Introducing Ioan McAvoy, Northgate Rapper’s new squire. Cracking the whip at Tuesday’s practice. 

IMG_5060-0At our most recent AGM, a certain Mr Ioan McAvoy burst into tears at the thought of losing the election for Squire. The rest of Northgate watched glassily, gauged his stroppy fit on the Kennedy Scale, and decided to see what he’d be like in charge of an elite South West-based band of sword wielding habituees.

Then we remembered he’d left the award-winning Silver Flame and was slumming it with Northgate instead. Happily for him, no one else wanted to be Squire, so after all the abstentions were counted, he was duly elected.

Ioan is turning into some sort of permanent student, still studying in his mid to late twenties at Bristol University. His chosen PhD topic? Roman History. Cue the regular gag: “Romanes eunt domus?”.

Hailing from Borth, wherever that is, Ioan now resides in Bristol with the Silver Flamed fair maiden Maddy. They’re getting married next year and all of Northgate have been told they’ve been invited. Nothing’s arrived in the post yet though.

Ioan plays the melodeon reasonably  well and has impressed the more seasoned of Northgate with his sock pulling up skills, and his chasing around of the spin at the Sidmouth LNE was a joy to behold.

We wish him well in his new role and are looking forward to seeing how he line manages the new Chief Falconer.

Ladies and gentlemen. Our new Squire: Ioan.

Oh yes, nearly forgot,  practice is on tomorrow. Tuesday 7:30 for 8:00 at The Curfew. Bath. Obviously.


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What we looked like in History

derby 1993For the want of anything better to tell you today, we thought we’d do Some History and show you what we looked like when we appeared at the very first of the modern DERT competitions.

This was 1993, in Derby.

And what a beautiful kit we had! Lovely waistcoats, each one more delightful than the one before. Which team today has such style¹?

You see here, from left to right, Ken, Brian, Dave, Doug, Ron and Martin, several of whom are still with us today, albeit with more distinguished hair.

Do you want to be History? Then come and join us at The Curfew in Bath, Tuesday night, 8pm. Look us up on Facebook for more details.

¹ North British, that’s who. Except they are altogether more gentlemanly in the rest of their dress.


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Well, that went well. Northgate Rapper’s Chief Falconer re-elected at the AGM. And other such nonsense.

Northgate AGMAfter a worrying lack of a 2014 AGM, Northgate’s boys and girl managed to get through a mountain of business without too much bickering or quibbling. The Curfew did us proud with the loan of a room, a large wooden table, appropriate chair facilities and a delicious sufficiency of beer.

Martin presided sagely over the order of business with young Edwin as his scribe, and cracked the whip as appropriate. On the agenda were such items as DERT attendance and why we would go, why is Jack so rubbish at playing pool, hosiery hold-ups along with other kit conundrums.

After the 2013 minutes had been approved without too much trouble, Martin outlined the Squire’s, Bag’s and Treasurer’s Reports. Many fine rapper dances were done in lots of pubs in the South West and beyond, a great and visible series of performances at Sidmouth Folk Festival achieved, 3 new dancers and a musician (possibly 2) recruited over the last few months, monies in the bank account and much positive feedback from DERT 2015 dancers received. All in all, a great year for Northgate.

Chief FalconerElections came next, with Ioan as Squire, Jack as the Bag, Nicol as Choreographer, Martin as Bursar/Treasurer and Edwin as Webslinger (social media and comms) seeing Northgate Rapper through into their 25th year of dancing. Martin was also elected to the ancient and honourable title of Chief Falconer. A position not filled for many a year, mainly due to the lack of someone suitable for the role. Martin’s first task will be to find the damn thing, as it took wing many moons ago.

Along with the previous holder of the title. The outfit is not optional.

Manchester’s DERT 2016 will be attended and we’ll attempt to live up to a Mabel’s comment: “I like watching Northgate dance, it’s like living on the edge, you never know what’s going to happen”. Except we’ll be better than that.

Topics like recruitment, kit, future bookings, dance standards, musicians playing together and lots more were also discussed. In fact too many and at too great a length to reasonably write about here.

Northgate's 24th anniversary crawlTo surmise then; Northgate Rapper are a men’s sword dance team in pretty good health. There’s a good mix of very experienced dancers with plenty of vibrant, muscular young (ish) chaps in the team, Recruitment has been good, and we’ve now more than one musician. We were very visible at Sidmouth and at DERT, and our public stock seems good. There’s some cash in the bank and some very nice bookings in the bag for 2016.

Which is also our 25th year of dancing! Much sport and celebrations will ensue, so watch this space for details and how to take part.

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Practice is cancelled so we can bicker at our AGM

Northgate tick!It’s that time again: we’ve spent the last year performing and teaching at festivals, we’ve done crawls, we’ve danced and even had the odd tipple.

But enough. We’re having a break. For one night only, we’re going to have fun instead, bickering like children at our AGM, voting on fantastic motions like “the team believes that we should do 25 crawls to celebrate our 25th anniversary.”


So why are we telling you this? Simple: at three of our last four practices, we’ve been joined by new recruits and also some lovely visitors from other sides, and we’d hate for anyone to turn up tomorrow and be disappointed by seeing no dancing.

On the other hand, if you want to see grown adults squabbling over who should take over the post of Team Falconer, by all means come along.

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Dealing with hecklers

sword dancers don't careEvery so often on a crawl, sword dancers will come across aggressive or inconsiderate drunken hecklers. For example, on Northgate’s anniversary crawl there was a semi-topless witch, and on a recent Taff crawl there was an interesting fellow who wanted to have an in-depth discussion with the musician while she was playing for the dance.

For this reason, it is important to have a mouthy chap around who’s happy to fend off such inconsiderate people.

In both of the cases mentioned above, Northgate’s squire Martin stepped in and defused the situation using wit, logic and a variety of long and amusing words to confuse and distract the offending drunk.

Not all teams appreciate the importance of such a role and so they fail to make allowance for such Distraction of Drunks. This is clearly a mistake, and therefore Northgate are pleased to announce that they have teamed up with the University of Bath to offer a degree in Sword Dance Heckler Management, which should help those unprepared teams no end.

And if the course catches on, we may even let the University know.

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Eight pubs, eleven dancers and one witch’s breast. It was an unusual crawl.

Boromir tells the truthAnd so Northgate met en masse last Friday for our 24th Anniversary Crawl. And this year, we even had a plan with timings and everything!

Not that we paid much attention to it, of course. We met up at the first pub on the list to find that there was some kind of sports thingy on the television, so we gave it a miss and started winging it from that moment on. Much like every other year in that respect.

Over the night we went to eight pubs (well, seven pubs and the Larkhall Liberal Club, which was worth it purely for the witch, her broomstick and her breast), we danced many dances, collected much money, lipstick and beer, and generally had a jolly good time.

Not that the plan added much though. I doubt we’ll try another one.

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Anniversary Crawl – A Plan, starting at Bladud’s Head 8pm Friday

24th anniversaryWe now have a plan for Friday’s 24th Anniversary Crawl, and it’s a classic. Well, actually it’s a credible list of pubs coupled with barely-believable times. To be honest, you can trust only the first and the last of those times, and to be even more honest even the last time is fairly unreliable.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the plan:

20:00 Bladud’s Head
20:15 Rose and Crown
20:35 Larkhall Inn
21:00 Rising Sun
21:20 King William IV
21:40 Curfew
22:00 Barley Mow
22:20 Pulteney Arms
22:40 Bell
23:00 Star

We truly will dance in the Bladud’s Head in Larkhall at 8pm, and we will definitely finish in The Star some time later. We will almost certainly visit the other pubs in the order specified.

See you there.

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24th Anniversary Crawl in Bath this Friday

24Following last year’s shock revelation that the lads from Northgate can’t count, they have engaged a professor from the University of Bath to verify their highly complex mathematical calculations prior to publication.

With that in mind, Northgate are proud to announce their 24th Anniversary Crawl of Bath this Friday night. We’ll be starting at 8pm at a secret location and following the traditional route around Larkhall and London Road before ending up at The Star, because that’s what we do.

If you think we should change this plan, please look up the meaning of “traditional” in a dictionary.

If you’d like to join us, find us on Facebook.

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Bath’s Northgate Rapper attempt to plan an AGM, write a new dance, and drink real ale. 

Good job we’ve all been so well trained by our other halves in the mysterious art of multitasking. Otherwise it would be a proper poor show and no mistake. 

After various internal debacles, one of Northgate suggested we reinstate the organisational tool known as a Meeting. Not just any meeting, but a General one. Held Annually. We used to have these until someone left, and now is definitely the time to congregate again. 
DERT registration has now occurred, after receiving a call from Medlock asking “WTF are Northgate?”. So rather than bore you rigid with the lacklustre pastiche of Northern sword dancing that passes for rapper in these pansy Southern parts, we’re going to write something muscular. And Northern.

Plus we’re gonna make plans for Mabel Day, Weymouth and Ely Folk Festivals, Silver Flame japes and so much more. 

It’s a wonder we’ve any time for practice! 

The Curfew, upstairs from 7:30/8. There’s a rumour that the mighty Leddy is down these parts on some sort of musical adventure, so he might pop his head round. Possibly.  


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History Today

Northgate in Saddleworth in The PastYou see here one of the earliest sightings of Northgate at the Saddleworth Rushcart. This photo is marked 1823, so clearly we were settling in for an evening’s drinking.

Those in the photo are Ken, Brian, Martin, Mike, Henry’s hand and some bloke in yellow.

Those were the days.


Anyway, we’ll be at practice on Tuesday at The Curfew in Bath. Be there or don’t. See if we care.


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