CATCH 2018 – The Cumbrian Juggling Convention (UK)

As part of the celebrations for Circus 250 (the 250th anniversary of the circus) the organising team of the Cumbria juggling conventions (AKA Rosie & chums) put on a special event, CATCH.

CATCH was a week long juggling convention held in Appleby in Westmorland which was jam packed with shows and workshops. Here follow my memories from the week:

Monday – The Journey

We set off for the Lake District a little after lunch and took a slight detour through a housing estate to pick up a £20 note which I had dropped there earlier that morning. Since I was already returning it to the rightful owner I didn’t bother to report it to the police.

We played an extended game of ‘follow the leader’ up the A1 with Lizzy and Jamie whilst checking out the names of the caravans we were passing. I was worried we had a taken a wrong turning somewhere along the A66 when I caught sight of camels grazing by the roadside…

The Venue

We arrived at the Appleby Grammar School, where everything seemed deceptively peaceful (as it turned out everything is peaceful in Appleby), and found a very relaxed Rosie manning the reg desk in the seemingly deserted school.

Despite the convention officially starting at 3pm the rush had apparently already happened at about 11am (jugglers eh) so people were just arriving in drips and drabs. We took our wristbands and spent a little time reading all of the maps/timetables and messages which had been scrawled on the windows. Opposite the reg desk was a library / games room which had lovely light fittings that resembled club bodies, a fact which I heard repeated (and also repeated myself) many times throughout the first half of the week.

Along the corridor brought you to the show hall, it was a decent size with a nice stage at one end. There were seats laid out on floor level but the stage seemed a good height so I didn’t anticipate any problems with people not being able to see the stage clearly.

We found the traders had been set up in a quite a small room on a corridor which led to a workshop room and the ‘juggling cinema’. The juggling cinema was going to show juggling footage and videos throughout the week, although outside of a couple of workshops I don’t think the room got much use.

Exiting the building we headed across the playground to one of the juggling halls. It smelled very strongly of an underused sports hall mixed with old church. We moved swiftly on to the juggling hall of the leisure centre (very short walk) where I was delighted to learn that Claire had learnt to juggle clubs on day one of the convention! We knew this hall well from the previous Cumbria conventions, the building is both clean and spacious. However, the men’s toilets were hopeless, all the locks were broken on the toilets doors meaning that it was a big mystery game all week (‘what’s behind door number one? Lets find out!’). The only solution people found to indicate a cubicle was taken was to be very loud which made for some interesting acoustics. The hand dryer was also very skitzy. I went in once during the week and it was turning itself on and off repeatedly like some phantom toilet ghost couldn’t get their hands dry. Anyway, moving on…

The campsite was going to be on site on the fields close to the venue but there was a last minute problem regarding the access permissions for the land which meant the campsite had to be relocated a 15 minute walk from site. Luckily the weather was very forgiving for most of the week so walking between the campsite and the school was not too much of a trauma for everyone.

Further round behind the show hall was the canteen and I was pleased to see Monte and team were already set up and serving food. On the menu was spinach roulade or steak and ale pie. I selected the spinach and Jenni chose the pie. I wasn’t so keen on the roulade in the end so tried some of Jenni’s pie which was very good. I would never choose a pie myself as I am not keen on the pastry but the filling was very nice. The portions were very generous and this rule held throughout the whole week. So glad that they came!

For dessert we tried some of Ashby’s very soggy brownies which were delicious and impossible to eat without making a mess.

I was not having a good juggling day, hit myself a few times in the face with clubs so I collected Jenni and we made our way to the show hall to see the Opening Show / Open Stage. Outside the hall I joined in with the mob of people who were surrounding David Cain and relieving him of copies of his and Scott’s books. I had been given a sneaky peek at the collection while visiting Greg in Canada and so had immediately asked if David could bring a set over with him for me. I was not the only one to have such a brilliant idea. Unfortunately there had been some kind of mix up with the book orders and one was one missing from my order, but it will take a good while before I read them all.

The Open Stage Show

Rob Woolley gave a strong first time compering appearance at the Open Stage, I thought he was clearly spoken and gave a very clear delivery throughout.

Slick staff manipulations. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

 

Richard was the first on stage performing his really enjoyable multi staff manipulation routine, last seen at Camvention. His tricks were interesting and good but his costume was superb, very swish. We heard one of the staffs actually hit a light or beam above the stage and we were super impressed he kept the pattern going. Should have bowed longer.

 

 

 

Hooping with attitude. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

Claire performed a really punky/street/gangsta (check me with da lingo…) hoop routine which I thoroughly enjoyed. I enjoyed the attitude, the tricks and the choreography. It kept my interest throughout. There were a few unlucky drops, and the stage hand should have kept offstage / remained hidden, but Claire kept her cool and her character. Nice finish and bow.

 

 

David not looking at all awkward. Photo credit: Luke Burrage

 

 

 

David was next on stage with the classic awkward / slightly deranged club juggler routine. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was very amused and entertained, the routine was full of lots of clever little moments. More than anything though I was blown away by the finger spin, did anyone else see that?!? Very Andy Fraser. Really good presentation, nice routine.

 

 

 

 

Rob referenced Marky Jay with his ‘meet the audience’ skit and brought Dylan to the stage. He did a genuinely impressive jumped through the hoop held aloft followed by jumping through Dylan’s arms. It was excellent and got the crowd going but was a shame to do that just before the interval, straight after would have been better. He also forgot to thank Dylan but everyone shouted out and he will not forget to do that next time.

Interval

The raffle did not take place during the interval. Nothing took place during the interval.

Second half

Nicely framed. Photo credit: Luke Burrage

 

 

 

Áine opened the second half with a very ambitious club juggling and manipulation routine. It was full of interesting dance and movement as well as being stuffed with very techy club tricks and shapes which I enjoyed immensely. It was just too droppy. She handled the drops very well so it was not too much of an issue, but if it was dropless it would be a real show stopper! Nicely bowed at the end.

 

 

 

Rob did a magic trick and made Ed Cliffe swear loudly on stage (family show, honestly Ed).

There can be absolutely no doubt that it was indeed Ed’s card… Photo credit: Paul Silver Photography

Sparkles! Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

See Ying Yip performed her double hoop isolation routine. I think the costume is stunning, I think the routine is good and well put together, and I like a lot of the tricks. But it really hit me this time that the music doesn’t match the rest of the routine at all. Its a really slow moody piece of music but she is dressed for vegas and it just didn’t fit for me at all this time round. I think that more lively music and audience smiles would inject a lot of energy and fun into the performance. The bow was very good.

 

She was so delightful to watch. Photo credit: Luke Burrage

 

 

I had seen Jorgelina’s club swinging routine a number of times over the years but this was a revamped version with new costume. It was lovely, just really lovely. She was confident on stage, looked almost embarrassed about her slick club swinging and just won everyone over with her playfulness and bubbliness. The club swinging was excellent, very slick and engaging but it was her audience interaction which won everyone over, that and a lovely bow at the end.

 

Bonkers boxes! Photo credit: Paul Silver Photography

 

Lukie was on top form with his ludicrous cigar box routine. It is super high energy stuff with bonkers tricks from 3 to 4 and 5 boxes. I love the routine it makes me laugh out loud in a Dave Kelly way. Very good bow.

 

 

 

 

 

Curtain Call and Final Bows

I was initially super impressed with the final bows, it must have taken a lot of rehearsals to get that perfect sine wave effect. Leaving the stage was a total disaster though with headless chickens running everywhere, Rob covered it very well by holding his head in his hands and shouting something along the lines of ‘I swear we rehearsed this!’ I think my reviews might be getting to people…

The show was very enjoyable, Rob did a pretty damn good job for his first go compering and I enjoyed all of the acts. Excellent opening show for the convention.

This bit of the final bows went very well… Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

What the hell is Kendal mint cake anyway?

I retired to hall and was coerced into some club passing with Dan which was good fun. I followed it up with some passing with Ed, but we both knew we had passed the patterns a lot better before. I put it down to being a bit tired.

To counter the tiredness I ran around with Callum and Janion playing combat which was real good fun. I was sufficiently exhausted and so snuck away from site to collapse into bed until tomorrow.

Tuesday

Ball and Cigar Box Workshop – Kris Kremo

I loitered in the leisure centre hall (with many others) waiting for Kris Kremo to arrive to teach his ball and cigar box workshop. The hall got changed to the other hall so we all trooped across with armfuls of Lukie’s boxes (thank you!).

It became obvious very early on that Kris wasn’t used to teaching workshops, I think normally he turns up and performs his act and then leaves for the next show. The workshop began with that fateful phrase ‘what do you want to learn?’, and everyone stood with their mouths hanging open for a bit until we started to coax some tricks from him. I was fascinated to see his clawed windmill trick (you know the one, right?) done up close. I had learnt it from a video of Kris and realised that I was doing it completely differently to Kris! I’ve got used to my method now (with the hands passing directly over each other, arms horizontal in front of you and each hand pointing at the opposite arms elbow. Hard to explain…) and found Kris’s version very strange (elbows held close to the body fully clawed cascade but with big emphasis on the carry round to make the distinctive shape).

Learning from the master. Photo credit: Paul Silver Photography

We also looked at the arms wide cascade and penguin catches. I had already studied the penguin technique and the wide cascade from Kris’s videos but heard others having eureka moments when he talked them through the technique.

We moved onto cigar boxes and Kris showed a number of his moves. Mark had a very specific question he wanted to ask about the boxes but he got all shy and embarrassed around Kris so I had to remind him what it was (‘Why do you switch boxes when you do the pirouette section of your show?’). We had concocted a number of theories regarding grippiness / magnets / easier to spot due to flashing lights on the rear of the box. Turns out the answer was so mundane. Apparently the boxes wear out very quickly so rather than start a show with a set of never before used boxes he will break them in gently. This was actually a very pro tip. He made the comparison with buying a new pair of shoes and trying to catch a hat on them, you might have to relearn the trick to an extent because you have brand new shoes which aren’t ‘broken in’. I was quite impressed with this.

He also gave some good advice about pirouettes and posed for a lot of photos with people.

It was a great opportunity to see Kris doing his stuff up close, he is also a super nice and down to earth guy, but I think you wouldn’t get much out of the workshop unless you already knew what you needed to ask him about.

Reviewing Circus Workshop – Kate Kavanagh

The workshop made the very strong point that most reviews about circus shows and performances are written by theatre critics who do not know anything about circus. We had a lively discussion and all enjoyed reading various reviews of the Water on Mars show. The message I took away at the end of the workshop was that there were not enough people writing reviews of circus shows who had knowledge of the subject. There needs to be a single directory which lists all the touring circus shows and performances which are taking place. I only hear about shows when they come into my local theatres but I would be willing to travel to see more shows in my area.

It’s given me food for thought. I’ll throw this right out there, I’d love to review circus shows for my full time job, but I do have a mortgage to pay and I am not sure that those two things can coexist.

Very interesting workshop nonetheless, I would recommend you check out Kate’s website and read some of the reviews: https://www.thecircusdiaries.com/

Lunchtime

I had a really nice jacket potato with chilli and crunchy salad with cheese followed up with a bit of cheese cake. The biscuit base was a bit too crumbly for my liking, I prefer a more moist base but it was still very tasty, just meant that there were a lot of crumbs on the plate. Had a nice time chatting with Alice and Alastair as well as Ed and Mark. Got a lovely quote from Mark (via Tim Vine) about show venues – ‘space doesn’t laugh’ and ‘tables don’t laugh’ – for when setting out a show venue. I liked it anyway.

The Juggling History Show – David Cain

I felt a lot of anticipation for this show, especially as we were sat in our seats and we could see an epically long table brimming with all kinds of strange and obscure juggling props. Very tantalising!

Fantastic table full of toys! Oh, and a golf club balance… Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Get the pidgeon, get the pidgeon! Photo Credit Luke Burrage

 

The unicorn trick. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

David was a humble and genial host as he played the part of the ghost of juggling past. He clearly knows his subject like the back of his hand and it was a real treat to sit back and hear his stories and watch his demonstrations of some of the more bizarre tricks from the 1600s to the more recent past. Both educational and entertaining. I particularly enjoyed watching him trying to shoot the birds from the tree. He completely defied my expectations and managed to catch all 7 bowls on his head.

 

After the show the hall was open for an hour and everyone could have a go with the props. It was very well attended and it looked like everyone had a great time trying everything out. I didn’t stick around as I had been coerced into assisting with a Champi workshop with Ed and Juli, so I joined them in the hall and we had a practise for the workshop.

I ran my performance workshop later in the afternoon and had a nice little group with mixed performance experience. It turned into a really interesting discussion and think everyone took something away. I really enjoy running this workshop / discussion but really really want to see more BYJOTY potential entrants coming along. I have vowed to run the workshop at every UK convention I go to this year so if you know anyone who might be interested, send them along (BYJOTY or no).

After the workshop Jenni and I went along to Monte’s and had thai chicken noodles with the rest of the Peat clan. It was delicious but I think I would have preferred rice in order to soak up all of the sauce. Had to make do with licking the plate, very tasty.

Man of Mischief Show – Mark Watson

The equally tasty Mark Watson premiered his Edinburgh Fringe Show for us and I was very much looking forward to it. We all know Mark from his many appearances on the UK juggling scene, namely acting as compere for shows. I was particularly looking forward to seeing his full one man show to see how it has evolved.

Magical Mark Watson. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Carefully chosen old school music set the scene while we took our seats and Mark was on hand to greet everyone as they made their way into the hall. Very smart outfit, nice spats! The show was a lovely mix of magic and juggling, all held together with comedy and charm. I was highly amused to see Mark refuse to use Ed as an assistant, word must be getting round amongst magicians…

Sarah assisting Mark with a card trick. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Everyone must have seen Mark’s walk of death before but despite that everyone was laughing and clapping along. I think that is a big testament to Mark’s very likeable character but also his excellent presentation.

The balloon dog was priceless but I was gutted the second death was not a clean one. Jenni was not amused. It’s a strong audience splitter, that one. I love it!

The climax of the show had to be the cups and balls routine. This was wonderful as always, I hugely enjoy watching this piece, it’s just so polished. I prefer the pineapple but that was special for Leeds.

I massively enjoyed the show despite having seen Mark perform many of the individual routines before, I could quite happily watch Mark all day though. I genuinely don’t know where the time went.

Following the show I went back to the main juggling hall and played with my Borzykine pole. I was secretly delighted that Luke wasn’t able to just immediately do the trick. He is one of those people who seems to instantly be able to do stuff, but not this time, muhahaha. I dossed about in the hall for a bit longer until…

The Old Skool Jugglers Panel

Normally a feature of the BJC but with such rare and interesting guests it seemed a shame not to, good work Ashby!

David Cain, Kate Kavanagh and Kris Kremo were the panelists with Ashby acting chair for the evening. Questions were fielded to the panelists via the laser display screen (does anyone get that reference..?).

It was an interesting panel and the discussion switched between very lighthearted to serious and depressing and back to lighthearted again. For me it was a bit of a roller coaster. I really enjoyed hearing the stories of the panelists and the little insights into their journeys through the juggling world, and in the case of Kate her recent discovery of the convention scene. I think everyone was taken aback by Kris’s humour and humbleness. David also told some hilarious stories of his juggling past. I particularly enjoyed David’s story of when he was told by someone that his gardener could juggle 8 clubs. Turns out that the man’s gardener was Anthony Gatto during his career break. (After the show Tom Derrick told me his version of the story where a similar thing happened to him. Go and ask Tom, it’s a very good story!)

It was a funny and interesting Old Skool. It was also very well attended.

Back in the main hall I found Ed and Juli so we practised again for our Champi workshop, which turned into a Champi trick mash, which turned into a filming session in the show hall. We filmed a long run with 3 silly tricks in which you can do in the Champi manipulator pattern. It took quite a long time to get the footage but the end result was excellent.

Zombie combat was happening in the hall when we got back so I sat and tried to watch it. The rules seemed very different to other games of Zombie combat which I have played (and watched) in the past. I genuinely couldn’t tell what was going on or who was on which team. I retired to bed instead, it was too complicated for me and Champi had messed with my brain.

On my out of the car park I acted on intel received from Tom D and accused Little Paul of messing with my face in 2006 using computer software. Turns out I was misinformed about the identity of the guilty party, so my search continues…

Wednesday

Mark and I had a catch up in the morning and discussed some of the feedback he had got about his show. We came up with even more ways for a balloon dog to die, some did go too far but the majority I think could be performed. Do it Mark, DO IT!

We went across to the other sports hall with armfuls of hats for Kris Kremo’s hat workshop.

Again, it was not a good workshop if you hadn’t gone prepared with questions and list of things which you specifically wanted advice on. Luckily, Mark and I had such a list and quite a few other people had also come knowing what to expect.

I got to hold one of Kris’s hats (very light) and heard how much they cost (very expensive!!!) It was pointless to spend any time at all trying to do the famous head bounces with the hats, but that didn’t stop anyone trying it with their felt hats. Kris did give some excellent advice on the 3 hat ‘shuffle’(?), the trick suddenly made a lot more sense and I was amazed to see how much time he has during the trick. The ‘workshop’ turned into more of a hatting jam which was fine by me. I was delighted to be able to give a suggestion to Eddie which turned into quite a cool slow mo moment for a hat routine.

Robin Dale – What Does Stuff Do – Show

We headed into the show hall and managed to bagsy our ‘usual’ seats near the front. The stage was set with a large sign on the stage declaring the title of the show, various odd props on tables and a small child’s paddling pool on stage.

Right. Here we go.

I am generally not a big fan of this type of pseudo scientific presentation of juggling. I tend to find it very pretentious. Talking about juggling using terms like ‘research’ really annoys me. (But I get it! The word ‘research’ does fit, of course it does, how else would you describe it? But it just annoys me a lot and I can’t explain why. I suppose I just think it’s pretentious). With that in mind… I REALLY enjoyed this show! There were times (usually very short) where I did think it was a little pretentious but I was totally won over with the presentation and by Robin.

Fluid juggling skills. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

The show began with a speech / lecture and a very nice ping pong ball and bat and juggling ring sequence. It was very clever and pleasing for an audience of jugglers. Robin went on to analyse juggling by breaking down the component parts. I was initially put off with the water glasses section when it began but it very quickly turned into something both entertaining and wonderful to behold. Throughout the show Robin presented ‘serious’ concepts and explorations but presented them in a very amusing and engaging way. Very confident delivery despite being under dressed. He is quite clearly mad, but in a cosy way.

… Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Robin being a tool. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

The section explaining siteswap was particularly amusing, especially with Felix being asked to be the performing monkey on stage. Don’t know if it would get the same reception for a non juggling audience, would be very interesting to see.

‘Opposync’ is a lovely new juggling term.

 

 

 

I think it was a bad decision to leave the stage to perform the ball juggling section. I understand the decision (because the stage was wet) but (with this particular audience anyway) there would not have been a problem if he used the towel and dried the entire stage. That would probably have got a lot of applause. Once you go to floor level it immediately reduces your audience to the first 4 rows. A shame because the juggling sequence was great.

At the end of the show Robin demonstrated to us how much of a tool he can be.

The show was excellent, very entertaining throughout, and this feeling was shared by the audience, many of whom gave a standing ovation.

 

After the show we returned to the main hall and I got ready to help with the Champi workshop.

Champi is a three person, 7 club, ambidextrous manipulation pattern which uses chops with a base pattern of Pass Pass Self. A lot of people came along, maybe 6 or 8 groups and by the end of the workshops most groups had managed at least a couple of positions. I made loads of mistakes in the demos so was a little sad.

Combat Qualifications

Straight after the workshop were the qualifications for the combat tournament which would take place that night in the main hall. Around 20 people took part in the qualifications and there was a nice mix of nationalities. The level was pretty high with lots of ranked players taking part. The qualifications took place with two groups to decide who would make it through to the main event. I beat Luke very convincingly, I lost to Brook very convincingly.

Stayed on after the qualifications to hear the seedings. Managed to seed in 3rd place with Brook and Julius seeded above me, not shoddy.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon so I took a walk into town to see how much of it I remembered from before. Found a nice antique / collectibles shop and picked up an interesting book of sinister short stories. Treated myself to a bag of crisps and some milk before heading back to the B&B for a shower and change of clothes.

Back on site I met Jenni and gang in the canteen where I had ratatouille and was very delighted again at the portion sizes from Monte’s.

Wes Peden – Zebra – Show

We arrived a little late for the show and got seats right at the back. It was hopeless. The space at the foot of the stage on floor level was filled with the lighting and props Wes would be using so we could tell we weren’t going to be a able to see a thing. Rumours reached us that there were still spaces on the benches at the front, so we shuffled down and managed find a gap on the floor at the front, not on the benches but at least with a side on view of the ‘stage’. The view was better than at the back but still partially obscured by a record played and light arrangement.

Everything was a coloured black and / or white, very appropriate, and in many cases tasseled, which was also strangely appropriate.

Zebra. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Wes entered the stage with his own spotlight before addressing everyone and selecting a record to play. There was a 3 ring section which had some lovely tricks and shapes displayed and rather a lot of the signature Wes arm roll trick. Very generic atmospheric music played in the background. Much of the lighting was operated by foot switches allowing for atmospheric lighting changes to highlight particular sections. At one point he balanced one of these lights on a tripod on his face, I was disappointed that he didn’t use the grabbers to take the next record out of its sleeve during the balance.

Cue some more generic ambient music. What followed next was possibly one of the most technical displays of 3 club juggling I’ve ever seen. All differently spun patterns and tricks, flowing beautifully into each other, very mesmerising, very hard, very Wes, particular favourite for me was the fish jumping over the dam trick… This section culminated in short 5 club sequence which got repeated and built upon until it was a very complicated sequence, it was splendid to watch.

There was some minor tomfoolery which took place whilst Wes changed the record on the player whilst juggling 2 balls in one hand.

Wes put on a sweatband (far too late surely) and began a very active technical skipping rope piece to some very lively 80s(?) music. The change of pace was exactly what I needed, livened me right up after all that ambient / atmospheric music. I am a big fan of skipping and really enjoyed watching all the different tricks although some people told me afterwards it was their least favourite section. It was actually a warm up for doing a juggling section with both hands holding onto a long tasseled rope (via finger loops) whilst juggling 3 balls. Very lively and upbeat and some awesome patterns and shapes came out of it. It must have been a lot of fun creating those tricks and discovering them (I just couldn’t bring myself to type ‘researching them’…).

Wes making confusing patterns. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Wes was actually panting at this stage from the exertion but followed this up by performing the best technical ball juggling you can see on stage. Stuffed full of his signature arm bounce tricks and combinations, multiplexes a plenty, very mind blowing. Exactly what we’ve come to expect, a feast for the senses.

I was very glad to have seen the show, there is no doubt that it is full of some of the most creative and impressive juggling you can see. But, I was pretty bored during some of the other sections, especially when Wes appears to be doing his own tech, moving lights around etc. I think that he definitely needs these moments of downtime to rest a bit before his next juggling session (I mean, whose shins sweat? I mean proper drippy sweat, not just a sheen! Wow), but when you mix that with the very downtempo / ambient music then it all combines to make me a bit sleepy.

I wonder how much people sat further back were able to enjoy as many of the tricks were at low level…

Overall a very good, very Wes, show but it didn’t hold my rapt attention like Volcano vs. Palm Tree did.

Combat Tournament

The traditional combat ‘ring’ had been created in the main hall using benches and chairs and they filled up pretty quickly. The combat tournament is not for everyone but it certainly does have a following. People must just enjoy watching small children in the audience being hit in the face with clubs (sorry about that…)

This is the classic Brook club steal in action! Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

I played a really fun match against Tom, our newest Hullabaloo (The Leeds Juggling Club) member, which eventually ended with me taking the match. I didn’t believe Tom during the qualifications when he said he hadn’t played for years, was thrilled that he made it through to the tournament. I had a very troublesome match against Brook in which he attacked me relentlessly, the opposite scenario from when we fought at the BJC. This time Brook came out on top and took the match 5-4. Luke had been knocked out of the running by Julius and so I faced Luke in the 3rd place play-off. Luke beat me, but this time I managed to get the score to 5-4. Each time we play (and he wins) I am gaining a point on him, eventually I might beat him (and not just in the prelims)! I actually really enjoyed our match (usually it feels a bit one-sided) but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

It’s not really possible to intimidate Luke, but it’s always worth a shot! Photo credit: Paul Silver Photography

Julius and Brook faced each other in the final and Julius was unstoppable. I have never seen someone beat Brook at jumping for the high club, it was insane. Congratulations to all of the players and to Luke for running the tournament. I kept being interrupted by children catching my clubs with their faces but other than that it was great fun!

Check out all the results here: http://www.fightnightcombat.com/tournament-Cumbria-2018.html

 

After the tournament we were on our way out the door when Rosie asked if we could take Artu back to the performers’ house. Of course, how hard could that be! We took Artu on a wonderful drive through many nice little villages and down many roads in the dark that looked very similar to each other. It was a disaster but we had a very nice chat with Artu on the way, he is a lovely chap. We eventually arrived at Rosie’s house just after everyone who we had said goodbye to in the hall, oh well.

Thursday

I snuck into the show hall early in the morning and tightly drew all of the curtains. Due to the nature of my act it was very difficult to rehearse in front of people. I checked out the stage and basically did my teching for the show, marked my spots, practised my audience interaction and rattled off about 10 good run throughs before anyone else showed up.

I went back to hall for the tech run with all the acts, joined in the curtain call bowing rehearsal (very good Loz!) spoke to Alastair about setting my props. Kris asked me while we were backstage, ‘How long is your act?’ I replied, ‘3-4 minutes.’ He responded, ‘That’s not an act!’ I was shellshocked and didn’t know what to say… until about 3 hours later when I realised my response should have been ‘Well, they couldn’t afford my full act.’ Next time, Kremo, next time!

I then took my leave from the proceedings and went along to watch / participate in the games.

The Games

Marky Jay was our host for the games and did a good job of keeping things moving and also entertaining. Jan, Dan and I all failed the 3 up pirouette but as we were the last 3 we got another try. I was stunned to beat Jan at the 5 ball shower to actually win the endurance.

5 ring endurance was very well attended, where do all the ring jugglers hide then..? Lauge took the prize by running a pancake cascade which took out the remaining players. There was the children collecting props game which was amusing.

The 5 club endurance got down to Luke and I before I flaked out leaving Luke to win a food voucher. Then there was the long diabolo string race but I got distracted at this point as Jamie and Charlie had constructed their club balance wire maze. It was basically a steady hand game but with a club balance and it was very very difficult! The slightest correction seemed to massively move the club causing it to hit the wire. Antonia did very well as did Wes, I couldn’t get very far at all.

Claire managed to beat Cat during the final throes of the hooping gladiators, it was quite spectacular, Claire knocked the hoop completely off from Cat’s body!

There was a balloon dog making race (I don’t know who won, I was watching Wes on the steady hand balance game. ¾ of the way along now, strong effort!) as well as club on club balance gladiators, won by Luke. Handstand endurance was won by Mike.

There was a non unicycling race, a unicycle race for someone who cannot unicycle but has two friends to support them. The next obvious step is non unicycle gladiators which turned out to be the most brutal game of all. Marky Jay had to actually intervene when it got to the final two teams as it was just getting far too dangerous! There were a lot of cuts and scrapes on display but it really was hilarious to watch, those two teams deserved to win! 6 club endurance was made hilarious by Marky’s small child announcing ‘go’ in such a cute little voice, broke my pattern entirely (it wouldn’t have lasted anyway). 7 Club endurance heat one was a three way tie between Felix, Julius and Wes. Second round was won more convincingly by Wes with a clean finish at least.

Tom Derrick won the club balance endurance, of course.

Coin juggling went on for a very long time but was eventually won by Lauge who I think got about £18 from the hat, not bad.

After the games I went along to the show hall to see how the teching was going. There was a bit of a fraught atmosphere as we had lost control over a number of the lights because of a blown fuse. Kris also (apparently) usually travels with his own sound tech who knows Kris’s act inside out and does all his sound cues. So poor Ashby had to learn about 60 odd different sound cues very quickly as well as getting all of the other acts sorted. It was a bit stressy so I got through my tech and hustled away offsite to have a shower ready for later.

I only heard about the curry trip into town but, apparently the waiter was bringing the food to the table and announced ‘Two Chicken Malayan’ but he then accidentally dropped one of the serving dishes. When the dish hit the floor it managed to catapult the contents right across the restaurant, across the ceiling and all over the party at the table. In the dead silence that followed, someone said quietly ‘One Chicken Malayan’. I understand that the spread of the curry was nothing short of extensive. Brook managed to effectively shield Ed from the brunt of it, although there must have been an arc of curry which flew over and behind Ed splashing the window behind where he was sat.

Sounded dreadful, and I was shocked that the curry house did not offer any money off the bill of anything. Apparently they did not seem overly embarrassed by the disaster.

The Gala Show

The show hall was packed out and the sky was slowly filling up with balloons BJC style. Did anyone notice that the large balloons were of an apple and a bee? Appleby, geddit? Nevermind.

I bagsied a seat near the front for the first half of the show and eagerly awaited the popping of the balloons which would herald the start of the show.

Loz Because, just because. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

 

 

Loz Because made a very bizarre entrance onto the stage and proceeded to play a wonderful game of Preggers or Paunchy involving members of the audience. It was very funny but also rather risqué. Congratulations Loz! Between the acts Loz would give interesting ‘facts’ about the performers.

 

Ooooh those shoulder rolls! Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

 

 

 

Artu Lahtinen opened the show with his mesmerising ring juggling and rolling techniques. Atmospheric moody music is very much in fashion at the moment. Artu did his very unique style of ring rolling around the body mixed with lots of movement, lovely presentation. The continuous shoulder rolls over the same shoulder was spectacular as was the 5 ring lazy cascade with no setup throws. The lighting wasn’t great for the move down to floor level, possibly the reason for 2 attempts on the 7 cascade finish. The bow was wonderful, lovely routine.

Tiff’s big lollipop… Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

Matthew Tiffany entertained us all with his huge array of toys, tricks and talent. I’ve seen Tiff perform many times now but it is always great fun. I especially enjoyed his remarks about Kris Kremo’s cigar and also ‘give me the clap!’ Hilarious. Also, the pocket catch from the Solerno ring was an excellent idea which I hadn’t seen him do before. The Brunn finish is just so smooth now.

Again, an excellent bow.

 

 

JuggleDoll. Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

 

Sakari Männistö is one of my juggling heroes so I was desperately looking forward to seeing his routine. My review notebook is so sparse on the actual details of his routine because I was watching it avidly and not writing any notes. It was a mixture of juggling with and without music and it felt very subdued. However, it had some very hard technical tricks in there including a pretty crazy club hitting section. I enjoyed the funny moments and presentation too although, like I mentioned, it was very subdued.

 

 Fingertip balance. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

Loz Because performed her LED hula hooping routine which she did at the BJC this year. It was still super slick and stylish. Jenni was upset because she invented a trick recently and had been working on it but Loz performed the same trick in her routine, hate it when that happens. Its’ a great routine, I like the attitude.

 

Interval

The raffle did not take place during the interval. Nothing took place during the interval.

 

Second Half

… I will never fully live this down… Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Loz felt her knees to an appropriate song.

Jon Peat opened the second half of the show with his Fireflies routine (version 2) as recently seen at Chocfest. Part way into the routine he pulled a load of juggling scraves from one of the balls, and the music changed to Evanescense (Bring Me To Life), and a lot of silliness and facial expressions ensued.

The routine came about after I broke my hand in March 2017. Once I was out of plaster I struggled with a lot of after pain which prevented me from juggling other props, so I started messing about with scarves. I was amused at how many 3 ball tricks translated to scarves in interesting ways (so many tricks didn’t make it into the routine!) I was also surprised at people’s positive reactions to some of the tricks. The inspiration for the breaking of Firefly came from Jamie Fletcher’s breaking of his own routine many years ago and also from a discussion with Tiff, after that everything else just fell into place. The bow was spectacular!

Hoop rolling a plenty. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

Florence Huet performed her hoop rolling and juggling act Dakatine. She performed to a very moody piece of music involving a lot of bells chiming. It’s a clever routine involving a lot of clever hoop rolling moves around the legs and over the back. There is some wonderful Bramson-esque hoop rolling as well as some big juggled patterns. Great routine, well presented, very nice bow at the end.

 

 

 

 

 

Kris Kremo did his full act. It was outstanding. I cannot describe it, go and watch a video if you haven’t already. He is actually a legend. I loved seeing a real professional performer doing what he does best, his interaction with the crowd was wonderful and I think he played up a lot for the audience. It was wonderful to see.

Here follows a splurge of photos from Kris’s act.

Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

That was the end of the show. Congratulations to all of the acts but also to stage manager Paul, Ashby on Sound and Liam who was working the lights as well as Rosie for booking all of the acts. It was a successful show, the only thing which could have improved it for me was if the raffle had been held during the interval…

Thrilled to be a part of this line up! Photo Credit: Paul Silver Photography

I remember hanging out after the show till quite late and the giving Ed a lift to the campsite in the early hours of the morning.

I’d like to thank everyone who spoke to me after the show to give me feedback on the routine, I really appreciate it. Special mention though to David Cain for giving me the best promo quote I could ever have hoped for, does this now mean I have to perform it again..?

Friday

More juggling was available on Friday but most people were packing up their stuff and leaving site from what I could tell. We collected Ed from the venue with his stuff, said bye to Rosie who was cleaning the windows and then made our way back to Leeds.

The traffic was bad along a section of the A66 for no obvious reason whatsoever. Possibly due to the closure of the M6 and traffic making a diversion. It wasn’t clear.

Jenni dropped Ed and I off at Leeds station where we were dismayed to find that it was full of very angry people milling around. There had been a number of lightning strikes across the region which had managed to shut down the signaling systems and effectively cripple the train network between Manchester and York. After going through various options we opted for a taxi to Manchester airport in order to get to our next convention.

Round-up

CATCH was an excellent convention. It had all of the key components which make a good convention for me: good food, nice venue, interesting workshops, good shows. My only complaint would be that the convention was too short or that there were too many shows. I didn’t have enough time to hang out with people and pass clubs before it was time for another programmed event. Nobody forced me to got to these shows, but equally I didn’t want to miss any of them!

The leisure centre needs to sort out the locks on their toilet doors too.

I had a brilliant time at CATCH. I am hoping that the convention comes back again and I know that I will. Thank you to all of the organisers, crew and volunteers who made the convention such a success.

Cheers, Jon

 

Photo Links:

Paul Silver Photography: https://www.facebook.com/Paul-Silvers-Photography-158126790918513/

Luke Burrage’s Blog: http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archives/2659

Jon Peat

I am Jon Peat.

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