nine ball flash
3rd London Juggling Convention
reviews page

3rd London Juggling Convention:14-15/10/00 - Review by luke burrage :a/bit/later

I arrived at Scarborough station and looked at the timetables. It was Saturday morning and I still didn’t know if I should go to the London or the Manchester Conventions. I asked Chris, a friend who was catching a train at the same time as me, which one and he said “Manchester” so of course I got a return ticket to London.

A 16 person, 48 club passing pattern.

From kings cross station I walked to the Circus Space, Britain's powerhouse of contemporary circus. I might have got the underground or bus there but I don’t trust myself when it comes to public transport in London. I proved this to myself on Monday when I managed to get through three single tickets, an all day pass, countless stations and more trains. Two hours later I found myself just across the river from where I started. Quicker getting the tube? Ha.

I arrived at the convention and handed over my money. Then I handed over more money for a sandwich. Then a bit more for a cup of hot chocolate. In the cafe area someone had set up a TV and video showing juggling videos. A great conversation killer. Not that that is a bad thing but it was quite amusing listening people have conversations like so:

And you were at the European, right?

Yes. I saw Manu in the public show, he’s in the show tonight isn’t he?

I think so, it says here...

Quick! You see that?


Oh, nothing. Anthony Gatto just flashed 11 rings.

Oh, right. Anyway. It says here ‘Manu Laude - Club Juggling’.... um... And Haggis is in the show as well. I’m not sure I could sit through more of his...

There! He did 12 rings. Wow...

What? Oh, let me move my chair round there so I can see...

Haggis you say? I just saw him outside with a whip. I wouldn’t like to be at his mercy while wearing my fluffy handcuffs. What’s he doing in the show?

What? Oh, um, hats.

Ah yes, of course. He was doing the hat workshop. If the workshop was anything to go by his act should be pretty....

Look! Oh, you missed the 11 rings with a pull down finish.

Damn. Rewind that will you?

I got round to juggling in the afternoon sometime. I took me quiet a long time to realise there were two big halls but after getting a bit hot in the combustion chamber I went back into the smaller hall. I know why they call it the combustion chamber now. Not because the circus space used to be a power station but rather because they have the temperature in that hall high enough to melt my the handles of my clubs. Because of this I was in the hall that the workshops were happening in. Funnily enough I missed the beginners club passing workshop so I couldn’t really join in Tarim’s Multi-person club passing workshop. Still can’t club pass. Ah well

A 4 person hat passing pattern.

From the reaction of the participates Tarim’s workshop went quite well. It ended up with a 16 person passing pattern. There was a Hat juggling workshop with Haggis. His workshop ended up with a 4 person hat passing pattern. Not quite the 16 in Tarim’s, but they kept it up for 4 times as long. Does that work?

Now kids, don't try this at home...
...try it at a juggling convention where your parentss can't see you.

I had a bit of food, saw the show, juggled a bit afterwards then headed of to the youth hostel I was staying at. The breakfast was lovely. Bacon, egg, beans, sausage, hash browns.... The show?

Well, the show was a bit different from all the other juggling shows I’ve seen. There was no compere. To fill the gaps between the separate acts short, hastily edited video clips of people doing silly acrobatic things were played. These gave comic relief and made the whole show run smoothly. By the end of the show I didn’t even notice the lack of the stupid guy in the stupid suit with the stupid jokes.

Just to go through the acts quickly:

Max & Elias - hat juggling. These two are circus space degree students who showed us some tricks which the main theme was throwing chairs onto each others head while standing on hats. Not really, but I think that would have been much more interesting. You think you’re hard? Try catching this heavy metal chair on your head first time... Oooooo...... you want to put a plaster on that? Hello? You still conscious?
These guys were actually quite good though, no offence, I could see why they were on first.

Julia & Alice (more degree student) performed a club act. There wasn’t much passing, which I thought was strange for a two person club act, but there seemed to be an excessive amount of hugging. And stroking. And other stuff. The quality of the juggling was good, but I’m not sure why the guy standing next to me got so excited and started breathing so heavily...

Sean Gandini & Kati Yla-Hakkala-Ma-Lamma-Yahakalama-Hlammamamamamam did a lovely choreographed ball duet. I really like this type of act. Not trying tricks so far on the edge of their ability so that there is not even the slightest chance of them dropping so they can concentrate on movement and complex ball swapping.

Kaleigh & Leigh rode unicycles in many weird and wonderful ways. I would list some of the different ways they rode their unicycles but I’ve no idea how to explain the standing-on-the-little-cross-bit-of-the-uni -that-the-forks-are-attached-to-and-being-pulled-along-by-your-partner-who-is-riding-backwards-while-putting-your-foot-on-the-tire trick in less then, say, 34 words. I was impressed by every trick in this act, being a total non-unicyclist.

Manu Laude juggled clubs. I saw him last week at Cambridge and reviewed it then. He dropped less this time though.

“Haggis - Hat Juggling.” Now, when I saw that on the program I presumed someone was going to come on stage and juggle the little hats that haggises wear. Every haggis I’ve seen has worn a hat, normally a miniature cowboy hat to shade their eyes while they run. But instead this guy came on and juggled bowler hats. I was disappointed about the lack of haggis hats but the man did some nifty moves, some that I’ve only seen done by a few other people before. He did them better though. I liked him. What’s his name?

Interval here - no icecream.

Max, one of the hat jugglers from the first half, brought a friend back, called Susan, and swung her on a hoop. They then juggled balls between them and did acrobatic moves. I think the act has a lot of potential but personally I don’t think there was enough juggling. Or acrobatics. But what they did perform was original and imaginative. And I like the way they walked out through the audience.

The Gandini Juggling Project performed “The Spoken Word” which, from what I gather, is part of the new show that they are putting together called “BIG”. Lots of siteswaps juggled and spoken in time by six people at once. 451234512333, 631613163141, 445045045023, etc, etc. A quote could be “Rhythmic, exuberant, playful and inventive patterns spliced together with choreographic flair.” The thing is that that is a quote off the flyer for the final show which I presume Sean wrote about himself. Well, I don’t go in for catchy sound bites but that one seemed to fit this bit of the act.

Lena - Diabolo. Well, what can I say: "Tricks performed by the only person in the world who can do them, with a run of 3 diabolos for the finale." How’s that for a sound bite? Um, not very good at this am I...

Ok, here’s a sound bite for Erikssonlaver: “two guys spit a ping pong ball into each others mouths while doing handstands and stuff... exciting, fast-paced comedy juggling... saliva... bouncing balls in hats... trolley... suitcase...” You get the picture? Good.

Earlier on Saturday I saw these two guys carry in a whole load of boxes and pipes and stuff. I was intrigued. I asked one of them: “What’s in the box?” and I got the reply: “A suitcase.” I thought: “Funny bugger...” and left it at that. What I didn’t realise was that I’d just been speaking to Mark & Benji.

Mark & Benji had this thing on the back of the stage that seemed to spew juggling clubs out when they needed them, and a suit case that did the same. These two won some competition, sometime. I see why they won. And I don’t think it was something like a 3 ball gladiator competition either.

Sound bite time: “Wow”

I did like the 9 club multiplex passing patterns and the catching the clubs behind the back (um, that doesn’t sound as impressive as it was). Their back flips, spiky hair, potbellies and the most precise, choreographed slapstick I’ve seen made for many laughs. It was the perfect act to end the show with.

I went to the bar and didn’t get a drink because they sold only 2 types of alcoholic beverage. I didn’t go to the convention to get drunk but it would have been nice. I tried the tube to get back to a youth hostel and made it thanks to a juggler who was with me. But there was no beds left, I should have booked ahead. I didn’t trust myself to get the tube to another hostel though so I taxied there instead.

Did I tell you about breakfast?

I walked back up to the Circus Space for another day of juggling. There was that 11 year old boy who kept pissing me off. Normally at conventions the 11 year old boys piss me off by riding unicycles over my feet or by hitting me in the face with a stray diabolo. This one, however, pissed me off because he can already juggle 5 clubs and 7 balls better than me. And after only 2 years of juggling.


I went to the advanced siteswap workshop and listened to Sean Gandini get all excited over new types of patterns and numbers he’s been coming up with recently. My favorite was: Duck foot, duck foot. That is actually a pattern. Honest.

Later I went to the juggling unusual objects workshop with Sam I Am. I now know that it is actually possible to flick an elastic band and make it come back to me. Not by some one else flicking it back either. And I now know that if you want to balance a pair of glasses on your nose you have to first walk into a low bridge and knock yourself out.
There was an open stage where various people performed:

Casper juggled 3 to 5 clubs. He rolled them round the floor for a while as well.

Adam did a diabolo act. I wasn’t quite sure what the idea was for this one. The music he used was some hard techno track but he did really graceful flowing diabolo tricks that would have suited a much more mellow style of music. And I wasn’t sure about the ballet shoes either...

Matt showed us a trick where he spun a tray on his finger and placed 2 balls on the spinning tray. He did it blindfolded. I think it’s one of those tricks you have to see...

Jen juggled 3 balls better than I could. No wait, that’s not a complement. She was very good. Um, I’m still not sure that gives her skills justice either.

Sam I Am showed us a trick he has been working on. I didn’t actually see what he did though because it was at that point me camera decided to stop working. It would have been good though. And it probably involved big balls.

Stuart did some tap dancing and juggling. I don't know how good his tap dancing was as I don't know the first thing about tap. His juggling was good though.

Malta showed us what a new act he is working on will look like. The sound guy messed up the ques for the music and he dropped a lot. I’ll see this again this weekend though at Durham where it should be a lot better.

Robin showed us some mind blowing 3 ball tricks that he’d put together. I’m not sure how he makes his arms bend in so many different directions at once. Some of his trick look painful. The head-rolling tricks. They were good. Again, not really doing justice to the level of his skill.


6 ping pong ball in the mouth trick. Easy.
After eating a bit and juggling a bit I made the mistake of laying down on a gym mat. At about the time where it says on the program “9pm Farewells as the 3rd London Juggling Convention draws to a close” - I woke up. I looked around the hall and spotted 2 people club passing. And the guy who for the whole of the convention sat in the corner and smoking copious amounts of dope actually got round to juggling at this point. I packed up my stuff and headed back to the youth hostel. I walked of course.

Overall I had a great time in London at the convention. The thing that I found was a bit strange was that everyone seemed to be a bit serious about juggling. And serious about serious juggling. There wasn’t a raffle or even games. No games. Unless I slept through them. Ah well. It's a good warm up for durham this weekend.

Personal Low Point: I learned how to club pass. I liked the fact that I couldn’t pass. It was the one thing set me apart from other jugglers. Even if it was a negative point.

Personal High Point: Missing that train that crashed on Tuesday killing four people. I missed it by one train. That was close.

I also found this sign in a shop in Covent Garden on Monday:

© 2001 Luke Burrage