The short sword dances, known as rapper dancing, that originated in the mining villages and towns of North East England at the height of the Industrial Revolution are the focus for this article. The currently thriving rapper dance retains clear links with its historic roots but has also injected energy into the processes by which dances change over time. This is achieved through multi-dance genre collaboration that exposes traditional dance to new influences and new audiences thus better reflecting the current diversity of the dance practices of a multicultural society. By taking the term ‘amateur’ as a conceptual lens, the article re-views the dance as a form that has consistently been challenged by the precariousness of stepping into commercial stage performance, while simultaneously embracing the affordances offered by its amateur status. The distinctive interdisciplinary nature of amateur performance studies, which draws on social geography, leisure studies, art and craft, performance and theatre studies as well as dance scholarship, offers potentially fresh perspectives on this traditional dance practice.