Nuns don't thrill people, rappers do

I'm still not sure how I came to find out about the Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT for short). There must have been one of my slow synaptic shuffles along the lines of 'sword dancers.. in pubs.. in Derby... must go'. As I'm rather partial to an ale or four in the company of Border morris teams and the like, a day of sword-dance spectating seemed an ideal way to avoid the gardening. But first, breakfast.

Which means Wetherspoons. Having savaged a cob full of fried pigbits earlier on, I could skip the mild disappointment that is a Spoons 'cooked' breakfast and concentrate on the beer. Two festival specials hit the spot; Goose Island Honkers Ale was a tad sticky sweet to start with but had a palatable biscuity tinge to it. Maui Coconut Porter was magnificent, all roasty nuts and creamy chocolate. Looking around the bar, there seemed to be an inordinate number of men who'd chosen to wear knee-length socks on the warmest day of the year. No, not tickers... rappers.

As in sword-dancers. Originating from the North East of England, rapper dancing involves five people holding two-handled flexible swords - rappers - to form a chain and dance/jump/somersault along to music without letting go. At the end, a pentacle of swords appears before the team beat their retreat. The music is provided by the fiddle or accordion and the rhythm driven by the crack (rap?) of boots on the floor - wooden floors therefore preferable. And where better to find wooden floors and a readymade audience than a pub?

For the competition, several teams danced at each pub before they all moved round to the next one on the circuit. I toyed with the idea of a rapper/pub crawl but ended up spending the afternoon at the Flowerpot. Being fundamentally lazy played a part in that decision making; the availability of Marble Pint and Hopshackle Resination even moreso. Pint is possibly the finest session beer in the country with bags of grassy, citric, spicy splashes over a light toffee crumble and an ever-drying finish. Resination may hail from sleepy Lincolnshire but it's a shit-kicking IPA; 7% of peppered pine, hot bubblegum and an obvious alcohol hit.

The rappers were great, too. At times they were genuinely scary (particularly when reeling themselves in circles only inches away from the walls), always entertaining, willing to have a chat (and try to recruit me as a Betty) and clearly having a damn good time.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend you watch a rapper team in action. And if you're not close enough to risk your pint being spilled, you're not close enough...

Here's some (slightly shaky) video of Black Swan Rapper in action at the Flowerpot. It's like morris dancing on crack:

and no apologies for the awful Goldie Looking Chain pun. Word.


  1. Never seen anything like that before, well not at least performed by grown men with paunches. Very entertaining and impressive, must take a lot of practice. Reminds me of being marooned at the Riverhead brewery tap in Marsden last year while 30 Papa Lazarous did their morris dancing practice around my car...