British Juggling Convention 2000

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The 13th British Juggling Convention, York.

13-Apr-2000 to 16-Apr-2000

Juggling Festivals are the greatest things on Earth, but I always seem to have great difficulty in providing accurate & in depth recollections of events. What follows is a little of what I think went on (although not in any particular order).

The Fest

We arrived at about 3pm signed in & picked up our dog tags which are the doodiest passes to date. They were even better after we had decorated them with club decoration tape. Then we were lead to the campsite by Mini on his skateboard & we couldn't believe the number of tents already there. We spent about twenty minutes trying to find a pitch. There were 17 of us in total & we wanted to pitch together but that wasn't going to happen. Everyone was pretty much camping on top of eachother. Concern was shown for the complex latticework of guy ropes that would be needed to be traversed at night.

Dave K., Jacqui & I played a game of giant Jenga which was great fun. I'm not sure whether Dave's dodgy placement of the bricks at odd angles counts as cheating or not but we went with it. Jacqui was the one who made the fatal move but she did have the disadvantage by being the most vertically challenged of the group.

We watched Anthony Gatto in the small hall training for about 2 hours with mouths wide open. He really is a breed apart from the rest of us. Most people practise, he trains very seriously. When we first arrived he was just bouncing a ball on his head to warm up, then he systematically worked through some of his repertoire. He'd work on a trick until he'd successfully pulled it off or reached a certain number of catches. I remember a five club flash pirouette behind the back, a nine ring pull down maintaining a headbounce throughout, five consecutive alberts with five clubs, four backcrosses with seven, dropping his bouncing ball into a five club cascade to carry on with six, then throwing it up high so it bounced behind him & then catching it on his forehead again. I think that this guy is an android. First time I've seen anyone get a standing ovation for a practise session.

Jacqui & Beth decided not to sleep at all for the first night & not a lot the other 2 nights either, but they did look very cute in the car on the way home. Just how far am I going to take advantage of you two before I agree not to publish those photos?

The Ceilidh dancing didn't have the same atmosphere as it would have done in the tent with the tables & it was difficult to hear the guy with the steps through the echoes. But it was still absolutely amazingly fantastic fun. Nothing beats getting so hot & sweaty with total strangers & getting up close & personal with Jacqui. Ceilidh is a great test of stamina, the band gave everyone a great work out. I think that after one more dance Jacqui would've dropped.

There are a lot of things that I want to say that might get people in trouble so I'm actually going to stop. See Cora I am a responsible adult. (It doesn't matter what you E-mail me, visitors to this site will never see it!!)

The Games

After a great parade to the superb carnival sounds of the samba drummers (our man Kim was the guy on stilts), we made it back to the gardens for some fun. Dave & I got bored waiting for the official games to start so we got together with some others for a little gladiatorial fun.

Hello to the two compere's from the Circomedia Showcase Performance who were both very entertaining & also rather skilful players (& dancers). You get a much better quality of game at a convention than at TWJC but we did well, Dave & I won quite a few games & there were only a couple where we didn't make the last four. I accidently caught Beth in the face at one point so in the next game she came up behind me then put the other two clubs down took a two handed swing & hit me as hard as she could completely ignoring my pattern. Didn't get me out though.

It was a shame about the rain but we did have great fun with all manner of silly things. Three ball gladiators was a laugh despite getting punched in the head by a guy in a top hat (he probably knows me), even I draw the line somewhere!

The idea for combining the five ball endurance with diabolo chuck & run was brilliant. The jugglers all stood in the middle & then the diaboloists had to throw & then sprint through the crowd to make the catch on the other side. I had my foot stamped on & was caught by someone else's elbow during the stampede. Very funny.

I also very much enjoyed the siamese game where one partner had to be held off the ground. Me & my usual siamese partner Jacqui, joined in. She wrapped her legs round me & I found that she has quite a pair of thighs on her. Fantastic.

The three club gladiators was also a good competition won by one of the aforementioned Circomedia comperes. To claim his prize afterwards though he had to juggle three clubs & the bottle of beer, which he managed to do very well.


On Saturday night we were amazed by Ken & Tina, from Tumblecircus who should have been in the public show but the theatre people wouldn't allow the crew to rig a trapeze. I've never been a great fan of static trapeze as all these acts seem to be the same but these people were great. There was a whole host of moves that I'd never seen before performed brilliantly at an energetic pace. Absolutely fantastic. My next favourite act was by my hero Jay Gilligan, never in my life have I even thought that someone could envoke shouting & screaming with a three scarf juggling act. What a master. Jay also did a three ball spot with elastic chords running from his hands to his feet which created a nice visual effect especially when he did Mills Mess & the Dummy Elevator. Nice innovation & I love his style.

Jamie Fletcher spectacularly freemounted an 8ft unicycle to a well earned thunderous cheer, after 3 equally spectacular hard falls. There was some very cool fire eating by Alan Fell, as far as I could tell he had a little parafin in his mouth, but still had enough room to put out a torch. Then he'd light a small flame with a torch in his other hand & he'd then use that small flame to light the other torch. Extremely impressive. David from Rotterdam made famous by his Bohemian Rhapsody routine at Durham performed a fantastic fireswinging & gloclub set. Haggis did a couple of spots with his gorgeous UV bull whip with some stunning visual effects. A guy from Cambridge came on & did a hilarious spot which involved a little three ball trickery & a lot of surreal witches-from-Macbeth style chanting. The highlight of his set was his maniacal leaping around with his arms limply hung in front of his body, but around the back of his neck. After around twenty minutes he was actually carried off stage by Mini Mansell.

I also remember Errol the diaboloist & a friend singing some songs which was very funny, Arnie from France made a bizarre balloon sculpture which was later thrashed to death by bull whip.

Of course Anthony Gatto was sent up & it took two people to do it, far more impressive though was the speed with which the invisible half of Anthony Gatto could down pints of beer. Another guy from France had a great struggle with his two volunteers who helped & hindered his story of a couple's mating ritual told with the diabolo, very amusing. Ex TWJC member Bryn did some nice stroby globall stuff on stilts, but was better off them, in his orange martian outfit. But since when has Paddock Wood been in Amsterdam?

The show

The public show was simply superb. Compered by Mr Jules & Andy 'Tiger' Woods indeed ,'What about Norway?'!! The first act was some flashy ring & club passing from Freefall, their continuous albert, tomahawks & slapovers were particularly good, as was the nine club finish. Next (A*******s!) up were Manomani. Two very athletic performers from Manchester who showed us some wonderfully graceful & brilliantly executed acrobalance, they certainly gave us a few ideas for things to try on Tuesday. The same goes for Decubitos Supino (or more affectionately: bananas in pyjamas) three artistes from Spain who dressed up in brightly coloured stretchy duvet covers & demonstrated a sweet acrobalance/dance/ring manipulation routine.

Sharron & Kati performed a clubswinging & dance routine which although was very good didn't inspire me (although I've never considered kicking my clubs across the stage, I usually only do that in practise). I was very much impressed by the slick diabolo skills of Errol Richardson from The Circus Space. This guy performs with great style & amazing speed. Apparently he still hasn't found his shirt since Durham '99 though. Benjamin Smalls from Germany did two comedy juggling spots, one with balls & one with clubs. After a shaky start which really didn't help the act he showed everyone that he is a very good juggler with some very deft moves & a whole host of humourous ways to cheat at various tricks.

Nottingham '97 favourite Rod Laver joined up with David Ericson for a nice ping pong ball & bounce juggling act. Although initially disgusting their 7 ping pong ball passing pattern was pretty cool. Sam Foulkes (only 15) wowed everyone with some excellent freestyle BMX trick riding, leaping around his cycle in every way possible. The Gandinis took a break from the Millenium Dome & treated us to two performances of pieces from their show, featuring complex passing patterns with balls, rings & clubs & also a bit of bingo calling. Three ball maestro & sharp dresser Jamie Fletcher reminded everyone just how good low number juggling can be. I loved every second.

The Curious Eyebrows provided a fantastic break from the juggling with a bizarre comedy routine based upon a strange song which had lyrics consisting of a list of 'things to do' & as each was read out & displayed on the projector screen the instructions were hilariously carried out. The entire audience had an orgasm over the premier of the gorgeous new programmable gloclubs from Aerotech being expertly handled by the people of Feeding the Fish. Everyone wants these props. Although the technology should not blind people from the brilliant performance & choreography inputted by the human element.

Last on stage was of course Anthony Gatto performing in Britain for the first time (in long trousers) & we found out exactly why he is renowned as the best. Who else would even consider opening with juggling five flaming torches whilst balancing a flaming pole on his forehead & spinning a flaming ring around his leg? He ran through astonishing feats at a blistering pace hardly giving the audience time to pick themselves up. Seven ring pirouettes, solid five club backcrosses, six clubs whilst bouncing a ball on his forehead, then dropping the ball into the pattern to continue with a seven object cascade before returning to the fountain with a headbounce by a flurry of seven backcrosses. Naturally after the final club was caught everyone in the audience was on their feet & having babies. What a show. Best I've ever seen by far.

I also liked the use of the projector screen, showing us a video of the excellent Toby Walker of the Gandinis during the interval was great. & I loved the "Please wait, downloading next act" screen. Nice touch.

Thanks very much to...

Paul Selwood who was the man with the broom for helping me out with all the names that I couldn't remember.

The good people of Jester's who provided the mob that was the audience with the fantastic surprise of thousands of modelling balloons, football rattles, whistles, trumpets, bunting & countless other toys all nicely laid out, ready & waiting for us on our seats. Never before has such an atmosphere been created within moments. No one in attendance would not join all at TWJC in saying a big thankyou.

The orgs, for a superb convention, you all did a fantastic job. Need I say more?