Lost Rapper Teams:
Inspired by Sallyport at Sidmouth rapper workshop in August 96. Members of Windsor Morris (hence the name Insword) got together in September 96 to dance Newbiggin.
Given a deadline by Berkshire Bedlam to join them in an evening of dance on May 22nd 1997. Northgate came to a practice in February and were soo polite (we've seen the videos since!). Paint drying comes to mind.
First dance out went without a hitch. Resplendent in our white shirts, black hoggers, stylish green belts and white socks, we discovered the necessity for garters.
Our first appearance in front of an ‘educated’ audience at Thrales Ale in November where MJ informed us that our musician Lucy, a classically trained violinist, guided by non-musical dancers, had been playing reels instead of jigs so no wonder we found the stepping difficult!
We had a weekend away in Llanerted Wells to which we invited Sally Wearing. She happened to mention that she had a suitable cocktail number and a blonde wig so the living legend was born! Having branched out of Windsor, we asked Rhian (Owen) to join us & Jethro joined us as a regular musician.
The next milestone in our history was the Stone Monkey workshop in Feb 98 where Phil Heaton rewrote our first dance. We then had the dilemma as to which version we should dance out that evening ... and Phil's won! In honour of Stone Monkey, we changed to our now famous signature green & white stripey socks.
Our DERT performance was at Newcastle in 1999. The weekend started at Reading Station where we were accompanied on our journey by a group of lads on a Stag weekend, also in Newcastle. The prospective groom wore a tiara and sequined boob tube. We did not come last in the competition! The only other DERT we took part in was at Masham in 2001 (despite the Foot and Mouth). We had the dubious honour of performing first before the debut DERT performance of a young rapper team from York . This was the first year that Black Swan took the rapper world by storm.
We danced at regular events such as Thrales and the Wokingham Winter Carnival and the Sidmouth Sword Spectacular. Sue Swift asked us to perform at the Mary Neale Experience in Hastings in May 99 as Half Moon were unavailable. [The show had been first performed the previous year at Sidmouth with Half Moon Sword as the rapper artistes]
We had annual weekend workshops away to try out new figures and learn how to put bubbles back into champagne. [Don't ask!] Our second dance emerged from these weekends.
Now with 2 dances in our repertoire (First Dance and Second Dance) we hit the Big Apple at the Half Moon Sword Ale in February 2001. Gavin Atkin played for us. We danced in several different venues such as the Public Library, Museum, Central Park, subway and Ferry Terminal. No pubs in sight. But despite this a great experience!
At Thrales Ale in November 2001, due to side injury, Pamela Anderson joined us briefly both as dancer and Betty. She was accompanied by her minder, Jameson Wooders.
We performed at Warwick in July 2002. With the introduction of scooters, we solved the perennial problem that rapper dancers have when asked to take part in a procession. “To Dance or not to Dance” As usual, not to be outdone, Great Western provided great entertainment when the procession stalled at The Zetland, by lying down on their backs and lifting Sally along the line over their heads. Hilarious viewing!
A member of the Warwick audience, inspired (or not) by the spectacle, joined us as our Tommy. He is Brian Mander. Brian lent an elegance to the characters with his tuxedo and green bow tie, tastefully contrasting with Sally's unrivalled collection of wigs and sequined gowns. We've attended several International Mabel Days and in December 2006 we performed our last dance.
Lows – turning up for practice and having to juggle numbers, learn new positions and then dance out with very little practice.
Highs – Taking on the challenge of a new discipline with no existing knowledge of rapper. Discovering a previously untapped world of friendship, support and encouragement from experienced teams. Bringing the rapper to audiences that had not seen anything like this dance form before and enjoying their enthusiastic reactions. Developing a team which, we feel, respected the rapper tradition. Having a Ball!