The European Juggling Convention 2019 – Review – Newark on Trent (UK)

The European Juggling Convention 2019 – Newark (UK)

The European Juggling Convention is the largest juggling event in the world, held in a different European country each year. 2019 saw the EJC arrive at the Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire (UK). Here follows my account of the 9-day convention.

EJC Site 2019 – Photo Credit: Thomas Cheyney

Saturday

Travel

As part of our conditioning towards a successful EJC, Ed and I had elected to stay up late on the Friday night and so arose quite late on the Sunday morning (08:00). I enjoyed my fruits of the forest mix with mixed granola and muesli and natural yoghurt and Jenni had her raisin wheats. Ed had an explore through the miscellaneous sauces and preserves cupboard and settled for maple syrup on his imitation bread/toast.

Our convoy to the EJC site was a great success with the drive itself being rather unremarkable. There was a long delay during which I was asked to contribute to Google Maps’ live traffic feedback (first time for me). The delay was caused by lots of nosy people on our carriageway looking at the big crash on the northbound side which had closed the motorway. It was a bright sunny day and moderately warm, I regretted wearing trousers instead of shorts, especially while being sat in traffic.

The Site & Registration

As we approached the showground we saw a few signs out and about directing us to the site and strong reaffirmation in the form of a large four poster circus tent. We drove past an assortment of old aircraft and parked up in a gigantic car park. Twinkle arrived next and parked next to us which was a nice surprise (may have only seen him once more at a distance during the next week…). We joined the short queue for registration and waved to Lizzy and Jamie who were just ahead of us in the queue. The registration process was very efficient, and we were issued with our cool looking wristbands and goody bags filled with booklets and leaflets.

The Newark showground is a flat site ringed by some large warehouse / conference centre / pavilion type buildings. The website says 84 acres are enclosed by its perimeter fence. Although there were already a great number of tents already up when we arrived there still looked to be plenty of room and no tents appeared to be pitched over the top of each other. There were service roads running throughout the site with no tents looking to be too far from a surfaced path should the rain come down. The website also boasts of the ground being made up of a free draining sand and gravel mix, meaning it would take some considerable downpours to make the site a quagmire, very encouraging.

As we entered site the map informed me of the Western Arts Village and workshop areas, the unicycling trials halls, and the Aerial and Acro Arena. The Main Juggling Hall was rammed when we looked in. The doors at the end of the hall were open and led to the food vendors area, traders and all the larger show tents (except the gala show tent), play tent and bar tent.

It looked like a nicely laid out site.

So, we left to see what the town had to offer.

 

Newark on Trent

I noticed on the way to town that there was nowhere local to the showground where anyone could buy any supplies or groceries. It looked like only those with cars would be able to go to the local supermarkets and many others would be stranded on site and reliant what they had brought and the food vendors on site.

I parked for free near to the bus station / train station and we walked in admiring the castle as we went. It was a mighty fine looking castle, overlooking the canal / river, very scenic. I enjoyed crossing the various locks and exploring the side streets before we found the market square. There was lots of Saturday trade taking place and people milling about in the square getting food.

Newark Castle and gardens.

The town hall, overlooking the market square, had been revamped in the style of the Hotel Paradiso and was fitted out with Chinese poles and aerial fixtures. We had a quick chat with Greeny and waved at Tasha and then filtered through the crowds to find something to eat for lunch.

We found a clean café opposite the parish church in which the staff were at a bit of a loss as to how to take orders and then convey the food to the correct people. Turns out that they are more of an ice cream sort of place than a general eatery, but I had a passable cheese and chorizo panini whilst Jenni had a cheese and mushroom omelette.

Our explore of the town took in a few of the charity shops but I found a distinct lack of fantasy or sci fi books and I left disappointed. Jenni vowed to return one day if/when she got bored of the convention.

Back on Site

Back on site we took a more detailed look around the tents and outdoor areas. There was a large covered pavilion outside next to the food vendors area for people to eat and hang out in. Right next door was a large bar. There was a cool looking slackline area as well as the Bullzini High Wire area. There was also an outdoor trapeze set up, presumably with workshops and ‘give it a go’ sessions throughout the week. We noticed that a lot of the smaller tents had their own workshop boards and show timetables on display, it felt very much like lots of little conventions taking place under the umbrella of the EJC. So long as the workshops were also advertised on the main workshop boards in the main hall, I wasn’t too bothered.

We saluted the return of the chaise-long and then joined the queue to put money on our passes. We were very surprised to learn about the ‘cashless’ system for the EJC. As far as we were aware there had been no announcement or news about this prior to the start of the convention.

I understand the benefits to the event of using this system and I know this isn’t going to go away as many events are heading in this direction. This system just needed to have been introduced to us in advance with all of the information available from the beginning.

The queues to top up the passes could have been avoided by having a top up in advance feature on the website to preload your pass before you arrive on site, or to live top it up using an app or website. This is how it works at other events that I am aware of.

I was dismayed to find out (after the event) that the returns will only be processed after the 26th August (that’s two full weeks after the end of the event!) To avoid the queues at the top up tent I, and many others I am sure, had put on a large amount to cover for the event. I could really have used that money at the end of the event rather than having to wait two full weeks to get my money back. (MOT and Tax due!)

If these things were addressed that would make the cashless system work smoother for next time.

We went along to the Cedric Ford restaurant for our evening meal. The second floor of the building had become the balloon jam room and many of the creations could be seen adorning the exterior of the building. We entered the restaurant and felt a little out of place. There were about 20, 8 seater, tables set up with smart white table cloths and a bar and servery and hardly any customers. The aircon was blasting out and it was delightfully cool inside. I was disappointed that food did not match the décor. Very tired out looking lasagne and chips but a fresh salad at least. It was ok, it filled you up without distracting you with anything like having real flavour. We thought it was cheeky expensive for the food quality but not necessarily the portion size. A lot of people came into the restaurant wanting food and then found at the till that they were unable to pay as they had not put any money on their passes. A surprise for everyone about the cashless system including a few members of Jonglissimo needing quick food before their show that evening. I bought Daniel’s meal for him as they were in a rush and didn’t need this kind of aggro before their show.

Back in the hall I found Alice and Alastair doing some passing and I joined them for some Roundabout and Champi and I later did some club passing with Mark. I decided to miss the Jonglissimo show on the first night as I thought it would be really busy. So I hung around in the hall and regretted not making it to the UK Circus School Alumni Show. Everyone who I spoke to told me it was a brilliant show with loads of excellent acts.

Phil arrived with Vivian and Sebastian!

I was pretty worn out with all the excitement by about 23:30 so I crashed out the hall and went to bed.

Sunday

At 09:30 we decided to head over to the traders. They were due to open at 10:00 but I anticipated queues of people with broken clubs waiting to drop them off with Henry. I was proved right, there were about 30 people already in line when we arrived. It was a nice sunny morning and reasonably warm so it wasn’t too much of a trauma. By the time we were let in the was a long snaking queue of people waiting to get in. I dropped off my clubs and then played with the ‘club generator’, and with Matty’s assistance, selected a colour scheme for my set of Loop clubs and ordered them (Jenni hates the colour scheme, I think they look funky!). My 6 clubs was not progressing well and I found I got tired quickly during practise sessions. I had borrowed Andy’s Loops at the Durham convention (and some subsequent conventions since) and found that I could practise for longer without getting tired. The Loops are slightly lighter than pirouettes and for me it makes a lot of difference.

Meanwhile Jenni had taken her broken unicycle to Unicycle.com and Roger had kindly fixed it for her. We also checked out the new Infinity balls, brainchild of Vašek Peca. I am not in the market for new juggling balls at the moment although I do really like them. They feel very well made, are a nice weight, material and colour. Also, if they are half as hard wearing as they are made out to be then I think they could be an excellent investment. It’s a shame that there are not options to have them underfilled, Jenni would have bought some of the smaller ones but they we just too solid with not enough ‘give’. One to keep an eye on.

I joined in with some Dolby 7.1 in the main hall and afterwards I did some Champi with Dan and Maddy. It was nice to see Michael returning to the world of juggling after a long absence, so we had a long practise session and reminded him of all the patterns he used to do. We also did Champi with Ed which turned into a Champi tricks session, video coming at some point.

We decided to eat offsite as the food available from the pavilions looked a bit like junk. We went to a Farmer’s Market / outlet place a bit down the road. It being Sunday meant that they were serving a carvery. We had some very nice carvery sandwiches and due to poor grammar on their menu boards (and the customer always being right), vegetables too. It was all kinds of delicious, and far better value than the pavilions.

The afternoon passed in a bit of a haze but I did have a really nice chat with David Cain where he described the origins (or possible origins of diabolo), it was very fascinating! This man is just a mine of information and every time I speak with him, I learn such a lot! I’d very much like to go over to the museum of juggling history, but it is a bit far and needs quite a lot of prior planning.

Jonglissimo Show

We managed to get quite good seats near to the stage for the Jonglissimo show entitled, ‘Vision of Hope’.

The premise of the show (from what I could gather) was a schoolgirl waiting for her father to get home so that they could go to the gym together. While she waited the girl was doing her homework. The homework was a series of questions about space and the future, asking her opinion of what those things would be like. The story is based on the answers of 100 pupils from Austria and Germany who were interviewed by Jonglissimo about their vision of the future.

18 Club Passing. Photo Credit: Edson Caballero

The show is slammed full of impressive technical and visual effects like real-time motion graphics and projection onto semi-transparent backgrounds. I was most impressed with the control of the hoverboards whilst juggling.

The visual effects and projections were great and I can really see it working in a large theatre venues / corporate events, I just found the juggling a bit dull and the story / characters / moments quite cheesy / hammy. I found a lot of the juggling a bit mediocre, especially considering how technically skilled the Jonglissimo team are. I was a little underwhelmed on that score but overall, I did enjoy the show. The show did get a standing ovation but not from Jenni or I.

Evening Juggling & Renegade

Back in the main juggling hall, I joined Helena, Lukas and Ed for a new Ambled pattern of Lukas’s. It was a fun pattern but requires a very fast sprint across the pattern to get the first double pass. We did a lot of working out and changes of position to get it to start working. It was quite an investment of time, but we did make progress.

Jenni was performing her hooping routine in Rosie’s renegade, so we went along to the ‘Let’s Circus’ tent. It was a nice little tent with bench seating and good lighting and a sound desk. There was quite an audience, and everyone was in a good party mood. I was very pleased with the abuse inflicted upon the audience for unfunny heckles such as ‘do it naked’ or ‘can’t be done’. These really are boring now and I can’t be bothered with them at all. Jenni delivered a strong rendition of her routine, especially considering that there was no tech run or chance to check the lights or even warm up. Mike Moore gave a short blitz of some of his crazy inverted box and ‘dot’ tricks. I actually didn’t recognise him initially but then he started juggling and that kinda gave the game away. We didn’t stay long after that, it was getting late so we headed out and Jenni retired for the evening. As we were leaving the hall Andy encouraged me to come and sing a Christmas carol to Nicki, which I attempted to do but it was in German. The passing meeting never materialised, much to Nicki’s disappointment. On my way back through the hall I played 3 club gladiators for a spell before heading off to bed.

Monday

First thing in the morning I went along to Sean Gandini’s ‘Movement to Music’ workshop which was held in the Gala Show tent. There was nowhere near enough room for everyone on the small stage. There were also problems with the sound system not being a ‘one man’ operation especially when Sean wanted to be with us leading the workshop and doing the music live. We performed a venue change and all trooped over the Aerial hall and filled a quarter of it. Due to the lack of music capabilities it became a ‘movement’ workshop but there was so little room. Rather than spend an hour bumping into people and not hearing what Sean was saying I decided to duck out of the workshop. A real shame, I always enjoy the Gandini workshops and learn a lot, but it just wasn’t a positive learning environment for me so I headed outside for a sulk.

To cheer myself up I went for a wander round the campsite to see the happy campers and see if I could locate the Hullabaloo campsite. It looked rather homely and Alice and Alastair were in residence enjoying the morning gloom. I hunted for Lizzy and Jamie’s tent and eventually found Jamie so he gave me some sacks via juggler / family mail.

We went back to the hall together and had a lot of fun messing about with headbounce passing. I think we are getting slightly better but we both still find it challenging. I then took part in a Dolby 5.1 with Eliot and Wiebke and then taught the pattern to Alice and Alastair.

In desperation I went to café in the main juggling hall to see what food was available for lunch. I took the initial view that very little actual food was available, however, closer inspection of the fridges revealed that you could buy little salad and pasta pots. I got myself one of each and ate with Lizzy, Jamie, Simon, Jay, Freddie and Mike. A number of people enquired as to where I had got hold of the salad pot, a sign that I was not alone in my lamentations about the available food choices.

I met up with Rasmus in the hall and we did some headbounce passing and silly club tricks followed by 9 club 1 count on singles and 10 club double double. All very good fun but I was shattered by the end of the session.

Jenni and I hooked up with Lizzy and Jamie and Mike and joined the secret queue at the Gala Show tent to see the first showing of Gibbon.

Gibbon Show

Gibbon is a two man show featuring Chris Patfield and José Triguero. It’s a mixture of dance and movement mixed in with ball juggling which weaves around the performers. It’s also full of banter and fun as the two performers work through the routine, eventually showing the full piece in one full run.

More fun than visiting the Zoo. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

I really enjoyed it, I love that style of 3 ball juggling and there are some wonderful shapes and patterns available when you have two performers on stage working together. Lovely dynamic between the two performers. Really lovely show. I also particularly liked the slow colour changing t-shirts that the guys had, they started off red and slowly went a much darker red as the show went on…

The show ended with a long and maintained standing ovation which I thought very appropriate.

Evening

After the show I tried to find somewhere to get some food, this proved impossible due to the queues and my refusal to eat the rubbish from the pavilion.

We couldn’t get into the Open Stage show. The queue had reached the main hall from the tent and I resent queueing for an hour for the pleasure of sitting on the floor.

I came across Jamie in the hall again so we resumed our headbounce passing session. I also passed Phoenician waltz and Dolby 5.1 with Wiebke and Elliot. While the second Gibbon show was on I managed to have a pizza from the pizza tent in the food area. I am not a great fan of reggae music, but the reggae pizza was especially nice and I only had to wait 10-15 minutes. It was quite expensive for what you got, but it did taste very nice so overall I thought it was worth it.

Ed, Danny and Wiebke materialised and we struck up a Tichu game. The Wiebke and Jon partnership hit the rocks and we got quite appallingly thrashed by the Danny and Ed alliance. One of those things. Despite the ruthless destruction it was a good fun game and I did enjoy glancing up at the hall and seeing Dominik and Manuel passing 14 clubs and also Manuel practising his 7 rings with a knee hoop.

 

Tuesday

Anorak Hunt

I managed to pack everything for the EJC that I could possibly need except for one vital piece of gear, my anorak. It hung forgotten (and very dry) in our porch at home, meanwhile in Newark I was feeling the loss quite heavily. I struck out into the town and headed for the outdoors / camping stores.

First stop was Millets. The men’s anoraks were scattered around the store all over the place and so I wandered round the store trying to find them all, I can only assume that they were being displayed by colour. In disgust I left the store and went looking for Trespass as the world wide web had promised me of its existence. I bumped into Bryn and Cosmo on the far side of the market square and they consulted their own WWW and directed me to where the Trespass could be found. It was a door or two down from Millets but must have closed down as the storefront was all boarded up. I returned to Millets with my tail between my legs and did find a nice anorak concealed behind some that were less nice.

I also bought a ton of packaged sandwiches and wraps from ASDA to have for our lunches.

I arrived back in the main hall perfectly timed to join Ed and Lukas for some Champi tricks practise. We came up with some more very silly tricks and decided upon which would make it into the video. Ed, Joanna, Katja and I then did the Phoenician waltz with the two manipulators, a very satisfying and pretty pattern once you get it running.

Bullzini High Wire Show

Jenni and I joined a fair crowd (approx. 200, although it grew as the show went on) outside near to the open stage tent to watch the Bullzini high wire show. It was sunny and bright but also pretty windy! Chris Bullzini is a fine showman and clearly loves his art. He moves with such precision and control on the wire that it really is a pleasure to watch. He performed a number of feats on the wire, including forward rolls and headstands, all set to a nicely dramatic piano and string accompaniment. He is also accompanied by live drums which nicely complement the show.

Bullzini High Wire Show. Photo Credit: Edson Caballero

EJC Future Circus Take Over Show

We settled into the ‘Let’s Circus’ tent once again but this time to see the EJC Future Circus Take Over Show, featuring young performers from youth circuses across Europe. I think there were about 150+ people in the tent and stood in the doorways watching, and there was a really nice atmosphere of support for the young artists, all of whom were between the ages of 8 and 20.

Opening the show was Theo with a very energetic and skillful Aerial silks routine. It was really nicely choreographed to the music, the only problem was that he batted through the moves so quickly that he had to wait for the next music cue each time (exuberance of youth…). I would have loved to have seen a lovely big smile from him while he was holding his poses but let’s be fair, he was about 8 years old and that will come. Brilliant routine, really enjoyed it.

Lara performed a very cool diabolo routine with a lot of movement and some really cool tricks. It was a lovely bit of diabolo with a nice costume, well set to the music, very good.

Shea had only been practising Aerial Rope since January but had obviously taken to it with great enthusiasm. A very fast and spirited routine and a pleasure to watch.

Merit performed a Hula Hoop routine which was very rock and roll! I was seriously impressed with how she could pick up the hoops from the floor whilst hooping on one leg, up to three hoops. Full of great tricks and lots of movement and attitude, cool routine.

Cuba and Vida performed a duo silks routine in the theme of James Bond (with added red noses). There was a lot of climbing over each other and pushing each other around, great interaction between the two and excellent tricks. Fun and impressive routine.

Heather and Hannah.

Heather and Hannah then performed a duo Aerial Hoop routine. It was smooth. They glided around the hoop and performed some really cool tricks using each other’s bodies as well as the hoops. Really cool shapes, well choreographed, lots of audience interaction as well as between themselves. I thought it was a very strong routine and the bow was brilliant.

Tomas and Roleas closed the show with a duo juggling routine whilst sporting some very slick outfits, very Vegas. It was high energy and a lot of fun and a nice bit of club juggling. Lots of audience interaction, high energy, fun.

It was a superb show! I wasn’t expecting too much but I was genuinely blown away by the show, I thought it was better than many convention Galas I’ve been to. The standard of the acts was really high!

 

Apologies if I have got the spelling wrong for anyone’s names. I took a photo of the running order from the sound desk and it was only when I got back from the convention and wrote this part of the review that I found I couldn’t read some of the names fully… My deep apologies.

Evening Food

We collected Ed from the hall and we left site on a pilgrimage to a highly recommended Indian restaurant in the town (recommended by Lizzy and Jamie the day before): the Koinomia restaurant close to the big ASDA in the town centre.

I came third in the ‘how nice was your food?’ competition. I ordered the pumpkin curry with tamarind rice (isn’t that a little monkey..?). Turned out to be quite a boring flavour, nearly didn’t finish due to the monotony. I did have the nicest Mango Lassi that I have EVER had though.

Ed came in second place with his Malabar chicken with coconut rice. It was extraordinarily coconutty!

Jenni won the competition by ordering a chicken korma with peanut rice. The korma really did have a lovely flavour. Very rich and tasty which went surprisingly well with the peanut rice. I finished most of Jenni’s as she couldn’t manage it all, yum yum. Overall, I thought it was just ok but I think that was mainly due to my poor life decisions, the korma was smashing.

IJA Regional Championship Show (IRC Show)

We collected a bit of a gang and started queuing for the IRC from 20:10 at the secret entrance. We passed the time by trying out Lizzy and Jamie’s folding seats (didn’t work out for me) and admiring their purchases from the traders. We also admired Roy’s marble contact skills before holding a 3 marble and 5 marble endurance.  It seemed a bit keen being so early, but we definitely wanted to get good seats. A sneaky steward (who shall remain nameless) recommended the tiered seating at the rear of the tent as there were a few ground based routines which we might better appreciate from a slightly higher vantage point. We took Stewart’s advice and got a row mid-way up the rear tier directly facing the stage.

The audience games were hilarious! The two side tiered areas started interacting with each other (let’s say). It started with waving and eventually led to putting shoes on your hands and waving, legs waving in the air and various different pointing games. It was genuinely funny but I suspect you had to be there. It was eventually taken one step too far and fell into disarray. The time passed very quickly and before I knew it Matt Hall had taken to the stage to present the acts for the evening.

Matt brought his minion along and was assisted in filling time between the acts to allow the judges to record their scores. Each act was judges on criteria such as technique, difficulty, presentation, etc., and at the end of the show prizes would be presented for Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.

Alexis bunking off school. Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

 

Alexis Levillion opened the show with his trademark nonsensical diabolo skills. The tricks were just mind bogglingly cool, he brought the house down on a couple of occasions by performing something monstrously hard or just never seen before. It was very cool. However, I was puzzled by the routine. The character of the geeky little guy (awesome shoes and little walk BTW) wasn’t actually connected to anything. There was never a link or reason why he was so good at diabolo, there was a big division between the skills and the stage character which bothered me. It was a great character, with nice mannerisms and costume etc., it just didn’t once link to the awesome super amazing and confident diabolo skills. Very enjoyable routine though.

Matt did a ‘you may be a juggler’ skit which was very amusing.

 

The Professor of Things (Sebastian Berger) educated the audience on the subject of ‘things that people can do’ eventually digressing to ‘things only I can do’ and finally ‘things I can sometimes do’. It was funny and clever and well thought out. It was a real treat to see fishtailing mixed with bounce juggling. I had never seen that fusion before and it was really well done. The routine had a lovely mechanism in that made clear to the audience as the routine progressed that the tricks were increasing in difficulty, nicely done. I liked it a lot (Ed and Jamie were also laughing a great deal). He finished with a fishtail on each hand whilst bounce juggling 4 balls. Cool stuff, very original (as far as I know).

Matt showed us some neat cigar box tricks.

Fabien and Frederike performed a very businesslike ring passing routine. It lacked personality somehow and just felt a bit robotic. The ring juggling was cool and there were lovely tricks and it was well put together, it just lacked energy and needed more audience interaction.

To add to the robotic section of the show Matt demonstrated some trademark factory tricks.

Jan Daumin and Mo(?) brought the energy right back with a very lively and engaging club passing act. It was a lot of fun and had some strong patterns in there, solid 9 clubs passing and 6 club solo juggling. There were a lot of drops but it was a fun bouncy routine and the guys clearly had a lot of fun. Jenni really liked it.

Luka Pfermenges performed a solo routine which was also high on energy and fun. We enjoyed the funny music changes and voiceovers, especially the one which insisted that he should do glow juggling ‘everybody likes glow juggling’. We were highly amused. There were lots of hard tricks in there too.

Matt Hall made a heartfelt comparison between Jaffa Cakes and Opium which I couldn’t really relate to, having never tried a Jaffa Cake.

Thomas Bounce performed a very slick bounce juggling routine using his ‘V blocks’ to bounce the balls off the blocks back to his hands via the two sides of the V blocks. I was disappointed that he didn’t do the 7 balls in the blocks. The routine reinforced that each time that would be what happened but the routine ended on the 7 balls and didn’t move on to the blocks. Due to the nature of bounce juggling you tend not to see much of the performer’s face. I would love to see a few more applause points and more time spent engaging with the audience during those pauses. It’s a solid routine filled with hard bounce juggling patterns and tricks but I crave more engagement.

Arianne performed her superb antipodism. She has some superb multiplex tricks and patterns which are so lovely, really awesome foot juggling skills. I always enjoy watching her performances. This was the moment in the show that I was most grateful for our tiered seating choice, as Luke later put it, there was a lot of ‘foot juggler applause’.

Matt did his classic tennis ball and tube routine, I find it very satisfying to watch.

The Hoop Troop (Lisa, Callum and Cameron) took over the stage in all their fluorescent glory and filled the entire tent with their huge hoop passing patterns. It was big and beautiful (12 hoop pattern at one point) with some nice hoop rolling tricks and interaction. It was a bit droppy and it was a shame that the batteries in Cameron’s shirt ran out. The exit from the stage was shambolic.

Extra hands? Photo Credit: Luke Burrage

Helena Berry performed a wonderful routine which involved balls appearing and disappearing from her t-shirt (someone else must have been in there passing them out, it’s the only way that could work). I loved the glitter pirouette especially but the foot juggling was excellent. Very well-crafted routine and very funny as well, I liked it a lot.

While the judges were deliberating, Matt Hall hosted the largest rock, paper scissors, look over there competition that I have seen. It was a bit of a train wreck in the beginning as probably about a third of the audience didn’t want to stick around and promptly left. I think a lot of people perhaps didn’t quite understand what was going on. Eventually Guido took on Sensei Matt and his ruin was smote upon the mountainside.

 

 

The judges arrived after their deliberations and all of the acts were brought onto the stage.

Arianne was awarded bronze, Alexi was awarded silver and Sebastian was awarded gold.

I had selected these three acts as being the medal holders, but not in the order that they did. Having been a judge for a few competitions (not IRC) I can say it is very difficult. You’ll have a sheet and have to mark each individual act based on different criteria. Even when the results are all collated it may turn out different to how even you thought whilst you were watching the acts.

The IRC show was excellent. They were all strong acts, I enjoyed Matt’s compering too. I think most people went along for the show and were not remotely interested in the results which was quite funny.

Back in the hall I wrote up my juggling notes and was pleased to hear that Kate had finished her thesis. Combat started up at the far end of the hall so I went down to have a play. JJ and Luke materialised at one point and a lot of people came and went. I stayed far too long and should have left at 3am, ended up leaving the hall at 4am…

Wednesday (recovery day…)

I woke late on Wednesday and took some time in the morning to berate myself for staying up so late playing combat. I arrived in the hall at about 1pm and was just in time to take part in the Champi tricks filming session with Lukas and Ed. This was shortly followed by Lukas’s new ambled pattern with 11 clubs and the addition of Helena. It was still a hard pattern and. Ed’s food party left and so we recruited James to the pattern. In the end we managed nearly 3 positions. It is a great pattern and the movements do feel nice to do, it was just tough to make it to one of the passes in time.

In the afternoon I napped and Jenni and I read our books.

Thursday

I was up and showered and breakfasting by 6am, still working my way through the muesli and big pot of yoghurt (natural). I then went back to sleep and had a very strange dream about a lawnmower.

Rumpel’s Never-Ending Show

Breakfast with Rumpel.

At 10pm the previous evening Rumpel began his 24-hour show. I had never seen it before so went along first thing in the morning to see what was going on. I arrived in time to see Rumpel having his breakfast, watched by about 20 people. The tent was littered with suitcases which were brimming with toys / props / costumes / inflatables and everything in between. Rumpel was feeling a bit tired and was a bit melancholy so he played ‘Everybody Hurts’ by REM to boost the mood a little. I stayed for a good half an hour to see if anything happened.

Back in the main hall I had a good passing session with Jenny D. We started with 6 club tricks and worked all the way up to 9 club ultimates. It was a really good fun session, even swing worked!

I ate my ASDA pack lunch while watching Rumpel. There was a rather good heckle from child: ‘Is this part of the show?’

There were another couple of good quotes from Rumpel himself: ‘This show has been a technical disaster the whole way through.’ ‘Is this the worst show possible?’ and ‘Nothing’s going right.’

I started to understand how the show works, just dropping in from time to time works a treat.

In the hall again I took part in Cameron’s new Roundabout and the new 8 club version with Andy. We then tried another version with Danny which involved throwing a self Quad (squad?), it was very good fun.

 

Fight Night Qualifications

The qualifications were held in one of the big barn structures attached to the unicycling area. I had a good look round the unicycle zone and it looked great. Loads of courses set out with ramps and structures and poles. I ended up watching them for quite a while, very impressive stuff.

Nearly 90 people took part in the qualifications in 8 groups. I lost two of my matches to Lauge and Sander, and I was disappointed as I felt I gave away a couple of points in those matches. Anyway, it was a huge space but it was constantly filled with matches taking place and jugglers rotating out and filling in their scores whilst other players paired up. It was good fun and it is always nice to play people who you haven’t played before.

I was delighted to find that I had managed to qualify but dismayed to find that I would immediately be playing Rufus in my round of 32 match. I lost 5-2 but we did have some very good engagements, Rufus was just the most consistent player. I enjoyed watching Wes and Isabel’s match. Isabel plays a particularly strong defence and Wes was relentless so it was a very fun one to watch, Wes did take it in the end though.

I left very soon after as I was meeting Lizzy, Jamie and Jenni for food. We went offsite to a nice little pasta kitchen before hurrying back to site to catch the Open Stage Show.

Open Stage

There was a massive queue for the tent and we were not convinced that would be able to get a spot inside the tent. As it happened we didn’t but we got a good spot facing the front of the stage and just outside of the awning, the tent walls had been taken down to allow more people to see the show. It was quite a warm evening and the sun was shining so it wasn’t too bad really.

There were more spots available inside the tent but we were quite well settled by that point and hung back.

Rodrigo hosted the show and I thoroughly approved of the Freddie Mercury theme. He had some great costumes but sadly not enough material (i.e. jokes and filler).

Joshua Smith opened the show with a really pleasing and quite artsy ball juggling routine. It flowed very nicely and had a lot of dance and movement mixed in with some good ball juggling tricks and sequences. I thought it needed more applause moments.

The next act was a Hula Hooper. I didn’t manage to catch her name as we were sat next to a fire lane and stewards had to keep moving people out of it. She was excellent though, very fast style with snazzy moves. Multiple hoops with a balance, splits with a balance, 5 hoop split with a balance. Amazingly smooth.

There was another Freddie tribute which was mildly entertaining.

Patrick and Lars performed a duo act entitled ‘friendship’. There was a mix of diabolo and ball juggling with some nice trick combinations between the different props. The guys told a story about friendship during the routine but I couldn’t hear much of it from outside the tent. It seemed to go down very well.

Janna Wohlfarth performed the best solo unicycle routine I have ever seen. It was all of the usual (and very difficult) tricks but performed with such grace, it really was amazing to watch. There was a wonderful costume change part way through, but it was the smoothness and amazing display of control which gave her a standing ovation. It really was superb!

Next on stage was Masa who was performing a hat juggling routine. He produced a rose for a member of the audience as well. It was a nice charming routine.

There was a weird moment.

The next performer on stage was introduced as the Bubble Bitch. I initially raised an eyebrow seeing as there were children present in the audience, but that turned out to be a non-event.   She gave a very energetic ping pong ball routine (using bubble gum) that was stuffed full of attitude. I loved it, I thought it was hilarious. Her final trick was scandalous, disgusting and hilarious in equal measure, I’ve never seen Rod Laver do that! Epic.

Felix Feldman performed his wonderful ball stick routine. I’ve seen this act develop over a number of years (and reviewed it more than once I think…) but I never get bored of seeing it. I do get bored of reviewing it.

Heather and Hannah performed their duo hoop act from the Future Circus Takeover Show and I really enjoyed seeing it again but this time in a larger tent with a full audience. It is a great routine and I thought they did an excellent job, it went down very well.

Next on stage was Layla (? Damn acoustics) who performed a diabolo routine to what sounded like Tom Derrick’s Japanese video game music. She incorporated a juggling ring with the diabolo in interesting ways as well as mixing hula hooping with two diabolo tricks. I did enjoy the music very much, even when it changed to a rock vs. folk mix. Awesome to see vertax with knee hooping. Cool routine.

Wes Peden closed the Open Stage with a selection of parts of his shows. He did the club juggling section from Zebra where he switches between a load of different ways to juggle three clubs. It’s very visual and cool, I liked it a lot. He then did a section with holy clubs and a ball. I wasn’t fond of this section or the music track but it did grow on me and towards the end I was getting more into it.

Curtain Call.

That was a cracking Open Stage, my first of the convention (… sorry Scott…), my favourite act was probably the Bubble Bitch because I haven’t laughed so hard in a show for a very long time.

Evening Juggling

I called in on Rumpel on my way back to the main hall. I was a bit annoyed to see so many children on the stage and messing about with Rumpel’s toys. Fred was really angry about it and I did agree, it’s not a playground (or a childcare drop in centre) and they are Rumpel’s toys which he is using for his show. Poor display by the parents there. Rumpel provided a very epic finish to the Iron Man song which included a huge inflatable unicorn.

“Is this part of the show..?”

I ordered another reggae pizza and took a wander round the hall chatting to folk until it was ready. It was very good again but quite a long wait for the food, there were just too many people compared to the number of food vendors.

I found Phil in the hall so we played with 5 club steals like in the old days. I found I could not juggle Henry’s Classics at all, they felt ever so strange and I just couldn’t get the hang of them at all, we eventually switched to Pirouettes. During the session a large crowd swarmed through the hall bearing Rumpel aloft and chanting his name. The entire hall burst into applause as he made his heroic passage through the space. I guess his show finished then? Apparently, he was crowd surfed around the tent when he reached the end of his show until he was crowd surfed out of the tent and around the site. A fitting tribute.

I joined in some ring passing with Joanna and Katje but definitely felt like the weak link. We did manage a 15 ring line but it was hard work for me, I don’t juggle rings very often these days. The Scandinavian renegade started up during the evening in the main hall and drew a large crowd. I understand that after performing a trick an audience cheerometer decides whether you get a drink, a shot, or to be the New King of Norway (complete with crown, sceptre and robe). I heard a few coronations but I was worn out by this point so I sloped off to bed. I understand that the renegade continued until 6am…

Friday

First thing in the morning I started a solo juggling session which lasted for 3 good hours. I was pleased as I hadn’t had chance to do much solo juggling at all. Jenni and I sat outside for lunch on a bench which was close to where the info tent used to be. Strong winds had been forecast for the weekend so a number of tents had been taken down by this point. We acted as the info point for a while by directing people to other people that they could ask where the info point was as we didn’t have a clue.

I did Minued with Rhonda and Ed where we enjoyed some nice macarenas, Rhonda made me laugh a lot and subsequently screw up the pattern. Afterwards I did Phoenician waltz with Bettina and Elliot but we lost a lot of time at the beginning as we couldn’t remember the start. I think we all got a bit of pattern fatigue, so we eventually called it.

I met Eric! The original Eric’s Extension Eric!

Evening Food

Jenni, Ed and I then left site and went to a local Beefeater restaurant as I was very broken. I think the big juggle session in the morning followed by lots of passing broke me bad. I had a scrumptious chicken and ribs combo meal, Jenni had a delicious looking steak cooked very well to specification (a rare treat…) and Ed had smothered chicken. While we waited for food we tried the picking up things from the floor with your lips game and I face planted the chair. The food was so nice we ordered dessert, I didn’t get what I expected but it was quite nice all the same.

Fight Night

When we got back to site we discovered that the fight night had been moved to the main hall (along with the info point and Performers Without Borders tent) so I watched the area being created and snagged myself a seat behind the scoring desk. There was some really cool duo acro taking place in the hall which I enjoyed watching.

I watched the fighters having a group melee in the ring. I miss Callum; he is the only one who really makes the effort with his outfit for the fight night, even Wes was wearing boring shoes. Jochen was once again resplendent in his very white trousers, Matty had the best shoes and I liked Iver’s headband. Golden Martin was the host for the evening which meant that there were slightly too many calls for the fighting to be ‘dirty’ for my taste. Anyway, he does a good job of keeping the audience hyped up.

The Fight Night started bang on time and of course began with a group photo, for the best, there is less sweat that way. I felt a bit sorry for the fighters as there was nowhere to really warmup or juggle between / before the matches. It was a shame, but at the same time the other end of the hall was rammed full of people juggling so I don’t think anyone had enough room as they would have liked.

Dirty indeed. Photo Courtesy of http://fightnightcombat.com/

The first match was a wildcard entry for Max Bilau (as another played dropped out for injury) and he got to play against Julius Preu. Julius was in good form and managed to take the match 5-0 and to finish on a flashy two club steal to go into four.

The next match was between Bas Van de Kerkhof and Matty Schneider. I do enjoy watching Matty fight, he runs around all over the place and does some seriously cool saves. Bas in contrast has a very slow and controlled style, picking his moment to make an attack. It was a lot of fun, especially when the commentary table was nearly taken out. Matty took the match 5-3.

Vašek Peca was up next against Wes Peden. Vašek was not put off by Wes’s fancy starts (nice to see some fancy starts!) but a lot of the bouts were a bit scrappy. Wes took the match 5-3 with just a little too much showboating.

Leo Ostenrath was up next against Krzysztof Kostera, there were a lot of unforced errors but also some very good saves and attacks. Leo took the match 5-3.

There started being a few interviews with the players after the matches. It was a bit cringeworthy really, I don’t much approve. I think it would be more entertaining for the interviewer to ask completely irrelevant questions not about the match at all. ‘What’s your stance on having pineapple on a pizza?’ or ‘For the Spice Girls or against?’ Nobody wants to talk seriously after having just run around playing a match, I certainly don’t.

Julius returned to the ring but this time to face Lauge Benjaminsen. I thought this would be an interesting one as both players move around a lot. Loved the music choice for the match, good work there (Dance With Me). In fact the music throughout the tournament was very good, I would have put another couple of funny tracks in there but that is just personal preference. Lauge managed to squeeze in a load of his trademark should turns and played a very strong opener, Julius however brought on a very strong comeback and took the final point with great style. 5-4 to Julius.

Matty and Jochen Pfeiffer had a very energetic match which included a lot of audience involvement. The first point ended with a crushed audience member. Shortly afterward Jochen ended up in the audience and sat on a child, who cried a lot, it was a little awkward, Jochen found the child a biscuit and got a thumbs up. It was all very heartwarming and all that, ‘What do we wanna see?!?!’ ‘How do we want it?!?!’ Matty’s final charge was epic, he nearly took out another audience member. It was taken by Jochen in the end 5-0.

Wes and Liri Kamay were next up and I had been impressed by Liri’s performance at the IJC fight night in April so was interested to see how the match would pan out. Wes cranked up the showboating and did some of the best starts yet and threw in some fun tricks as well. The match was good, there were a number of no point finishes. Liri wasn’t intimidated and fought hard but Wes took the match 5-2.

Leo returned to the field to take on Iver Tronstad. This was definitely the most physical match I’ve ever seen, lots of tangles and what looked like body slamming. Sometimes peoples playing styles do not match up well, I think this was just one of those times. Anyway, it was a cracking match with some long tussles between the players and lots of fighting over a shared club. I had to lean very far back a few times in my chair while the battle raged over the commentary table. Iver eventually took the match 5-3.

Julius took on Sebastian Martini in a very fast paced match. Sebastian displayed a lot of high energy fast attacks and the audience caught most of the clubs. It was brutally fast and Julius remained undefeated with 5-2.

Now entering the Semi-finals.

First match of the semi finals was between Jochen and Wes. Wes took an early lead before Jochen upped his game and started clawing back the points. There were some excellent saves by both players. The judges stepped in to stop some body blocking (‘how do we want it..?’) that was taking place. I thought it was a legitimate tactic but apparently not. Wes took the match (and Jochen’s shoe!) 5-3. It was the most entertaining match by far and it also had the biggest cheer for the defeated player so far.

Julius and Iver faced off next in a match where neither player minded getting it close to the action. Iver did an awesome kick of a club back into pattern over the heads of the audience, it looked awesome, but it wasn’t enough to stop Julius taking the match 5-2. Very strong match.

The third place match took place between Jochen and Iver, which back in 2014 was the final. Nice to see the two players facing off once more. There were a lot of good tussles and an especially funny attack where both of them did the ‘reverse turn’ attack and mirrored each other. In a reversal of 2014, this time Iver took the match with a score of 5-2.

The final.

Apparently the fight night was popular… Photo Credit: Edson Caballero

Does it really have to be Eye of the Tiger every time? Is it funny / traditional or just tiresome? Discuss.

Julius started things off with a very clean attack after some very good jumping. There followed a number of good interactions between the players with good points all around and a really nice bit of rapport between the players. It was all over far too quickly as it was wonderful to watch the two guys having at each other. Wes left the field unbeaten with 5 points to Julius’s 2.

There was a lot of hysteria which was followed with a cascade of stars as all the fighters returned to the field. It was a nice event with lots of energy, lots of people had fun, there was good fighting, only one child was crushed, success!

Evening

As I was leaving the fight night I bumped into Lewis crossing the hall, so we grabbed ourselves some clubs and had ourselves a really good passing session. There was not any room in the hall at all so we ended up passing over the top of people’s stuff which had been dumped in the middle of the hall (why do people still do this? Especially when there isn’t a lot of room…). We practiced our tricks from the old days and got some fun patterns running, very enjoyable session.

I saw Vera hanging around seemingly without purpose and so I managed to convince her that a Tichu game would be a great idea. We enlisted Sepp and Jonathan and started playing at the tables over next to the canteen in the main hall. The fire alarm went off in the hall (quite a few times) and was that kind of shrill which makes you want to leave. We did. Ed took us to his secret games playing room around the back of the Acro Hall where we finished off the game in peace. Jonathan caused me a huge amount of stress at one point but in general it was a very good game. I think Sepp and Vera won.

Saturday

I arrived in the main hall to find in swarming with fluorescent people all working like crazy building a raised stage at the far end of the hall and setting out seating. I scrabbled around for a bit trying to make sure that all of my kit had been rescued and that nothing had been left behind. I hadn’t seen any announcements or requests about clearing the hall or asking for volunteers to help with the building of the stage. I realise now, post event, that most messages and announcements were being posted on the Facebook group, so consequently I missed all of those.

A huge amount of manpower and determination went into making the Gala Show possible!

Announcements and information flow were a bit sporadic throughout the convention as a whole. Perhaps there could be an announcement board next to the workshop boards so that the crew can display important notices to the convention. Specific calls for extra volunteers for specific tasks, venue changes, time changes, weather reports if bad weather predicted. Things of this nature. It would provide a better flow of information for those not on Facebook or not wanting to check Facebook all the time at the event. I feel the Tannoy announcements could be backed up with written notices so the rumour mill doesn’t have to work quite so hard.

There could also be an additional board for all of the ‘juggler notices’ like ‘I need a lift from A to B on the last day, I can pay biscuits’. These notices started spreading all over the workshop boards and making the workshop board difficult to comprehend. It would be better to have a way to contain them.

With the loss of the main juggling space the Acro Hall was rammed to capacity and the other outside hangers were all pretty busy. I found Jenni taking part in a hooping workshop and afterward we went to the Acro Hall café and ate a very expensive and very below average burger. I rated the food quality somewhere between a Theme Park and a Zoo canteen. Jenni left me to attend another hooping workshop, I watched for a bit but then wandered off to find a home / somewhere to juggle. I eventually found Jamie in the Acro Hall so we had a bit of a go with the headbounce passing again. It was a bit difficult in the space and we stopped after a while due to the lack of room.

The Games

The games were due to be held outside in the ‘Main Ring’ but it was very blowy outside with rain on the wind, so instead they were held in the Stanley Sheldon Hall.

There was a large space cleared in the middle of the hall with the audience sat around the outside of the ring, a lot of people were already practising for the endurance games. It really filled up! So much so that after a while it became very difficult to even walk around the edge of the hall to get out. It was too crowded for Jenni so she abandoned and went to find somewhere quieter and less manic.

Will Borrell led the games with a great team of assistants (Áine, Ed C, Sadie and gang), even the Queen made a royal appearance and really got into the spirit of the games. Medals and sweets were awarded to the winners of any games.

The games started with ‘3 ball zombie gladiators’ which was pretty entertaining to watch, so many people took part that it was not long before all of the zombies were chasing just one person. It wasn’t quite made clear enough that zombies can only shamble and cannot run. Rob van Heijst appeared to be the only survivor of the zombie apocalypse.

The ‘next game’ boards were a brilliant idea, I’d not seen them before but it was an excellent way to reinforce what the next game would be.

I found the ball on head gladiators very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the posturing. Edson Caballero proved to be the most intimidating and took the medal.

The five club endurance was won by Julius Preu.

I enjoyed the ‘3 ball the Queen says’, which ran in a very similar fashion to ‘3 ball Simon says’, I learnt from this game that the Queen is really harsh!

 

Two high long distance passing where the club passer stands on the shoulders of a partner and passes to their partner who is stood on the shoulders of someone else. I was not convinced this was a great idea, especially with the concrete floor. Some pairs looked very solid, others looked disturbingly wobbly. Still, the players can be the judge of whether they are going to injure themselves or not I suppose. It was pretty impressive with some pairs getting close to the distances you would see in normal long distance passing.

The unicycle gladiators were the usual bedlam. I really enjoyed watching one particular player (I think he was one of the Israeli contingent) who took out at least 8 other players before he was finally brought down. It was really nice to see so many kids taking part but it did lead to the usual cute child left, cheesy ending.

Diabolo in a box was brilliant, well done Ed for taking up the Israeli method of DiaB and running around the ring. Very funny and I think it took all of the players by surprise. I wouldn’t normally say this for DiaB, but there should have been two rounds.

Next was the ball endurance competitions. The games hosts tried to implement quite simple, and in my view fair system, whereby if you enter the 9 ball endurance you cannot enter the 7 or 5 ball endurance and if you enter the 7 ball you cannot enter the 5 ball. I think this was a good suggestion as it stops any monster ball jugglers just taking all of the prizes and giving no one a chance. The really good ball jugglers can fight it out in the 9 and 7 ball and hopefully leave the 5 ball for someone else to take who isn’t perhaps ready for 7 balls. Anyway, the audience booed out the idea and so it was dropped; in my view a shame but it’s the will of the crowd.

There were about 15 participants in the 9 ball endurance, Julian won with a qualify.

There was not quite enough room for everyone to take part in the 5 ball endurance. It whittled down reasonably quickly, once there was about half of the hall left the handstand endurance was set off at the other end of the hall, a sensible use of space.

There was a bit of a mishap in the handstand endurance as the winner was announced before anyone noticed there was a guy still in right on the outskirts of the ring, bit of a shame but the players didn’t seem too bothered.

The 5 balls ran for a good long while before the tricks started being called out. Luka and Liri were the final two players when the really hard tricks started coming out. They both completed 645, 744, 6×4, 3 up pirouette, two connected 97531s. 5 ball Mills’ was suggested and got a bit of a laugh but was shot down pretty quickly. 5 up pirouette and 5 backcrosses were all completed. The shower was announced and there was some discussion / confusion about how to start the shower which was quite funny. Luka chose the multiplex start and that was his downfall, congratulations Liri.

The next game was the Pillow Fight. I large number of pillows were provided, the aim of the game was to knock off any opposing player’s hat until only one player was left. I was amazed that nobody got a scratched cornea from this as it got very brutal. The second round seemed to take longer than the 5 ball endurance.

It was nice to see Scott keeping up standards during the Club Balance endurance by maintaining a cascade throughout. There were some funny terminology problems concerning the use of ‘spin in a circle 360°’ vs. ‘turn slowly in a circle until you are facing the same way you started’. I really enjoyed the train, very funny. Daniel Simu won in the end.

The Dapostar long distance passing was actually very cool, I really enjoyed it a lot and enjoyed seeing the technique for really launching one long distance.

I especially enjoyed watching Ian Deady during the Hooping Gladiators, there were some good takeouts and attacks and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

The coin juggle was very well attended and quite a few people took it very seriously. If you drop you have to put your coins into the hat and they are all presented to the last person still juggling. If you win then there is a very good chance that the winnings pay for your convention ticket. I think it was won by Robin Spinelli, good work.

I didn’t take part in the big toss off as I am always a bit wary of what could be raining down on my head afterward. I did enjoy the resounding crash as many of the props hit the ceiling in unison.

Gladiators started happening in the hall but I wasn’t really in the mood to juggle and there wasn’t anywhere particularly nice to do it so I hung around and chatted to folks.

Gala Show

Jenni and I had tickets for the evening performance of the Gala Show so we started queuing outside of the main hall about an hour before the start of the show. There was already quite a long line so we were glad we joined when we did. Having been in the hall earlier we were keen to get seats on either the front row of the chairs or benches as we didn’t fancy sitting on the floor for that length of time. Mike was with us in the queue and we all had a long discussion about our relative experiences of entering / leaving Israel. That Mike had it worse pretty much covers it… Ed also ‘entertained’ us with his miming skills. Tiff popped out for a chat as did Alastair (I think it was getting a little too warm for him backstage, so he came out for a breather) so all in all the time went reasonably quickly.

We were finally allowed in and already many of the seats were taken and filling up fast. We spotted some seats on the sidelines not too far from the stage which we managed to grab and we set up a nice little camp with Alice and Dr Helen and some of the other stewards. A really rowdy bunch set up directly behind us but they did settle down a bit as the show went on. The balloons were all brought in and released into the audience as per standard procedure at the BJC. I didn’t think that balloon jam really works for an EJC audience. The BJC audience has been trained over a great number of years that when it is time to pop the balloons, all the balloons are popped. I didn’t think some of the Europeans (the children especially) quite got it and it took quite a while to finally get all of the balloons popped.

Dan Holzman was the compere for the show and I thought he started things off with a very nice applause mechanism. The acoustics in the hall were not very good and were made slightly worse by where we were sat. I’m sorry to say that Dan’s accent mixed with the poor acoustics meant that we did miss quite a bit of what he said.

Tiff opened the show with his classic selection of old school tricks performed flawlessly with a bumbling presentation and mixed with wit. I really felt very sorry for the sign language person on the stage although she did an excellent job during the kazoo section! Jenni and I particularly enjoyed the Water on Mars joke. Lovely Brunn finish, well received routine.

Florence Huet performed a hoop rolling and manipulation routine. I like the tricks and composition but I just really can’t stand the soundtrack. The bells really do grate on me. The were a lot of cool body rolls, 3 hoop juggling and a clever balance replace trick. There was also some clever stuff with 5 hoops, but overall it lacked energy.

Our resident juggling scientists, Ben and Fred, delivered a science lecture using juggling to explain some principles of physics. It was nice and quirky and they both made it a lot of fun especially with the audio. Wonderful explosive finish. I’d really like to see the full Science of Juggling Show as they do some really clever stuff.

I felt sorry for Jamie as Dan did the bunny backflip on a balanced pole trick.

Swing Circus took over the stage and performed an eclectic mix of swing dance and circus. The dancing was fun and I enjoyed the handbalancing and especially enjoyed the duo cyr wheel. I’d not ever seen that before. Loz did her very cool hula hooping routine, so fast and slick! Her split on the 3 hoops is so smooth that I cannot see how the split even happens. There was a rather ropey 6 club 2 count section at the end which seemed to have been inserted in to tick the juggling box.

There followed a five minute interval, presumably just so the people sat on the floor could stretch their legs. We had our mid-show discussion and I wrote a few more notes and asides in my book.

Opening the second half of the show was Masa showing us his astounding plate spinning skills. I do really enjoyed watching him perform, full of energy and awesome plate spinning tricks. It was a little droppy compared to when I saw him a few years back at Cumbria Convention but it was still hilarious fun.

Dan’s ball spinning music choice got a strong approve from me.

Slyvia Rosat performed a cracking whip cracking routine with the help of assistant Bobby. They didn’t light the cigarette on stage, so that is probably ok… I’m not really that into whip cracking but I could see a lot of different techniques being used and it went down very well.

Reading back through my notes I am not sure that I have recorded the trick that Dan did next very accurately… Oh well, here goes. A 3x frisbee mouthstick balance with a 3x elephant juggle. I wrote that it was very consistent, the music was great and the it was EPIC.

Shake Down (Chaz, Dannick & Robin) showed us all an energetic and fun bar flair routine. It was a lot of fun but even from where we were it was quite difficult to see it all. The glass balance was especially hard to make out, and we were quite close compared to the majority of the audience. It was a shame not to see it in the Gala Show tent, I think it would have looked a lot better on that stage. Serving the drinks to the audience took too long. The guys did an excellent job and got a good response though.

Thom Wall took to the stage with his little box of tricks. It was hard for me to see what he was doing a lot of the time so I doubt those further back in the hall had much of a view. Clever pole spin with the pole balancing on a thread. I loved the skipping with the glass on a knife balance. I enjoyed the ball transfer on a stick on the face trick and also the big sword on dagger balance (with a spin!). I thought that the candlestick balloon pop trick to the dagger catch was really lovely, I appreciated the colour change immensely.

All the acts were brought back on to the stage (no notes, +1 to Dan) and it was the best costume variety I have seen on stage for a while. It was also a smooth exit from the stage for all of the acts.

I’d really like to congratulate the teching crew and volunteers as without their hard work there would not have even been a show. It wasn’t an ideal venue, not by a long shot, but they did the best that was humanly possible and presented the show as best as possible under the circumstances.

We said a few juggler farewells and waved people off before leaving site and heading back to our B&B.

The End

Thank you so much to the organising team for this year’s EJC! This is a massive event with so many aspects and things to consider and I know the team worked so hard to bring it all together, before, after and during the event.

Thank you!

 

I’d like to thank the following people for contributing their pictures to the review:

Thomas Cheyney – for his aerial drone footage.

Luke Burrage – http://www.lukeburrage.com/blog/archives/2750

Edson Caballero – Who you can follow on Instagram: @caballerocircusphotos

Thank you to you all!

Jon Peat

I am Jon Peat.

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