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charlieh -

A review of BJC 2014, Darton College, Yorkshire

Back in the mists of time there were regular long form reviews of conventions posted on Rec.RareWineRedMugenKendama (for the young people, this was on Usenet where we invented long pointless argument threads, before Facebook cornered the market in those). It seems to me this doesn't happen very often these days, so here's my small contribution in the hope others will follow.

I started going to BJCs in 1993 when single - then when Alex became my girlfriend (not at a BJC, as there were only three female jugglers in the UK those days and all of them had far better taste) she came along too, initially for the big shows but eventually to be grappled in acrobalance workshops by large German chaps - luckily I'm not the jealous type. Then we got all sensible, settled down and got married, a house and two kids, so the last few BJCs I've also attended on my own in a retro fashion, lugging a rucsac containing little more than a tent, sleeping bag, five clubs and some beer. Since in the meantime every other juggler has been practising more than me and can do more stuff (this includes the twelve year olds) I usually end up in the bar with the other grumpies, moaning about how we can't take the mickey out of poi spinners any more. This year, however, we were to attend as a family, with Libby ("I'm five AND THREE QUARTERS!") and Ben ("I am four.") - complete with superhero costumes. While dressed up, someone asked them who they were - Libby replied "We're Libby and Ben!!" - so much for secret identities. Fearing camping and the packing involved, we had a booked a cheap hotel a few miles away, situated in an industrial estate built on top of a closed pit and complete with a view of the roundabout (I do like to travel in style), but it did at least serve individual boxes of cereal for breakfast, which impressed the kids no end.

We turned up to site on Friday night, being extra keen and arriving only half an hour after the doors opened. Team Randall, Kat, Bryn, Lazyjuggler Ron and many others were rushing about giving out brown paper envelopes containing bits of paper a lot of people would forget to read and perspex passes that would
light up until the battery fell out later, and setting up a well stocked bar (it's always nice to have jugglers running a convention bar, as they have a realistic idea of how much and for how long we can drink - many's the time I've seen a bar frantically shifting in new barrels after the first night). We met Mandy & Gary's baby Freya, who is very sweet at six months but sadly cannot juggle anything yet, unlike her not much elder brother. She is however very good at gnawing anatomically improbable rubber giraffes and smiling. Libby and Ben dragged me off to explore the site, which was absolutely perfect - a huge central atrium for shows, games and generally mucking about in, surrounded by the cafe, bar, coffee & cake stalls and leading to halls for the traders, a theatre for shows and a reasonably sized gym. After a lot of catching up with friends we returned to the hotel, but I cycled in later for some more chat and beers, a nice downhill run....of course, later on I cycled home, which nearly killed me being mostly uphill. The next two nights I would take a taxi home - cycling in Cambridge is mostly flat, Yorkshire having taken all the slopey bits.

Saturday was the day for workshops, more arrivals and hugging, and watching Libby and Ben collect balloon animals (I'm particularly proud of my Deformed Rabbit and accompanying Mutant Carrots) and join with the juggling - Ben spotted a group of people with 2 and 3 diabolos and went off to join them, although all he can do is get his diabolo spinning. Luckily they've been going to conventions since they were literally weeks old so shyness amongst jugglers isn't an issue. Libby spent a lot of the day reading Dr Dolittle and a weird Australian book called Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (parents, check it out, it's bonkers). Their day finished watching a well-choreographed youth circus show and with the traditional Northern dish of chips and curry, but again I returned later to watch Fight Night (one-on-one club Gladiators, no it's not called Combat in my book) which was lots of fun. We cheered on the two Cambridge qualifiers including Brooke who wins many of our local bouts partly due to his juggling skill and partly due to having arms like Mr Tickle. The event was one by an unseeded Norwegian who sadly didn't resemble any of the Mr Men.

On Sunday morning Alex needed her fix of Art so I took her and the kids to the nearby Yorkshire Sculpture Park - a beautiful place, but I needed more coffee and chat, so returned to the site before picking her up and losing £20 to the parking machine, which needed 4 serious chaps with walkie talkies to retrieve. Back to site for lunch and then the Juggling Olympics, tightly organised by Luke Burrage and launched by Libby and Ben having a 'who can pull the funniest face' competition on the sidelines. We managed to retrieve them before Unicycle Gladiators and a possible trip to casualty. Afterwards it was time to leave for Sheffield and the Gala Show: the kids thought the usual balloon madness before the show started was wonderful. I'm not sure the theatre staff did, looking bemused at the huge modelling balloon chains, volleys of rocket balloons and remote control inflatable sharks getting stuck in the roof - I hope none of them have a latex allergy or are lacking a sense of humour. The show itself was quite long, and a few acts could have been pruned to improve the pace, as could some shorter links from the comperes: we had to bribe Ben with icecream to sit through the second half. His favourite act was the 'funny man who cut off the legs of his chair when he dropped' and Libby enjoyed the glow spinners with their BJC logos produced by a clever LED stick thingummy. I liked the last act although it made Alex sleepy and really enjoyed the Taiwanese diabolists, feeling sorry for one of them who was having a droppy evening but amazed by the skill level of what they were doing. After taking the family back to the hotel I returned for a few drinks and general Renegade avoidance, I'm sure it was all very funny.

We popped in briefly on Monday to collect all our stuff (books, props, part deflated balloon animals, jumpers, coats, a squashed veggie pasty and a bottle of water that Ben had put a grape into) and to say goodbye. The event continued until Thursday so you'll have to wait for other reviewers to describe BYJOTY, the ceilidh, Cabaret and any other shenanigans. We had an excellent time and will return for longer next time - thanks to all involved, you did us proud.

charlieh - - Parent

I really have no idea why 'rec dot juggling' turned into that weird link!!!

Little Paul - - Parent


I like that, thanks orin :)

Orinoco - - Parent

Hahahaha! I'd forgotten I'd done that so even I thought it was funny! :)

Thanks for your story Charlie, I too miss the long reviews. I will start writing mine tomorrow morning, & I hope to have it ready by Monday latest...

Oh & tag, you're it #bjc2014

lukeburrage - - Parent

The Fight Night was a lot of fun, and one of the most successful Fight Nights I've organized by a lot of measures. Iver wasn't unseeded (he was seeded second after qualification) but it was his first tournament so was technically unranked (unlike Dave, Brook and me).

See all the results here:

Orinoco - - Parent

'twas a great tournament, I had a great time & really enjoyed it. Thanks for organising it. The Fight Night website looks great too!

Little Paul - - Parent

His favourite act was the 'funny man who cut off the legs of his chair when he dropped'

Ben clearly has taste, as that was by far my favourite act as well.

Brook Roberts - - Parent

Most of my ability in gladiators is due to it allowing me to release my aggression which builds up from repeated misspelling of my name.

I am nevertheless interested in this kendama you speak of. Is it still for sale?

Dee - - Parent

With my actual name being constantly misspelt, I sympathise with you. This is why I double checked name spelling during fight night.

Brook Roberts - - Parent

Ha, it doesn't actually bother me too much when people get it wrong.
It does bother me when I submit my name to someone, and they decide to 'correct' either my name (which has happened often after I have submitted it correctly) or correct my gender (as a result of which I have a driving theory test in the name of Ms Brook Roberts!). I'm not sure what drives people to assume that they know the name/gender of a person better than the person filling out a form!

Al_Bee - - Parent

I used to have a South African boss who booked me on a course. I arrived to find I didn't have a place but someone called "Ellen" did.

Chris - - Parent

Ever had your name "corrected" to Robert Brooks?

Brook Roberts - - Parent

I have, but that seems only common in person/giving my name over the phone. I think that actually happened at BJC but I can't remember with who now...

Orinoco - - Parent

I am constantly corrected to John Ralph. The good thing about going by Orinoco or the God Emperor is that it generally makes people ask, "what was that again?".

emilyw - - Parent

Who in hell doesn't know who Orinoco is? I mean seriously.

emilyw - - Parent

I just read that the original Orinoco was modelled on Elizabeth Beresford's lazy teenage son. Hahahaha.

(When much younger I once tried to hit on a guy by telling him he looked like a womble. Wasn't successful).

barnesy - - Parent

Wrong womble?

Little Paul - - Parent

Saying a chap looks like Madame Cholet rarely gets you very far.

emilyw - - Parent

Quite obviously there is no such thing as a wrong womble.

jamesfrancis - - Parent

I once had to send out 200 'thank you for attending our conference' emails using our standard dear mr/mrs/ms letter forms when the attendees registered only using their names and no titles. Being an actuarial conference over 50% of the names were non European and unfamiliar to me. Even after googling each of the names I think I probably had a 60% success rate on guessing gender and have permanently excluded myself from ever working in about 20% of the market!

david - - Parent

Dear jamesfrancis,

Clearly it is more respectful to drop the titles and address people by their names.

jamesfrancis - - Parent

I agree...unfortunately the standardised templates the consultancy I used to work and their lack of flexibility disagreed!

emilyw - - Parent

next time just put Dr. for everyone, then nobody will be offended :-)

Lorri - - Parent

Unless they're a professor. I deliberately don't have any title on delgate badges/lists/letters anymore for that very reason!

The Void - - Parent

My pics are at
A fun week, trouble- and hassle-free, good venue. Big Thanks to the crew.


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