Ever heard of rapper dancing? April 2018

Ever heard of rapper dancing? Neither had I. until I moved north and was introduced by my choir leader, a local folk singer, to this traditional north east style of dance once performed by miners in the collieries – five dancers holding rappers (a kind of sword; blunt strips of flexible steel) weave around one another in a fast-paced jig to traditional folk melodies. One member of the Newcastle Congregation is also in one of the local all-female teams, Star and Shadow Rapper, who recently started using the Durant Hall as a practice venue, and in January won the North East Rapper Championship, beating five other teams to the title, including the current National Champions, and becoming the first female team to win since the competition began.

The Durant Hall is far from the easiest place to practise rapper dancing – besides the cold in the winter months, the slippery floor makes for some very interesting moves, but despite these challenges, Star and Shadow Rapper remain a highly respected team, skilled, professional and friendly in equal measure. You can spot us in our striking black and turquoise kit on regular pub crawls in the Toon and roundabout, quickly performing single dances in pubs, bars and other venues before moving on to the next, usually in the cold, raising money to compete and to pay for swords, if (or rather when) they break. Despite not being a real Geordie lass, it is a privilege to be part of keeping a local tradition alive and very much kicking, and our thanks go to the Newcastle Church for helping in this continuation as well.

Diana Bebby