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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New dance being written… by committee! Really?

under constructionYes indeed, the plucky lads of Northgate are working on a new dance with new moves, new style and new danger.

Normally, this type of thing is driven by a single megalomaniac driven individual, but this time we’re doing it by consent. I know, hateful isn’t it?

Nevertheless we’ll give it a go. Any suggestions will be gratefully received(*).

What’s the worst that could happen?

(*) and happily discarded

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Bath Folk Festival done, Northgate dance for an empty pub. But why?

Our smallest ever audience

Our smallest ever audience

After hosting a masterful masterclass at the wonderful Bath Folk Festival, the lads of Northgate decamped to the nearby Devonshire Arms.

The pub was entirely empty, devoid even of any bar staff, but they bravely danced nonetheless.

But why?


Simple. Because Northgate are approaching their silver jubilee year and have decided that by the end of it they should danced in every pub in Bath, and this is one which they had avoided for a very good reason (it’s up a reasonably steep hill).

Anyway, it’s done now. Hurrah for us. And hurrah for the Bath Folk Festival.

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Mortarboards ready, canes polished and chalk to flick at errant pupils. Northgate Rapper boys (attempt to) teach rapper sword.

As part of Bath’s mighty fine Folk Festival, the chaps in olive drab corduroy have been invited to teach the good folk of Bath the noble art of dancing with swords. 

We’re in the programme and everything! ’tis official. 

All ages, sizes, genders and abilities etc are most welcome to attend the workshop. It’s tomorrow (Saturday) 15th August between 4 and 5pm at the Beechen Cliff school in Bath, postcode is BA2 4RE. 

We’ll be in kit so you can’t miss us and we’ve a couple of talented (?) musicians with us too. 

All you really need is a pair of shoes, no trainers, and the ability to count to 8 in your head. Simples. 


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With blistered feet and aching calves, Bath’s Northgate Rapper did themselves proud at Sidmouth Folk Week.

Oh yes we did, and more!

Sidmouth 5Resplendent in olive drab and Tuscan sun yellow, us boys of Northgate Rapper stepped as one (most of the time), tumbled with aplomb and entertained the Sidmouth crowds with our derring-do and fearless sword handling.

Many beers drunk, and ice-creams scoffed.

Sidmouth 11We had a busy schedule, which we immediately added to with extra spots and pub crawls. The latter’s highlight was surely Silver Flame’s Thursday night crawl totaling four teams; Stone Monkey, Star and Shadow, and our good selves. Plus we noticed the odd Dorset Button, a Taff or two, several Mons Meg and some Steel from Sheffield. 

Sidmouth 10We danced in every pub in Sidmouth many times, and interrupted many sessions to entertain with sword-based activities. Particular highlights must include our Blowzabella ceilidh interval spot on Monday and Jonathon’s awesome Morris jig. The drunken 2am LNE dance comes a close second, and the sight of Ioan chasing the spin around to get into position made the dance.  

One of our signature figures goes straight from a lock into a spin without any stepping. Martin overheard a conversation after the drunken dance that went thus;

Chloe (Star and Shadow): “How on earth can you do that?”

Nicol (Northgate): “Practice”

Needless to say, our early hours dancing made Star and Shadow incredibly jealous. So of course they copied us, and drunkenly danced themselves. Whatever boys can do, girls can do equally well!

CL02iyjWoAEBLQ0A special mention must go to Jonathon and his ginger sunbathing techniques that avoid sunburn. Basically a total cover up.

Workshops were attended and figures pinched adapted. A Northgate daughter tumbled successfully at the age of 11, thanks Monkeys! The WHO recommends 10,000 steps per day to improve fitness and burn calories, over 6 days Northgate averaged 18,137 steps per day (including dancing).

Our waists are somewhat smaller and our buns of steel more taut.

All in all it was a terrific week away at an awesome Folk Festival, many thanks for inviting us Sidmouth! Obviously we’re very open to coming again, should you so wish. Ahem.

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Oh we do like to be beside the seaside. Bath’s Northgate Rapper decamp to Sidmouth Folk Festival. 

Knotted hankies. Check. 

Factor 95 for Jonathon’s delicate skin. Check. 

Suitable canvas bijou residences. Check. 

Swords. Check. 

Aye, the regionally famous and locally renowned Northgate Rapper and their polished blades of death are officially appearing at Sidmouth Folk Festival. It’s the grandfather of folk festivals, now in it’s 60th year in various guises. And we’re dancing!

Northgate aren’t the only sword team, oh no. Also on the rosta are the award winning women of Star and Shadow from Newcastle and the stripey socked simians from Nottinghamshire; Stone Monkey. We also hear that Silver Flame are coming along with Edinburgh’s finest; Mons Meg. 

Along with everything else folkie, morrisy and musicy, it looks to be a terrific week. 

Martin’s even bought a Kiss Me Quick hat, this is a warning to those of an unattached nature to run like the wind. And get the flock out of there. 

We’ll try and keep you posted with amusing anecdotes and smashing snapshots. 

Southward bound!



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Bristol Folk Festival: socks, sitting and Silver Flame

Us with Silver Flame

And so we had a splendid day with our chums Silver Flame dancing at the Bristol Folk Festival. We danced in pubs, at the Folk House and on College Green. Oh, and at a wake, which was rather moving.

Sock maintenance

And many interesting things happened, chief among which was Ioan adjusting his sock mid-dance, which got a tremendous reaction from the Society of Hosiery Arrangement Professionals, who happened to be having their annual conference in Bristol that very afternoon. They were said to be “well pleased” with Ioan’s performance, although they added it was slightly spoilt by our insistence on waving steel blades around. This apparently distracted from his “manly performance” and “practised tugging”.

It's been a long day

Alas, it was a long day and for one of us it all became a bit much. Poor Edwin had to have a little sit-down in the middle of a dance. He is reported to be nicely rested now, and recovering well after our ministrations of a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.


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DERT delightfully done; Bristol folk festival follows

BFFWe’ve taken a bit of a holiday during the run up to DERT, which we hosted quite fabulously in Bristol a couple of weeks ago. And indeed we’ve also taken a longer holiday following DERT to recover.

But now we’re back.

We’ll be dancing in the Bristol Folk Festival with the delightful Silver Flame around Park Street throughout the day on Saturday the 2nd of May, and may even pay a visit to the Folk House in Park Street around 4pm.

Come along, say hello and buy us drinks. You know it makes sense.

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DERT is nigh and we’re getting a little excited

We're getting a little carried away

We’re getting a little carried away

DERT is less than three weeks away now and the lads of Northgate are getting a little excited.

As can be seen from this Actual Photo taken by CCTV in Bath city centre just last night, we’re rather letting the upcoming dance fest overcome our normal restraint.

Indeed, the prospect of organising competitive English sword dancing in the pubs of Bristol on Saturday 11 April is driving some of our less self-controlled members into a frenzy of anticipation.

We can hardly wait. Can you?

All the details are here.

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Crawl tonight, plus surprise new recruit

Potential new recruit

Potential new recruit

Do not forget, people of Bath, that we are bringing our unique brand of bemusing danger to your pubs tonight, starting at 8pm in the King’s Arms.

If you’re trying to avoid Comic Relief, we are the antidote. The only red noses you’ll see on us are those coloured with our own precious blood.

Also, we may have a new recruit. He was hanging around the job centre and clearly had nothing better to do.

Some say he lost his job because a middle-aged man threw a tantrum, and that the only steak he would eat is made from Clarkson’s flesh. All we know is, he’s called The Rapper Stig.

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