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JonPeat -

Belfast Juggling Convention (Ireland) 2016 - Review

This weekend, 12th – 14th February 2016, was the annual Belfast Juggling Convention which is held in the student’s union building of Queens University Belfast. Myself and Lewis were invited to the convention to perform our passing routine in the Gala show.

I intended to make notes throughout the convention but I didn’t manage to be that organised. There was just too much going on. I am sorry if I have missed anything or anyone out!

Friday

There is never a dull moment when travelling with Lewis and we already enjoyed a few good scenarios before even leaving Leeds Bradford airport.
I have never had a problem with having juggling clubs in my hand luggage. Just before Christmas I flew from Manchester to Berlin and back with 5 clubs in my hand luggage and no comment was raised. Unfortunately this was not the case on Friday. All of our routine clubs were packed in hold baggage but Lewis’s own clubs (4x) were refused at security and not allowed to be taken on board. There was the option to squeeze them into the hold bag etc. but they wouldn’t fit. Lewis donned his running shoes and sprinted a mile and back and dropped the clubs off with Jenni at work. Disaster averted.

TAKE NOTICE – be careful about having clubs in your carry-on baggage! It depends on your flight carrier. I will not be taking the chance from now on…

It was an interesting flight in a plane with one working propeller and a very educational taxi ride over to the union building. Nicest taxi driver ever!
We wandered into the union building and found our way to the juggling hall. It was empty of jugglers and filled with tables and chairs, we stood around for a bit looking confused until someone else came in… turns out we were in the right place but on the wrong floor! We went up a floor and found the convention in full swing. The hall is bright and airy with a deceptive ceiling. It looks quite low, but actually you can easily fit triples in (as long as they are not too floaty). The hall is nice and big with some seating around the outside.
There were a few familiar faces and good Scottish contingent who had been at Leeds JC, so it was nice to catch up with a few folks. It was funny to be identified as ‘crap juggler Jon’ from Lewis’s practise logs from the Edge.
I did some ball juggling to warm up, later on me and Lewis did some fun passing and enjoyed messing about with some tricks we haven’t touched for a while.

That evening half of the hall was curtained off and became the venue for the Friday night Open stage.
Graham and Creamy Joe (as he will henceforth be known) did a funny ice cream inspired routine complete with puns. These guys perform so well together and were also comperes for the Gala show. You can just tell that they love performing together, it was a pleasure to see.
There was a bit of straightjacket escapology to Queen’s ‘I want to break free’ with lip synching and suggestive dancing, which greatly amused me. Also some classic whip paper cutting, thank you to Aaron for providing translation for me, I struggled to understand some of the quick fire Irish accent patter!
There was a juggling ball routine with some knot tricks / rope magic thrown in, I really enjoyed the juggler’s character on stage.
Then there was a fantastic hula hoop routine, performed by Laura, I was enthralled and I think everyone else was too! It was really well put together, bursting of really hard tricks and just delivered so smoothly. I loved it, best hoop routine I have seen in years. Outstanding.
There was a lovely rock and roll cigar box routine performed by Logy. It was pretty droppy but the presentation was superb and we all loved the performance and the drops really didn’t matter at all. There were some rock hard tricks in there and I would love to see the routine again.
Then there was a Burlesque ‘circus’ act. I don’t really understand Burlesque and haven’t seen very many Burlesque acts at all. I just found it a bit awkward and wanted her to do more hat tricks… Nether the less it seemed to go down very well.

The Belfast JC audience is one of the warmest audiences I have ever experienced. You really got the feeling that everyone was simply there to have a great time, no matter what!
Audience warming up was not necessary as the crowd was raring to go from the onset.
Me and Lewis went on a walk and found the local take-aways which were only a short walk away from the venue. We ate back up in the hall and chatted to various folks.

The convention then retired to a bar downstairs where there was live music and plenty of glow props and drinking. I was shattered by this point and I was achy and sore from sitting on the floor to watch the show. I also don’t drink and the music made it very difficult for conversation, I sat in the corner being a bit of a party pooper but enjoyed watching the glow props.
Eventually we gathered together Lewis, Ed Cliffe, Tim Schulze(a diabolist from Germany and Gala performer) and piled into Grahams 3-seater van. Lewis and Ed were loose in the back so we had a hilarious ride across Belfast, dropping Tim off on the way at a different house, before arriving at Romy’s Mums house which would be our home for the weekend. After Graham performed a spot of midnight housebreaking we eventually found the right house and Graham let us in. Everyone pretty much crashed out straight away.

Saturday

Julian from Norway had joined us during the early hours and so we all had breakfast together. We also spent some time admiring Origami before heading back out to the convention site.
It was much busier in the hall on the Saturday morning, lots of workshops taking place. I did some ball juggling in the morning and struck out for the supermarket to grab some lunch.
Came back and ate a leisurely lunch whilst watching lots of 3 club gladiator’s players slowly taking over the bottom end of the hall. I was running the qualifications for the tournament at 3pm so at 2.30 I went over to warm up. Five minutes before the start of the qualifications I took a very unlucky club to the eyebrow, which immediately started to swell massively. I ran down to the reception to get an icepack but none of the first aid kits had one, so I settled for a bag of ice from the café. We started the qualifications slightly late and I might have put a few players off slightly by introducing the qualifications with a massive huge black eye. 17 players took part in qualifications and I think everyone had a really good time. I had the best qualification result so far by winning all my matches and only losing 4 points, I think that I intimidated a few people with my evil looking eye which was still swelling up. Between matches I applied ice and by the end of qualifications it didn’t feel too bad.
Once the paperwork was done and the qualifications completed I went over to the Gala show venue to rehearse and do some teching.
The show venue is a 1 minute walk from the front door of the union and is in a nice church hall which has floor level seating and a tiered balcony.

I didn’t see any of the show as I was performing my solo 3 ball act in the first half and then performing with Lewis in the second half, all the intervening time I spent in costume changing and warming up / keeping warm.
I did see some of the acts during the tech runs, but I saw nothing of the actual show although the lineup for the show looked great!
Asaf Mor was performing a very elegant and brilliant technical club juggling routine. Florence Huet performed an equally beautiful multi hoop routine. Tim performed a very slick diabolo routine. I missed Ed doing his contact box routine but I know the audience loved it. Julian closed the show with a lovely and highly technical ball routine which included 7up pirouettes and a 9 ball flash (done super cleanly as well). It made me laugh when after his performance he can backstage and said something along the lines of ‘Wow, I can’t believe I got the 7 up pirouette on the first try that never happens!’ to which we responded, ‘but, you got it first time during the tech run too’. ‘Oh, yea.’ It was a great performance.
My own routine was very droppy. It felt really good during the last few weeks and even during the tech run and my pre-show warm ups it felt great. When I got onstage it turned into a bit of a dropfest. BUT, the Belfast audience struck again and really was such a warm and giving audience to perform to. I received some lovely comments afterwards about the routine. I am very lucky again for having a forgiving performance style where the drops tend to go fairly forgotten. Even so, I was disappointed as I know I can run it much cleaner.
When me and Lewis ran out onstage for our routine in the second half I was surprised to see that half the audience had gone… I couldn’t understand this until I saw that most of them had migrated to the balcony to get a better view of the stage. The energy was fantastic! Me and Lewis gave a good performance with just a couple of drops in non-important places. We were also delighted to get the 6 club back to back kick-up to 7 perfectly on time with the music which drew a huge reaction. It was a good performance and we were both really happy with it.

We enjoyed after show pizza and listened to Julian’s Kebap Rap.
The show was really well organised, the lighting and sound guys were professional and very easy to work with. Gail was in charge of corralling the performers and setting the stage. The whole thing was super smooth and went down a treat with the audience who gave the impression that they loved every minute.

Once again, the convention moved sites to another venue in the city where the after show renegade and party took place. I didn’t see much of the renegade except for Asaf showing some insane club tricks and I used the time to chat to Tim and Hannah (we will definitely pass at BJC!)as well as filling out all the qualification data from the fight night and working out the seeding’s for the tournament on Sunday.
It got horrendously late and I got horrendously tired so I bailed out of the party early (about 2.30am) and made my way back to the house where I slept uninterrupted until I woke about 10am. I think everyone else came back to the house at about 5am after various house parties across the city. I just can’t take the pace!

Sunday

We got into the convention hall at about midday on Sunday so I spent some time drawing up the brackets for the tournament. A couple of players had already had to pull out due to injury and by having to catch ferries etc. Mine and Lewis’s flight was at 2.50pm so we had to leave the convention site at 1.30 to give us enough time at the airport. As quite a few of the combatants and organising team were missing in action from the night before I pulled out of the tournament and passed along all the information to Caoimhim to run the tournament in my absence.
We said our goodbyes, got to the airport and headed home. Had some more scenarios at airport security (seriously Lewis, how often do you fly to places?) before taking the sunny flight back to Leeds. The weather got grimmer and grimmer as we came into land. About 30 seconds after we had touched down and were taxiing to the terminal it started to snow really heavily, so we were lucky not to be delayed!


Thinking of heading over to Belfast next year? Do it.

The convention was great fun and held in a nice venue. The vibe was fantastic and the energy around the convention was addictive. The organisers put a lot of time and effort into organising the show and the line-up was very strong.
The only downside I could see was that there was no camping or crash space at the venue, so the majority of convention goers were in hostels or friends’ houses all over the city, this isn’t a major problem for the convention at all, but if I went again I would definitely get a good quiet B&B to relax in after all the partying.

Overall, a great convention! Thank you to Romy’s mum for putting us up for the weekend, Graham for being our host and Caoimhin for stepping in with the combat tournament.
Thank you to the Belfast Convention organising team for putting on a great event and inviting me and Lewis to attend.

Jon

#conventionreview

Austin Hurley - - Parent

Hey Jon. Would you mind if I posted this to the Belfast FB event page or the Circus and Juggling Ireland page.

I'm sure people would love to read it but it's cool if you'd rather I didn't.

APH

The Void - - Parent

I don't speak for Jon, but generally it's fine to post *a link to* some other content, rather than copy-posting stuff. In case you don't know, the hash symbol in each Juggling Edge post (top right) is a link to that post.

Austin Hurley - - Parent

Oh yeah. I just thought that he might only want the people on JE to see it. No harm being sure ya know

The Void - - Parent

Yep, true. But (again, in case you don't know) all JE posts are publicly visible - you don't have to be logged in to read them. Anyway, juggle on!

Austin Hurley - - Parent

Ah right. Thanks a bunch Void

JonPeat - - Parent

Hi Austin,
Apologies, I didn't see this message untill just now.
Feel free to post a link to the review wherever you wish. :-)
As The Void suggests this is public content and is free to be read by anyone.
Cheers, Jon

 

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