Crawley Circus Festival 2010

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The Hawth, Crawley

6-Aug-2010 to 8-Aug-2010

Yet again we were a festival all by ourselves this year with a huge roll call of Nicky, Cat, Karina, Helen D, Russell, Bonny, Beth, Jo, Jenny, Matt, Louisa (not Laura), Paul, Kevin, Herr Feldhaus, Dave K, Dave L, Helen S & the kids, Charlie M, Barney, Laurence, John, The Real Simon, Little Si, Frag, Chris, Natalie & myself. Simon & Kevin were first on site, Nicky & I joined them not long after. I was bending over banging in a tent peg when Dave Law greeted me with a kick up the backside.

While wandering around & saying hello to people Another Dave & I enjoyed some schadenfreude as we watched a chap climb through a hatch into a skip then amusingly struggle to get back out again. We thought about going to assist, but that would have been less funny.

Chunk was having trouble living down the story of how he hurt his feet by leaping off a diving board & missing the pool. But he looked very cool propelling himself along on a shlong (yes really) board using his crutches.

Friday afternoon was passed drinking which included some very medicinal homemade raspberry gin & some very explosive homemade raspberry champagne, or rather it would have done if there was any left in the bottle after it was opened. We also grazed on chocolate brownies & a big box of ridiculously sugary candy skulls which were nonchalantly thrown & caught all over the camp over the course of the festival. Top marks to Barney for the long distance catch in the mouth.

It took over forty minutes worth of deliberation from the group to work out our pizza order before Charlie 1 & Paul managed to get it all written down without including any of the 'speciality' pizzas. I was adamantly banned from collecting the boxes from the delivery driver this year.

The Tunbridge Wells Ukulele Team was in attendance in force this year & much of the night was spent raucously strumming & singing. Mumford & Sons' Little Lion Man was particularly popular. Strangely our gazebo drew quite a number of spectators, many of which actually applauded at various points throughout the evening.

Andrew & Jo spent much of the evening pouring bourbon into my cider.

I found it hard to get started on Saturday morning but Dave signalled that it was time to leave the tent with his signature elongated flatulence, he was soon striding round in his very tight stripy pants administering bacon. A few people commented on my green complexion, but I felt a little better after I forced down some left over pizza. & some chocolate skulls. & some more cider.

Some of our team went shopping for supplies & returned with a pack of clothes pegs which resulted in a very competitive pegging session that helped pass the time while it was raining.

In the afternoon we went along to the stealing workshop as ever. Steve, Amie & Bungle demonstrated their various steals for everyone to try. However, Dave & I only go for the ambience & played with other stuff & came up with a nice move where a club is stolen then batted back into the pattern. We also managed to quite successfully pull off a double pirouette steal where Dave takes a club from the my right hand with his right hand, spins & places it into my left hand, then immediately takes the same club using his left hand, spins round & places it back in my right hand. Then we celebrate loudly.

Mr K took the opportunity to drip sun cream down Cat's bum crack while he was taking down his tent. This was the moment that we learnt that Cat has a phobia of sun cream. Creaming is the new pegging.

The Show

We were a bit slow off the mark this year as we missed out on getting our usual row at the front of the balcony & had to settle for the one behind instead, but it was nice to see that TWJC took up the entire row & a bit more.

As now seems to be something of a sport in the juggling community, I shall start by laying into the comperes. They mangled introductions, talked over each other & seemed totally disorganised, I don't remember a single smooth transition between any of the acts & the comedy of their skits was tired & predictable. The only bit of theirs that I enjoyed was the table cloth trick, but this was largely due to Dave Law's input.

First up was Jose Angel Triguero Delgado who took a biblical age to put on his waistcoat, then swung clubs around to suicide inducing music. Not a good start. He was followed by trick cyclist Alice Allart. The opinions that appear in my show reviews are mostly based on comparisons & Alice was up against Paddy Waters from last year. Whereas Paddy started out looking like he could have been rubbish (probably an intentional con) then turned out to be sensational, Alice on the other hand really looked the part from the outset, but failed to deliver. The tricks she did were good, especially her finishing piece but they were never held long enough to be appreciated & often clumsily exited which did not give an impression of mastery.

Third on stage was Hugo Maciel with a contact & ball bouncing routine, sadly it was another slow piece & by this time I had already had more than enough pent up angst for the weekend. However, I do feel cheated because if this act hadn't just followed two other slow arty numbers I think I would have probably enjoyed it. It was well put together with a lot of impressive moves performed very smoothly but the positioning in the show killed it before he had begun.

I was beginning to get worried for our newbies who I had vociferously been promising an excellent show but then the compere's just about managed to introduce Hoop-La-La, the name alone being enough to elicit pre-emptive cheers & I swear I could feel the tension in the audience lift at that moment. Their piece started with an excitement building entrance to the sound of Flash by Queen with Jessie Rose, Tiina Tuomisto & Craig Reid in sharp suits with faces hidden behind newspapers. Craig's comic book quiff was worth a solo spot on its own. Then it was smoothly into the blaring fanfares of Superman & the suits were whipped off to reveal the hula heroes, a moment that shattered the campometer, followed by an unstoppable show of hula & acrobalance while Bonnie Tyler belted out I need a Hero. The show had been saved.

Sam Veale & Arron Sparks were on fine form. Sam did some juggling & yo yo combination tricks, Arron went through a storming yo yo solo while Sam reeled off all the trick names in a hilariously blasé style, then Arron cut a breadstick from a volunteer's mouth. But it was Sam's comedy that made the act a winner. The bit with the cigarette had me laughing so hard it physically hurt.

The curtain went up on the second half with Camille Francisci. Her eccentric endearing character was great & won the audience over quickly before mounting the slackrope for some very nice comic clumsiness which included backward & forward rolls plus balancing on the wire on her shoulder which was very impressive. Yes, flight goggles are strangely sexy.

Winner of the Crawley spot from this year's BYJOTY was Johnny Malcolm, I was really impressed with him at the BJC but he didn't perform so well on the bigger stage. The confidence didn't seem to be there & the juggling suffered as a result. He managed to remain composed throughout though so it never got cringeworthy & he still managed to pull off the big tricks, so he did well, but probably not as well as he'd have liked.

Sammy Dinneen upped the sex appeal many notches with his act Equilibreathe, an artistic hand balancing piece. However, this was the complete opposite end of the spectrum compared to the start of the show. This act was really exciting to watch. Set to a nice piano soundtrack he moved between the floor, a set of handbalancing poles & a series of blocks on the floor set out like the keys on a piano. He moved between one & two handed balances with precision & power including a nice bit where he walked a few steps with his hands stepping over each other sideways. It was a beautiful demonstration of what the body can achieve, & for me one of those moments where you feel proud of someone you don't know for what they have achieved.

Finishing off the show was Jon Udry performing the same act we saw at BJC 2010. Unfortunately I still thought it was some excellent juggling marred by excessive faffing around.

The best act of the show for me was long time Crawley favourites Isis Clegg-Vinell & Nathan Price who were amazing. Isis was looking fantastic all dressed in red & was sassiness personified. Nathan joined her onstage as her lovestruck partner & Isis walked all over him figuratively & literally. The acrobatics were truly spectacular including a breathtaking leap from foot to handstand to a hand to handstand. Neither performer broke character once & it was a great bit of theatre. The choreography was invisible in its flawlessness. I was in awe of the whole act.

Despite what I said about the beginning I really enjoyed the show. The lows were really low, but the highs were exceptionally high. Throughout the show's course it went from one extreme to the other which gave us lots to argue about later which is always fun. Another top job Charlie.


Richard was back in charge & spent much of the evening dodging spoons that were thrown at him at every opportunity.

Camille (sadly minus the goggles) came on kicked off her shoes & socks. Then she curled her toes & proceeded to stride around on the knuckles of her feet all the while the entire audience was crying out in horror, then just when you thought you couldn't cringe any more, she jumped up & down. Great stuff.

Stumpy threw the magiclub under the leg while on a giraffe.

Also very cringeworthy was the chap who got up, smashed a light bulb, then ate it. This was mildly more disturbing than Jack eating cat food.

SJC took a healthy proportion of the stage time, Bungle spun a tray while drinking from his beer bong, Steve & Amie did some club stealing to promote their DVD, Jack & Palmer had a 3 ball half contortionist endurance, Chunk juggled 3 clubs plus the ends of his crutches (woo!) & Jack also spent much of the evening providing musical accompaniment on the guitar.

We at TWJC had a couple of goes too, Dave & I tried to show off some of the steals we played with earlier in the day & miraculously pulled off the double pirouette. However, I still think the greatest thing I did all weekend was before we started where I asked for some clubs, a Radical fish was thrown on stage, there is of course only one response to this & that is to kick it away quickly. I caught it on the volley pretty much perfectly which I was not intending to do, it went flying into the crowd & fortunately the only damage it did was to knock Frag's can of beer out of his hand. Mr K & Charlie 1 almost stole the evening as they performed Mr K's first composition: Hardcore Sweaty Bum Fun.

I say almost because the stars of the evening were the 3 young unicyclists. One of them leapt a trials uni off the stage & over his two friends. Philipe leant on the saddle & wheel walked with his hands, did some impressive gliding while standing on the forks & a very well executed kick up mount from a balance.

The Games

The games should be held on Friday because by Sunday I've always overdone it & I'm far too exhausted to compete. I failed at the five ball endurance because my five ball cascade was considerably steadier than my ability to stand up. I was consciously moving my pattern to fit in around my wobbly legs. I crashed out of the handstand endurance because I could barely lift my own body weight, & I crashed out of the 3 club gladiators because I was, well, crap (-100).

I was ejected from Man the Lifeboats on a mere technicality (we didn't have enough in our group & then we cheated).

Philipe with the extremely short cranks flew past everyone to win the unicycle race around the car park. Glyn (with the Magiclub - kudos) & Jon both lost 3 club gladiators.

Lots of other stuff happened but I was just too shattered to continue. So we went home late Sunday afternoon after having another fantastic weekend.