An obituary to Aidan Burns

Portrait taken last December, by his brother, Bernard Burns

Knot throwing celebration from ad-hoc workshop at passing fancy convention (Melbourne) where Aidan was a special guest a couple of years back. Photo by Pascal Haering

Knot throwing celebration from ad-hoc workshop at passing fancy convention (Melbourne) where Aidan was a special guest a couple of years back. Photo by Pascal Haering

On the 9th October the international juggling community lost a treasured friend and valued contributor. A creator of patterns, a passionate teacher, and a friendly face to sink a beer with (preferably an ale) or pass an evening playing games with, Aidan touched many around him and will be sorely missed. His online resource for club passing is probably the most extensive ever crafted and the passing patterns he created (most notably extensions of the scrambled V) have spread around the world bringing endless hours of frustration and joy in equal parts to hundreds. A veteran of about 140 Juggling conventions across 3 continents and at least 15 countries, Aidan seemed ever present in the juggling scene. Aidan always seemed happiest when teaching someone something new; whether it be lefty-righty passing, rope tricks or how to form a Suduko. The scores of workshops he has led in fulfilling this passion and the number of people he has coerced into passing over the years really bears testament to the kind of juggler he was and will be remembered for.

Portrait at Passout 2011-2012, by Luke Burrage

Portrait at Passout 2011-2012, by Luke Burrage

Aidan began juggling at the age of 18 but didn’t take it that seriously until his early 30’s when, coinciding with the exploding of the internet, Aidan started producing a series of low budget and fairly uninspiring 3 ball trick videos. Quickly learning the error of his ways, Aidan put down the balls forever and progressed to club passing, rapidly becoming a core member of the then thriving Jacksons Lane juggling club in Highgate, London. Having attended a few local conventions, EJC 2002 in Bremen opened his eyes to the international juggling scene and Aidan found his home. Having exhausted most of the Madison Juggler passing patterns, Aidan started to work on his own mostly 4-6 person walking patterns and touring them through workshops around the UK and Europe. As his juggling ability improved, and inspired by the patterns being thought up by members of the Pass-Out community, Aidan started working on the theory behind the patterns and working out ways to expand upon what people thought traditional passing should entail. Whilst several feeds and triangles could probably be credited to him, perhaps his largest contribution to the universe of passing patterns would be regarding take-out patterns. Taking the existing scrambled V pattern he worked out the scrambled B, Toast, III and IV and then realising that by combining these patterns 5, 6 and 7 person variations are possible. Today he has identified 26 variations on the initial Scrambled V and the patterns are well known across the globe. Whilst not just known as an innovator, Aidan is also known as a documenter. His online resource ‘The Highgate Collection’ is the bible of many a club passer and often seen littering the floor of juggling conventions and perhaps the most complete collection of passing patterns in existence http://www.juggle.me.uk/passing/. In addition he has contributed to countless articles for Kascade magazine, eJuggle, and various other online resources.

Group shot from Joensau, Finland ejc, 2012. Aidan is in blue t-shirt on left side.

Group shot from Joensau, Finland ejc, 2012. Aidan is in blue t-shirt on left side.

Aidan was diagnosed with Lung Cancer In November 2013. He started up a blog documenting his progress throughout the whole experience http://eamonblunt.wordpress.com. Whilst his emotions were up and down as his health fluctuated, his dedication to juggling was unabated. Despite not being able to juggle he still attended Pass-Out, the BJC and the EJC, and even gave workshops at them teaching new patterns he had created via the use of helper jugglers. Throughout his health issues his attitude remained positive and he was still a pleasure to be around and share ideas with.

At passing fancy convention (Melbourne) where Aidan was a special guest, by Pascal Haering.

At passing fancy convention (Melbourne) where Aidan was a special guest, by Pascal Haering.

On a personal level, Aidan was a passionate and insightful man. Never one to shirk from a debate, he was always an interesting character around any table and a great guy to share a beer with or play a game with. A man of many endearing peculiarities he was full of strong convictions (anyone who has ever tried watching a juggling act with him will understand this). Juggling was his life and the place he felt most accepted. From his little notebook full of mad jottings to the bizarre way he perceived patterns (that wasn’t quite mathematical based but more like he was telling a story and the bits in between the middle and end just obviously fell into place) he was a unique mind and a great friend or mentor to many around the world, many of whom never even had the chance to meet him. He will be sorely missed.

Aidan is survived by a loving mother, a handful of siblings and 100’s of juggling friends around the world.

Written by James Francis


Funeral information: Saturday, November 1 at St. Mary’s Church, West Twyford. Event details on JugglingEdge

Tribute video by his cousin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ0lA1sfrLo

Aidan’s blog: http://eamonblunt.wordpress.com/

Aidan’s Juggling Resources (including the The New Highgate Collection of passing patterns for 2-4 people): http://www.juggle.me.uk/passing/

All eJuggle articles by Aidan: http://juggle.org/author/aidanjburnsyahoo-com/

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