#NBGCON11 #ConventionReview

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5balls -

#NBGCON11 #ConventionReview

Last weekend I went to the juggling convention in Nürnberg in germany - sometimes the largest juggling convention in germany so lets write about it. It got quite long but I hope it might be interesting for some :).

I had to go there after work, so at 3 p.m. I took my stuff and jumped on the bus to the train station. Wonder why my stuff is always so heavy, I had packed a backpack with my juggling props i.e. four clubs, three cigar boxes, 12 balls (ok, could have packed less, just took two bags), one contact juggling ball, four rings and clothing, sleeping back, air matress and hygenic stuff. I thought it was minimal but boy was it heavy again!

And then I also took my finnish grammar and flashcards with me - it was a three hour train ride and I thought I could learn some on the train. But then I met two jugglers sometimes attending our club meeting, so I had a nice conversation with them instead.

Arriving on Nürnberg I had the adress but did not remember the station where to get out and getting out at the station named after the street was not the best choice but the walk was not too bad. We had met some jugglers from Nürnberg on the tram, one who had the strong frankish dialect and tried to guide us a bit but admitted that he had never been to this part of town. With smartphone navigation it was still easy to find.

The juggling convention takes place in a huge (for german standards) school as it is an indoor convention at this time of the year. There were some people playing with fire toys on the schoolyard, when we arrived. The theme of the convention was "Artenschutz" which translates literally to "Protection of species" and less literally to "Wildlife conservation". Arriving there where some tree branches forming an ark behind the door and some clubs decorated as animals, i.e. a bee. There was also a frog making frog noises when passing. Registration went smooth with the preregistered online ticket with a barcode on it (I'm thinking about reintroducing such tickets for our own convention in Tübingen again) but funnily for the preregistered tickets there was a queue while for the non registered jugglers there was none. Anyway I only had to wait very shortly which is impressive for a convention with more than 700 jugglers at least (this was the number of preregistered people I heard - total number of jugglers will have been higher. Two years ago it was over a thousand people making it the largest convention in germany, larger than the convention in Berlin). The badge was a small bag with a seed bomb in it. We had jokingly said, that they stole the theme from our juggling convention in Tübingen which was earlier this year in september. Our juggling convention had the theme "Juggling for future" and we had small bags with seeds in it as badges as well - so there were some parallels... but honestly it was kind of inevitable that two conventions chose the same motto this year and when you choose this motto the badge idea is also quite obvious. Apart from that our convention is with 100 to 200 people max one tenths smaller so we don't really compete ;).

After receiving my badge I was looking for Peter who had arrived earlier and would have reserved a sleeping place in one of the classrooms for me. I didn't see him but a lot of others jugglers from my juggling club sitting at the mensa tables of the school. When I texted him where he was he texted back to look right... he had sat on one of the neighbouring tables all along... duh :). I took my stuff and set up my sleeping place. The room was quite nice and I had a sort of corner because someone had put up a table with some cloth next to me. Also it was better than the two other rooms you had to pass through to get to our room - it would have been much nicer for the people sleeping there, if they had opened the other stairwell but I understand that they did not want to make another badge control point there.

This year the food was provided by a vegetarian catering service, which prooved to be a good choice. Considering how many hours on work we put into cooking food on our convention, this is really neat, but probably not feasible for the size of our convention. After getting my plate of curry I set next to Peter and watched some of the people playing fire. There were a lot of staff players but nothing particularly standing out when we watched. I think we juggled for a bit after that but my memory is fading, should have made notes there :).

Anyway we saw the open stage - which was good. There was a czech (?) juggler with a staff which took the character of a sailor. He reminded me strongly of Alexander Koblikov and maybe his act was inspired on it but it was an original act, where he rolled the staff on his had while juggling three balls - quite impressive and if he works on it and extends it can be a quite nice show act on its own.

We considered watching the fire open stage but as it was starting to rain, we went back inside. Juggling in the main hall prooved to be quite difficult as it was quite cramped (even though it was a big hall with 1200 square meters). We went to the small hall to see if there was more space there. There was going to be a juggling competition there so we stayed to watch these. They said that there would not be a fight night combat* and that there would be a one to one juggling competition instead. I did not get the exact rules and I did not really care - in my opinion they could have done without the jury and competition altogether - but what I cared about was the high level technical juggling which was very impressive. I particular enjoyed the juggling of Ludwig Klam who - apart from other crazy tricks - did a five ball boston mess. I did some solo juggling after that and I think I went to bed somewhere around 2 a.m..

Breakfast on the next morning was quite good with some typical german choices (i.e. breadrolls, several cold cuts, cheese, vegetarian spreads, Müsli, fruits and some vegetables, milk, coffee, tea as beverages). It is quite common for german conventions to provide breakfast and one dinner on the arrival day with the convention ticket and this convention was a bargain with 25 Euro including all of that (including the gala show ticket) but venue costs vary quite a lot in germany. The costs for renting such a school for the weekend varies between nothing to some thousand euros depending on the regulations of the city (unfortunately in Tübingen I think we are at the higher end of the spectrum). Second day dinner was not included but could be purchased for another five euro, which I did.

Did some nice juggling on this day - nothing particular new but some solid solo work and some nice passing session which included other people from the convention so all was good :). Also saw a nice four person feed with three people rotating around each other in a cascade way which looked quite feasible for our juggling club as well (We tried it this week but it did not work as well as I thought it would. But I'm sure we can make it work if we work on it). Also brought one of my clubs for repairs to Henry's who had a small stand beside the main hall. It was not really broken but the silver foil on one of the clubs handles was disappearing and I don't like the feeling of that so much. Considering they completely replaced the handle, the top and the knob for five euros I'm quite happy with that.

We went into Nürnberg city to get some gingerbread as well. Nürnberg is well known for its gingerbread so when you are there at this season of the year it is really not avoidable - you have to eat it - I'd say ;). My smartphone showed me a gingerbread store quite near and it was on a quite nice island but we did not find the cheap "Lebkuchenbruch" stuff there. "Bruch" means literally "broken", and it is some of the gingerbread they consider of being not good enough for the normal sale. In reality it may have some small optical defects but is as good as the normal stuff but considerable cheaper. We went a bit further to the second gingerbread store (yes, there are several stores in Nürnberg selling nothing else than gingerbread) and there they had some "Lebkuchenbruch". I think I paid something like nine euros something for a pack of 500 g of chocolate coated "Elisenlebkuchen" - very good quality stuff and indeed I did not saw anything wrong with them why they considered them "Bruch".

I had a ticket for the early gala show which was a bit stupid, as all my friends had tickets for the late show but I either didn't pay enough attention when doing the prereg or I did not know which show they would take. Either way I was standing in line quite early because I knew there would form a queue quite early and I wanted to have a good seat. The venue in the school is quite good. I don't know how many people fit in there (I would guess about 300-500) but it is in an amphitheater like stage with the stage being almost circular and being as close to the audience as it can be. The show was fantastic. The moderator Shiva Grings took up the motto of the convention and had the character of an expedition manager looking into strange creatures. As Matthias Romir was the artistic producer of the show again this year my expectations where quite high and I was not disappointed. When seeing the many hats on stage in the beginning I was wondering if it was an showact I had seen before and quite enjoyed. It was a different show but by the same guy, Michael Zandl and again it was very good! I'm normally not so much into hats but this is really good! There was an act of physical theatre where Anita Bertolami took on different roles which was quite funny and impressive but maybe could have been a bit shorter. After the break there was a diabolo act from Solvejg Weyeneth which I really loved. Again, I'm usually not into diabolo acts as often they are just like "Hey I'm soo cool look at what tricks I can do" type of acts, but this was totally different. Very creative use of two lines which were spanned over the stage and quite high technical level - as far as I can tell; I'm not a diabolo player. The dart act of Bernhard Zandl I had seen before (in fact he had won the cabaret price "Tübinger Fröschle" on our own convention with this act this year) but it is a very good act and I enjoyed watching it a second time. There was a good acrobatic act by Dries Vanwalle and Xenia Bannuscher which I might have seen before and the very good food juggling by Ariane Öchsner and Roxana Küven which I have seen some times before but enjoyed very much watching again. The last act by Florent Lestage was something I had never seen before. He combined canes with clubs and a quirky humour and it was a very enjoyable and creative act.
I did more juggling on the convention and was quite exhausted but happy after this days. Ride back to Tübingen with Peter was uneventfull but nice. Overall it was a really nice convention (and the last one of the year if you don't count the Glühwein juggling convention or the Passout juggling convention around newyear) the only thing is that the juggling hall can get quite full - which is not surprising considering how many people were there. I guess you can't do much about that though - it seemed more full than two years ago (Nürnberg juggling convention is every other year) and I wonder if that is because there were more jugglers or they were more motivated ;). Maybe we german jugglers should get less disciplined and more lazy like the clichee of british jugglers ;).

*I heard there still was a fight night on saturday but apparently I only heard of it afterwards ;). Even though I'm probably in no position to have an opinion on that having neither taken part in a fight night nor in a convention in Berlin I wonder if there should not be more points for a convention of this size and juggling level. On the other hand maybe this is fair considering the best players currently live in Berlin.

JonPeat - - Parent

Thank you for writing your review, I enjoyed it. :-)
I was very interested to hear about the shops dedicated entirely to gingerbread.

What did you do for your evening meals at the convention?
Were there restaurants nearby?

Was it outdoor camping / cooking as well as sleeping in classrooms or did everyone enjoy the luxury of sleeping indoors?
Does the venue change every 2x years?

Thanks again,

Cheers, Jon

5balls - - Parent

Glad you enjoyed it :)

It was not too far from the center of Nürnberg, so it would not have been a problem to go to a nearby restaurant, however food on friday evening was included in the convention ticket and for saturday I paid five euros extra to eat at the convention as well (Usually the prices you pay help the convention pay their bills, so they also sold snacks, drinks and gingerbread at the convention). The convention ended on sunday afternoon and I just took a good breakfast on sunday morning and had brought some food with me for the return trip. I only ate a very big breakfast in the morning and in the evening... usual procedure on juggling conventions for me (ok some Lebkuchen in between ;)).

There was no option for outdoor camping but it would have been quite tough anyway I think :). Maybe british jugglers are a bit tougher ;) , but I think the average german juggler would not camp at this temperatures outside (two years ago there was snow on this convention which we didn't have this time but still I would not go outside without jacket). But they have quite a lot of classrooms for sleeping (which even had carpet, so it was quite nice). I forgot to mention that they also had put signs on any room for the endangered art form - I slept in the Hula Hoop room :D.

It was the same venue two years ago, but I can't tell for the previous years. Usually if the venue is good and there is no problem (like changed regulations / prices) it tends to be the same venue every time. I've been just told by a juggling friend that there were less participants than two years ago so my impression was apparently wrong. He didn't have any numbers though. There is a big juggling convention in Munich also every two years on the other year, but that could also be coincidence, I think this is organized by a different team. I have not been there yet though (maybe I will go next year).

BTW, are you one of the organizers of Chocfest? If it would not be so far this is one convention I would definitely attend :).


JonPeat - - Parent

I was just surprised that there was indoor sleeping room for everyone (700 - 1000 jugglers).
Sounds like a big place.

I am not one of the Chocfest organisers but will be there in January to enjoy all of the chocolate cakes. It's worth the trip! ;-)

Cheers, Jon


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