Summer holidays draw to a close… practice returns soon.

We've still got it

We’ve still got it

As Northgate’s summer holidays draw to a close, and the last few festivals take place, the lads begin the long return to Bath from across the world. England, Wales, South Africa and Japan have all been graced with our presence, and soon it will be time to come home.

We’ve also been at various festivals in various guises this year, from South to North, from West to East, yet we all feel the strong pull of Bath’s siren song calling us back to where we belong. A sad tear on departure perhaps, but certainly a happy homecoming.

And there’s even more to come this year. We have our upcoming visit to London with the splendid Thrales Rapper, and even more importantly on our own Silver Jubilee celebrations, as we invite not one, not two but many teams to join us dancing in the pubs in Bath. Oh yes, and don’t forget our 25th Anniversary Crawl!

Wow. So much to look forward too.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that our summer holidays are coming to an end and we will be returning to practice on Tuesday next week. Our secret new venue will be announced in due course.

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Ely Folk Festival video… mind the lights!


You spin me right round baby right round etc.

So, we took a little trip the other weekend to the delightful Ely Folk Festival, and had a jolly nice time indeed. There are some photos up on Facebook, and at some point we may even get around to uploading the video of the lads holding up the whole procession in order to score some free gin.

We must take this moment to extend our thanks to the lovely Tracy, for special hot chocolates, photographs and above all bacon sandwiches. It would have been a poorer booking with her motherly ministrations.

Mind the Lights!

In the meantime, though, we offer this video of Northgate doing what we do best, by which we mean dancing in a pub and repeatedly menacing the light fittings.

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Pokégate Go takes world by storm: #CatchEmAll

Pokégate Go!It’s been barely a week since the phenomenon that is Pokégate Go was unleashed upon the British public, and in that time it’s taken the country by storm.

In a nutshell, players use their phones to walk around like zombies while trying to catch one of the Pokégate characters, each of which is based on one of the members of the Northgate team, from the easily-found Jerdude all the way up to the likes of the rare Jakachu.


The rare Jakachu

The lads are said to be honoured by their inclusion in the game, but are apparently getting a little tired of being chased around Bath by phone-wielding youths shouting, “Throw your balls at them!”

“It’s disturbing,” said Bagman Jack, the model for the Jakachu, “but on the other hand, I’m popular now and that’s new.”

Squire Ioan Jigglypuff added, “It’s possible that at some point we’ll get some royalties from this, but for now the adoration of the young is enough.”

In other news, Northgate continue to practise every Tuesday evening. It is rumoured that they’ll be practising in Bristol next week, just because. Keep an eye on Facebook to find out more.

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We break an unbreakable sword, and we’re not happy!



Northgate have danced for decades now using swords with fixed handles on both ends. These were pretty much unique when we had the first set made, but seem to have caught on over the last few years. This is gratifying. Indeed, we have come to look down on those that use the more conventional rappers with one fixed handle and one rotating one (or, in technical talk, the spinny bit): these are easier to use, but give less control over the blade.

The construction of our swords means that there is no metal-on-flexing-metal join as there is on those that have the spinny bit. Instead, we have wood-on-flexing-metal, and we thought that this would remove one of the most annoying features of the “normal” rappers, which is stress fractures and the consequent breaking of the blades.

Two decades of dancing has backed up this “unbreakable” theory. However, last night one of our lads (let’s call him Dave) managed finally to break one of them! There was a long pause as we let the scene of devastation settle in, our faces carrying looks of horror mixed with disbelief. Finally the truth managed to work its way into our shocked minds and, as we stared as one at the broken blade, we muttered in unison a word of great power and wisdom and consolation to the soul in times of need: “Bugger.”

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Referendum special: will Northgate Remain or Leave?

Should I stay or should I go now?

Should I stay or should I go now?

In a move that has stunned markets around the world, Northgate have announced that the are to decide whether to remain using their current practice venue, or leave and find another.

The “Nexit” decision has been forced upon them by the new management of the heretofore beloved Curfew (the CU) who have raised the weekly rent by THIRTY POUNDS to a new price of thirty pounds.

Ioan Farage (Northgate Independence Party, NGIP) said, “If we don’t pay £30 a week to the CU, we could spend it on healthcare. We won’t, obvs, but we could. And I’ll write that on a bus so you can hold me to it later.”

Ioan was supported by Boris Hanley (Conservatory Party) who added, “Yes, and we wouldn’t have the CU’s other customers coming into our practice room without proper checks. Although we’ll still welcome anyone anyway.”

The Remain campaign is being championed by no one. Nobody at all went on record as saying, “The CU has treated us well over the years, and for a mere £30 a week we could have access to as much beer as we could buy. Like before, but with a weekly fee. That sounds pretty fair. And we’d probably get a rebate or something.”

The decision will go to a referendum in the coming weeks, once a new place that wants us has been found. “Mad” Jack McSavage, our unbalanced bagman, has decided to engage in negotiations directly with the CU in the hope of heading off the oncoming storm. However, since making that decision he has spent all his time picking up litter at Glastonbury festival, so little progress has been made.

The upshot of this is that we will be practising this Tuesday, but have literally no idea where. Best wait for a week or two for things to settle down. If you’re very keen, ask us on Facebook and we’ll let you know where we’ll be.

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A video from Ioan’s wedding

Wedding videos are normally a little … dull. You know the sort of thing: a bride, a groom, tears and embarrassing family.

That’s not really our style.

Therefore we offer this:

Sorry about what we’re wearing. We’ll get back to our normal kit soon.

In other news, we’re taking a week off from practising, so please don’t come to see us at The Curfew this week; you’d only be disappointed. We’ll be back next week.

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Booking on Saturday: Ioan and Maddy’s wedding!

How lovely

The couple: partially lovely, partially Ioan

A while ago, we were discussing our upcoming bookings for the year and noticed that this weekend was free.

Now, given that we want to dance as much as possible, we thought that something had to be done, so Ioan got together with the lovely ladies of Silver Flame in Bristol to arrange something special.

He got a bit carried away.

He chose one of them (Maddy, clearly the loveliest of them all), and the two of decided to get married just to give us something to do. Well, we were delighted at his dedication to the team, of course.

And so we now have a booking this weekend: we’re at their wedding!

If you’d like to see us dance, all you need to do is very quickly become good friends with Ioan and get yourself invited along.

For our part, we’ll be revelling in Ioan’s dedication to the team and secretly crying at the gentle beauty of two people committing to each other for life. Mostly though, we’ll be dancing.

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Kit now decided for Wessex Folk Festival

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Fashion gurus

Well, we were all ready for the Wessex Folk Festival this weekend when one of us questioned what we planned to wear. Should we bring out our much-vaunted summer kit?

Clearly not. That way lies madness.

Nevertheless, much discussion ensued. Those of us who are a little less well-thatched on top than the others requested, nay demanded, protection for their delicate scalps.

On the other hand, we wanted to keep our trademark white top, long shorts (aka hoggers), socks and shoes.

Therefore we sought out something fresh, something exciting and new which would fit all these criteria. We looked high and low (well, we spent a couple of minutes on Google), and finally found the delightful image you see here.

This was it. This was our ultimate kit: a knowing nod to tradition couple with the required protection for those that need it. We studied the haute couture shown here, the clever use of fabric and colours, of form and function.

And we thought, “Sod it. Dave can buy a hat.”

So come and see Dave, his hat and the rest of us in Weymouth this Saturday, dancing all over the place (but mostly in pubs).

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History Today: what are rappers?

Antique Horse Scraper

Horse Scraper from the Boer War

Those who know us well will also know that we have a habit of bursting into pubs and whipping our swords out(*).

In general, this provokes at least one punter to ask what the hell they are. This is a vexed question and one which has never been answered to our satisfaction.

It is clear that the first rappers would have been made from surplus mining gear in the 19th century. But what would that have been?

Very pretty, but what are they?

Modern rappers

Pictured above is a brass horse scraper used in the Boer War, which puts the date of manufacture towards the end of the 19th century. This shows they were in use at the time of the introduction of rapper dancing, and there is an obvious visual correlation between the design of the scraper and the rapper swords themselves.

The miners of course used pit ponies to bring the coal to the surface, and these were cleaned using scrapers similar to the Boer War scraper, and therefore to the rappers used in the dance.

Where to find out more

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so if you’d like to see a demonstration of how the pit ponies were cleaned, join us at Wessex Folk Festival next weekend and Martin will be more than glad to show you how they were used. Be prepared to take part.

(*) we also love cheap innuendo.

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Preparations for Wessex Folk Festival continue apace!

Our chairs await

We’re all getting a little excited.

In a mere fortnight’s time, the lads of Northgate are off to on a trip to the lovely seaside town of Weymouth for their annual appearance at the Wessex Folk Festival, and we can hardly wait.

It’s a good excuse to play on the lovely beach, eat fish and chips, and pig out on as much ice cream as we can stomach. Oh, and there’ll be some dancing too.

This year, we’ve even had our special envoy living among the locals for the last couple of months, with the mission of finding some extra special places for us to dance (by which we means pubs). He has undertaken this task with gusto and serious dedication. Let us hope that his diligent research has paid off.

And so, with only two weeks to go before the festival, it’s back to polishing swords, ironing sashes and knotting hankies. The excitement mounts!

And if you’d like to see that excitement, or join us for general sword-related shenanigans, come along to our practices, every Tuesday night at 19:30 in The Curfew in Bath. Bring some sun cream.

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