For the latest details of upcoming juggling festivals visit the Juggling Edge Events Listings.
The 26th British Juggling Convention, Pickering
9-April-2013 to 14-April-2013
As last year Kevin, Simon & I volunteered to help with the set up on the Monday before the official start on Tuesday. Paul & Louisa (not Laura) were also going to meet us en route to help. Cat, Karina, Laurence, John, Andy, Simon, Laura & George were all to join us once the festival officially started.
I'm sure Kevin insists on leaving early just to wind me up. I had a nice bacon & egg sandwich before heading off. Fortunately I had no cycle races or other detours to handle this time round. Simon was already there as I pulled up, so we left for Yorkshire at 07:30. We stopped at Cambridge for a second breakfast around 10ish where we met up with Paul & Louisa (not Laura). We thought our vehicle was stuffed with kit but the body panels were bulging outwards on their car.
After a remarkably uneventful drive we found ourselves on site at 14:00. The big tops were up & the reception area was already a hive of activity with lots of busy people. I quickly nipped round the corner to look at the main hall. I immediately regretted not bringing my inline skates.
For the rest of the afternoon we were mostly fencemonkeying but also laying fuck off tape, laying the floor in the beer tent plus other odd jobs. As the sun went down all the volunteers gathered in reception where I was astounded to be treated to free pizza! This was a very welcome treat after a tiring day.
There was a brief meeting held by main organisers Sam & Claire to outline what needed doing on the first day. Shortly after I collapsed into my sleeping bag. The much warned about cold didn't seem to be a problem as I was fine with just a t-shirt, boxers & Jemma's present to keep me warm.
We were up early & ventured down the road to the garden centre cafe for the first of many excellent full English breakfasts in the company of Bertie the very vocal parrot. I got a wolf whistle which was nice. We were very tempted by the fantastic looking pedal cart.
We made it back to site ready for morning register with the teachers, then we had a quick walk round the site to get an explanation of the one way system & to get a rough idea of what goes where. The sun came out prompting a lot of excitement!
After the tour Simon, Kev & I made a trip into nearby Malton for supplies taking a couple of other volunteers with us. I was already struggling with the site one way system but that was nothing compared to the one in Malton.
Back on site Simon & I went wombling & rescued various pallets & traffic cones from the undergrowth for use on site, we relayed some of the fuck off tape based on adjustments to the camping area. By this time people were starting to arrive so we were assigned to traffic duty where I spent a lot of time getting cold.
I was later mercifully relieved of duty by Rainbow Tom then went to the main building where I got to say some hellos to old & new friends. Notable hellos included getting speared in the face by SJC Emily's horned helmet & also this exchange while getting a hug from the lovely Hannah:
Her: "You smell nice"
Me: "That's two days worth of fencing"
I got to spend a bit of time juggling in the hall where I got acquainted with the ubiquitous dust of the festival. The polished concrete floor was a very cold surface for handstanding on. Our Cat & lots of other people were enjoying whizzing around on various wheels. There was a big circle of frisbee players having fun. Ronny, a young lad from Crawley who we would later see in the BYJOTY competition was drawing a lot of attention with his rock solid 4 diabolo shuffle. I found the chap with the whip made from supermarket carrier bags which was very impressive. I just about got a crack out of it, but under the more expert hands of the owner it was cracking like a regular whip.
I was still shattered from working on the site so it was a relatively early night for me.
I started off getting a pint of milk from the wonderfully convenient on site shop for my cereal. After which I waited for a shower cubicle to become free. There were two blocks of four in the quiet camping area. I saw a door pop open & sprinted down the site to get in before anyone else. They were a bit cramped & suffered from condensation so you had to keep your clothes in plastic bags to stop them from getting too damp. But they were scalding hot & very powerful. I loved taking showers at this festival.
I spent the morning juggling in the main hall. I did more juggling in that first morning than I had all year. I had a few interested people come up to talk to me about some of the three club tricks I was doing which was really nice. One such person was Joy from Barnesly who was there for her first BJC. Nice to know that the C in my HLGCBS would be extremely easy this year.
A little later in the morning I broke my first club of the festival, not bad for 7 years of service including some very brutal gladiator sessions. I spent quite a bit of time practising my handstands which were feeling very strong.
The sun came out in time for me to enjoy sitting outside & preparing a huge meal at the same time as enjoying the hospitality of the TWJC bar expertly constructed & brewed by Paul. I don't usually like ale but Paul's convention ale is very smooth, tastes great & is deceptively strong.
Then it was back to the hall for more juggling. Then I went back to the camp for more food. Then I went back to the hall for more juggling again. This is my dream life!
In the evening we went to see the...
Team Shreddie Crunch (+ guests) Show
I struggle with who exactly is in the team now. It appears to be everyone who is really good.
Hosting the show was Tiff who at most times appeared out of control but managed to be entertaining while being so. The comments about Ben Beever & Peter Bone being the grandparents of the team made me chuckle.
I particularly liked the routine with Jon Peat, Jonny Malcolm & the third chap whose name sadly escapes me at the moment taking turns to pull off bonkers moves while a decreasing counter tallied the drops. The amusing fails at a basic cascade were just as entertaining as the really hard stuff.
Catherine Pancakes had a nicely put together but sadly droppily executed ring routine. Alan & Sadie performed their side by side ball person routine which I have now seen three times I think. I still like it - they both come across as very personable which makes them really easy to watch.
Wes Peden was excellent with long runs of seven balls & clubs in between his signature more creative moves. There was a lot of transferring a batch of rings from one hand to the other in interesting ways, plus holding a club up high (hasn't he grown?!) then letting it drop so that it hits something & spins then hits something else & spins the other way.
Patrik Elmnert performed a wonderful ring act involving a lot of balancing of rings on his forehead (only one point of contact, not two). The spinning ring balance was really nice to watch & he was able to assemble a three ring stack then disassemble it again without losing the balance which impressed me too.
David Leahy & Dan Wood came on to perform a routine of some really big synchronised tricks like 5 up pirouettes & DB97531s. I think there was ample skill to satisfy the technical fans. I never thought it could happen but the most entertaining part of the show for me was the 1 to 10 ball flash race to the sound of Flash by Queen (what else?). The idea of the race is to flash from 1 to 10 balls in turn without a drop. If you muck up you tag a hand at the side of the stage before starting again. Dan impressively completed his flash through first time! As this was over all too quickly they were asked to do it again.
The show finished with a juggling orchestra inspired bit of revelry. The house lights went up & all the performers came out into the audience & up the aisles which was a real feel good finish. Showering the audience with shreddies cereal was a welcome snack too!
After this show it was back to the hall for more handstand practise. I also enjoyed a bit of a pass with Andy from Hastings before the club bashing call of the gladiators session lured me to the other side of the hall. In play were most of Team Shreddie Crunch, despite this I managed to win several games which pleased me greatly. Our Simon won loads. I taught him everything he knows (*cough*), I therefore won by proxy. Go TWJC!
Play was enjoyably wild & enthusiastic. During one bout I was charging forward at Tom Derrick, who was similarly charging forward at me. Many things happened when we met in the middle the most memorable of which for me was getting smashed cleanly in the centre of the face by his forearm which knocked me to the floor. I was left lying on my back surrounded by my, his & several bystanders' clubs while the rest of the game continued around me. While on the floor I decided to take a short break.
I returned though hoping for a Hairyesque ferocious comeback & for a time it was looking good. I made it to the final two & faced off against Simon. After a bit of back & forth I was too slow to recover from an attack, Simon seized the initiative & smashed through my pattern leaving me holding nothing but another knob with a sheared screw. Oh well, it probably was time to get some new clubs anyway.
I played for a little while longer but decided to quit while only slightly injured. I had a shower before bed where I discovered a load more bruises through visual inspection & by feel as the shower was powerful enough to make the bruises hurt.
After a good night's sleep eight of us wandered over to the garden centre for breakfast with Bertie where we consumed an amazing amount of food. I discovered that I had a beautiful maroon coloured black eye from the night before. We returned to the hall where I mooched around chatting to friends & showed off my shiner. I watched Wes Peden's alternative kick up/how to wreck your clubs in creative ways workshop & came away with lots of new things to try. I also popped my head into LP's fantastic BOV for a tour of the features he has lovingly built into his home away from home. I then went back to my tent for a quick nap then some more food before heading over to the big top for...
The 2013 competition was once again organised by Ieuan Maiden. Our judges for this year were Tom Derrick, The Void, Guy Heathcote & Dave Law. I didn't enjoy the compère Nick Robson-King at first because he really dragged things out, it was an age before we got to see the first act & he seemed to make everything about him rather than the show. As the competition went on though the links got shorter & snappier which was good.
The first act looked really promising with a smart bright costume & a black screen prop which he threaded his arms through for some three ball juggling. Unfortunately he dropped on almost every trick. The restriction of the screen meant that pick ups were slow & cumbersome as he unthreaded his arms from the holes to retrieve his props then inserted his arms again for another go. He came out from behind the screen for some ring juggling & to finish with three knives on a unicycle which was equally droppy.
I said the costume was promising but it turned out to be lacking an essential feature - a belt. I found the constant trouser adjusting to be really distracting.
The second act was Alex McGillivray who performed much of the same stuff as the first act in that he juggled rings, balls & clubs but this act benefitted from much simpler presentation & a much cleaner performance. Although the colour changing rings section was hardly original it was particularly nicely done. Going from my past experience of BYJOTY competitions I had this act down as a potential winner.
We had two Blues Brothers themed acts. The first was a club juggler who looked the part & showed good showmanship but didn't have the technical ability that I have been spoilt to expect. The second act was Ronny from Crawley who I was a little apprehensive about because I'd seen him in the hall & the only thing he seemed to practise was 4 diabolos so was expecting a one trick act. I was very pleasantly surprised with some very nice technical diaboloing with 1-3 diabolos. There were a few drops & tangles, a cleaner performance would have made this act a clear winner.
Dan Wood & Dave Leahy both performed separate technical ball juggling acts with 3 to Rastelli knows how many balls. Both featured lots of high number siteswap patterns, back crosses & pirouettes. Siteswap patterns are hard to present well, there are some patterns like the 97531 family that can be pulled off as a one time move & it is accessible to all, other patterns need to be run cleanly for long enough to allow the observer to discern a repeating pattern, otherwise it can just look like a random mess of throws which can be perceived as less skillful. Dave seemed the much more comfortable performer on the stage. His patterns were cleaner & better defined, he also got through his routine with an unheard of low number of drops for a BYJOTY technical routine (& all of those drops were with his 3 ball tricks).
The final act of the competition was Charles Brockbank with a superbly put together 3 to 5 club manipulation & juggling routine. This act clearly had the most thought put into it, he started off looking scruffy & disheveled, he incorporated the braces of his costume into the tricks he was performing threading his arms in & out in between throws. As the sequences of tricks progressed he slowly smartened up his appearance. The sequences themselves were of a very good technical standard &/or finished with a punchline that made me chuckle.
This was the most enjoyable act for me by far, I cast my vote & didn't stay for the judging because the result couldn't be in any doubt. Could it?
I nipped off early because a slightly distressed looking Sam wanted me to do some emergency car park marshaling to hopefully undo some truly idiotic parking in the main car park, sadly none of the offenders turned up to move their cars leaving lots of people boxed in, doh!
Afterwards I discovered that Charles only picked up a bronze award, which I was shocked to hear. So shocked that myself & last year's BJC organisers Steve & Amie cornered judge Dave Law for an explanation of the results. Picking up the British Young Juggler of the Year award & the competition's first gold award was Dave Leahy. Fair enough on the audience vote Dave performed well & it was a jugglers' act. But in terms of presentation & entertainment value I didn't feel it compared well with some of the acts from the likes of Norbi, Arron Sparks & Jon Udry we have seen in previous years. Dave argued the case though & after reviewing the criteria of the competition, I found myself agreeing he did tick the boxes necessary as set out by the rules ('rules' for juggling? Yeah I know, but it is a competition & it is what it is). As for Charles' lack of recognition, this may have been down to the act being too clever, it was revealed that the going from scruffy to smart theme was only picked up on by 1 of the 4 judges (who was not revealed!).
I feel bad for Charles because I feel he deserved better, I don't mean to take away from Dave's achievement, he was brilliant, but that sort of act generally doesn't excite me. I also acknowledge the judge's job is & always will be impossible.
After all that it was time for a good old...
The massively multi talented Tiff was on the fiddle in a band who at the end of the evening announced their various levels of inexperience at ceilidh. They needn't have bothered because they were superb!
I enjoyed dancing with many wonderful partners. I had a short dance with my crush Joy, but I discovered she was here with a boyfriend which was mildly devastating! Fak was looking resplendent in a fantastic red & white spotted dress. Not content with merely Stripping the Willow, Fak & I rendered it down to very fine sawdust. My other major partner for the evening was a very beautiful young girl who I later found out was named Torr (short for Torrence?). She was able to match my enthusiasm & showed a completely undeserved level of confidence in my partner swinging ability.
Very well done to the band & all the dancers. It was the best night of the festival.
The band continued & I spent much of the evening chatting in the bar. After the party I went back to the hall to find Andy conducting experiments with an oversized protractor device he had made out of a cardboard box he had found. The experiments were aimed at testing your peripheral vision. The subject sat on a chair holding the protractor with the flat edge against their face & staring at the end of the 90° line. Andy then selected a card with a simple shape such as a square, triangle, cross drawn in a single colour which he would then slowly move around the edge of the protractor from the outside towards the centre. All the while the subject had to maintain focus on the 90° point while describing what they thought the shape was.
This produced some surprising & interesting results. Most people had a remarkably narrow field of perception, some people could make out colours long before shapes & others vice versa. People tended to have a wider field of perception on one side than the other (which I believe is down to eye dominance which Andy was also testing for). What surprised me most was how very different people's results were.
Simon seemed to have an abnormally wide field of perception, which may explain his abnormal ability at gladiators.
I popped into Renegade for a bit. Hosts Rosie & Charles were on fine form, the tie skit was genius.
There was a chair balancing competition where two people battled to see how many chairs they could balance on their face which was quite entertaining, I think the winner got up to 8 at the final count.
Paul Incredible stripped to his underwear, threaded string through his nipple piercings, span a diabolo then proceeded to toss the diabolo from string to string. Fantastic stuff!
Rosie & Wes had a game of kendama football, the object of which was to stab the spike into the hole with the ball on the floor while stopping your opponent from doing the same. Basically it was a good excuse for a bit of a fight.
There was some whipcracking of breadsticks from a dummy's mouth, a girl rolling a ping pong ball around the rim of a wooden flower tub skirt, the table cloth trick done with a guy balancing an acrylic on his head & a very good performance of a classic French fighter pilot joke.
It was a cold & misty morning. I had breakfast then took some time to write down some notes before going to the hall. I spent some time up on the balcony to watch the almost empty hall slowly fill up with happy jugglers coming out to play. If you've never done this you really must at the next big festival you go to because it is a really beautiful spectacle.
I got a good view of Duncan practising his indoor kite flying. I was most impressed when he captured an innocent snakeboarder.
I then went down for a juggle. While passing through reception Dee handed me a couple of postcards from the secret postal service to deliver. The service was a simple postbox where you could post cards to convention goers with vague addresses like, "The hula hooper in the red dress" then volunteers would try to deliver them. The delivery volunteers were fantastic, most of us from TWJC sent cards, Karina in particular sent loads. One postcard addressed to Bertie the parrot & another to the staff at the garden centre were delivered in under 3 hours & both were on proud display when we next went for breakfast! I know that there was some outrageous flirting going on through the system & a lot of cards were being delivered through unofficial channels too. I think this service is a great idea & I hope it continues at future festivals.
After my delivery services were complete Simon & I did a lot of seven club passing mostly. I also did some solo practise & got my left hand side helicopter kick ups to a state comparable with my right which felt really nice.
Cat managed to locate my then unknown Ceilidh partner Torr so I got him to deliver my first secret postcard.
I went back to my tent & prepared lunch to the soundtrack of various people screaming through a megaphone from the Ladybird project which was winding up a lot of people who were still trying to sleep. So much for the quiet camping area. I stuffed myself silly with as much food as I could in preparation for the evening's massive line up of shows. The first of which was...
There was a nice group passing routine with four sporty serious types & a keen hapless novice who wanted to join in. This act highlighted how a little bit of theatre can add a lot to a routine. The nasty head butt had me screaming, "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" in the back row!
A trio of ring jugglers each dressed in a different primary colour shuffled like penguin's around the stage & performed lots of three person ring manipulation tricks, I didn't notice it at the time but Simon pointed out they all finished with three rings matching the colour of their outfit which was like the solving of a Rubik's cube.
A sinister black clad ninja was on fine form with a ridiculous comic routine, there was a bit of staff spinning & rope dart manipulation which was very nice but the standout highlight was the almost overwhelming level of innuendo he managed to cram into the act. Top marks to Wes too for being such a sporting volunteer!
Matt Green closed the show with a high energy club juggling & manipulation act.
The standout act of the show for me though was the Dueling Banjos hat juggling duo. It was fantastically performed with the pair of jugglers performing progressively harder tricks in time with the music. After a minute I thought the skill level must surely plateau at some point, but it didn't! It was loud, raucous & lots of fun. This routine is easily destined for centre stage at future festivals.
This show was ably put together by Ian Mrawa & our compère was Milton Keynes 4 supremo, Nigel Roder who probably went on about Milton Keynes 4 a little too much during his links that tended to feature information about Milton Keynes 4 (dang).
Karina & I wandered in a bit late but managed to catch most of the first act which was a very smooth contact juggling routine. The second act was a female club juggler who performed a lot of my sort of club juggling tricks, only better. An adagio balancing duo took the sex appeal up a few notches with a superb routine to one of my favourite Apocalyptica tracks. I miss doing acro. Erika performed a Phantom of the Opera themed hoop routine, the costume & stage is there but it really lacked finesse. For me sexy is an attitude, not a look. At the other end of the hooping spectrum we had a wonderfully retro silver clad hooper. The prop, music, costume & style all fit together well to make a fun & enjoyable routine.
BYJOTY superstar Sam Goodburn had lost his voice but with the help of Nigel still went ahead with his routine. What can I say? How about a one foot wheel walk on a unicycle on a tightrope. I was speechless. & that certainly doesn't happen very often.
One of the best crafted routines of the whole festival was the chap with a fetish for brooms. I liked the fact that he was working his act before the show started as he appeared on stage & swept up & again during the interval. I genuinely thought he was a stage hand. Then it turned decidedly odd as his love for his broom manifested into a comic & skillful staff routine. I was in fits of laughter when he disappeared back stage & returned with his broom dressed in the flowing skirt of a flamenco dancer. His puppetry skills brought the prop to life, I honestly found myself catching my breath as he threw 'her' up in the air. A wonderful routine, brilliantly performed.
Good work Ian, & to all the performers. It was a really high quality show.
After a quick run across site we found a comfy spot & settled in for the second outing of the Old Skool. As last year there is not much I can really say about the panel show other than the atmosphere was friendly & fantastic. I really enjoy the change of pace. The story about Goofy being chased by an alligator was a particularly tearful moment for me.
I managed to grab Steve Ragatz who had kindly agreed to pass on some Nikita clubs for David Cain's Historical Juggling Props Collection. He is such a nice guy!
Master of ceremonies this evening was Paul Incredible who did a fantastic job. He worked his heart out & was in complete control from start to finish. If ever an act started to drag on he was straight in with, "Right, you've got one more attempt at this trick then we've got to move on" which ensured a fast paced & exciting show. In between acts he also added tricks from his massive repertoire of skills.
Early on in the evening we were treated to a very un-renegade like act from Steve Ragatz who managed to pull off a full routine based around the very simple disappearing finger trick. It was immaculately presented with style & was laugh out loud funny. This act made me very excited about seeing more of him in the public show the next day.
In terms of other acts we got to see a devilsticker attempting a propeller pirouette while having his chest hair set on fire. Chunk & Bungle passed clubs around a hula hooping Simian. Jack did a couple of spots one with his friend Jamie where they had their hands tied behind their backs, leaned their foreheads against each other until one person (always Jamie) crashed face first into the stage. Not sure what that was all about. Then Jack performed an acoustic version of Eagle Eye Cherry's Save Tonight which invoked an impromptu stage invasion of lots of dancers which was a wonderful moment.
A chap ate a tub of hummus in the sexiest way imaginable while accompanied by a flamenco guitarist. I could have watched this for hours. Why is the hummus always gone?
Merlin showed off his own version of the persistence of vision poi which made me go all wibbly at TLC 2012. The routine was a very well put together technical showcase of the prop's capabilities perfectly synched to the music as only a programmable prop can be. While admittedly not as advanced as those used by Feeding the Fish the very affordable price tag will put them in the hands of us hobbyists which is pretty exciting.
Finishing off the evening was Nick Robson-King with a beautiful & hypnotic contact manipulation routine with 2 rings shaped in a figure '8' (so not rings at all then). He had such a deft & delicate touch. I was mesmerised throughout.
The sun came out on Saturday morning which accompanied with the wind made for a very good drying day. It was a struggle to get a shower this morning but it was worth the wait. While waiting I got to thank Paul for his great work hosting Renegade the night before.
I showed my face in the main hall for a bit, while chatting to Joy:
Her: "So where've you been all morning?"
Me: "I had a long wait for a shower."
Her: "Oh yeah, you look cleaner."
We then did some passing doing 7 club popcorn on doubles & singles rather than my preferred triples & doubles, 7 club 3 count & 8 on synchronous singles. I love passing with someone new. The chaos caused as you try to adapt to an unfamiliar style is hilarious. Later we were joined by Allan & we tried to piece together a Roundabaout from vague recollections of various patterns before I spotted complicated stealing pattern guru Fak on the other side of the hall who kindly put us straight.
In the afternoon before the show we battened down a few hatches & made some adjustments to the gazebo to try to avoid any wind damage while we would be away in Scarborough for the evening.
We got on one of the first coaches for the journey. ^Tom_ informed me that Little Paul had managed to get the Siteswap phone service up & running (01179 115 202) which I enjoyed playing with immensely! Easily the best phone service I have ever used!
After arriving in Scarborough we mooched along the seafront looking for somewhere to eat. Choice was decidedly lacking & we ended up in a Harry Ramsden's. Erm... yeah, don't think I'll be going there again! The company was amazing, the food was ok but certainly not worth the money or the excessive wait.
We wandered back towards the theatre & like many other jugglers popped in for a browse around the shop selling all the fantasy swords, which was a lot of geeky fun.
Outside the theatre a row of jugglers on the sea wall were having a competition to see who could get a drink of salt water spray first which ended predictably.
It wasn't long before we shuffled into the theatre for the always enjoyable pre show party.
The show was hosted by the wonderful Loz Because who wowed with a host of fabulous outfits between each act. Her flip chart of graphs in the second half was spot on hilarious. This is the standard that future compères need to aspire to.
Opening the show was Steve Ragatz with his classic suitcase, hat, walking stick & ball routine which I have enjoyed watching online dozens of times so it was a real pleasure to see it live. Even though I knew the final surprise trick was coming I didn't lose any enjoyment of it. The reaction of those who didn't know it was coming was a thing of beauty.
Billy George was very impressive on his cyr wheel. For many it would still have been impressive if he just stood on stage topless for 5 minutes. There was a great quote during the interval, "He has all the right muscles. I counted them twice!"
This was followed by German club juggling duo Attrapées who were smooth, well choreographed & had excellent taste in prop colour. They seemed to be lacking in confidence at some points in the act but were very enjoyable none the less.
Top act of the show for me was Eugenius Nils from Germany. He performed as a charming bespectacled geeky ball juggler with a case full of gadgets. The act was one joyful surprise after another as he used innovative props such as magnetic balls & balls on hidden elastic to go against the audience expectations. His case provided new balls in a host of silly & comical ways. In between all this the technical level of juggling was really high too. One of the best acts I've ever seen, well deserving of the standing ovation it received.
Closing the first half were Loooop with a 50s themed love triangle story acted out with poi. Great costumes, bags of character & lots of lovely 3 person intertwining poi swinging. I still feel surprised when I enjoy a poi act, which is really unfair of me because use of the prop has really come on in great strides.
During the interval I managed to win the sprint to the loos. I then got wedged in the scrum for the main bar, a little while later Kevin came in & announced the existence of a second bar on the other side of the theatre that was almost empty. At first I thought it was a diversionary tactic but it turned out to be true.
Steve Ragatz also opened the second half of the show. I had no idea what to expect for his second spot. The stage was set with a bus stop scene that turned out to be created with cylinders & his signature briefcases. What followed was a very slick rola bola routine. Steve just oozed class. What I loved most about both of Steve's routines is his mastery of understatement. So many performers only work on making things look big, so few nowadays can truly make things look effortless.
I was a little underwhelmed when I first saw trick cyclist Alice Allart perform at Crawley in 2010 but this time round she was flawless. The whole routine was much more polished. I don't remember any stand out new tricks but the confidence & fluidity of the performance was superb. I find a good act that is not quite there to be far more frustrating than a bad act. Seeing this performance made me very happy indeed!
Duo Tortellini played around with clubs. They had some nice tricks especially the chest rolls & the 5 club assisted cascade but overall it seemed a bit slow & unrefined.
Grant Goldie is another favourite of mine, after missing throwing a hat onto a balanced cane a few times at the start he immediately redeemed himself with the audience by dropping the cane to a foot balance then flicking it back up to a chin balance first time. After that we were treated to lots of nice hat juggling with one to five hats with his signature big dance movements. I'd seen him perform before but it was really nice to see this act again.
The headline act for the evening was Russian superstar Pavel Evsukevich. I think the pronounciation masterclass held by Loz for his introduction should be mandatory for all performers with four or more syllables in their surnames. First things first: this act would have been better without the waistcoat. He seemed decidedly un-Russian with the ball juggling & I think he was very disappointed with all the drops. He managed to find his inner Russian when he brought out the rings though & pulled off with ruthless precision tricks such as a 5 up pirouette to pancakes, a back heel kick from & back into a 7 ring cascade, a double back heel with 5, 10 rings & 9 rings with a head bounce. Nicely done.
Well done Anna. Excellent work!
It turned out that the professional staff at the theatre were unable to rig the Chinese pole for Ed Muir to perform in the main show. So naturally the pole was rigged in the big top & anchored to a load of beer kegs & some burly men with relatively little trouble so that we didn't have to miss out. Performing to the sounds of Etta James' classic, "I just wanna make love to you" Ed really camped it up & sent the audience into a frenzy. When it came for him to take his top off, the burly men sitting on the beer kegs couldn't take any more. They all jumped up & stripped their shirts off in solidarity ending the affair in a riotous celebratory crescendo of manliness.
Proceeding into the 'normal' renegade fayre two of the kids from 5 Ring Circus made a mess of the stage by doing lots of tricks with yoghurt such as a handstand with a pot balanced on one foot & juggling 3 while standing on each other's shoulders. Yes, they got covered with the stuff.
Throughout the week James, who was one of the professional security staff working on site, was spotted practising his juggling. It was a real pleasure to see him make his way on stage in the middle of the night after a long shift to show us what he'd learnt. He performed the basic steps of learning to juggle with a level of showmanship that many professional performers could only dream of.
Nothing was ever going to top that so I went to the hall for a juggle. Details of exactly what happened this evening are omitted to protect the guilty.
I can say that I enjoyed some one on one gladiators with Simon before being joined by a few other players, one of whom was The Void, I love his chaotic style, it makes picking out a target exceptionally difficult so it is really hard to get a clean strike at him.
I couldn't believe it was the last day already. Why do BJC's pass so quickly?
The weather was good when I first got up, but the wind picked up really quickly. It felt like we were under attack! Kev & I started trying to dismantle the gazebo as quickly as we could but ultimately failed. I was trying to disconnect the pumps in our bar when a single gust bent the uprights & caused the roof to cave in, this crashed down snapping the poles that held up the shelf with the taps that I had my head underneath & trapped me inside. Thank you to all the people who dashed across the campsite on hearing my cries for help!
A while later I saw a dozen people sprinting after the camp shop which was merrily rolling away down the field after ploughing through several fence panels. Sadly, not one person was screaming "Fenton".
A bit later still I was standing by the fence on the windward side of the campsite cleaning my teeth. The harmonics of the fence changed & when I looked up I saw the fence start to fall in a chain reaction from the far corner towards me. There was also a car in the path, I briefly considered risking myself to stop it getting hit but quickly decided "no" & started running.
Usain Bolt has nothing on me.
As we were staying the whole day to clear up we reinforced our tents as best we could.
I attended the business meeting ran by Lorri & Mïark. It was nice that there was a lot of positive comments & not a lot of criticism. I think this convention was a model of doing the nice stuff very well. Future convention organisers need to think about this event after they've got the fundamentals in place.
There is currently no confirmed proposal for BJC 2014. If you have a site in mind but are worried about support there is a lot of help available from people around the country.
The BJC Wiki holds the minutes of the meeting.
The final show of the festival was Wes & Patrik's Between Someonesons.
The show consisted of several acts starting with the pair each juggling a simple double single pattern with three clubs but with lots of sequential movement under the double. A very effective piece from a simple idea.
I have never seen so many consecutive 6 club solo flashes in my life. The two person water bottle opening skit was brilliant.
My favourite part of the show was the act based on two interlocking three club cascades. It looked like a passing pattern but wasn't. Singles, doubles, slapbacks & more were all performed in this way while turning in circles. It was simply gorgeous.
The show finished with a one ring section where the pair smoothly passed a ring between each other in a forehead balance. The most surprising trick of this routine saw Wes holding a ring up high then Patrik leapt up to meet it with his forehead & then come down with it held in a balance. It is very nice to see a pair of jugglers so in synch with each other.
As a whole I loved the mellow, laid back attitude of the show. There was no loud jarring music. we just got to sit back, relax & enjoy some very beautiful juggling in peace. It was the perfect happy wind down from a week of frenetic partying.
After the show I started work on trying to say goodbye to as many of the lovely people I met as possible & enjoyed lots of cuddles.
For the rest of the afternoon Kev, Simon & I took down the quiet campsite, with help from Rainbow Tom & Joel from York. Things would have been a lot easier if we hadn't had to panel beat quite so many wind damaged panels back into shape with the concrete blocks! As the sun started to go down we had the last of the showers then went for a lovely & badly needed meal at the local pub. Returning to site we helped clear the main hall (I found my club that went missing on Wednesday!) & reception.
On Monday morning we finished clearing the quiet camp site. After my whinge last year it was nice to see that almost everyone took the time to take their rubbish to the rubbish points, everyone except the Ladybird Project. Thank you to everyone who did this, it does make a massive difference.
In the empty & eerily silent main hall where so much fun was had over the week there was a hidden ninja chopping onions.
A special mention must go to Uber Volunteers Simon, Kevin, Rainbow Tom, Fergal & Joel who went above & beyond working tirelessly on a lot of the unglamorous but very important grunt work during set up & take down.
Very well done to Sam & Claire & all of the yellow hoodie crew, you did a great job. My all time favourite BJC was BJC 2003 in Brighton, I never thought it would be topped but it has.