DERT 1994 - Newcastle upon Tyne

DERT - the annual Dancing England Rapper Tournament - made its first appearance in Newcastle over the weekend of 4th-6th March 1994. A celebration of Northumbria's own sword dances, DERT has previously been based in Derby; the visit to Newcastle marked local team Sallyport Swords' 25th anniversary this year. DERT acts as a focus for rapper dancing, encourages its development and helps raise performance standards. Entries in 1994 came from as far afield as Glasgow and Devon.

The tournament, attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, took place at the Tyneside Irish Centre. A total of 26 performances were given, making this the largest gathering of rapper dancers, and the overall standard of dancing proved very high.

Local teams upheld the area's traditions. Newcomers Short Circuit won the Open Class with a score that would have placed them highly in the Premier category, while Pengwyn Rapper performed well on only their second outing; both were teams of women dancers and received a good reception from their male counterparts. The Newcastle Kingsmen took one of the Premier trophies, Addison and Sallyport also scoring well. Monkseaton, Carlisle and previous winners High Spen gave enjoyable Exhibition displays.

A slick dance from Nottingham's Stone Monkey led to a class win over Hoddesdon and East Saxon - and the overall champion's title. Other teams included Dorset Buttons, with their lively clog rapper, Rydon Spring, Northgate, Faithful City, Eastwood, Gift Rapper, Kesteven, Clydeside, North British, and Ryknild Rabble.

But the contest was just part of the event. Earlier, nearly 70 toured the original rapper villages by coach, Sallyport performing the local dances in Winlaton and Newbiggin. As a prelude to the competition, most teams danced in the city centre pubs.

Sunday's highlights included vintage film of the original North East teams and workshops in the Swalwell and Lemington dances, before winding up by performing at a windswept Beamish Open-Air Museum.

The event won substantial media coverage on local TV, radio and newspapers. Special thanks are due to Newcastle City Council, Northern Arts and Legendary Yorkshire Heroes for their sponsorship and to the Cumberland Arms, Byker, for “spiritual” help.