The Karlsruhe juggling convention took place from the 8th-10th September. It was good. Read about it here:
Friday – Breakfast and Travelling
My breakfast was particularly delicious, I had my muesli with yoghurt and some mixed in granola and mixed fruit with a smoothie. I then rushed some final packing in the form of a toothbrush and paste, loaded Jenni’s car and off we went to the station and Jenni dropped me off. After waving byebye I put my wits about me and entered the station building.
Leeds train station is often a place of excitement and adventure for me but I had a very uneventful trip through the foyer and ticket barriers to reach my platform. The train rolled in roughly on time and I was able to be seated opposite Ed who had cunningly saved me a seat via the application of a hooded top. During the train ride to Manchester station we updated each other on the current state of our various juggling related injuries and Ed told me the master travelling plan as I didn’t know what the plan was once we touched down at the other end.
We reached the airport and decided to save RyanAir a bit of time and effort by checking in and tagging our own bags before we collected our boarding passes. After a little bit of groping from the airport security we went to our favourite eatery and found they had removed lots of tables and instead set up a display of wooden beer barrels. The barrels looked lovely but were of little use to us. Every table seemed to be full of people drinking beer and we could not find a spot despite circling like hawks around the restaurant. We gave up and settled for an Italian-esque place which was close by, Ed ordered the GF pizza (strong positive comments) whilst I ordered a paprika and peppers pasta plate (blue cheese on top… not disgusting but not overly pleasant, otherwise not bad).
Ed was disappointed by the queue management whilst we went through our boarding gate and by our cabin bags being confiscated in order to be loaded in the hold due to too many bags in the cabin. I was delighted to discover during our flight that we had a stag party on board who were on their way to have a quiet and responsible time to celebrate the groom’s success at finding a partner for life. Ed and I couldn’t find the word for the particular style of dress that the lucky groom was wearing, we settled for Dutch milkmaid-esque and decided not to think about it ever again. We got separated during the mass panic evacuation of the plane when we touched down in Stuttgart and so I met Ed again at the baggage reclaim after getting by little book stamped by the good tempered and polite border control staff.
I found Ed repacking his suitcases and was dismayed to find that Ed’s wallet was now missing. Now, we recapped our steps at Manchester Airport and determined that the wallet had most definitely been placed in the front pocket of Ed’s cabin bag. We strongly suspect (but cannot prove) that the pocket was opened by the baggage handlers (either on take-off or landing) and the wallet removed. There a lot of notices about not putting valuables into your hold baggage but I would caution people to remove valuables from their cabin bags which are relegated to the hold as well. We cannot prove it was stolen but at the same time it seems the most likely scenario.
We left the airport and took a tram to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof and then could not find any useful signage to get us on a train to Karlsruhe. I asked someone fluorescent and they were able to tell us ‘left and upstairs twice’ which was far more use than any of the signs in the station. A train was preparing to leave but we nimbly leapt aboard and the train set off. Throughout the journey we were able to watch a massive game of mountain bike chess and we tried to keep out of the way.
The Convention Site
We were met on the platform at Karslruhe by Seb and Jenny who loaded our cases into their red or green (depends on where you are) car and went hunting for some meat. The convention was having a BBQ night so I deployed some technology which took us to Lidl where were stocked up on meats and breads and water before heading on to the convention site.
Registration was quite amusing as the lady issuing the passes had just returned from York after taking part in a cultural exchange and so was excited to meet Ed (me less so as she didn’t know Leeds…). We were issued our passes (little torches, incredibly useful!!!) and Ed and I started putting up our tents whilst Jenny and Seb cooked some meats. Whilst eating we were brought even more food from some guys who had made too much food, bonus! With our tents pitched and our hunger sated we left the site to walk to the juggling gym which was a good 10/15mins walk from the main site. Not ideal but it wasn’t too much of a problem either and it allowed us a rare glimpse of some local rabbits hopping round. Miark stalked us during the walk but we did not see him…
The gym was quite small but due to the distance from the site and the weather being OK it didn’t get too crowded, could very easily have been a different story. It did get very warm in there very quickly. Ed phoned all of the banks and cancelled all of his cards and I started doing some club juggling.
Miark arrived and inquired if I had heard the announcement about the Fight Night tournament as the qualifications were taking place now. I legged it back to the big top and found the qualifications were well underway, I was kindly allowed to join in late and I raced through my matches a fast as I could. It was a challenging venue for the qualifications with not much room for everyone and a lot of competition to get the central spot where the tent was highest. I managed to qualify and seeded in 6th place, I was really pleased with the result as I had rushed through the matches in order not to keep everyone waiting, it also meant that we got a round of 10 rather than a round of 8 for the tournament that evening.
I returned to the juggling hall to freshen up and change clothes ready for the tournament which would again take place in the big top. Ed pointed out Lt Rawls from The Wire who was juggling in the gym, I have not seen The Wire but Ed was a bit starstruck.
I hurried back for the tournament and began warming up. A small crowd settled in to watch the tournament which was organised and hosted by Philip Nicolai.
It was a good tournament with a lot of exciting points. I lost my fight against Andreas Braun and felt a little bit outclassed. He was incredibly fast and chalked up 2 points in quick succession without breaking a sweat. I rallied and made him run around a bit but it was a well-deserved victory. I particularly enjoyed watching Isabell vs. Stephan Cipra as Isabell had a solid defence but Stephan just wouldn’t let up on the attack. I also enjoyed watching both of the Brauns play as they have a definite style. Julius took the tournament in the end after dispatching Leo. Julius seems to have so much time in order to make his attacks and always manage to get his club seemingly no matter how far he runs forward to make his attacks. Good fun to watch.
Check out all of the results here: http://fightnightcombat.com/tournament-Karlsruhe-2017.html
I woke up at 7am because it sounded like all seven dwarves had gone out to work with pickaxes and were merrily chipping away. It was also drizzling a bit so I hunkered down and dozed quite happily for an hour before breakfast.
Lots of meats/cheeses/breads and mueslis were available, I also had a nice cup of milk. After breakfast I headed to the gym and played Chopabout with Cameron and Marcus. We managed to introduce two new spins into the pattern which made it pretty hilarious to do. Ed then taught us fancy Chopabout with the back pass and over the shoulder throw, excellent fun.
I took two of my clubs back to the big top for Henrys to fix. One handle completely snapped and another badly bent. After dropping them off I went for a little walk from the town and found a Turkish supermarket close by. I enjoyed a nice nose about the place and discovered a ‘make while you wait’ bakery section where a lady was preparing some breads with a spicy/tangy topping. Obviously I got one and munched it in a bus stop on the other side of the road while it bucketed it down with rain. Once the rain had passed I continued my walk, stopping in a petrol station for a carton of milk for the walk back to the gym.
Back in the gym I joined Cameron, Jenny and Seb for some Scrambled V, then some Scrambled 3 and then we added in Herlene and did Scrambled 3V. Love a good bit of Scrambling. Hours and hours of passing had occurred so I went back to Henrys and waited patiently for my clubs to be done, there was a long line and a huge pile still waiting to be done. I was astonished to be handed mine back with nothing to pay (I assumed it would be 5 Euros per broken handle, and I even had the money ready), perhaps because it was a local event for Henrys they were repairing for free. Regardless, the clubs were like new except for the scabby bodies and ruined handle tape. On the walk back to the gym I stopped at a couple of different restaurants on route and took photos of the menus for Jenny to translate and determine if Ed could eat there.
We selected the Italian restaurant (Purino) which was right next door to the campsite for our meal. They could not deal with a table for 10 so instead offered us ‘takeaway’ which they would bring to us at the benches outside of the restaurant and that would be as far as their ‘service’ would go. Fine by us! I ordered poorly and ended up with a steaky pasta dish whilst everyone else’s pizzas looked very nice, can’t win them all. Multiple other pizza deliveries were brought to us by guys on bikes from other pizza places nearby, these were eventually claimed by different groups of jugglers who emerged from the campsite before disappearing again.
The venue for the show was a theatre which was a 10 mintue walk from the site in the opposite direction to the juggling hall. It was filling up fast with a lot of members of the public was well as convention goers which was really nice to see. We got split up from our main group but clustered around the left hand end of the auditorium. I didn’t pirouette because I think it is boring, but I appreciated the Meercat version.
Verena Rau was our moderator for the evening and appeared as a magical fairy godmother-esque character. The acts and announcements were all in German so I missed most of the performer’s names, apologies for the performers concerned.
First on stage was a Chinese pole act who had studied at Codarts in Rotterdam with a piece entitled ‘my unicorn and me’. She was attached to the top of the pole by her hair and was holding her lovely cuddly toy unicorn. There was a lot of playfulness between her and the unicorn and I enjoyed the unicorn sound effects. I was a little sad when the unicorn fell down but greatly amused when an audience member had to hold and stroke the unicorn during a section of the routine. There were a lot of pole tricks and hold; I enjoyed the act.
Next was Julia from Berlin who was carried on stage in a bucket. I hoped that she was going to perform the entire routine standing in the bucket, but she stepped out after a short while. She then did some good foot catches and mixed her juggling with the bucket.
Next was a Hula Hoop/Hoop rolling act from Circomedia. I loved the routine and thought it was great. I enjoyed all the sequences and manipulations, she juggled 4 hoops very well and finished with a solid 5 hoop finish. She also did 5 hoop rolling but the stage was just slightly too small. She needed to take a long/better bow to really take that applause.
Leoni(?) performed a very smokey aerial act. I remember it being good and Cameron singled it out as a very strong act during a discussion afterward. All I remember is an awkward disentanglement in the ‘dark’ at the end of the routine. Otherwise a good routine.
Fabi(?) arrived on stage and quickly singled out a dance partner from the many juggling clubs on the stage. Manipulations and dancing galore. His dance partners got a little clumsy when he was dancing with four of them but he won the ‘club in the red dress’ in the end. He gave a fantastic bow, good routine.
Next followed a short interlude from Verena where she did some very magical and special pixel poi spinning to the tune of ‘pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows’, I enjoyed it a lot and think many others did too.
The next act on stage was a guy dressed all in pink with pink juggling balls. It was a shower themed act with shower sound effects in the beginning and all the tricks performed from a base shower pattern. It got pretty technical with high low 5 ball showers with pirouettes and 6 ball showers (and high low shower) and finishing on a 7 ball shower. With all the added technical juggling he did drop the soap quite a lot but he was very good on stage and his act went down very well. I particularly enjoyed his bow a stage hand poured a cup of water of him. One of my favourites from the show despite the drops.
Circus Macaroni then performed a duo aerial silks routine; it was awesome! It was stuffed with hard tricks as well as clever transitions. They performed the piece beautifully, such a nice act. They gave a fabulous bow at the end, very professional, loved it.
Elias Oechsner took to the stage with his tooth brush and cup and proceeded to brush his teeth. His character and stage presence was superb and I really loved watching him on the stage. A ball was produced from the cup and many different and clever tricks were done with the brush, cup and ball all changing places and being juggled/manipulated. I thought it was creative, clever and very funny. My favourite act.
Closing the show were Antonia and Keith who performed their duo poi routine to a remix of ‘my heart will go on’. I strongly disapprove of the remix on its own but it really works well for the routine and I do really like the act. It is full of very techy poi spinning and juggling and very difficult tricks. The routine closed with 7 poi passing and they bowed very well, it brought the house down.
The final bow was very good but the unplanned second and third bows faltered a bit especially with the added problem of having convention mugs to contend with. Both Ed and I were greatly amused. It was handled pretty well to be fair.
The show as a whole was really good, I enjoyed it a lot. Sadly there was no raffle or interval. I made an amusing joke about wishing the shower routine had been ‘cleaner’ but nobody laughed and it became awkward.
After the show we all trooped back to the main hall and I tried Ambled Scrambled V with Ed, Herlene and Marcus. Unfortunately I ate an energy bar before we started and it actually drained all my energy and I suffered a massive exhaustion hit and had to excuse myself from the pattern. It was a shame as the pattern was a lot of fun, I was just too tired so I went for a shower and off to my tent.
I awoke and met with Jenny for breakfast, took down my tent and packed up most of my stuff and then met Ed, Marcus and Christian for second breakfast, before helping Ed take down his tent. We abandoned our bags and went to the gym to collect all our stuff, we got all our gear out before the hall was closed but there was still a lot of clubs and water bottles lying around when we left.
It had started out as quite a dark murky day but had brightened up considerably by the time we got back to the site for the games. The games were held outside between big tops on the grass and it turned into a lovely sunny afternoon.
I came second in 5 ball endurance to Julius and I won the club balance endurance but only because you had to balance the club upside down. This is something I have practised for a particular trick and I have a slightly different technique for it, so yay me. Cameron and I made it through the selection process for long distance passing but didn’t quite go far enough to win recognition/glory. There was quite a nice children’s game where everyone’s clubs were thrown into the middle of the games area and the kids had to arrange them all in order of colour like a rainbow (theme). There was also a big toss up at the end of the games.
Cameron and I stood on the roof of a car and did 7 clubs back to back, we also tried exchanging a 5 club pattern between us but that was a bit trickier and we kept losing clubs through the windows and having to fish them out again.
Combat started happening on the grass and a good number of us played out the afternoon running around in the sun and hitting each other. We played team combat and also zombie combat and at one point I got an excellent view of Julius’s elbow as it came down into my eye. Luckily it hit my cheek bone just below my eye but even so it marked a natural stopping point for the games.
We gathered together all of the belongings and people that we needed, said our goodbyes and set off in convoy to the Berlin Juggling Convention. Seeing as the Berlin Convention didn’t start until the 14th September we decided to break up the 96 hour journey by stopping off at Saarbrücken on the way. Juliane made an excellent back seat companion as she had thought to bring biscuits and studentenfutter, Ed played DJ and eased us through the drive with some 80’s classics, destroying Juliane’s Spotify recommendations for the next few weeks. When we all arrived in Saarbrücken we ate fajitas and played codenames before all crashing for the night.
I had an excellent weekend at the Karlsruhe convention. Thank you to the organisers (Alex, Ben, Bente, Birgit, Christian, Jochen, Mikien, Mely, Mone, Philip, Simi, Tobi and Verena) who I think did an excellent job, everything ran very smoothly and was well organised.
I hope to visit again at some point in the future.