European Juggling Convention 2015
The European Juggling Convention came and went in a flash this year. It took place over the 15th-23rd days of my “43 days of juggling events in 50 days” tour and despite already being really tired by the time I arrived, I got immediately wrapped up in the 4,000-strong community of circus people who descended on the Italian (but basically Austrian) town of Brunico, Italy. Like many great week-long conventions, it felt like it was going to last forever on Tuesday and like it’d only been a couple days long on Friday. At any rate, heaps happened:
• My DJ to open the fire space. After Millstreet and Toulouse, where the fire spaces were huge and deserted, I had an expectation that this year’s fire space would be equally bare. I got to the site early, courtesy of the fire space organizers, and we built a somewhat smaller space that would help confine the energy and keep the space feeling full. On the night the fire space opened, I had five hours of DJ mixes ready to go in case I wanted to just bail and go hear Oli Pinchbeck’s set of funky breaks in the bar tent. But as ten o’clock approached, more and more people started showing up, many of whom were packing LED props and a handful with children in tow. I put on an old lounge mix and watched people come in, and as soon as the fire space opened I started dropping tracks to see what would happen. Over the whole night, the space felt like an American fire festival, up there with Pacific Fire Gathering or MOPS. The four-hour set went by in a flash and I had people stopping by every few minutes to raise the roof at me.
• The fire gala! After getting rained out on Tuesday, we thought we would postpone the show until Thursday night and move it to the fire space, which would probably fit around 400 people. But the city came through and we were able to keep the venue in the town square, which packed in about 2500 people by the time it filled up! The energy was massive; the noise that comes out of a crowd in the thousands is different, percussive. My fireball burn went super well, excepting some difficult stage lighting making it apparently hard to see from a hundred rows back 😉
• Best gala show I’ve seen at an EJC. My two favorite acts are tied for first place. The first was Jacob Sharpe, who put on maybe the strongest diabolo act I’ve ever seen; I felt seriously post-orgasmic following the act and the crowd jumped to their feet with an unhesitant standing ovation afterward. As well, the Russian foot juggler brought a super strong character and incredible skils. She reminded me quite a bit of a dear friend I came up with in the circus and used vocal inflections really strongly to punctuate her technique, including “Bwoahhh! BWOOAAAH!” for her climactic trick, the same onomatopoeia I use to describe the stunned amazement at seeing a really kickass trick!
• Breaking up at EJC. Yeah, booooooo. I’d had a falling out with someone I was sweet on during the past year; turns out that clear, transparent communication only works out with people who are capable of doing the same at the time, and when I made a plan to come visit during my summer tour she freaked out and stopped talking to me. After a few months (and a new plane ticket) of no communication, we were finally able to reconcile at EJC. Doesn’t feel much better, but at least the injury has sutures in it now. Looking forward to time putting that one in the past…
• The circus school show. Out of all the acts, maybe half were silent, and I found myself falling asleep through a lot of it. Among all the acts, only a handful were really great. It definitely gave me more confidence about not having gone to circus school myself, though I talked to one of the emcees and she confided in me that it was really hard to find acts at EJC who were from formal institutions; and it’s also not to say that all the acts were the best those schools had to offer, since the gala was full of academy-trained artists at the top of their field.
• Pass lots of clubs: failed. But I did learn a cool new pattern (Ringelreigen) that I’m excited to share with friends back home, and did heaps of contact club partially thanks to Marvin Ong.
• Clown classes: I took one short character workshop that I felt like I’d taken before, and one two-hour epic in red-nose clowning that felt like just what I needed on the Friday of EJC. Thanks, Rey!
• Teach good classes: six full workshops! It was really rewarding to see people jamming techniques all week that they’d picked up in my classes, and I think I made about ten new ball-on-head practitioners last week 🙂
• Unpredictable weather. Every morning I wanted to sleep in, my tent turned into a sauna at 8:30 AM. Every time I tried to dry laundry, it got drenched in the rain. This led to my leaving EJC with a backpack full of wet laundry, which smelled reallllly awesome after a day on the road.
• I sure wish I’d gotten a better chance to know the smexy British juggler I’d hung out with for quite a few select moments. If you’re reading, hi — wish I’d had the time and wherewithal to buy you lunch (see above story about having to bite an extra plane ticket this tour).
• The hottest Belarusian ball-on-head girl from EJC Toulouse showed up again.
• So did an old tour sweetheart from back in the day.
• I got by really well in France by learning “Pardon, je suis Californiano; je ne parle pa français, parlez vous englais o poquito español?” So I figured that I’d learn the same phrase in Italian and be able to get by a little bit. But in Brunico, Italy, everybody’s first language is German and their second language is Italian. Fortunately, I picked up “restaurant German” about ten years ago in a couple of college classes, so I was able to help me and mine navigate the town with relative ease.
• Santa Cruz, California brought the biggest contingent of Americans from the same town!! We’re gonna put this place back on the map so hard.