Taff Rapper Make Swashbuckling Debut at Sword Dance Showcase

Taff Rapper give an intense performance at the showcase, as Martyn Goodwin (their Tommy) peers round the side.

Taff Rapper power through their performance at the showcase, as Martyn Goodwin (the Tommy) peers round the side and gives the audience a cheeky wink.

Cardiff’s finest rapper sword dance team hit Bristol with a clash, as they displayed a fast and furious routine at an international competition.

New kids on the block, Taff Rapper, made their debut at The Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) on Saturday 13th, showing off a unique rapper sword dance routine and fast fiddle playing, while leaving the crowd in stitches with their hilarious Tommy (a character who makes jokes to the audience).

The team travelled across the waters to the biggest rapper sword dance event on the calendar, which saw around 30 teams coming to compete from as far away as the USA.

Despite not dancing in the main competitions, held in the city’s bustling pubs, the crowds enjoyed seeing Taff Rapper at the evening showcase in St. George’s, as the Welsh wonders showed off their new skills and smart red and green patriotic sashes.

Taff Rapper dancer, Jonathan Baker, said: “DERT was intense. I’ve danced rapper for years, but I’ve never been to an event like this or realised that so many other sides exist.  After watching all teams at the competition, I realised how far I still have to go as a dancer. The Newcastle Kingsmen showed supreme skill and refinement in their dancing, and Black Swan Rapper had amazing energy and enthusiasm – it’s hard to say who my favourite side was!

“Edwin Dyson, our squire, did a heroic job of organising the event.”


The team sing their calling on song in St. George’s to an expectant crowd.

Rapper sword dancing originates from the North East of England, as the miners in the 1800s used the swords (which were originally pit tools) to develop traditional long sword dances, performed to live music.

DERT, a modern tournament, which took shape in the 1980s and 90s, sees performers judged on skills such as stepping, sword handling, Tommying and music.

Cardiff’s Taff Rapper are now practising in Dempseys, Castle Street, from 7.30pm – 9.30pm on Thursdays, and are always keen to recruit new members.

DERT will be held in Manchester next year, and the results of this year’s competition can be found online at: http://www.dert2015.co.uk/after-a-bath-a-brew-and-a-nap-here-are-the-results-of-dert-2015-in-bristol-thanks-to-all-who-took-part/.

Taff sing their calling on song.

Taff Rapper perform in The Pen and Wig, Cardiff, with their musician Charlotte Goodwin.

The Devil’s Violin

“What would you sacrifice for the one you love?”

On February 9th, Cardiff will be treated to a mysterious fusion of storytelling and music. Promising danger, horror, love and humour, we know we’re going to be gripping our theatre chairs in suspense! Folk Cardiff catches up with Sarah Moody from The Devil’s Violin, to learn more about their unique production of The Forbidden Door



1) Folk Cardiff is very excited to hear about The Devil’s Violin! How did the group form?

I wanted to do a show about the journey of Roma Gypsy music and Daniel Morden was commissioned to write ‘Dark Tales from the Woods’ which was a collection of Roma Gypsy stories told by a group of Roma living in North Wales in the 19th/20th century. We did our first show, The Devil’s Violin in 2006 and then after it went so well, we just kept going! The Forbidden Door is our 4th show.

The Gypsy story link was explored in a previous show, our first (2006). In The Forbidden Door we are working with traditional stories from several sources that have been shaped into a single narrative and interwoven with music.

2) Introduce us to your members – how does everyone gel together to tell the story?

Daniel tells the story and us 3 musicians have woven the music into the story (we wrote it all in the room together with Daniel, deciding what bits of the story benefitted from music. We only use music if it adds to the story, we’re interested in music replacing the words wherever it can, the relationship between words and music, the rhythm of the words etc etc…

The members are Sarah Moody (me) on cello, Dylan Fowler on guitar, Oliver Wilson-Dickson on fiddle (plays with Mabon), Daniel Morden, Storyteller

3) What has inspired your material?

Here’s a poem that has been an inspiration for the show
The Door
Miroslav Holub

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
nothing is there,

go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

4) The Forbidden Door sounds very mysterious! Can you tell Folk Cardiff a little bit about what’s in store? Ghosts? Murder? Or is it a secret?!

Welcome to a cinema of the mind! With our visceral combination of live music and dynamic storytelling, we weave an enchantment of melody and mystery.

Don’t open that door!

As soon as the rule is laid down, we know it will be broken. Once the door is opened, then what? – adventures! All of us love a good tale, and this is a wonderful one. Expect love, loss, drama, danger, horror, humour, twists and trials.

5) What’s great about putting music to a story?

It’s a wonderful thing to make words and narrative come alive through the music.

Music goes to the heart and helps the imagination. It’s an exciting challenge to try and conjure up the imagery through music

6) How would you like the audience to feel when they watch your show?

I’d like them to laugh and feel moved and excited – like they’ve been on a journey.

It is a personal journey of one’s own but still a shared experience. Stories are like pebbles on the beach, rounded off through centuries of telling to hold fundamental truths about what it is to be human.

7) What are your plans for the future?

To tour 60 venues with this show! We’re also going to Denmark and Holland, and possibly India.

8) Where does your name come from?

One of the stories in our first show was called The Devil’s Violin.

To book tickets to the performance and to find out more about The Devil’s Violin, please visit: http://www.thedevilsviolin.co.uk 

9th February ’15 : THE FORBIDDEN DOOR – Chapter Arts Centre, CARDIFF

Starts: 8:00 pm
Location: Market Rd, Cardiff CF5 1QE
Tickets: 029 2030 4400 http://www.chapter.org

12th February ’15 : THE FORBIDDEN DOOR – Pontardawe Arts Centre, PONTARDAWE

Starts: 7:30 pm
Location: Herbert St, Pontardawe, West Glamorgan SA8
Tickets: 01792 863722 http://www.pontardaweartscentre.com

Quirky Cardiff Mural Celebrates Morris Dancers and Folklore


“The Board Game of Life”

A morris dancer and his friends have found their way onto a piece of unusual artwork that has been painted on a wall in Northcote Lane, Cardiff. The mural was created as part of the city’s Empty Walls Project and celebrates dance, folklore and tradition. Over 20 well-respected local and international artists are leading the exciting venture, which heralds muralism and interventions of the urban environment. The artists aim to bring colour, culture and vibrancy to the Welsh capital and provide an alternative to the bombardment of advertisements and high street chains. They hope their outdoor gallery will capture, question, and inspire. The Northcote Lane mural was produced at the end of October 2014 and features several intriguing characters in what appears to be a battle between tradition and the conventional urban lifestyle.


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Top 10 New Year Folk Plans!

1. Why not try sword dancing, clog dancing, or morris dancing?Cardiff Morris have started their practice season and you can find them at the Owain Glyndwr at 8pm on Tuesdays! Meanwhile, clog sides Cobblers Awl and Clocs Canton would love new, young blood to get in touch.

Clocs Canton: https://www.facebook.com/groups/57243147963/  

Cobblers Awl: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cobblers-Awl-Clog-Dancers/730123787053703

2. Watch Taff Rapper performing at the Ruff Ceilidh on Saturday January 17th. Why not ask them about joining the team? http://ruffceilidhs.org 3. See the delightful Tom Fitton at the Owl’s Nest on Wednesday January 7th.


4. Hear Anne Lister and Mary Mc Laughlin singing as Anonyma at a house concert in Cardiff on Saturday January 10th. Pm the band on Facebook for further details. Anonyma: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anonyma/254807490176

5. Take a trip to the Llantrisant Folk Club on Wednesday January 14th to see John Alderslade perform stories, jokes, and lots of chorus songs. John has been performing for 35 years and has even sung at a sewage pumping station! Llantrisant Folk Club: http://www.folkwales.org.uk/folk.html

6. And why not visit again on January 28th to listen to the wonderful Meg and Dave Cox? Dave is manager of Marcus Music in Newport’s Tredegar House, while Meg is now a student of master fiddler Mike Lease of Cwmbran.  Oh, and the duo are also father and daughter!

7. See DnA (Delyth & Angharad Jenkins) at Pontardawe Folk Club on January 16th. http://www.pontardawefolkclub.co.uk

8. Visit again on January 30th for their Open Night! The club would love everyone to sing, play, recite or just enjoy the music!

9. Fancy a trip near the Welsh border? The annual Chepstow Wassail Mari Lwyd is on Saturday January 17th. Get ready for mumming, morris dancing, and other strange capers! http://chepstowwassailmari.co.uk

10. Go along to Robert May’s new Cardiff Folk Music Session! All instruments, voices and abilities welcome!

See Cardiff Folk Music Session on Facebook for venue updates. https://www.facebook.com/CardiffFolkSession

LATEST NEWS: Cardiff Folk Music Session is raring to go! Robert May tells all…


  1. Tell me about Cardiff Folk Music Session? What are your plans?

The plan is to set up an easy-going session in the centre of Cardiff for all types of folk music and for a wide range of abilities.

  1. Why did you decide to start this group?

I’ve been thinking about starting up a session in Cardiff for a while. I’ve lived here for quite a while, though I only took up an instrument in the past two years, and I’ve found it difficult to get out and meet other people who enjoy the same wide range of music as I do.

  1. What kind of material will you be playing? (Will there also be singing?)

Singing is definitely allowed, though at some point everyone else may be subjected to my poor attempts as well! I want to vary the material a lot and not get bogged down in any one tradition. I personally enjoy playing music from many different countries and many styles, and find single-tradition groups a bit stifling. Traditional (or not traditional) music from all countries and pretty much any instrument you can bring to the pub will be welcome.

  1. Who can come? Are all ages and abilities welcome?

When I finally have the venue sorted out it is most likely to be a pub, which may prevent under 18s from attending depending on the venue. If there are younger people who are interested then we can certainly look at alternatives, as I’ve played with numerous people under 18 who are far better musicians than me!

  1. The folk scene in Cardiff is pretty secretive – do you hope to create a more united landscape and why?

It is quite secretive in a way; unless you know other people or find the one or two websites around which have the single-line listing for the sessions, it’s rather hard to find out where they are.   I’m not too fussed about uniting other people as much as I’d like to offer an easy to get to, light-hearted and fun session for as many people to enjoy as possible. There are sessions both in Cardiff and beyond that offer single tradition music, but there are plenty of people like myself who just love playing any great tune, no matter where it comes from!

  1. What would you say to encourage people to come along for a session one evening?

It’ll be fun! There are so many great and fun people in the folk scene, and we’ll let everyone have a go at the tunes they know and enjoy playing. The chances are that somebody else will know the tunes you know or be able to pick it up, so come along and enjoy playing with other people in a relaxed atmosphere.

bellowhead pic for blog

  1. Folk music can be dark, mysterious and uplifting, while there is also the satisfaction of playing or singing material that is traditional. What is it that you most love about the genre?

I’ve always loved music, and in the past 5 years or so I finally moved more into folk music. My real love of it now comes from having found an instrument that I love playing, and I get huge enjoyment out of being able to play the tunes I love. Folk music is fun; there are memorable tunes with memorable names (I’m afraid that no classical piece names compare with stuff like ‘The Weasel’s Revenge’), and there are hundreds of variations for each tune from various countries and areas. It’s constantly evolving; every time someone learns a tune they inevitably learn it slightly differently to the person before them, and that’s a good thing.

A lot of folk tunes are from small communities, played for dance or in the pub, and yet there’s a lot of music which would have been considered popular and fashionable music at the time which we now see as folk music; and there are so many great new compositions from current musicians that have become commonly played around the UK in sessions. There’s so many styles and types of music to play, and so many different ways of playing them, that I could spend the rest of my life playing folk music and still be finding great new tunes every day.

  1. However, apart from songs by big artists such as Bellowhead, folk music is rarely played via the mainstream media. Would you like to see this change? If yes/no, then why?

Honestly I’m not the best qualified to answer this, as I kinda forget that radio exists and I don’t watch TV either!  

  1. Do you think it will be a problem for the survival of the music?

So much of this music has already survived hundreds of years that I’m not worried about its survival. There did seem to be a lull in folk popularity after the 1970s, but since the internet has appeared it’s easier than ever to find music or get your own out there.

  1. Tell me about yourself. Why did you first become interested in the world of folk?

I didn’t grow up in family steeped in musical history, so instead much of my fascination with folk has been fairly recent. I did a bit of morris dancing as a teenager, but not much else, and had little interest in learning a musical instrument. Instead I spent most of my teenage and university years as a metal fan, before starting the slide into folk music (via folk-metal!) after leaving university. It was partly influenced by my dad also getting into folk, but also a general shift in what I enjoyed in music.  

  1. I hear you only started playing the melodeon recently? How are you finding it and can you play any other instruments?

In November 2012 I bought myself a mandolin and started learning it. That was my first real instrument that I bought as a serious venture. I learnt the piano a little as a child but I honestly had no interest in classical music at the time, and no-one had told me that blues and jazz existed!

6 months after buying the mandolin, I bought a melodeon (a diatonic button accordion). It’s a ridiculous instrument; it can (generally) only play in a few keys, it plays different notes on both the treble and bass ends depending on which way the bellows go, and it’s utterly different to anything I’d tried before. And it turns out to be my first true passion in life. I play it for hours every day; there’s no practice, I just enjoy playing it constantly.

  1. What do you most enjoy about playing for the dancers in Cardiff Morris?

Playing for dance is hard, particularly if you’re not the only musician! Cardiff Morris is a really fun group of people and it’s a great laugh. They have dances and tunes from many different traditions and I always have a good time.

  1. How does the future look for Cardiff’s folk scene?

I think it stands a good chance of becoming more popular, especially as there are plenty of music students in the city. There also seem to be more events happening recently, which should hopefully help people to meet up.

  1. Finally, if you had to choose, would you rather play or dance? (Think carefully :p)

Music, definitely! I’m not a great dancer, although I can at least do justice to the Adderbury tradition (which is to be expected, I guess, as I grew up there). I’ve finally found what I really want to do with my life, and although I’m starting later than I’d like, I want to be able to perform music professionally someday. That might not be especially viable, but it’s good to have an ambitious goal!

Potential venue: a new pub/bar where Barfly/Bogiez used to be (right next to the castle). For updates about the new venue, please visit: bit.ly/CardiffFolkMusic

Juicy Gossip: Imogen O’Rourke talks music, mince pies and the mandocello.

ceilidh 1 ruff ceilidh for ceilidh article

Juice will be playing at the RUFF Ceilidh tonight to celebrate a fantastic year of dancing!

Tell us about the history of the band and where Juice is from. I believe it has been a bit of a family affair?

It was indeed a family affair; long before my time! It was originally set up by Gil and Jenny KilBride and was formerly known as ‘Juice of the Barley’. Their three young (at the time!) sons Bernard, Daniel and Gerard joined and eventually took over in their own right. They are all very much grown up and established as professional musicians these days and have branched out with projects of their own, but Bernard remains the driving force as the founder member.

Why did you join Juice?

There was an opening for a flautist in Juice when the amazing and much missed Jonathon Shorland, talented player of all-things-wind departed for Devon, leaving a huge gap in the band which needed filling. That’s where I came in.

Which musical traditions or artists have influenced Juice’s style? Can we see any Welsh pride coming through?

First and foremost, of course, was the influence of Gil and Jenny KilBride but we live in a modern age and the band has soaked up all sorts of musical flavours over the years from traditional Brettagne, Shetland, Scottish, Irish and, of course, Welsh, but it’s also picked up some pop, rock and funk on the way too! Juice has had a lot of different members over the last thirty years and they’ve all left their mark in some way.

Introduce us to the current members of Juice and to all your instruments. Have all the band members got different personalities?

Bernard KilBride – fiddle. The big boss man.

Imogen O’Rourke – flute. That’s me. The cute, funny one.

Dean Ryan – Double Bass. He’s been playing with the band for at least 20 years and is trusty side-kick to Bernard.

Daniel James – mandocello. A relatively recent addition to the band. He’s a hard working, conscientious and altogether excellent bloke. He also runs his own folk music radio show on Blaenavon FM!

Sam Mabbet – melodeon. The newest (and by far the youngest) bright new talent on the scene. We’re all doing our best to keep up with him.

Dave Parsons – caller. Without him, the dance floor would be in total chaos. He tells all the dancers what to do and when to do it.

What’s been the biggest highlight while you’ve been in the band?

Getting free beer at the RUFF ceilidh. No, only joking. The highlight is playing together. It’s exciting and exhilarating.

Would you like to see more folk music played in mainstream media or would you prefer it to stay as pop’s lesser-known, rebellious sibling?

I’d love to hear more of it. More = better!

Have the band been through any tough times?

All bands go through tough times but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so they say.

 What have Juice got planned for the future?

Juice tends to take life, gigs and opportunities as they come along. Who knows what the future will hold!

What would you say to encourage more young people to try ceilidh dancing?

I would say, “go to the RUFF Ceilidhs and get stuck in!”


Festive Fun: Folk Cardiff Christmas Quiz!

1.Slade or Wizzard?

Sorry, I live on planet flute. I don’t know which is which.

 2. Mince pies or Christmas pudding?

Mmmm… Mince pies. My mum’s ones.

3.Charades or cards?

Neither. I’d rather play my flute.

4. Sprouts or no sprouts?


5. Strictly Come Dancing or Downton Abbey?

Neither thanks.


Cardiff’s got bells on: it’s time to unite

What is the folk scene like already? Folk Cardiff investigates with Chris Hayes and Richard Tann-Watson from Cardiff Morris.

(Please note: the video ends at 3.04 due to technical issues which could not be resolved.)

Cardiff’s folk scene has battled prejudice, poor students and disappearing practice venues. So, as the new year looms, Folk Cardiff explains why we should look forward to dancing round the maypole – and not round the bend! 


Leicester Morris night clubbing. They regularly attend the 18-30 weekends, which all of us hear crazy stories about! 

It’s Friday night: your head is thumping, you’ve had too many Sambucas and you’re in the middle of a nightclub. Oh, and you’ve got a load of bells strapped to your knees. Morris dancing has indeed come a long way since Cecil Sharp collected dances from twee teams in country villages. But as infamous groups like Morris 18-30 see more and more young dancers sign up for a heady weekend of drinking and dancing, where’s the new blood on the Cardiff folk scene?

Far from plastering our antics on the photography archives of Live Lounge, our scene is secretive, and for a capital city, it could do with a boost. So, just as we are adept at tuning a fiddle, fixing a bell pad and polishing a rapper, how can we stitch the Cardiff folk scene back together?

“Attracting young people to folk dancing in a large urban area will always cause problems,” says Alun Roach of Cardiff Morris.

The city’s cotswold side have been going since 1970 and have a steady influx of “free spirited” students each year.

However, this still leaves them at a loss when their recruits finish their degrees and return home for the summer. Like all sides in Cardiff, the team would love to attract more members, but as the average 18-year-old isn’t champing at the bit to go morris dancing, it is a slow and steady process.

“Young people jeering has turned more to “what you doin’, mate, looks cool”…” laughs Alan, recalling the reaction from young audience members.

“But it is still difficult to get them to come along to practices – the reluctance of people to do something outside their comfort zone is a huge hurdle.”

jason gallop

Galloping Gallops social weekend in Burton-on-Trent sees many young people enjoy learning and performing new dances, as they are already on the folk scene and unafraid to be different.

The Young Ones
Yet, ask any young morris dancer about their experience on the folk scene and their tale might be a bit different: cue stories of nightclubs, all night lock-ins, romantic liaisons, silent discos, and a ridiculous number of friends in every capital city.

As someone who’s grown up on the folk scene, Shady Tann-Watson knows all about our funny world of folk. Hailing from Donisthorpe, and studying Genetics at Cardiff University, both Shady’s parents were in their local Leicestershire dance teams, while she has been attending Sidmouth Folk Festival since she was a tiny tot.

cardiff morris digital feature

Cardiff Morris dance out in Cardiff Bay.

“It’s difficult to say what’s the best part about it,” smiles Shady, 19, who joined Cardiff Morris in September.“It’s great to be surrounded by music and culture, and also by hundreds of friends who are always looking out for you.

“At festivals there’s often a ceilidh happening, which is great fun for everyone involved. These are always followed by sessions, led by fantastic, young musicians that continue long after the pubs have shut.”

But never mind shutting the doors for a lock in, how do we get youngsters to open the doors to the folk scene?

Alun is somewhat skeptical of ‘modern’ methods: “We have had stands at fresher’s fairs in the colleges in Cardiff and more recently established a presence on social media, but all these methods yielded fewer dancers than we actually picked up at dance outs!”

There’s no place like home

Before we begin the plans of ‘folking’ the 5,000, dance teams had better make sure they actually have somewhere to practice.

Clocs Canton were shocked when they were unable to use their Canton scout hall because of dodgy electrics until, in its finest hour, Western Avenue’s Tesco offered them their community room. However, the struggle to find a venue has worrying implications for those wanting to set up a dance team.

clocs canton.jpg

Clocs Canton at Ruff Ceilidh.

“I visited or rang every church hall and pub function room that I could think of but places like Chapter were crammed full of bookings and church halls already had dance or exercise classes,” explains step clogger Lynda Edwards.

“Meanwhile, most pub function rooms had low ceilings and carpeted floors, which were just no good.”

This is particularly worrying if new teams would like to set up, as an unstable practice venue would not appeal to new recruits, whilst most teams can’t fork out for a more reliable, expensive setting.

For now, those on the Cardiff scene remain true to their tankards, as three sides practice in a pub, the Owain Glyndwr, St John’s Street, which boasts a free function room. But despite the mecca of morris seeming to be in one Cardiff pub, the scene is still very secretive.

The revolution will not be televised

However, one Cardiff dancer thinks he may have the answer to help bring sides together.

Like Cardiff Morris, Edwin Dyson has been trying to get punters interested in folk. He started running the city’s only sword dancing group, Taff Rapper, in spring but soon opened up his originally all-male sword dancing team to females due to lack of members. Now, as numbers are slowly growing, he hopes one day to have both a male and female side, and has an idea to create a buzz in the city.

“My basic plans are to invite every traditional side in the Cardiff area to join a day of dance and take over the area between the Owain Glyndwr and the new library,” says Edwin.

“We could demonstrate routines and also hold workshops for the public in various venues during the day. Then, to finish it, there could be an evening concert and ceilidh.”

my ceiludh shaz

Ceilidhs attract lots of young people.

So, while we won’t be crashing into the basement of Metros anytime soon, the New Year is all about fresh opportunities. If Facebook and social networking don’t help then it is time to think outside the box: if the students don’t come to the morris, then the morris must go to the students! A big day of workshops sounds like an excellent way to break down the barriers and show Cardiff citizens what we’re all about. And, as long as we keep abreast of practice room issues, then the folk scene can only grow stronger. This is Cardiff, and Cardiff’s got bells on!

edwin cropped

Edwin Dyson talks about rapper sword dancing and why it would be great for young people to get involved with his new team. To find out how you can join, visit: http://www.taffrapper.co.uk/

Here is Edwin in action with his old side, Northgate Rapper. Keep an eye on the Folk Cardiff Facebook page, as we will be posting the the first videos of Taff Rapper soon after they have been filmed! Video courtesy of Northgate Rapper. 

jonathan digital

Cardiff Morris member, Jonathan Baker, talks about how he became involved in the folk scene and how it has influenced his life. As the Christmas bells ring, it’s time we think about recruitment for the New Year.

Cardiff Morris perform ‘Upton Stick’ in Pontypridd.  Video courtesy of Cardiff Morris. To see more of the side’s videos, you can visit: http://www.cardiffmorris.org/CMMhome.htm  

Would you like to join? Find a dance team here!

Christmas Ceilidh Rocks into Town

Cardiff looks set to shake and spin as the annual Ruff Ceilidh Christmas dance rocks into town.

ceilidh-portrait   ceilidh 1

World-renowned folk band, Juice, will be playing fast and furious tunes at Heath Hospital social club on 13 December, with the buzzing atmosphere seeing punters move and groove to an evening of traditional polkas, circle dances and more.

Expert caller Dave Parsons will explain the steps before the music begins, so ceilidh novices need not worry.

Dave said, “Juice are one of the best reel and jig bands and the age range at the social club will surprise many people, as we get everyone from students to the over 50s.

“We’re not trying to get you to dance perfectly – it’s about moving to the music with a grin on your face.”

Cobblers Awl: The Lowdown

The dance

Mike said, “Step clogging is always executed in the hard wearing, wooden soled footwear that was once the everyday wear of the industrial and agricultural classes; the steps developed as a response to the percussive sounds that were heard every day in their working lives.

“During the late 19th century, the steps and sounds were integrated into the acts of many performers on the music hall stages – Dan Leno being a particularly well-known perpetrator – and were combined with acrobatics to present a dazzling show of simultaneous flamboyance and precision.”

Cobblers Awl dance clog steps in styles that have developed in Wales and in northern England, and these styles have developed from very different backgrounds. In Wales, clogging comes from rural communities, where dancers, universally male, would perform in farmhouse kitchen parties and village bars.

Mike explains, “Men would take turns to step to the fiddle tunes, each trying to gain a march on the competition by introducing more intricate beats and impressive leaps and acrobatic stunts.

“In the north-east of England – notably Durham and Northumberland, and in Lancashire and north Cheshire, the steps developed in a much more industrial environment.

“They were said to be danced in time to the steady beat of the weaving and spinning machinery that workers carried in their heads fromlong hours in the cotton mills and weaving sheds.”

Cobblers Awl practice on Monday nights from 7.45pm at The Owain Glyndwr, St John’s Street, Cardiff. The side tend to take a week off around Christmas and Easter holidays, and usually take a break from practice during August, so please contact the side before coming to your first session.


dewi sant cobblers awl wk 7

Step Clog Challenge Stamps Into Cardiff

One of Cardiff’s trendiest pubs could help fire the rise of a furiously fast Welsh step clog tradition.

cobblers awl 3

The Owain Glyndwr, St. John’s Street, is now home to Cobblers Awl, who perform a tradition originating from working class labourers.

Cobblers Awl member, Mike Greenwood, sees its survival kept within folk dance families, however the modern location could stir attention from young punters, with the side dazzling fans at Heath Hospital’s Ruff Ceilidh on 15 November.

Mike said, “The ‘fuddy duddy’ tag is a myth- there’s a lot of fun to be had. It feels good to be a part of something that’s survived and evolved over the years.

“Cobblers Awl is dedicated to keeping step clog dances alive, and we’d love to hear from anyone who feels up to the challenge.”