Romvention 2014

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Romvention 2014, Romford


I went to Romvention 2014 yesterday. Kev & I had far more success with locating breakfast this time round, finding a very good cheap cafe 5 minutes walk from the venue which set us up well for the day. The venue was fantastic. Very easy to find, a good sized main hall (although the lights in the ceiling weren't ideal for anything involving looking straight up) & a cafe plus more space for games, workshops & the evening show in the building next door.

The programme for the event was every bit as good as the flyer. Sadie, Nigel & I enjoyed going through & picking out the myriad of mistakes early on in the day. This is a very cheap & easy form of entertainment that should be a feature of all festivals! Sadie & I also had great difficulty in recalling the Camvention show lineup for Nigel. I know why I can't remember things but Sadie is a youngster so I've no idea what her excuse is.

Workshops were announced regularly over the PA system. After the first one I noticed something odd. The sound was clear & I could make out every word. That's just crazy for a juggling convention. Well done to whoever was in charge of the music too, lots of funky, enjoyable stuff that proved very easy to jam to.

From TWJC we managed to get 2 out of 3 of our new kids along for the day (Gustav, you suck) which provided them with a nice introduction to the wider juggling world. We barely saw Archie all day because he was going to so many workshops. Both cleaned their parents out at the Oddballs stand.

Andy Fraser had a go on Kev's unicycle & commented, "If you twist quickly the fluffy dice hit your bum which is an odd sensation". So that's why Kev enjoys unicycling so much. Matt helped me out with some lefty righty 6 & 7 club patterns that I really should be doing more of. During the session I went through a number of satisfying, "this is impossible, this is impossible, oh perhaps its not" moments. Jack demonstrated a great trick where he gripped a ball between his heels, placed his hand behind his head then flicked the ball straight up into it. He managed this first go. Then failed the next 20 or so attempts. Bungle spent most of the afternoon waddling around keeping his knees together after ripping his shorts while lunging to catch a pass.

The Show

Before the Gala show they presented a slideshow of photos taken throughout the day which was a nice touch. The action shot of Rich's face hooping was a crowd favourite.

Stumpy, Gale & Chazz did mostly the same stuff that I had just seen a couple of weeks ago at Camvention 2014 but were still a pleasure to watch again. Keith Marshall persevered well through his impressive but very droppy high level poi act, disheartening because when he is on form he is amazing. Mark Steyn was his usual captivating self with his fluid contact juggling.

James Gilroy did a magic routine. Remember LP's recent post about magic acts? Sorry, there was none of that. I found the use of constantly changing music over the top of his patter was as subtle as a brick & really distracting. I think it was Luke Wilson who first told me (echoed by many others since) that the skill of a magician is in performing your tricks in full view of the audience. You shouldn't be able to see how a trick is done, even when you know how it is done. Disappearing off stage to prepare one of your tricks is not the best way to do this.

Arthur Hyam was far more magical. From start to finish Arthur had every last bit of my attention but I still couldn't work out how half of his tricks were done. Splendid stuff. Sam Goodburn was also on fine form while getting dressed & preparing a bowl of cereal while riding a unicycle. I love his cheeky stage persona, it's as if he is teasing the audience & clearly enjoys being on stage. Worth seeing for the smiley face pants alone.

I wasn't sure about Garaghty & Thom at first because their 6 club pick up was clearly a copy of Haggis & Charlie's classic routine, but they managed to win me over because they did it very well & added a lot of their own material. The hat routine was very funny & demonstrated a wonderful understanding of audience psychology. & how can you not love a man who gets naked for the final curtain call.

Act of the show for me was Nik Robson-King with his beautifully worked isolations of 2 figure 8 shaped props. It's strange because if you think about it, he's only really doing one trick, but he does it so fluidly that it is absolutely mesmerising & a joy to watch like complex clockwork. Don't think I didn't notice the spectacular shoes & the gliding foot work too. I could've watched it for twice as long.

Well done to Chrises Brown & Sullivan & the rest of the team for a very enjoyable first event. Everything seemed to run very smoothly & everyone I spoke to was enjoying themselves. I very much hope to see you again next year!