nine ball flash
5th Cambridge Juggling Convention
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5th Cambridge Juggling Convention: 8/10/00 - Review by luke burrage : 12/10/00

I arrived at the Cambridge Regional College at about ten thirty after a bus ride from the station. I had hitch hiked down from Scarborough the day before and stayed the night in the youth hostel. I missed the Juggling Aerobics Warm-up. I wish I hadn’t now though because Monday was the only day I've ever been stiff from juggling all day. Or maybe I shouldn’t have missed the Massage workshop.

It was a nice hall with natural lighting and lots of space. However, Sunday was the first sunny day in October and the hall did get a bit hot and sweaty.

A view of the hall during the club passing workshop.

Ben and a guy I only know as "hairy"
passing 11 balls side by side.

I found Ben Beever trying a 12-ball flash. I got stuck into getting my 5 big tennis ball juggle down. Then Ben and me swapped props. He managed to juggle mine almost straight away. I managed to flash 10 of his (que jumping around shouting “Yay!”). I reckon it will be at least 2 years until I manage that again...

I didn’t go to any of the workshops. At one point someone in the hall shouted “Club workshop here now!” I thought this would be a great time to learn how to club pass but the workshop leader (Charlie, Brendan or James, names I just found on the timetable) told us all to warm up with 6 or 7 club

doubles. Well, I can’t even manage a simple 4count yet. I made a sharp exit and worked on getting more than 15 catches with 5 clubs. Strange that. I must be the only person I know who can juggle 5 clubs but still can’t pass.

I went up to the restaurant and got my self an over priced/undersized BLT sandwich. It didn’t fill me up that much but not to worry, at half three a burger van turned up. And the best bit was it didn’t serve vegetarians. They had sausages, bacon, burgers, etc, but only mushrooms for the veggies. Well, I thought it was funny considering I never did find the place where you bought food with meat in at the British Convention this year.

A quick William Tell reenactment.

A fine growth of evergreen clubs.

Getting outside to eat my two hotdogs was a nice break. The music in the hall was doing my nut in. I know hardcore drum and bass floats some people’s boats, it just set my nerves on edge.

Altogether, I really enjoyed the open juggling in the hall. There was a good vibe. Vibe? Something like that.

Well, that brings us onto the games.

They were a great laugh. Many of the traditional games were put aside for new ones like “push the diabolo with your nose race” and the “bash a club along race”. There was even a mini competition for the best new trick. It was like a mini renegade stage. I entered a two ball trick where I throw one high, throw the other behind my back, catch it in front with the same hand, toss it back and catch it behind my back in

the same hand again, then carry on juggling the two in my hand again. I think I got the smallest applause but I put that down to the fact I was at the end of the line.

I think the guy who did a four ball multiplexing Rubenstiens Revenge thingy won. I thought the best trick was the knocking the sunglasses from the forehead onto the nose trick should have won though. One of those tricks which is a lot easier done then said.

A contestant for the original trick compotition.
He picked his nose with his arm under his leg on a uni.

Three club gladiator. The winner of this game won a t-shirt.
He's welcome to it.

After packing up all my gear I realised that after buying myself a new set off 3 clubs I couldn’t actually fit everything back into my rucksack. So, after getting a lift back into the city centre I had to carry two bags around with me while finding somewhere to eat. In the end I just had a Coke from Burger King as I was still stuffed from the excessive amount of fast food I’d got from the burger van.

The 5th Cambridge Juggling Convention Public Show (original name or what? Sorry, sarcasm isn’t nice:) was held in the Mumford Theatre. It was just the right size. There was a few seats left near the back but it was filled nicely.

Eddie K was the compere. He kicked off the show with a nice tape telling us of the risk to life and limb if there wasn’t adequate applause. Ok.

Eddie K.

The Show went something like this (as listed in the programme):

  • Grant Goldie "A daring entertainment with devilstick"
  • Libra "Stunning acrobalance in ‘Angel’"
  • Manu "French finesse with clubs"
  • Colin Eberhardt "Demonstrates his diabolo proficiency in ‘Melt’"
  • Steve Faulkner "Electrifying contact juggling"
  • Rene Albert "Creating club magic in ‘Darkness’"
  • Tipping the Velvet "Smooth and strong doubles trapeze"
  • Grant Goldie "A man and his tennis can"
  • Bibi and Bichu "Making club juggling look easy"
  • Ben Cornish "Is Ben Cornish in a dazzling display of dexterity"

To me, the whole show seemed to have two halves. Not just the halves either side of the interval, but the “arty” half and the “fun” half. All the acts before the interval apart from Steve Faulkner were people in plain costumes, not smiling, to music. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just seemed a bit strange.

Another thing, which everyone I spoke to afterward agreed with, is that it was a very “droppy” show. Every act dropped quite often. Apart from the acrobalance and the trapeze acts. That would have been quite dangerous.

Just to go through the acts quickly:

Grant’s devilstick was good, but, as with many circus skills, I’m totally ignorant about what is difficult and what isn’t. It was the same with Colin’s Diabolo bit: it looked good, but I couldn’t really appreciate it as much as I should.

Libra’s “Angel” was good. Unlike many acrobalance type acts I’ve seen, this one actually had a type of story line. A beginning, a middle and an end rather then just a sequence of tricks.

Manu juggled well with clubs but he dropped at too many crucial moments. Someone said afterwards that he was a bit of a Ben Richter wannabe. I saw the connection as well.

Steve Faulkner. Well, he dressed up in a hospital gown and y-fronts, did the most basic contact juggling moves possible and made stupid sound effects into a microphone. It doesn’t sound very impressive but he had everyone laughing their arses off. I think there should be more acts like that.

I didn’t actually see much of Rene Albert. He juggled in the dark with GloClubs or what ever they are called. I have got to get myself some of them. He did lots of tricks swirly tricks I thought it looked really cool. I didn’t get a lot of tricks though. Suddenly everyone would start clapping and cheering and I just sat there thinking "nope, missed what he did there as well." I think that if I saw him juggle again in the light I would find it much more impressive, even if it wouldn’t look as groovy.

Interval here. Nice ice cream.

Tipping the Velvet swung around gracefully. I think this was the most dangerous act out of them all, simply because it would have hurt if one of them dropped on their head and no one else did anything else with fire or knives or bowling balls. I really liked this act. It was faster paced then most other acrobat or aerial acts I’ve seen.

Grant Goldie’s tennis can act was my favourite of the evening. He opened a new can of tennis balls and juggled the balls and the can. The bit that made this act special was that every time he completed a trick he wrote part of "WICKED" on a whiteboard and every time he dropped a ball he wrote part of "TWAT". He obviously didn’t do as well as he hoped though as after completing "TWAT" he had to add "BIG" in front of it.

Bibi and Bichu are two Ethiopian jugglers who have been performing with the Gandinis. They did make club juggling look easy, but more then that they made it look so much fun. It wasn’t the 9 club back to back passing that they did which I’ll remember; it’s the smile on their faces and the spring in their steps.

Ben Cornish. Well, how do I put it? How about: I don’t have a photo of him because I was waiting for him to do something impressive or visual to catch on camera but he finished his act before he did. His act was ok, but not really suited to closing the show. He wasn’t all that funny either.

After the show most people descended in to The Tram Depot. I didn’t have any cash so I had to use my credit card to buy a drink. The thing is I had to spend over £5 pounds before they would let me use plastic so I had to buy myself 3 drinks. I don’t mind (*hiccup*).

Overall: An enjoyable weekend away, a good warm up for London this weekend.

Personal low point: the t-shirt was an icky orange on black. I know some people really liked the design but this is a personal bit, ok?

Personal high point: I flashed 10!

© 2001 Luke Burrage