Thursday, August 29, 2013

Musing on the Rapper Sword Dance


So, in researching things for my books, sometimes I come across something really interesting. In this case, it's the Tyneside tradition of sword dancing. Specifically the 'short sword dance' or 'rapper sword dance.' The best origin that can be gleaned is that it comes from the mining villages in Northumberland and Durham. Originally performed with rigid swords, it's unknown why they were replaced with the flexible rapper swords, although it's theorized that it was a necessity. It's uncertain what function the rapper swords had previously.

So, yeah, these guys dance with swords. Five people take hold of the handles on the ends of the swords and without letting go, perform a fast, complex dance (and provide the percussion with their feet). While it may have originally been accompanied by hornpipes, now 75% of performers use a jig (probably incorporated from Irish immigrants).

Anyway, enough talking, you can read more here and now the videos I want to share:

I love this one because of the close quarters of the pub:

Here's a talented co-ed group (I have to link because the video doesn't allow embedding)

An all-lass group:

And while it's rarely performed to a band, the Demon Barbers don't seem to care much for that tradition (or the tradition of wearing kits). This one's one of my favorites, although they start out a little slow:

I hope you've enjoyed!

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