EJC 2009 day 4.

Pola came to bed at nine thirty this morning. I think that beats my latest EJC bedtime record (except for the nights I just stayed up until the next night). I’d got to bed and sleep at about five thirty though, so it resulted in a quite short nights sleep. I got up at about ten. 

Once I’d got my morning routine over with, I tried uploading photos from yesterday. This turned out to be impossible yet again, as so many people were using the computers the upload speed really suffered. I guess tonight there’ll be two blog posts. But I did get some work done, unrelated to my EJC duties (hanging out). Here are some photos of the internet computers, the workshop boards, the volunteers desk and the registration desks.

Computers for internet.

Workshop board for Wednesday.

Volunteer desk.

Info and registration desk.

I spent the afternoon in the gym. I planned a full ring juggling session, but my hands were aching from the epic combat session last night. All the knuckles on both hands felt swollen somehow. I soon put the rings down and sat around chatting to friends about what I’d missed in the open stage show last night. A few good acts, it seems, though opinions differed on which were the good and which were the bad acts. 

Priam is organising the open stages later in the week, and asked me if I’d host a show. Due to high demand (about a hundred plus people asking me when I’ll be hosting or performing) I agreed to host the Thursday show. 

After some shopping and eating pola and headed over to see the ” Experimental Show”

The special show last night wasn’t special, so I was quite nervous about this one. Thankfully we had no reason to worry; it was by far the best show of the convention. By far. 

The host of the show didn’t give his name. But he rocked. Between every act he did a character sketch or physical comedy bit. Every one was entertaining and, very importantly, quite short. He took the piss out of the acts, and took a pop at the previous nights compare. He danced, played with a skipping rope and got a standing ovation for climbing around a chair. Most importantly he very clearly introduced the acts. More show hosts like this, please! It’s a very simple job…

I sat in the main seating area, not up on the raked sating at the sides, so today’s photos will have a real “in the stalls” feel to them. In other words, they’ll mostly be of the backs of people’s heads. Here’s the host:

The host of the show.

The acts themselves were all very good, if not excellent. The opening act was strange; Alvero did a very non-experimental ring juggling piece. Maybe they put him on as a comparison to more traditional acts. 

Next was an act that, while good, made me a bit angry. It started well, a man juggling balls using a stool. Unfortunately the second half consisted of him sitting on the stool, juggling three balls around his legs and feet. In silence. Yeah, just like Morgan. He even did the same tricks as Morgan at similar points. And then, when he dropped and a ball rolled towards the front of the stage, he threw himself forwards in a panicked dive, exactly the same “dropline” as Morgan. It isn’t as if we haven’t seen Morgan at the EJC before, did he think we wouldn’t notice the blatant ripoff? Because that’s what it was. I don’t mind people letting themselves be influenced by others, but thos act crossed the line. 

Other acts included Marco Paoletti and Wes Peden, who were both very impressive. But two other acts stood out for me. One was a Belgian ball juggler who also manipulated a thick rope.  Very nice indeed. 

In this photo; the Marco asked the host to ask everyone who could balance a ball on their head to do so. A lot of people could do so. If you know Marco, this request will make sense. If you don’t know Marco, he pretty much started the recent trend of balancing a ball on the top of the head:

Marco is now ready to enter the stage.

And here’s Wes rocking the five clubs:

Five club Wes.

The highlight was Fabian from France (I might have that name wrong). He did a perfect act. Club juggling and a walking stick. Also a great character. And a great costume. And the music choice was excellent; an abstract soundscape that didn’t cross overbro obnoxious noise. And he did acrobatics too. And only made on drop. And the tricks and other skills were awesome. I stood up for his standing ovation as soon as I thought he’d finished, but I was nowhere near the first person to do so. Book this guy for your convention now!

Last night Pola complained how so many people leave the shows before the end, walking out before the bowing finale. I didn’t blame the for getting out, as I felt like doing the same. I said “if the show was good, people would stay for the end.”

Tonight only a tiny handful of audience members left early, and the overwhelming majority stayed. The show was simply amazing. It had everything the audience wanted, and they didn’t just feel obligated to stay until the end, they really wanted to show their appreciation with another standing ovation. A compare who actually took charge at the end and made sure the artists had left the stage before the applause died down also helped keep the energy up even as the audience walked out the doors a few minutes later.  


For dinner: pancakes. I ate too many and felt sick.

I skipped the open stage for the second night in a row, and went to hang out in the gym. I wrote this blog post on my iPod Touch, and reached this point here.

After writing the above, I decided I wanted to play combat. I warned some jugglers about me, in an empty-ish part of the gym, that it might get a bit crowded. Then I banged my clubs together really hard. Nothing happened, even after repeating myself for a while.

But then DJochen turned up, and we started a two person game. Still no-one else joined in, so we played another. Then, for the third game, about 15 people joined in. By game number five or six we had about forty jugglers playing, all hitting each others clubs with wild abandon (but not too wild).

To be honest, combat tonight wasn’t so fun as last night. I’m not sure why, but the general vibe was a bit more… serious? Not so sure. In one-on-one matchups with JJochen and I, he won 8 out of 13 times. Not so good as last night.

Someone hit my left hand at some point, I don’t remember when, but juggling became a bit too painful. I decided to stop after about 2.5 hours of play. Of course, I thought I’d try to go out on a win, and mentioned this to Joerg who happened to be watching from the side. After winning once, and mentioning my “Just one more win…” situation last night, I went for a second win in a row. After the second win in a row I went for a third. After a third win in a row I went for a forth. I should have ended one three in a row. The added pressure of this challenge makes me play really hard, but you can only keep going for so long without making a mistake.

After a shower, I dropped Pola off at the van, and I’m currently making a third attempt at uploading the photos from yesterday, as well as those from today. In an hour we’ll be driving off to Pamplona to see stupid American tourists get chased by some bulls. Should be fun.


EJC 2009 day 3

Late blog post… last night the internet cut out mid-email checking. Not many people cared though, as it was about four in the morning. I cared a bit though, as I wanted to upload some photos and make this blog post.

Here’s what I wrote:

This morning I had some boring things to get out the way. Washing up, more shoe shopping (I left my walking boots in Lisbon), hair clippers shopping (lost the comb attachment somewhere), bread shopping (fresh hot bread…. hmmmm), then cutting my hair.

The weather today wasn’t so good as yesterday, so the plan of sitting in the sun wasn’t going to cut it. Instead I went to the gym to juggle. The slight wind and overcast sky drove not only me inside, but loads of other jugglers too. yesterday the hall felt a bit dead, but today it was rocking. I had a good ring juggling session, but broke one of my “how not to hurt yourself while ring juggling” rules, and threw a stupidly high throw for no reason. I caught it wrong and hit the bone in my thumb really hard. Juggling suddenly became un-fun.

Thankfully Wes and Patrick turned up and began juggling right in front of me. This meant I could hang out and watch some kick-ass routines and skills. I can’t wait for their show on Wednesday evening. It’ll be worth it if only for the mind-boggling 5 club routine they practiced this afternoon. Oh, and they almost got 13 clubs passing on ultimates for 26 passes caught. Bonkers.

See all the photos so far? No? Well, I forgot to take the camera to the hall.

I juggled a bit more, sticking to two and three ring tricks. Soon I felt to hungry, so I returned to the van for food. At 7pm I headed over to the show venue with Emil for the “Special Show”.

I can’t remember what I wrote about the venue so far, but it is quite strange. It is a sports hall with loads of seating, which is great. Unfortunately the ceiling has huge windows that have no curtains or blinds, so light just pours in. This creates a very strange atmosphere, as the audience can see each other as well, if not better, than what is happening on stage:

View of the stage, show in progress.

I enjoyed the show last night, but tonight’s show left a lot to be desired. For a special show, there really wasn’t much special about it. I’m not even sure why it happened at all, as the acts wouldn’t have been out of place on an open stage. Some trapeze artists opened. A football juggler followed. Neither act really grabbed me.

Footballs, dancing, juggling and chewing gum.

Seb, from France via Bristol, did a smooth club juggling routine. I liked it, though he could have had less drops. Next on stage appeared two female contact jugglers, who performed two tightly choreographed routines. I said to Emil: “The people at the front of the auditorium will love this, and those at the back will hardly even clap.” My prediction proved half-true, everyone clapped at least a bit, but the visibility of the act made a big difference. Such a huge hall is hard to accommodate in your act, especially if you’re using transparent balls. I’d like to see the routine, but sit a bit closer to the front.

Next up was “a performer from a country that is both in Europe and Asia”… Kubilai, a friend of Pola’s from Turkey, suddenly perked up… “from Moscow, please welcome on to the stage…” Kuilai’s shoulders slump. The juggler used silver sticks. I saw him in the gym, and liked his style. On stage he did very little that couldn’t be done with clubs, and what he did do resulted in too many drops. He took 5 or 6 attempts at his final trick: a numbers juggling feat. Yawn…

Lorenzo! Fantastic, as usual, and got a standing ovation. Of course he did, he’s a real professional.

Ok, remember the photo above? The one that showed how light the hall is? The next act was a solo club juggler who used glow clubs. And again he did nothing that couldn’t have been done with normal clubs. And even those tricks weren’t that interesting. Final trick: 5 club backcrosses. 5 attempts, but for some reason kept trying the trick after getting it dropless on the third attempt. Not sure why.

Final act: a tedious ball juggling and acrobatic act featuring three men and a table. I’ve no idea why this was the last act. It started dull and went nowhere. A collection of tricks and and moves does not a routine make.

And that was it. One great act that I’ve seen maybe 8 times now (Lorenzo and his hats), and two acts that were quite nice. Oh, and because the host, Jon, is also the EJA President, we had loads of business announcements between the acts. I guess some of it has to be shared, but it could have been shared a lot quicker. Overall, not really worth seeing.

Pola and I cooked and ate spaghetti cabonara.

I decided to skip the open stage show tonight and head back to the gym to see if I could get a game of combat going. Turns out I didn’t need to start anything, as a large game was already in progress when I arrived at 10:10 pm. I stopped playing at about 3 am. This is why I love the EJC: 5 hour games of combat are not only possible, but they stay fun throughout. I only stopped because my forearms were absolutely knackered. Here are some photos…

View of the hall from the balcony.
JJochen playing combat.
Knocking out ladies.

– Winning three games in a row many times.
– Jochen (JJ) turning up, and re-enthusing the players.
– In JJ vs Luke two-player-remaining situations, winning more than I lost (I think).
– Coming up with a new objective in each game: finish and win after stealing enough clubs so you are no longer juggling any of your own clubs. Jochen managed this, I didn’t.
– Saying to Matty “I’ll finish playing once I’ve won two more games” and then winning two games in a row.
– Matty said “Everyone says they’ll stop after a few games, but stay for loads more.” I proved him correct, and stayed for another game… and won it!
– Did I stop playing after three wins? Nope! I played a forth game, and dropped second or third last.

– Just me and a young female juggler remaining, and she wins by hitting me in the mouth with her club. I didn’t drop, but had to stop. Actually quite funny.
– Various other injuries. Some mine.

This is after a few minutes playing. By the end of the session I had five cuts, not just two.

I popped into the bar tent where, unlike the past few days, the party actually looked fun. For the past few nights there’s hardly been anyone in there. I didn’t stay to party though, as I was knackered from combat, and not drinnking tonight. The plan was to drive over to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls. It starts at 8am every morning, so we’d have to drive over and find a good spot to watch it late in the night/morning. Pola decided to stay and party, and I’m not about to go by myself.

Instead I sat at the fire spot and watched people play with burning stuff. If you set anything on fire it looks cool…. not sure my photos do the sight justice.

Fire poi.
Fire place.

Then… I wrote this blog post.