Last night Heledd Pritchard of The Cardiffian joined a sword dancing team, the Taff Rapper, for a sword-wielding traditional folk dance.
PEOPLE always say you shouldn’t play with knives. But nobody mentioned anything about swords. Just as well I guess because last night I joined a group of four people I had never met before and put my life in their hands as I got tangled up between steel weapons.
My greatest fear was myself. Known for my clumsiness I was petrified a good evening dancing at the Owain Glyndwr would end up in a bit more blood, sweat and tears than I was hoping for.
Before I had even caught everyone’s names I nervously asked Edwin, the leader, what could possibly go wrong. “Well, it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “But once I fell on my forehead on a sword. There was blood everywhere, dripping down my white shirt.”
Great. Just what I wanted to hear. I took to the dance floor, more unsure of their safety than mine.
Each of the five team members were given a number, representing their dancing position. I was number four and so had to mirror everything dancer two was doing. Sounds easy. But with a sword in your hand things instantly feel a little less comfortable.
We danced around to a beat of eight and I ended up with my fist locked in between two long pieces of steel, twisting in and out of the circle to technical moves called Mary Ann, Coach and Horses and Fast and Loose.
I was gripping onto my sword like my life depended on it. To be fair, it probably did depend on it.
Then, before I had finished shuffling my feet, hoping they wouldn’t notice my steps were all over the place, number three was somersaulting backwards holding on to the other end of my sword.
As I got used to the moves I started to relax and half way into the evening I had forgotten what I was holding onto. Although I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
The team was great, encouraging me to learn my way around. I wasn’t sure how the evening was going to pan out but I had a fantastic time. A great group of people who, in between learning a traditional mining village dance, had a great social atmosphere.
Two hours later it was time to go home. No injuries, no blood and no missing body parts. Success. It goes to show you don’t have to be a natural to join in the fun and also enjoy.
To join the Taff Rappers visit www.taffrapper.co.uk or go along to the Owain Glyndwr at 7.30pm on Thursday. They are always looking for new dancers and welcome people of all ability.