Viewing all threads tagged #bjc2018, these threads relate to British Juggling Convention 2018.
The 31st British Juggling Convention, Canterbury
Tuesday, 3rd April
I felt very strange going into this one. I have had a lot of family issues over the past year & I wasn't sure if I was going to attend right up to the point I left home. I've only made one appearance at TWJC since the last BJC & that represented all the juggling practice I have done since the last BJC too. For some reason I didn't feel that I deserved to be there. However, I was warmly welcomed & accepted by everyone, both old friends & new, & for that I am extremely grateful. Thank you to you all.
I arrived on site at 17:00, which was the advertised start time. Just behind me in the reg desk queue was Louisa (not Laura) who gave me my first hug of the festival. Just behind her was fellow TWJC member Richard but because he has never been to the BJC before I didn't register that it was him until my second pass through the queue! Also received a lovely welcome from Tor (my perpetual HLGCBS crush) in the reception, then Hannah, Chunk & Bungle from SJC before we found where Kevin, Nicola, Duncan & John had initiated the TWJC camp.
I got my tent up quickly then we went for a quick explore of the site. There was plenty of camping space available around the outside of the sports pitches with toilets & showers close by (to where we were pitched at least) in the separate pavilion building. The enormous Spinning@ tent & a knife throwing range being run by the Essex Backyard Throwers. The main building housed the show hall which was open for practice space during the day & used for shows in the evening, a dance studio for workshops, a climbing hall for big workshops & practice space, & the canteen which was home to Montegriffo's Frying Circus.
Outside were the Veggies catering van, while Love Waffles were set up in another building. There was a separate building for the balloon modellers, 3 outdoor huts for workshops, another 3 outdoor huts for the traders (which were quite out of the way of the regular convention foot traffic). Another building contained the main juggling hall, a few more showers & also the Lazy Juggler bar upstairs.
We poked our heads into the main hall which already had the distinctive aroma of a well used juggling hall. We went upstairs for a drink at the bar & found it was much more pleasant to watch the hall from the viewing window! There were lots of unfamiliar faces in the hall which was good to see.
The pass for the event was a tiny glass bottle of bath salts/glitter on a ribbon. It was also noted that the 'no glass allowed in the main hall' rule was a bit of a contradiction. My pass also didn't survive past my third hug, I spent the rest of the convention with the ribbon round my neck & the bottle in my coat pocket.
Wednesday, 4th April
Breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. It is something we take very seriously at TWJC so it was a dent to our pride that we were not first in the queue at 08:00 on Wednesday morning. Not that it really mattered when we found out that the team weren't serving until 09:00. I wasn't too fussed but the coffee drinkers in the queue were mortified!
We killed time by perusing the workshop board which took the form of a grid made from coloured tape stuck to the large windows along the side of the show hall. Workshops were written up on individual cards & stuck in the relevant spot. It looked pretty but unfortunately the bright back light from the outside sun made it very difficult to read & even more difficult to photograph unless you were close enough for the individual cards to blot out the sun.
I also enjoyed all the student artwork that covered every available bit of wall. All of it was very good, & some of it was excellent. I particularly liked the black & white portraits in the seating area for the canteen.
When 09:00 rolled round I was a little disappointed. It was ok but the portion was small, the bacon was tough, the mushrooms lukewarm & for £8 including a cup of tea I expect a lot more.
I spent the rest of the morning in the show hall trying to remember what all this circus skill lark is about. I managed some satisfying handstands, although I think this was probably down to my improved physical condition rather than maintained ability. I also did some club passing with Richard before we were interrupted by the fire alarm which forced us out into the car park in front of reception. I waited it out chatting to Dee, Tor & Helena & enjoyed coming up with unsubstantiated theories as to the cause & casting blame accordingly. After a disappointing lack of firemen I returned to the show hall & continued with some 3, 4 & 5 club practice. All of which was dreadful.
At midday I joined in with an RPG session being run by last year's main organiser Stephen. I've been looking for something new to try & have been enjoying the Dungeons & Randomness Podcast (start at Arc 2: episode 1. It's really well done) so I thought I'd give it a go. The game of the session was Everyone is John, all of the players are a different voice with unique obsessions in the head of John, a poor chap with a severe multiple personality disorder. The aim of the game is to take control of John by bidding with your limited supply of will power then get him to perform actions related to your obsessions to score points. Not knowing anything about the game my choice of obsessions were very poor, my top obsession was free dive for 10 minutes, which turned into stay underwater for 10 minutes cumulatively. I managed to genuinely achieve 3 minutes 31 seconds. It was a very bizarre session & lots of fun.
I then took a break to cook myself some parsnips & pancetta & whiled away the afternoon drinking cider & chatting until...
The Spinning@ Show
Our compère for the show introduced herself as Miss Glitterface which was certainly descriptive. She was clearly spoken & very confident but I felt she went a little overboard trying to control audience applause levels. If people want to applaud, you should let them do so!
The show got off to a great start with Rico Titou from France performing a beautiful hoop routine where I think every move was in the vertical plane but still mostly on the body rather than just around the arms. He was very fluid, used the whole stage & at a time when 'generic hoop act' is in danger of entering my list of go to phrases for convention reviews Rico showed a lot of originality.
This was followed by Tony Nowhere with a rope dart act it might have been good but I don't know because it was unfortunately ruined by being an unnecessary glow routine. I'm sure there was lots of interesting things being done with the rope in the dark but all I could see was a bright spot of light either drawing a circle or going back & forth across the stage like the face of a 1970's Cylon.
Next up we had another hooper. She had a great sparkly costume & clearly enjoyed being onstage, she was very good but unfortunately it felt a bit too much like a generic hoop act. I can't pick out anything unique or special that I haven't seen before.
This was followed by Stanley Styx with an unnecessary glow staff routine. It was unnecessarily bright too, I couldn't look directly at the prop. It was a staff routine with overly dramatic music & a daft storyline. I'm sure all the contact moves were very interesting but in the dark it just looked like a really slow staff routine.
Pixie Patch tried a clown routine. In this instance the glow hoop was not just unnecessary, it was a brick wall preventing any enjoyment of the routine. If you are going to do any sort of clowning, I need to see your face. With the lights down I couldn't see any expressions or connect with the performer in any way.
Thankfully Ben Cornish rescued the show by performing with the lights on! He did the walking round the isolated suitcase skit & a bit of ball spinning. However, due to injury he couldn't do much of the spinning so the audience was in the awkward position of wanting him to succeed at the trick but didn't want him to hurt himself. What the act lacked in material Ben made up for with charisma, he was funny, charming & delightful.
Also performing with the lights on was Sam with a fast paced technical bar flair act. He performed lots of rolls, spins, stalls & traps with a big smile.
I was suffering some pretty severe hoop-fatigue at this stage in the show but Alice still managed to blow me away with a sensational melancholic hoop routine. Everything she did was flawlessly stylish & graceful. Instead of a checklist of flashy hoop tricks the routine consisted only of moves that fit the character, but was still highly technical. This was a great example of the performer being the focus instead of the prop. She maintained character with her body language, facial expressions & pace of movement almost to the end, only breaking I think to celebrate a job exceptionally well done.
After that I think it was Boris with a nice 1 & 2 diabolo routine using a loop of string instead of sticks. I haven't seen this style for years so it was a very pleasant change. Excellent skills well executed. Oh & with the lights on too!
Act of the show was Lukie the box monkey performing with 3, 4 & 5 cigar boxes. It was highly energetic & crammed from start to finish with ridiculously difficult tricks. There were quite a few drops but Lukie's personable nature on stage meant the whole audience was with him all the way willing him to succeed. Allegedly the routine was only put together in a couple of hours, but I'm not sure I believe that.
The show finished with another hoop act this time from Callum & Lisa. It's ok but still an unnecessary glow routine. I think the performers were a bit rattled too because the sound tech used a snippet of their music for the previous act which must have been off putting.
I'm glad I saw this show. The lows were low, but the highs were exceptional & more than made it worth my while. Remember kids, just say no to glow.
Thursday, 5th April
I made my own breakfast this morning (Eggy Bread - beat one egg per slice of bread, soak bread thoroughly in beaten egg, fry for about 1 min each side, spread with English mustard #recipe) which set me up well for the day. I spent the morning up in the bar area writing, then I joined Susannah, Lyn, Void & Guy to solve a cryptic crossword. I even managed to solve a clue, which is one more than I usually do.
At midday I joined in with another RPG session with Stephen. This time the game was called Lasers & Feelings, a more traditional RPG game where everyone plays individual characters trying to accomplish a mission, which in our case was to stop mind controlling parasites from reaching Earth. I played a yellow custard coloured android. As it turned out my disembodied leg turned out to be more useful than the rest of my character.
After lunch I enjoyed another chilled afternoon eating, drinking & chatting in the sunshine before heading into the hall for...
Our host for the evening was Devilstick Peat who is clearly enjoying the Tommy Cooper style of magic which he performed in between most acts.
Kicking off the action were Chris & Eilidh with an acro routine. The balances were a bit shaky but the routine had lots of daring moves & there were no mistakes that I could see. I enjoyed the ballroom dancing interludes in between moves & fantastic costumes too. Ivana got off to a droppy start with her hat routine but she got stronger as the routine went on. Her 3 hat work was superb, I particularly liked the sequence where she rotated 3 hats between her hands & head while twirling across the stage on her knees. I would like to see this act again.
I was initially dubious when John & Steph took to the stage with their glow poi, however the lights stayed on & their outfits were simply stunning. They performed a beautifully choreographed partner poi routine with lots of very well executed sequences all with slick transitions. It was clear they had put a huge effort into the presentation of the act. I was most impressed with the fast side to side step across the stage while standing front to front, yeah the intertwining poi was nice but the footwork was exquisite! Both performers wore massive smiles & clearly enjoyed being on stage.
Cameron & Mark entertained with a ring passing routine featuring an excellent mix of both technical & silly entertaining tricks all performed with good humour & a great connection with the audience. Daniel performed an excellent comedy ball juggling piece. Despite being dressed in a simple grey t-shirt & shorts he was able to brighten the stage with personality alone. He very quickly built a strong rapport with the audience only using one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen.
Keith & Antonia filled the stage with their poi passing routine featuring lots of slick behind the back catches, which were surprising because the passes were low, fast & horizontal rather than high & floaty like most throws that lead to a behind the back catch.
Closing the show was Arthur Hyam with a new diabolo routine. Lots of tough tricks with 1 to 3 diabolos, it was pretty droppy but he kept his composure throughout.
All in all a great show.
Friday, 6th April
On a tip from another juggler Kevin, Louisa & I walked down the road to find the Lime Tree Cafe hidden behind the Sainsbury's supermarket. We were gutted to find out that they weren't serving a full English that day but we enjoyed excellent bacon in beautiful soft white baps & a nice cup of tea. It was a lovely pristine cafe overlooking the county cricket ground which was busy with people hurling cricket balls at batsmen using those flexible tennis ball launchers you often see dog walkers use. It was a bit unfair I thought but very entertaining as the trainers were not always particularly accurate. It made me wonder how fast a fast bowler could bowl if they could use one in competition. Before we left Kev made the staff promise that they were definitely serving a full breakfast tomorrow at least 3 times.
Back on site we prepared for the long day in Margate. Buses left site at midday & 40 minutes later dropped us off at Dreamland. The info booklet told us our pass entitled us to a free ride or some free food at one of the concession stands, neither of which turned out to be true. I certainly didn't feel like paying any of the high asking prices for the basic fairground attractions. There was one side attraction that I felt would have been pretty easy pickings for the aerialists & rock climbers among the BJC crowd where you had to hang from a bar for 2 minutes. I admit I was tempted to have a go but put off by the prospect of winning an absurd oversized stuffed toy. Many attractions were closed or under construction, the bar was mugging patrons for £5 a pint, the roller disco floor was the size of a postage stamp. To make things worse before the games started we were subjected to the excruciating Story time with Peter Rabbit show, a patronising screechy affair narrating the actions of someone in a stuffed animal costume. I died a little inside. For those that couldn't believe it the first time they did it again an hour later.
Devilstick Peat & Russell Wells got the games underway. I watched Felix win the brief 5 club endurance in windy conditions & Lucy put in a great performance to win the unicycle gladiators. I got bored with the prolonged balloon modelling race & joined Kevin, John & Gabor to explore Margate & scout out somewhere to eat for Louisa to join us later. It took us a while to find the exit through the park's last ditch attempt to fleece customers of their loose change otherwise known as the 'amusement' arcade but we finally managed to reach safety. However, Margate was a very depressed town of soulless amusement arcades & uninspiring eateries in between boarded up shops & litter. We spent our time exploring the handful of interesting antique/bric-a-brac stores, all of which were charging antique prices for bric-a-brac. I did like the 7ft imitation bear though.
We decided that the Weatherspoons pub was the only safe option for something to eat & bagged a table before it got too crowded. I left the group to find Louisa who was MIA. I was beginning to fear that she might have slipped into a coma in Dreamland & that I might have to go back in to get her out which was quite the emotional crisis. Fortunately she emerged while I was figuring out just how much I was willing to pay someone else to go in & get her.
Back at Weatherspoons we ordered food & settled in for the advertised 30-40 minute but in reality 1 hour wait for food & amused ourselves by pinging origami frogs at each other courtesy of another juggler on the next table. After gorging ourselves we ambled to the other side of town to the Wintergarden Theatre for...
The Gala Show
On entering the theatre we were greeted by a superb giant balloon sculpture of the convention's troll mascot, animated by volunteers with long poles. Easily the best BJC balloon sculpture yet.
Unfortunately most of the seating was flat, the only raked seating mostly had views partly obscured by pillars. We decided to sit in the flat seating, hoping their wouldn't be much low level action.
Our compère for the evening was Matthew Tiffany who entertained with a Brunn combination trick, spinning a 3 ball stack, some teaspoon balancing & some songs on the banjo in between acts.
Jon Udry kicked off the proceedings with some nice ball through the rings juggling, some of his fantastic 3 club technical skills, a daft 3 ball strip tease (just his jacket) before finishing with his 5 helium balloon juggling. I really enjoy his dry sense of humour & his comedy skills are improving every time I see him.
This was followed by Ben Nichols performing as Professor Circumference's assistant. It finished with an interesting way to get into a 5 ball cascade by holding 3 balls in place on top of a beach ball using a juggling ring, then dropping the whole lot on the floor which launched the 3 balls into the air in perfect formation. It was a nice act but felt very low energy after following on from Jon Udry.
Ratcheting things up again was Jan Himself with a superb high skill diabolo act with lots of Zoolander-esque male model humour. A lot of the gags involved his phenomenal waist length hair which he incorporated into his diaboloing. This was a really really really really good looking act.
I was very surprised to see Paul Zenon listed in the info booklet. I loved watching him perform when variety was a thing on UK TV in the 90s. Paul is a great magician & comedian & I was really enjoying his act until it was unfortunately cut short by a stage hand angrily demanding that he get off the stage. It was not immediately clear why this was the case, & there was no explanation given. If it was the adult humour he used it was certainly no worse than that used by Jon Udry or Tiff. If it was the cigarette that he was performing a trick with surely this should've been picked up in advance? Regardless the episode completely ruined an otherwise very enjoyable act.
Helena Berry opened the second half with a wonderfully moody acrobatic juggling piece. There were lots of walkover, handstand & cartwheel moves with balls balance on her feet, then a lot of interesting juggling patterns involving catching balls on the sole of her right foot. She struggled a bit with the 5 ball cascade to foot catch finish but it was genuinely satisfying when she did manage to land it.
I was really looking forward to seeing Loz Because because (I can't believe that has never come up in my writing before) she is one of my favourite performers. I love her manic comedy style so I was disappointed when she performed an unnecessary glow routine I think there was lots of nice subtle technical skills lost in the darkness. I did like the Streetfighter 2 reference though.
The Berlin Passing Girls are a 4 strong troupe from Germany who were very technically adept & filled the stage in all 3 dimensions with big many club passing patterns. The act had a lot of parallels with the Gandini Juggling Project. It was a well choreographed routine but I felt some of the transitions were a little slow for my liking & it lacked that little extra polish that the Gandini's bring.
Rounding off the evening was BJC favourite Steve Rawlings being Steve Rawlings. You've all seen his act, you all know how good he is. Was he brilliant? Of course he was!
Saturday, 7th April
Saturday started with a bit of light rain, but not enough to stop Kevin, Laurence & I wandering down to the cafe for breakfast where we met ball spinning Peter & enjoyed large English breakfast featuring lovely soft bacon, superb sausages & free tea/coffee refills for £7. It was a lovely meal, served by pleasant staff & enjoyable company.
Back on site I joined the last of Stephen's RPG sessions. The name of the game was Actual Cannibal Shia Lebeouf, & the aim is to kill or escape from Hollywood actor Shia Lebeouf. This game felt a bit unfair the odds always seemed to be stacked against us, but it was still fun to play thanks to the other players. I was the first player to die in an adventure where almost all of us perished but as a team we were victorious.
I then went back to my tent to cook myself some food, during this time I had to actively avoid the burning sun. I regretted not packing my shorts.
A great place to avoid the sun was the Spinning@ tent for an audience with Steve Rawlings. Steve was open to every question, full of fascinating stories & gave useful advice from experience. It was a very funny & entertaining session which could have gone on for hours.
The panel of judge's this year consisted of Ben Cornish, Natalie Randall & Matthew Tiffany. Jon Udry took on compère duties.
I sadly can't remember the names of the young acrobatic trio who opened the show. They were all extraordinarily bendy, as only kids can be. They did lots of synchronised tumbling into splits positions. They lacked a bit of confidence & were a little hesitant at times but they got through their well choreographed routine without any errors as far as I could see. A cracking start.
Next up was Becca with a staff routine. She had a great costume & presented herself well, again she lacked a bit of confidence but kept smiling & worked through her piece which was well choreographed to her backing music. My only real complaint was she was too static, she never really left the centre of the stage.
Jonny performed a technical ball juggling routine with 3 to 7 balls. There was a lot of variety but the performance had too many drops for it to build any momentum.
Young Sophie presented a glow poi routine which was fine but unfortunately for me she did the routine with one set of poi, then pretty much did the same routine again with another set of poi that had long tails which was just unnecessary. The takeaway lesson from this act is: if you have 3 minutes of material, just do a 3 minute act. Short acts are perfectly ok!
The next act was Chris with his S-staff. This was not my thing at all, the isolations were unconvincing & the routine was repetitive. My main frame of reference for this type of act is Nik Robson-King who is mesmerising to watch, sadly Chris had none of the magic. I am well aware that it's pretty unfair of me to compare him to Nik because that is a very high bar to live up to.
I wisely walked out on Peter practicing earlier in the week when I learned that he would be competing in BYJOTY. I prefer to be surprised, & I know I judge acts more harshly if I've seen it before. He stormed through a fantastic spy themed walking globe routine. It featured loads of tricks I haven't seen before such as a leapfrog mount over a globe onto another one, a 3 ball 1-up 180° on 2 globes. My favourite trick was when he put a globe into a fast horizontal spin then leapt on & maintained the balance until the spin stopped. Bonus points for his young assistant being suitably decked out in black clothes & sunglasses too! It's the little touches like this that make an act special.
Closing the show was Circomedia student Eilidh Sela with a very high end hoop act. Her advanced training was evident from the start, the whole routine was very slick & professional. She looked great & was able to throw in the incidental smiles & connections with the audience that only comes when you are very comfortable with your skills. She rattled through all the tricks at a blistering pace yet was still tight to the musical queues. Fantastic stuff.
While the judges retired to deliberate their decision Jon kicked off the best trick competition. The drop count competition wasn't particularly popular this year which meant the prize fund was only £12. This fact combined with the length of time that the best trick section went on for meant that it violated the UK minimum wage law.
The judges returned to award Peter & Eilidh silver awards & Eilidh the Judge's Choice. Once the votes were counted Peter picked up the BYJOTY title. It was tough to call between Peter & Eilidh. I think Eilidh was the better performer, but the market for accomplished hoop acts is becoming saturated whereas Peter's routine had the benefit of originality & rarity.
Other stuff probably happened then it was time for another episode of...
Our panellists for the evening were The Void, Jamie Fletcher, Mandy Blake & Devilstick Peat. They were kept under control (mostly) by Ashby Winch. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Void's experience's of working with Max & about Mandy growing up in the early UK convention scene. It was a fun, laid back show in which everyone was entertaining.
Sunday, 8th April
I cooked my own breakfast then spent the rest of the morning doing some juggling & handstand practice in the show hall. My handstands are improving, I managed to stay standing after being struck by an errant diabolo twice.
The BJC meeting was very positive. I was very impressed with how effective Anna's opening preemptive strike against some of the obvious complaints was. I also think every BJC meeting should feature a scone vs scone pronunciation fight.
Jane talked about all the developments for next year's EJC 2019 which is going to be awesome. Keep an eye out for tickets, you can be the first to know by signing up to the email news letter.
At present there are no bids for a BJC in 2019. If you have a proposal, no matter how tentative, please do come forward.
After a bit more food it was time for the Fight night qualifying. 31 of us registered to take part, we were split into 2 groups & then worked through matches until everyone in group A had played everyone in group B. The climbing gym was too small for everyone to play at once so we set up a queuing system so that there were only around 8 games happening at any one time. This helped by giving us players a little bit of a rest between matches & allowed us to watch some of the games which I appreciated. Cameron beat me 3-0 with ease early on. Felix Surbe beat me 3-1. I'm not going to dwell on the 3, I'm going to focus on the 1 which was the greatest point I have ever scored. I managed a very clean lunging strike at full stretch on one of Felix's clubs just before he could catch it, my high throw was a bit wayward though forcing me to run & slide on both knees to make the save. Unfortunately I didn't slide on the nice slippy part of the hall, I slid on the grippy black rubber section of the floor which took all the skin off of my left knee & some of my right. I couldn't kneel down for the rest of the festival, but for that brief moment I looked good. I also lost 3-1 to Rob Woolley. I had a very satisfying 3-2 win over Stephan Cipra. Stephan is a very fast player who literally ran rings around me, I spent most of the match standing in the centre fending off his attacks but I was able to take advantage whenever he extended himself that little bit too far. Other than that I think I won everything else 3-0. Sadly my last match ended in disaster. I was playing Joe Wonham, we were at 2-2. He threw a club up & came at me for an attack, I tracked back a little then made a high throw & reached to swipe at Joe's descending club, while I was watching Joe's club I think Joe leapt in an attempt to catch my high club. I batted his club just in time to clout him in the face. I didn't realise this at the time so I caught my club & juggled to a clean finish, I turned to thank Joe for the game only to find him crouched & holding a bleeding nose. Arse.
I'd like to say sorry again to Joe for causing the injury & a big thank you to Stephen as the first-aider on hand for taking good care of him.
The results were totted up & 12 of us were selected for the main tournament to be held later in the evening. I was pleased to have made it through so I thought I'd go back to my tent for a brief nap before the main event at 22:00. I woke up & looked at my phone which said 21:57 so with a little bit of a panic I made it to the main hall in time for...
The arena was set up at one end of the main hall, Ieuen acted as referee, Dee kept score & Rosie Kelly did a fantastic job as the commentator making up lots of ridiculous facts about the competitors. My favourite line of the evening was, "Callum is sponsored by outer space".
True to form I went out in the first round losing 5-4 to Lukas Bonauer, but at least I didn't make anyone else bleed, although I did come close when I went crashing into the commentator's table.
Jon Peat surprisingly steam-rolled the number 1 seed, Brook Roberts 5-0 in the semi final. I have a long & glorious history of losing all the points-0 against Jon, but Brook?! Callum Lawrie pulled off a superb victory against number 2 seed, Cameron Ford to join Jon in the final. Callum lead Jon 4-3, when Jon won the next point he amusingly thought he'd won! Jon also took the last point to win the title with a well deserved 5-4 victory.
Well done to all involved, especially Ieuen for organising the whole thing.
Monday, 9th April
Monday was pack down day so I spent the day carrying fencing to the end of the car park, moving tables & chairs back into class rooms & litter picking. Thank you to everyone who chipped in to help, especially on the last day.
It was particularly lovely to see Anna & Jak smiling & laughing after a very successful event.
Being mentioned 4 times in one review. I feel... honoured!
It was great to have you in all my games though, and I do hope you'll join me again (hopefully @ Bungay if I run them!)
Games at Bumgay!!
Good heavens, whatever next?
Someone will be suggesting workshops if this trend continues, fetch my smelling salts someone I'm close to fainting...
BJC2018 – A review
This review is my personal thoughts of the last few days and may be idiosyncratic.
We arrived in two cars as my car had two walking globes init as well as part of an aerial rig and therefore only the front two seats were useable. By the time we had set up the caravan and oldest sons tent (which he pitched about as far from us as was possible), it was time to eat. Then I played the yearly game of find the water point (why is it never marked on the maps?). Eventually we were all sorted and we looked around the site, chatting to friends as we went. At some point we went to the gym and Peter did an hours practice (added a time waster move with two globes) which like many of the practices at BJC had Peter struggle with the 1 up 180 with 3 balls, whilst stood on two globes. He could run it fine when not running the whole act. As soon as the music started and he tried it two minutes in to the routine it became much harder. After that we did a bit more chatting before an early night.
After breakfast we did another hour practice with Peter(changed 4 ball on one globe with an under the leg throw to 3 ball, 2 globe and under the leg throw). After that I went to add a workshop to the board (walking globe, naturally) and the fire alarm went off. No idea what set that off but at least it was a one off. At some point during the day Jamie Fletcher appeared with my new toy, a red and yellow Salerno ring. I haven’t had a lot of success with it as yet but should have plenty of practice time and space in the near future to improve. Spoke briefly to Clare about BYJOTY to learn that only 3 had entered to that point. Spoke shortly afterwards to Christopher and suggest that he practice the act that he had performed the month before and then enter BYJOTY. He is one of the students at Concrete Circus and whilst it is an act in development, the experience and feedback from BYJOTY would be good for him.Various chatting and food happened until the start of the Spinning@ show.
For me the first half was basically filler. Whilst there was some good technical skill most of the acts were too long or too repetitive. The best of them was the rope dart but that act could have been shortened and maybe some of the tricks could have gone above the audiences head. Of the other acts,the only comment I’m going to make is since when has clearing up after yourself been an act?
Our friends the Kelsalls arrived during the interval which pleased my daughter particularly (and us as well as we then didn’t have to explain the compere to her) and they got to see a really good second half. Starting with Ben Cornish. Ben was having a bad time with one trick but his performing experience showed through. We also had a really nice Bar Flair routine by Sam, a pleasing, smooth and aesthetic hoop routine by Alice, a very competent (and much improved since I last saw it) hulahoop act from Lisa and Callum and for me the stand out act in the show the cigar box routine by Luke? Cigar box routines are rare anyway but to show great skills with 3, 4 and 5 boxes made it much better. The final part of the act was a standard made better by music that worked well (even though the music was for the next act, which didn’t help them I’m sure).
After the show chatting happened and then I retrieved my juggling case from the sports hall, where it had sat for a day. I did some passing with my sons, including some feeding and switching who was feeding.Considering that Peter hadn’t done two count club passing before that evening,that was a great improvement.
Again we started with an hour practice with Peter (changed the skipping part to have two jumps rather than one). After that some more chatting happened before I attended Euaun’s combat workshop. That was good fun and the only workshop I attended other than the walking globe workshop that happened immediately afterwards. I was impressed with the turn out to the workshop as there must have been about 25 who attended. I worked with the beginners, many of whom learnt to walk on the globe, whilst Peter worked with those who were more advanced. Nobody was killed or seriously injured which counts as a result in my books and actually quite a few people came up to thank me afterwards and it wouldn’t surprise me if Lancaster University juggling group buys a globe.
At some point in the afternoon I played the one game I played all convention. I don’t remember its name.
The show in the evening was the Open Stage. Devil Stick Peet compered and did a small act between each act which meant he now dominates the show in my head. Other acts that impressed were (in no particular order) Antonia and Keith with their passing poi (I liked the characterisation), The odd ball juggling person (Daniel?), the professional looking poi double act and the duo acrobalance. There were other acts and none of them were bad, I just can’t remember them at this time.
I did a bit more juggling and passing afterwards and thus this became the convention I have done most juggling at for a few years.
Up early again for another practice session with Peter(added 5 ball multiplex on 2 globes). After that I generally chatted although I did meet up with Barbara at some point to discuss aerial rig bags. We had the debate of going on the bus or driving to Margate and went for the bus. Arriving at Dreamland (so called because that is where dreams go to die?) we hung around and watched some of the games. I took part in the balloon dog making one although felt hampered because I felt obliged to pick up the pump and then it got in the way when I was blowing up the balloon with my mouth. David did creditably well in the unicycle gladiators before being taken off his unicycle by someone hugging him and then suiciding. Shortly after that we left Dreamland(with its hall with more hole than roof) and went across the road to the beach and promenade. We stopped for a while at a large set of steps where David proved that he can bunny hop and Olivia Kelsall showed that she is an up and coming artist. We chatted to one of the local families and tried to convince them to watch the show later. Our evening meal was pizza at a sea front restaurant. The door to the place was particularly difficult to open and as we sat outside the restaurant eating we gained much amusement as other people(including staff) struggled to get in and out. After eating and walking closer to the show venue we also had an ice cream and eventually reached the venue before the vast majority of jugglers but only just. This did allow us to have seats in the centre of the theatre.
For me the show felt very safe. By which I mean that most of the acts were well known and had appeared in the BJC gala show before. Jon Udry was slick and his dry humour works for me. Ben had an interesting and novel act, perhaps not quite enough juggling for me but still enough to keep it interesting. Jan Himself was very professional in an almost predictably weird way. Paul Zenon’s magic routine had a lot of standard tricks which were all well presented. The end of his routine I thought was a somewhat bizarre staged event at first but apparently that wasn’t the case and one of the stage hands took it upon herself to interrupt his act. I hope someone apologised to Paul afterwards. The second half was equally skilled. Loz because performed a routine which was both well choreographed and well programmed, I always think that glow props take a little bit away from the performer and their skills but Loz was visible enough that we could see much of her tricks. Helena Berry has an act that isn’t very forgiving and the drops grew more towards the end but this didn’t take away from the act which was original and skilful. The Berlin Passing Girls did a great choreographed act and probably inspired the girls in the audience into believing they should juggle more. Steve Rawlings has been in at least 3 other BJC gala shows and is always a crowd favourite. For me the highlight of his act was the bit that I haven’t seen before with the mouth stick bottle and balloon. Matthew Tiffany as compere did a great job as compere and introduced a song that is fairly hard to sing if you have all the words written out in front of you.
On the way back from the show I learned that if Steve Rawlings does his knife gag in a show and you are 3 then you will still remember it 9.5 years later.
Guess what, we started the day with another practice session(changed the skipping so there was a slick turn before the second jump). After that I had a long conversation with Jonathan the Jester and probably chatted with others. After lunch I visited the traders with my daughter who needed anew peddle for her unicycle. Roger managed to sell her an upgraded set of peddles (pink) but not a new tyre (also pink) just because she had a pink unicycle stem and was wearing a pink cardigan doesn’t mean that she is obsessed with the colour. 2pm was tech rehearsal for BYJOTY so we all went over there. Originally there were going to be 8 acts but one of them was clearly not ready and will probably do a better job next year. After watching the tech run I thought that it would be very close indeed between 3 acts, the two twenty year olds and my 14 year old son. It turned out that I was correct. If you congratulated Peter and he didn’t say anything back to you it wasn’t because of you. For someone who is happy to stand up in front of people performing he isn’t great at conversation. After that we treated Peter to a meal of his choice, so we ended up going to Pizza Hut.
We didn’t do an hour of walking globe practice. Instead we slowly packed away and said our goodbyes. Peter bought some balls from Oddballs with his voucher forgetting a silver medal. Eventually we left for the journey home. Around about J30 my car engine started making funny noises and got gradually worse so I pulled over just before J28. Fortunately one of the Milton Keynes jugglers saw us and took Peter home (the other 3 were in the other car). I got to play the very slow game of waiting for Mr AA Man and eventually got home some 9.5 hours later. A sad end to an otherwise great BJC.
I noticed that in this review I forgot to thank all the people who made BJC happen. You are all wonderful people and I enjoy spending time with you each year.
I enjoyed the act. I generally enjoy acts that have characterisation and have been thought through and yours met both those criteria.
I have to say how Impressed I was with BYJOTY, esp the astounding walking globe. I have not been that gobsmacked since Sam Goodburn wheel walked his uni. Very very good stuff. As always it was great to catch up with Nigel.
Nice review Nigel!
Pssssst Orinoco... you aren't waiting for me really, are you? Mine is going to be a good few days yet at least...
I also went to the BJC in Canterbury and wrote about my experiences!
Check out all of the action here: https://www.juggle.org/british-juggling-convention-2018-review/
p.s I enjoy reading other peoples reviews and experiences, add to the discussion with your own mini reviews!
Interesting that you tried to attend the preventing injury workshop. Frederique and myself were the only ones there unfortunately. Ben did it anyway and we found it useful and informative.
I am very surprised that so few people went along.
Fortunately (or unfortunately...) any injuries I recieve which prevent me from juggling are normally due to things outside of juggling (cycling accidents, mis-handling of tools etc...) or avoidable impacts from juggling combat.
I was very interested to hear what Ben said and would definately go if the chance came up again. It just didn't work out for me this time.
Ejuggle appears to be down at the moment :(
I'm hoping to finish my effort this evening (probably late evening).
Thanks Jon, as always I really enjoyed that.
Very interesting to see how you always have a completely different juggling experience to me: a rare attendant to shows or workshops and a frequent attendant at the lazy juggler bar!
My main thoughts / feedback / witty or non witty repartee in no particular order or coherency are as follows:
- Margate had excellent fish and chips away from the main strip. We skipped dreamland and the games completely and played adventure golf (curse you Andy Fraser for taking my title) and really enjoyed our day out and nearby Fish.
- I really enjoyed the gala show but thought too many of the acts were a little similar. It was probably the least balanced gala show I had seen for a while. I love Tiff, Jon and Steve, but all in one show with a talking magician and a talking Ben was a lot of wordy performances. Helena was really quite good though.
- Was the stage hand who interrupted Paul Zenon really not a poor acting planned part of the act? we couldn't tell
- Monte food = excellent. Much better when he has a full kitchen and helpers to work with. Rarely needed to leave site for sustenance other than drinkable water
- Lack of flushable toilets...at one point I think there were only 2 working on site. Thank goodness the portaloos turned up
- Waffles are not an acceptable breakfast. Why can we not get decent coffee anywhere ever at a BJC?
- Played two long games of Suburbia and Stone age with Brook, Cameron and Danny. Stone age seemed to be more popular. Also played a bit of seven wonders duel with various people. This is my latest favorite two player game of choice. Also Danny needs banning from all board games on account of being too good.
- Generally the organisation was a little lax. The volunteer board didn't seem to exist and on inquiring how I could help I was told 'go and see if anyone is on badge control now and you can fill in'. Well I did and a couple of hours later I was lucky to be replaced as the person after me had no relief after 2 hours. A simple printed schedule people can sign up to is so much easier.
- Sebs workshop on 3 in one hand scissor manipulations was great
- I felt really sorry for the unicycle hockey guys for pushing my patience. The Scheduling as you mentioned was awful but it wasn't their fault and I was temporarily very angry until I thought about this
- Love being able to drive to BJCs and bring my double duvet to camp with. Feel like a big southern pansy, but no regrets!
- I need to pass more with different people. I did no > 2 person passing other than 'Spider' and mostly passed with the same people. Made some progress on Funky 9 though. Also amazed at the number of people who can now acceptably run Holy Grail. A few years back this was a pipe dream and now it seems almost common. Need to regress a few years, quit my job and move to Cambridge to keep up.
"- Waffles are not an acceptable breakfast. Why can we not get decent coffee anywhere ever at a BJC?"
From which conjunction I conclude that you think decent coffee is an acceptable breakfast. I agree, but enjoyed a couple of veggie Full Montes in the week too. Seeing Bob Fromcanada around made me miss his great coffee stall that was at EJC.
I have never understood why people for whom coffee is so important cannot bring along the means to provide their own. SMH
I could... but given my campsite was at least 5 minutes walk from the main communal / juggling area, and that I would have to whip out a camp stove, boil my own water and bring my own fancy cafetiere in the first place this seems a rather extravagant means to an end.
Much easier to rant on the internet than self provide a simple practical solution. That being said I am sure there is a commercial opportunity there given the success of EJC ventures.
I could being the Leeds convention filter machine along, but it’s not PATed so insurance mght be an issue...
I do, thanks! Aeropress and hand grinder. But there is a bootstrap problem in that some people - not me, cough cough - need a coffee before they can be organised enough to make coffee.
BJC 2018 Canterbury site is now live!
Head on over to https://bjc2018.co.uk to check it out. The Shop is also live, so you're able to purchase your Early Bird tickets to save a little money, and to help support the team to organise what will hopefully be yet another amazing week :-)
Website will be updated a lot more with info over the coming months.
Any problems / bugs / suggestions, please let me know :-)
Got your British Juggling Convention ticket yet? Forget Christmas, Black Friday deals should be about treating yourself to a cheaper BJC Ticket :-) Discounted this weekend only.
Have a look at www.bjc2018.co.uk/shop and there will be a ticket box with the Black Friday discount. Use the code: 'dropit' to get your discount. This ticket option is only available until Monday!!
Anyone going to the Sheffield Circus Skills Convention on Saturday will possibly hear the first bit of BJC 2018 news.
First person to report their findings back here will win 10 BJC points1
1 BJC points are not redeemable for anything but they are still quite nice to collect.
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