To SDU or not to SDU?
Normally, the only thing that gets rapperdom really agitated is the pub running out of beer. It was a rare occasion on the Sunday morning following DERT 2005 to see around a hundred rapperists engaged in earnest and even tetchy discussion.
The hot topic was Phil Heaton's proposal to form a Sword Dance Union – the SDU. The argument runs as follows:
- None of the existing morris organisations caters specially for sword dancers.
- Sword dancers are a cohesive group with particular needs and aspirations.
- The Morris Ring currently, by definition, excludes a large proportion of rapper dancers by reason of gender.
- The EFDSS has been disinterested in promoting sword dance in the recent past.
- Whilst rapper appears to be thriving, longsword is perhaps in the doldrums and this should be a cause for concern and remedial action.
- There is a need to guide and support the competitive aspect of sword dancing which undoubtably has driven forward standards, particularly in rapper.
As you can imagine, the proposal threw up a wide range of responses from the floor. These ranged from “If it ain't bust, don't fix it” to “Must have! An absolutely essential development.” There were wise words from John Asher, the quiet man from Newcastle, and a plea from Brian Tasker – who will stand for election as Squire of the Morris Ring in early 2006 – to allow him the opportunity to persuade the Ring to be more responsive to our needs. Contributions came thick and fast, and those who did not speak muttered sagely from the margins.
The whole debate was skillfully managed by our DERT hosts Andrew Kennedy and Jeff Lawson, who eventually drew proceedings to a close and took an informal vote. The assembly overwhelmingly supported the idea of an SDU in principle, and a that a more focussed meeting, to develop the idea, should be held in the summer of 2005. That meeting took place in York in July, and further news about progress should appear soon in The NUT.