Before we get caught up in the Dread Party details lets look closely at the goal of the Dread Party. Backcombing, and more specifically the time it takes, is hardest part of putting dreads in. Backcombing isn't technically difficult, it's actually pretty easy to teach people how to backcomb, it just takes a while because there is so much to do.

Sectioning can be done ahead of time and should be if possible. It's pretty much a one person job so there's no need to have everyone standing around while it's being done. Nobody likes added pressure while they're learning to do something.

Each dread, in eight inch long hair, takes on average about 12 minutes. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that if you have 120 dreads to do you're going to be at it a while. Here's the key though...if you have multiple people working at the same time things move much faster. The goal of the dread party is to keep four people backcombing (properly) as much of the time as possible.

If you can keep four people backcombing for two hours you can knock out eight hours of work! That's huge! Unless your hair is really long that will probably finish things up. Here's a few things to keep in mind when hosting a dread party:

  • All Dreads are Knot Created Equal: Sometimes backcombers get ahead of themselves. It's easy to rush though dreads and not get them as tight as they need to be. Show your backcombers how to keep an eye out for loose dreads. Be careful not to offend sensitive backcombers! =]
  • One person backcombing and three watching is not nearly as efficient as four people backcombing. =]
  • If you have the DreadHead "How to Dread" DVD show everyone the backcombing part. Then have them give it a try.
  • Movies are a great way to pass the time after everyone gets in the groove. Having food for your backcombers is a good idea too.
  • Don't be afraid to help with the backcombing. The dreads that you can reach in the front are fair game. This will speed things up and ensure an atmosphere of teamwork. It's also important to get comfortable working on your dreads from the beginning...this is the beginning.
  • Make sure your backcombers are comfortable and make sure they know how much you appreciate their help!

As mentioned in the Dread Vlog you'll probably want to have backcombers work in shifts and switch off. This gives everyone much needed breaks. Organizing a bunch of people to all show up can be tricky so be pro-active about it. You can create a Facebook group for your Dread Party, spread the word and find out who can make it. Let people know you're counting on them! If you don't they might think you're joking about the whole thing. =]



Dread Party not an option? Have a salon assist...


There are a lot of different ways to get help from a pro. If you are going to leave it all up to them, then you want to find a skilled loctician, not someone who has lots of confidence and optimism, but no actual experience working with your hair type. You can also go to a stylist who knows nothing about dreads but who's willing to follow our instructions to the letter. Here are a few pointers that will help if you're going to work with a salon/stylist:

  • First, have a look at our salon/dealer locator. Our "DreadHead Certified Salon" program is just getting started. If you have a Certified Salon near you that's like "guaranteed awesome dreads" with a side of "hells yea" and a tall glass of "lucky you". If not don't despair. You might have a local stylist that's interested in learning. Put them in touch with us. We can get them the training they need to become DreadHead Certified.
  • Always ask to see pictures of a salons work, they should have pics of brand new dreads just finished and more recent pics of the same dreads months later after they've matured.
  • They should specialize in, or at least have a ton of pics of dreads that they've done in your hair type. Few salons put dreads in Caucasian AND African hair types equally well. If they do, they should have plenty of pictures of both. Don't be shy about asking lots of specific questions. If they are uncomfortable taking about dreads or don't have the time to answer your questions you should probably go elsewhere.
  • Find out how many people will be working on your dreads at once and how long they expect it to take. Under 4 hours with just one person backcombing is probably not realistic unless they are very fast and efficient and the hair is quite short. If your hair has little to no texture, like Caucasian or Asian hair, you want to be sure that they are planning to backcomb. Twists, Strand Twists, Latching, Looping and Plating are not going to make dreadlocks in your hair that look like the dreads you're expecting.
  • Even if a salon doesn't have experience making dreadlocks with backcombing, they may still be able to help. You can have them section your hair and put rubber bands to hold it. Then all you have to do is round up some friends and have them backcomb. This is a big help if nobody feels they are able to section.
  • Stylists that have no pre-existing dreading experience, but are interested in learning to do dreads, are often excellent at following our dreading instructions. Many people take one of our dread kits and the instructional dvd to an open minded stylist and the results are fantastic.
  • Expect to pay stylists $60-$80 per hour while they are making dreads. Many stylists earn this much while they are cutting hair -- and backcombing is much more labor intensive that a hair cut.


Okay, it's decision time...would you like to: