The Rapper Sword Dance is a traditional dance from the coal mining areas of the north east of England and has nothing to do with Rap music or dancing with traditional Swords.
A Rapper Sword is in fact a short length of
sprung steel with a handle at either end, not
much use for fighting with but impressive
when danced with.
The dance is often performed by five men (the
term men used very loosely) connected by the
Rapper Swords and is danced to fast Jig music.
Our aim is to impress any audience with
intricate, fast and slightly dangerous or
seemingly impossible figures, without letting
go of the swords. Crisp stepping is also done
between and during figures, to give that extra
Then, as a finale, we lock the Swords together
to finish the dance. If you’re really lucky that
happens mid-dance as well. For extra
entertainment a Tommy (someone dressed as
a man) and/or a Betty (a man dressed as a
woman) act as fools, interact with the audience
cover up/create mistakes and generally create
All this was originally to get people to part with their money and earn the miners a bit of extra cash. Since then the dance has spread all over England, Wales, North America and even to Kendal! We dance two Rapper Sword dances that are a mix of figures copied from other dances and ones we’ve developed ourselves.
Recently we have started to organise rapper tours. These take us round pubs and other public places with hard floors, to entertain anybody who happens to be there, and obviously to partake in the beverages that may be supplied by kindly landlords. Guest sides are sometimes invited to join us on our tours. This creates a bit more of a buzz and gives us the chance to meet other rapper sides.
2014 winners of 3 categories. 2015 winners of 1 category.
2017 we organised a brilliant DERT (Dancing England Rapper Tournament) for the SDU (Sword Dance Union) in Kendal.