This weekend saw Sheffield city centre transform into a mini folk festival, as the KEGS event danced its way around local bars and popular outdoor areas.

Last November, Newcastle Kingsmen hosted a successful folk dancing event, the history of the group dates back to 1949.They area rapper dance side, which normally includes 5 people dancing in small spaces with double-ended swords that they never let go of. They mainly consist of students and graduates as they are strongly linked with the university; however the local Geordie folk are a part of it too. Three other folk dance groups were involved in the celebration, they are:

 Earlsdon, from Coventry; a north-west clog style team. Their traditional dancing derives from the industrial revolution. Their attire consists of clogs and large fresh-flower hats. They’ll be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year.

Gaorsach, from Aberdeen; a rapper and step team. Their style is similar to the Newcastle Kingsmen but with clog and step dancing thrown in. They began in 2002, and have only recently recruited new dancers from outside the original circle.

Sciorr, our local group from Sheffield; They consist of 6 women who are Irish dancers they have been a team since 2003, but have been dancing separately from age 3.Their laid back Irish style and non-traditional costumes has won them respect from the many folk festivals they have toured for bringing girl power into the folk world. The head choreographer Cerys Wood explained how Sciorr has deserved place in the folk world.

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“Sciorr bring something different to folk festivals. There are not many folk-dance groups that consist purely of women under the age of 25. We have some of the best musicians around to play for us and have been highly credited on our achievement of Sciorr as one of the newer groups.”   

The event started as a massive bar crawl across Newcastle in a day, the aim being to dance and drink in as many bars as possible. Due to the success of the event it then became annual. This year was Sciorrs turn to host, so Sheffield was blessed with a touch of folk this weekend with the now named KEGS (kingsmen, earlson, gaorsach and sciorr)

“We began on Saturday at the Frog and Parrot, and ended at midnight in The Gardeners Rest by Kelham island. In between they danced at The Common Room, Trippets, Leopold Square, Peace Gardens, Winter Gardens, The Graduate, and The Tap. Then we caught the tram to The University Arms, then Fagans, Kelham Island Tavern and Riverside. Lots of beer was drunk, and we ended up having a lock-in at the Gardener’s, so even more was drunk. Although dancing was the main purpose of the weekend, beer definitely takes second place” explained Cerys.

 The weekend had been planned for months. After running the route a few times and getting permission from all the pubs, the tour fell into place. Everything surrounding the event was thought and planned by Sciorr, Cerys and the team did however experience a few glitches on the day.  

“We stuck to the itinerary, and the worst problem we had was Earlsdon processing from Leopold square to the Peace Gardens along the main road which held up a massive line of unhappy traffic.”

The day was a huge success and though Folk dance and music may not be to everyone’s taste it was difficult not to tap your foot to the authentic music and rhythm of the Irish ‘heavy’ shoe. Passers by couldn’t help but watch and they received a standing ovation in every place they performed. Though the idea behind the event is for the teams to join together to celebrate tradition, it seems it promoted the folk culture to those who perhaps have not had the opportunity to do so before.   

“We do it because we’re friends and its all fun, We’re young, and we love what we do, so we like to show people that the folk world isn’t what everyone thinks it is. Of course there are beardy fat men and droning singers, but there are also some of the best dancers and musicians in the world who are breathing new life into a forgotten tradition. People are quick to judge, but until they’ve actually seen what we do or been to a festival then they will probably have the same notion forever, which is why we try and change their opinions!”

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