DERT '99 - Newcastle upon Tyne

For the second year in succession, DERT visited Tyneside for 1999. Instead of Gateshead, this time it took place north of the Tyne, in Newcastle. Following a very similar format to 1994, the event was organised to celebrate the 50th and 30th anniversaries respectively of the Newcastle Kingsmen and Sallyport Swords.

Things kicked off on Friday afternoon with a tour (non-dancing) of the city's better pubs, largely for the benefit of Jack the Rapper, who flew in from Oslo that morning. The evening saw a good social gathering in the Cumberland Arms - and a reunion for many.

Saturday dawned with all the teams visiting city pubs for a “warm-up” dance before gathering at the Tyneside Irish Centre for the tournament. Here, a special guest awaited, Mary Askins. Her grandfather, William Prudhoe, was in the Winlaton team which won the 1924 North of England Tournament - predecessor of DERT and contested by rapper teams in Newcastle until the 1950's. Winlaton won the Cowen Trophy - the original prize - outright after coming first three years running. The cup has remained in the family ever since, unseen in public for 75 years until Mary brought it to DERT for all to admire.

In all, 14 teams took part. Shaun the Sheep Rapper, the Green Velvet Outlaws of Sherwood, Hexham Rapper, Knit Your Own and East Saxon took part in the non-competitive Exhibition category, with Sweetie Rapper from Nottingham the only junior team.

This left Faithful City Rapper, Jack the Rapper, Thrale's and Insword to dance for the Open category, with Thrale's running out winners. Next came the Premier (Own Dance) class: Hoddesdon, Pengwyn and Stone Monkey took to the floor, with Pengwyn deservedly triumphant.

Finally, the Premier (Traditional Dance) category had the audience on the edge of their seats. Addison finished third, with the Kingsmen edging Sallyport for the Champions spot by just 1.6%.

Best for amusement were the “aged Kingsmen” who danced while the judges did their sums. Including several faces who can't have danced in years, they did remarkably well.

With Thrale's M.J. voted a popular best musician and Chris Pitt and Brian Kelly again winning best characters, the serious bit was over and the company dispersed for Chinese meals, more beer and extra beer.

Sunday morning's workshop included a selection of unusual figures and odd timing from Phil Heaton - just enough to see the participants through to opening time and a final farewell in the Cumberland.

All in all, another successful event - and certainly one of the friendliest on record.