Addison Rapper

Addison Rapper and Clog dancers got together over 40 years ago in 1977. It was formed by members of the local Folk club that met at the Hedgefield County Hotel Ryton, originally the Colliery offices for the Addison pit. Hence the team name. Many of the members from the early days, amazingly, are still performing today. We can’t field a team of five dancers with a combined age of less than 300 years these days, so we have no problem qualifying for the veteran competition! The present team may now be just about pensionable but never pedestrian, our fast attacking style leaves little room for error contributing to each performance being unique and entertaining in the North East tradition. Ryton is in the heartland of rapper sword dancing on the south banks of the Tyne. Addison’s dances are taken from the dancing tradition of local pit villages, Swalwell, High Spen and Winlaton. Addison now continues their proud 40-year-old tradition of those dances, by performing them every Christmas and New Year around the villages of Ryton and Winlaton. Kit: White collarless shirt, maroon hoggers, white socks, gold cummerbund, with embroidered Addison pithead badge and black shoes.

Black Swan Rapper

A flash of red, blue and gold as Black Swan Rapper spin, cut inside and tumble, stretching every sinew and pushing themselves harder, higher and faster, as they strive to get to the bar. They shun the limelight, preferring to hone their skills purely for the pleasure of the dance and the feel of the swords in their hands. Black Swan claim to be the most traditional team in rapper dance due to ancestral connections to both the first Kingsmen and the Tyzack family. Look out for their trademark loose sashes and untucked shirts as they attempt some of the most challenging figures in sword dance using the rapper purists’ fixed handle swords. Please encourage them in the traditional manner, throw underwear at them, or even applaud the youthful exuberance that moves audiences to cry ‘You get your money’s worth with this lot.’

Dancing Spires

Dancing Spires are a mixed-gender side based in Oxford. We were set up in 2017 after seeing a lot of wonderful performances at Mabel Day and saying “Well, how hard can it be?” We’re very keen, more than a little silly, and extremely excited to be here at our first ever DERT!

Durham Rams

The Rapper dance currently performed by the Durham Rams is firmly based on the revival Hamsteels dance of the 1920s. This was collected in the mid-1960s by Ron Straughan. The structure of the dance is several blocks of figures, with each block consisting of a guard figure, a running knot and a face figure. When we were all young and fit, we used to include at least six blocks of figures, but now increasing age has meant we limit ourselves to just four. Even so, the dance is typically just under ten minutes long. The cowp, or backward summersault, was not in the original dance, but we do usually include it as a way of getting out of one of the face figures (provided we have someone in the set who is prepared to risk falling on their head!)

Gaorsach Rapper

The “fast and furious” Gaorsach Rapper “recognise that tradition is a living and changing thing” and pose a “credible threat”. “A little dishevelled”, they combine “potentially nice tunes” and “dancing on the edge” with “stepping almost as fast as the music”, “some argy bargy” and “GRRR throughout” – this is “proper testosterone stuff”. A “somewhat frantic and fraught performance” with the odd “flash of white gusset”, we guarantee “this is some dope shit” that will leave you “slightly terrified”. It might not be “what (you’re) into, but, (you’ll), like, applaud their effort”. “It’s pretty feckin’ good”. (References available upon request).

High Spen Blue Diamonds

The High Spen Dance goes back to the 1800s. The Blue Diamonds were formed in 1926 and are now in their 93rd year.

High Spen Pink Diamonds Rapper Sword Dancers

Five years ago, a group of dancers agreed to learn the High Spen Rapper Dances coached by Ricky Foster, who had an ambition to see a female team dancing the rapper figures in the way that family members in the past had supported the tradition. Meeting every other week, they have decades of rapper experience between them. The team have endeavoured to support the local history of the High Spen area through performances for the Land of Oak Iron and the local fairs of the County Durham ex-pit villages. There are rare sightings of them dancing on pub crawls or where other local teams get together. Getting a chance to be filmed for local heritage documentaries and even Countryfile have added to the fun of being a dancer with the Pink Diamonds. Our aim is to respect and cherish the dance and show it wherever we can. The name came first as a joke and it stuck and so the colour of the kit was inevitable, bright pink sashes over black trousers and shirts.

Leeding Edge Rapper

A year older, a year wiser. We are the owl-obsessed mixed team from Leeds returning for our second DERT. With kit fancier than our dancing, look out for our quick prowl, regular howls and occasional angry scowls! #showusyourowls

Mabel Gubbins

From our home in the cosy valleys of Oxfordshire, Mabel are carefully planning their campaign for DERT 2019 – but the burning question is, what flavour sponge this time? Can we really get away with Newkie Brown flavoured royal icing?

Medlock Rapper

Tom, don’t forget to update the Medlock DERT bio, you fat knacker.

Mons Meg

The Mons Meg bombard is a sodding great cannon in Edinburgh which was used to interfere with the affairs of the English between 1454 and 1541. Equally violent (and even more interfering), Mons Meg rapper can also be expected to blow away an audience. Their majestic sweeps, swooshes and beer-swilling skills are guaranteed to swashbuckle all beholders. So grab a beer and dial “999”, Mons Meg are coming to DERT!

Newcastle Kingsmen

Like beer mats, you will find the Kingsmen in pubs, on tables, under pints, usually with bits torn off and if they are lucky with a phone number or two on. Once a year they are thrown around the room, they are talked about and a few of them are carried out. Like beer mats, they are of little or no use outside a pub.

Northgate Rapper

Now one of two rapper teams in Bath, but still the best male team in the south west, Northgate’s main goal this year is to mind the lights in Newcastle pubs and leave no broken glass anywhere.

Watch in amazement as their vaguely polished blades narrowly miss the chandeliers, and they step in time with each other and, as a new feature, with the music.

With their Chief Falconer in tow and their new Squire/ Head Musician figurehead in place, Northgate are fully equipped to do their very very best.

Now, where’s that bloody falcon gone, Pete?


Oakenyouth are the junior rapper side from Oakenhoof Folk Arts in Littleborough, Lancashire. Although they are a relatively new side, they have developed their own dance from various figures previously learned. They are also always keen and enthusiastic to dance at the drop of a hat.

Sallyport Sword Dancers

Celebrating 50 years in 2019 and still going strong, Sallyport are joint organisers of DERT this year, the fourth time they have done so, and they are ever- present at the event. Rooted to the North East sword dancing traditions, they are based in Swalwell, where Cecil Sharp saw his first rapper dance, and their home – the wonderful Sun Inn, Swalwell – hosts all the North East rapper teams every St George’s Day. Each and every Sallyport dancer is pledged to follow an eternal quest to seek out the finest pubs to perform traditional rapper with the best beer and perfect floors.

Sheffield Steel

Sheffield’s finest daughters present a taste of northern grit. Dynamic dancing, powerful music and steely determination drive them forward (not to mention gin). Inspired by the Steel City’s industrial heritage, and with Henderson’s Relish running through their veins, they show off Sheffield in every move they make. A new dawn, a new dance; pure joy in a flurry of orange and black.

Shropshire Sharpshins Rapper

“I am of Shropshire, my shinnes be sharp”.

Silver Flame

Silver Flame, DERT 2018’s spotlight winners, are buzzing to be gannin’ yem to rapper’s heartland with a right bobby dazzler of new dance!

Star and Shadow Rapper

DERT 2019 will be showing off the two times world champion rapper dancing sensation that is Star and Shadow Rapper! They will be coming to dazzle you with their precision and grace, whilst also entertaining you with their rapid wit! Over 10 years in the making and performing for your entertainment!

Stone Monkey

Sword dancers from the East Midlands wearing distinctive black & white socks. Performing rapper, longsword and occasional folky sessions.

Sulis Rapper

Formed in 2017, Sulis Rapper is a new and upcoming team. Based in Bath, and named after the after the Deity of Bath’s Temple Spa: Sulis Minerva. We like to think we have something in common with her as she was thought to be goddess of wisdom and decisions. Don’t let our ladylike appearance fool you, we are a fun-loving feisty team who dance better for booze, at least the more we have the better we think we dance perhaps?


Spawned from the coal mines of South Middlesex in 1994, Thrales spread culture and enlightenment across the congestion charge zone and beyond.

Tower Ravens

For six years Tower Ravens have been taking the pubs of London by storm and are now escaping the shackles of their Tower and flying to Newcastle. Led by not one, but two, wayward Beefeaters (they’ve had to double the guard as the Ravens have got increasingly rebellious) they’re a team to look out for. Displaying acrobatic prowess and nerves of steel, held together by a love of sword dancing and liquid refreshment, they are relishing the chance to be flying North to astound the public of Newcastle.

Warwick Rapper

Simply put, the finest sword-dancing scientists in the land. Hailing from the University of Warwick in Coventry, we bring a team of students, who have spent every waking hour skipping lectures and missing deadlines to hone their rapper-related skills.

Whip the Cat

(amended theme tune of the cartoon “Top Cat”) Whip the Cat! The most effectual Whip the Cat! Whose intellectual close friends get to call them WtC, Providing it’s with dignity. Whip the Cat! The indisputable leader of the gang. They’re the boss, they’re the pip, they’re the championship. They’re the most tip-top, Whip the Cat. Yes they’re the chief, they’re the king, but above everything, They’re the most tip-top, Whip the Cat!