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Longsword and rapper dancing was common in late medieval England with dances often named for the locale in which they originated.  "Sowerby", "Helmsley", and "Bampton Weavers" are examples performed by Vineyard Swordfish.  Both styles of dance are hilt-and-point sword dances; each participant holds the hilt of his own sword, and the point of a neighbor's sword.  The longsword is long and rigid, whereas the rapper sword is shorter and flexible.

Sword dancing in the US arose as part of the "morris revival" of the 1970's and 1980's.  A group of dancers from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts formed the Vineyard Swordfish.  In addition to the traditional dances, a new dance named "Happy Jack" was composed and included in the repertoire, and more recently a second new dance named "Woods'le".  Vineyard Swordfish has performed at a number of gatherings, most regularly at the New York sword ale in late winter, and NEFFA (New England Folk Festival) in spring.  At present, Vineyard Swordfish are working to expand their membership, their repertoire, and their participation in additional local, national, and international sword ales and other events.

Over time, mainlanders (from Falmouth, Massachusetts) have come to comprise a majority of the team.  A decade or so ago, some team members formed an associated rapper team called Clownfish.   While Clownfish has since disbanded, their web pages are retained here for historical interest.


to retired Clownfish pages