DERT '96 - Burton on Trent

Burton's famous Bass Brewery and some superb dancing provided the perfect ingredients for a first-class 1996 Dancing England Rapper Tournament. Hosts Ryknild Rabble earned huge praise for their smooth organisation, which provided an excellent weekend for participants and spectators alike. Over 20 sides gave of their best, including no less than five newcomers to DERT. Special award winners Jack the Rapper travelled all the way from Oslo, giving a very good account of themselves in the competition and winning many new friends in the process.

Grim Rapper were spawned from Sallyport's Sidmouth rapper workshop, while the Flying Ducks can trace their origins to Snark's Whitby teachings. Both teams earned their applause - not least for having the courage to get up and do it! Congratulations, too, to Mersey Morris Men for taking part after just a few months of dancing rapper. The NYFTE's were the final newcomers; again they gave a good display for a group of youngsters who dance together only occasionally. Neither do Pengwyn, who haven't danced out since March '95 and last year's tournament! It barely showed as their recent revival led to a last-minute exhibition entry, complete with first- time dancer.

Northgate finally won through in the Open Traditional class; these lads are full of spirit and will not be out of place as a Premier team next time. Neither will Short Circuit, who won the judges' vote by a clear 6% in the Open Own Dance category. The contest for Best Musician turned out to be between these two, with Henry Ford's (Northgate) piping getting the vote by the narrowest possible margin.

Of the Premier teams, there was no doubting the favourites. Stone Monkey topped all eight judging criteria in the Own Dance class and in only two did others (East Saxon) get within a point! They should take great credit in winning by a huge 13.25% margin.

The Traditional class included a repeat of last year's tussle between the Newcastle Kingsmen and Sallyport. The Kingsmen reversed the 1995 result but the fact that they gave each judge a tenner during the dance has to be discounted - M.C. Bob Dalrymple made them all hand it back! Much of the difference was in the Tommy and Betty of Chris Pitt and Brian Kelly, who were judged best characters.

The competition venue was ideal and the morning dance tours just about right. At the Museum, the bar and catering staff did a splendid job, particularly on the Saturday night, when they must have approached record takings (I did my bit! Ed.).

If there was a moan, it was in the Museum's pricing - which a senior Museum official compared with a Ring Meeting (is it surprising rapper teams don't go to them?). On Sunday lunchtime, the same official even (allegedly) phoned the pub round the corner to complain that the survivors weren't drinking in his bar! Ah well, there's no pleasing everyone.

Bottom line? Well done, Ryknild - a very good event.