Dorset Button Rapper

Rapper dancing is sword dancing. Not, of course, the effete style of sword dancing beloved of the Scots, in which they put the swords on the ground and prance around them at a safe distance. No; Englishmen keep firm hold of their swords -- and of their neighbour’s swords -- and dance linked togther by their swords. Indeed, it’s often said that it’s the swords that do the dancing.

This “Hilt-and-point” style of sword dance was found all over Europe. The first definite reference in England is from 1715 but, as with all activities of the “folk”, little notice would have been taken of such things by Authority, and the tradition probably goes back a lot further. In England linked sword dancing was found very largely in the north and east; the area of the Danelaw, and in the rest of Europe this style of dance is mostly found where the Danes settled. So, blame the Vikings for it.

In our style of dance, the Rapper dance, we use a flexible steel “sword”, the “Rapper”, rather than the stiffer“long-swords” of the older style of dance.These were probably cut down bits of broken worn-out pit gear in origin and only became available with the advent of much cheaper better steel from the Bessemer Converter in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

There is no tradition of Rapper Sword in Dorset, apart from our own that is. As with the Ladies team we've borrowed our dance from the north of England. But we do wear clogs for our dance, and in that we are probably more traditional than most other Rapper teams. Clogs would have been the working footwear of the miners who did these dances. They would crtainly not have worn the soft tap-shoes favoured by most contemporary teams.

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Introducing our patrons

We are delighted to have two outstanding local folk artists as our festival patrons; Jackie Oates has been with us since 2013, and she was joined in 2016 by John Spiers, of Bellowhead and Spiers and Boden.


Jackie is a singer and fiddle player hailing from Staffordshire and now living in Oxford. Her unique treatment of English ballads and songs, and pure, haunting singing style has attracted increasing attention. Since appearing as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2003, she has performed extensively at festivals and folk clubs across the country, in a solo capacity and with a number of bands. Her second album 'The Violet Hour' was one of the Top 10 on the Mojo folk album of the year chart in 2008, followed by 'Hyperboreans' reaching number five in the chart the following year. Also in 2009 Jackie won two BBC Folk Awards - The Horizon Award for best new comer, and the Best Traditional Track Award. She is currently singing with her own band, and touring as a member of The Imagined Village alongside Eliza Carthy. When not busy with all this Jackie dances with Summertown Morris and knits a lot!

 

John Spiers, known better in folk circles as Squeezy, has made a name for himself as one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation.  Well known for his long-standing duo partnership with Jon Boden in the formidable Spiers & Boden as well as his contribution to the massively popular Bellowhead, John has also played with Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers and a number of local folk-dance bands.

John was born in Birmingham, but moved to Abingdon in Oxfordshire at an early age where his association with the traditional folk music and dance of the region began. His road to success all started when he met Jon Boden at a folk session in the Fir Tree pub on Iffley Road in the late 90s; by 1999 they started performing together as Spiers & Boden and were quickly signed to Fellside records. 2004 saw the duo join 9 other friends to create the explosive ‘Bellowhead’ who have cooked up a storm on festival stages UK wide ever since. Bellowhead went on to win several BBC Radio 2 folk awards for Best Live Act and Best Group, and their album 'Revival' entered the UK album charts at number 12, before they sadly parted ways in 2016. 

Merch!

We had some amazing SPECIAL EDITION festival merch available for the 2020 lockdown festival.  They are still available if you want a momento of that unique weekend - click here to browse!  

Folky Fundraisers

We have a number folky fundraisers throughout the year - from Christmas Concerts and workshops to Family Ceilidhs. Supporting Folk Weekend whilst having a fabulous time - what could be better?!

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Morris at Folk Weekend

In normal times we are always delighted to welcome Morris dancers to Folk Weekend, who perform in the streets and at fantastic locations across the City centre including the Botanic Gardens and the Ashmolean Museum. Things are a litte different at the moment, but Morris will return.  For more information, go to our Morris page.