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DERT leaves its mark on the Dome

London's Millennium Dome has been broken in - by an eye-opening rapper sword team that defies all preconceptions about traditional dance.

The honour of being the first side to have a Millennium Experience in the big tent fell to the women of Short Circuit, also known as Short Skirt Kit for their decidedly non-trad costumes - all black bar the sequins.

Twenty-one other teams followed in their famously slick footsteps on the Dome's outdoor stage, which provided a triumphal setting for the closing session of the national Dancing England Rapper Tournament.

The performances - on 5 March 2000 - followed months of resilient badgering by members of London-based Thrale's Rapper, who secured the final go-ahead from the New Millennium Experience Company with only a few weeks to spare.

Teams turning out in kit on the Sunday were given up to 12 free passes to the Dome, and were free to explore once they'd danced. In all, the deal was worth around 5,000 in ticket values.

The running order was arranged so that those with furthest to travel home would be first to perform. Short Circuit led off a clutch of Tyneside teams who'd made the long trip south.

The conventional DERT format was turned upside down for the Greenwich gathering, with the fiercely-contested tournament being switched to the Saturday so teams could enjoy the Dome with the pressure of competition behind them.

The post-tournament party hadn't broken up until about 6 am, and the Sunday morning rapper workshops took place between sleeping bodies.

Andrew Kennedy, secretary of DERT 2000, declared the Dome visit a success. He said: "The dancing ran like clockwork after one or two bureaucratic nonsenses experienced by some of the teams as they tried to get in, but everyone seemed to have a good time.

"They did supply an excellent stage manager, and we were the first event to use the outdoor stage - which is right next door to the one and only pub.

"For the record, the stage was broken in by Short Circuit, and 22 teams performed virtually non-stop for three hours, providing 26 rapper, one longsword, and four step dances."

At the time of writing, The Donkey has no information about efforts to have morris dancing featured in the Dome throughout the summer. The morris organisations had scheduled slots for teams to perform every weekend from April onwards, but despite initial encouragement from the Dome operators, a final confirmation of arrangements has been slow in coming.

A full report of the DERT2000 weekend will appear in The Nut, the rapper newsletter. For details, visit The Nut's web site

2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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