BJC2018 – A review
This review is my personal thoughts of the last few days and may be idiosyncratic.
We arrived in two cars as my car had two walking globes init as well as part of an aerial rig and therefore only the front two seats were useable. By the time we had set up the caravan and oldest sons tent (which he pitched about as far from us as was possible), it was time to eat. Then I played the yearly game of find the water point (why is it never marked on the maps?). Eventually we were all sorted and we looked around the site, chatting to friends as we went. At some point we went to the gym and Peter did an hours practice (added a time waster move with two globes) which like many of the practices at BJC had Peter struggle with the 1 up 180 with 3 balls, whilst stood on two globes. He could run it fine when not running the whole act. As soon as the music started and he tried it two minutes in to the routine it became much harder. After that we did a bit more chatting before an early night.
After breakfast we did another hour practice with Peter(changed 4 ball on one globe with an under the leg throw to 3 ball, 2 globe and under the leg throw). After that I went to add a workshop to the board (walking globe, naturally) and the fire alarm went off. No idea what set that off but at least it was a one off. At some point during the day Jamie Fletcher appeared with my new toy, a red and yellow Salerno ring. I haven’t had a lot of success with it as yet but should have plenty of practice time and space in the near future to improve. Spoke briefly to Clare about BYJOTY to learn that only 3 had entered to that point. Spoke shortly afterwards to Christopher and suggest that he practice the act that he had performed the month before and then enter BYJOTY. He is one of the students at Concrete Circus and whilst it is an act in development, the experience and feedback from BYJOTY would be good for him.Various chatting and food happened until the start of the Spinning@ show.
For me the first half was basically filler. Whilst there was some good technical skill most of the acts were too long or too repetitive. The best of them was the rope dart but that act could have been shortened and maybe some of the tricks could have gone above the audiences head. Of the other acts,the only comment I’m going to make is since when has clearing up after yourself been an act?
Our friends the Kelsalls arrived during the interval which pleased my daughter particularly (and us as well as we then didn’t have to explain the compere to her) and they got to see a really good second half. Starting with Ben Cornish. Ben was having a bad time with one trick but his performing experience showed through. We also had a really nice Bar Flair routine by Sam, a pleasing, smooth and aesthetic hoop routine by Alice, a very competent (and much improved since I last saw it) hulahoop act from Lisa and Callum and for me the stand out act in the show the cigar box routine by Luke? Cigar box routines are rare anyway but to show great skills with 3, 4 and 5 boxes made it much better. The final part of the act was a standard made better by music that worked well (even though the music was for the next act, which didn’t help them I’m sure).
After the show chatting happened and then I retrieved my juggling case from the sports hall, where it had sat for a day. I did some passing with my sons, including some feeding and switching who was feeding.Considering that Peter hadn’t done two count club passing before that evening,that was a great improvement.
Again we started with an hour practice with Peter (changed the skipping part to have two jumps rather than one). After that some more chatting happened before I attended Euaun’s combat workshop. That was good fun and the only workshop I attended other than the walking globe workshop that happened immediately afterwards. I was impressed with the turn out to the workshop as there must have been about 25 who attended. I worked with the beginners, many of whom learnt to walk on the globe, whilst Peter worked with those who were more advanced. Nobody was killed or seriously injured which counts as a result in my books and actually quite a few people came up to thank me afterwards and it wouldn’t surprise me if Lancaster University juggling group buys a globe.
At some point in the afternoon I played the one game I played all convention. I don’t remember its name.
The show in the evening was the Open Stage. Devil Stick Peet compered and did a small act between each act which meant he now dominates the show in my head. Other acts that impressed were (in no particular order) Antonia and Keith with their passing poi (I liked the characterisation), The odd ball juggling person (Daniel?), the professional looking poi double act and the duo acrobalance. There were other acts and none of them were bad, I just can’t remember them at this time.
I did a bit more juggling and passing afterwards and thus this became the convention I have done most juggling at for a few years.
Up early again for another practice session with Peter(added 5 ball multiplex on 2 globes). After that I generally chatted although I did meet up with Barbara at some point to discuss aerial rig bags. We had the debate of going on the bus or driving to Margate and went for the bus. Arriving at Dreamland (so called because that is where dreams go to die?) we hung around and watched some of the games. I took part in the balloon dog making one although felt hampered because I felt obliged to pick up the pump and then it got in the way when I was blowing up the balloon with my mouth. David did creditably well in the unicycle gladiators before being taken off his unicycle by someone hugging him and then suiciding. Shortly after that we left Dreamland(with its hall with more hole than roof) and went across the road to the beach and promenade. We stopped for a while at a large set of steps where David proved that he can bunny hop and Olivia Kelsall showed that she is an up and coming artist. We chatted to one of the local families and tried to convince them to watch the show later. Our evening meal was pizza at a sea front restaurant. The door to the place was particularly difficult to open and as we sat outside the restaurant eating we gained much amusement as other people(including staff) struggled to get in and out. After eating and walking closer to the show venue we also had an ice cream and eventually reached the venue before the vast majority of jugglers but only just. This did allow us to have seats in the centre of the theatre.
For me the show felt very safe. By which I mean that most of the acts were well known and had appeared in the BJC gala show before. Jon Udry was slick and his dry humour works for me. Ben had an interesting and novel act, perhaps not quite enough juggling for me but still enough to keep it interesting. Jan Himself was very professional in an almost predictably weird way. Paul Zenon’s magic routine had a lot of standard tricks which were all well presented. The end of his routine I thought was a somewhat bizarre staged event at first but apparently that wasn’t the case and one of the stage hands took it upon herself to interrupt his act. I hope someone apologised to Paul afterwards. The second half was equally skilled. Loz because performed a routine which was both well choreographed and well programmed, I always think that glow props take a little bit away from the performer and their skills but Loz was visible enough that we could see much of her tricks. Helena Berry has an act that isn’t very forgiving and the drops grew more towards the end but this didn’t take away from the act which was original and skilful. The Berlin Passing Girls did a great choreographed act and probably inspired the girls in the audience into believing they should juggle more. Steve Rawlings has been in at least 3 other BJC gala shows and is always a crowd favourite. For me the highlight of his act was the bit that I haven’t seen before with the mouth stick bottle and balloon. Matthew Tiffany as compere did a great job as compere and introduced a song that is fairly hard to sing if you have all the words written out in front of you.
On the way back from the show I learned that if Steve Rawlings does his knife gag in a show and you are 3 then you will still remember it 9.5 years later.
Guess what, we started the day with another practice session(changed the skipping so there was a slick turn before the second jump). After that I had a long conversation with Jonathan the Jester and probably chatted with others. After lunch I visited the traders with my daughter who needed anew peddle for her unicycle. Roger managed to sell her an upgraded set of peddles (pink) but not a new tyre (also pink) just because she had a pink unicycle stem and was wearing a pink cardigan doesn’t mean that she is obsessed with the colour. 2pm was tech rehearsal for BYJOTY so we all went over there. Originally there were going to be 8 acts but one of them was clearly not ready and will probably do a better job next year. After watching the tech run I thought that it would be very close indeed between 3 acts, the two twenty year olds and my 14 year old son. It turned out that I was correct. If you congratulated Peter and he didn’t say anything back to you it wasn’t because of you. For someone who is happy to stand up in front of people performing he isn’t great at conversation. After that we treated Peter to a meal of his choice, so we ended up going to Pizza Hut.
We didn’t do an hour of walking globe practice. Instead we slowly packed away and said our goodbyes. Peter bought some balls from Oddballs with his voucher forgetting a silver medal. Eventually we left for the journey home. Around about J30 my car engine started making funny noises and got gradually worse so I pulled over just before J28. Fortunately one of the Milton Keynes jugglers saw us and took Peter home (the other 3 were in the other car). I got to play the very slow game of waiting for Mr AA Man and eventually got home some 9.5 hours later. A sad end to an otherwise great BJC.
I noticed that in this review I forgot to thank all the people who made BJC happen. You are all wonderful people and I enjoy spending time with you each year.
I enjoyed the act. I generally enjoy acts that have characterisation and have been thought through and yours met both those criteria.
I have to say how Impressed I was with BYJOTY, esp the astounding walking globe. I have not been that gobsmacked since Sam Goodburn wheel walked his uni. Very very good stuff. As always it was great to catch up with Nigel.
Nice review Nigel!
Pssssst Orinoco... you aren't waiting for me really, are you? Mine is going to be a good few days yet at least...
I also went to the BJC in Canterbury and wrote about my experiences!
Check out all of the action here: https://www.juggle.org/british-juggling-convention-2018-review/
p.s I enjoy reading other peoples reviews and experiences, add to the discussion with your own mini reviews!
Interesting that you tried to attend the preventing injury workshop. Frederique and myself were the only ones there unfortunately. Ben did it anyway and we found it useful and informative.
I am very surprised that so few people went along.
Fortunately (or unfortunately...) any injuries I recieve which prevent me from juggling are normally due to things outside of juggling (cycling accidents, mis-handling of tools etc...) or avoidable impacts from juggling combat.
I was very interested to hear what Ben said and would definately go if the chance came up again. It just didn't work out for me this time.
Ejuggle appears to be down at the moment :(
I'm hoping to finish my effort this evening (probably late evening).
Thanks Jon, as always I really enjoyed that.
Very interesting to see how you always have a completely different juggling experience to me: a rare attendant to shows or workshops and a frequent attendant at the lazy juggler bar!
My main thoughts / feedback / witty or non witty repartee in no particular order or coherency are as follows:
- Margate had excellent fish and chips away from the main strip. We skipped dreamland and the games completely and played adventure golf (curse you Andy Fraser for taking my title) and really enjoyed our day out and nearby Fish.
- I really enjoyed the gala show but thought too many of the acts were a little similar. It was probably the least balanced gala show I had seen for a while. I love Tiff, Jon and Steve, but all in one show with a talking magician and a talking Ben was a lot of wordy performances. Helena was really quite good though.
- Was the stage hand who interrupted Paul Zenon really not a poor acting planned part of the act? we couldn't tell
- Monte food = excellent. Much better when he has a full kitchen and helpers to work with. Rarely needed to leave site for sustenance other than drinkable water
- Lack of flushable toilets...at one point I think there were only 2 working on site. Thank goodness the portaloos turned up
- Waffles are not an acceptable breakfast. Why can we not get decent coffee anywhere ever at a BJC?
- Played two long games of Suburbia and Stone age with Brook, Cameron and Danny. Stone age seemed to be more popular. Also played a bit of seven wonders duel with various people. This is my latest favorite two player game of choice. Also Danny needs banning from all board games on account of being too good.
- Generally the organisation was a little lax. The volunteer board didn't seem to exist and on inquiring how I could help I was told 'go and see if anyone is on badge control now and you can fill in'. Well I did and a couple of hours later I was lucky to be replaced as the person after me had no relief after 2 hours. A simple printed schedule people can sign up to is so much easier.
- Sebs workshop on 3 in one hand scissor manipulations was great
- I felt really sorry for the unicycle hockey guys for pushing my patience. The Scheduling as you mentioned was awful but it wasn't their fault and I was temporarily very angry until I thought about this
- Love being able to drive to BJCs and bring my double duvet to camp with. Feel like a big southern pansy, but no regrets!
- I need to pass more with different people. I did no > 2 person passing other than 'Spider' and mostly passed with the same people. Made some progress on Funky 9 though. Also amazed at the number of people who can now acceptably run Holy Grail. A few years back this was a pipe dream and now it seems almost common. Need to regress a few years, quit my job and move to Cambridge to keep up.
"- Waffles are not an acceptable breakfast. Why can we not get decent coffee anywhere ever at a BJC?"
From which conjunction I conclude that you think decent coffee is an acceptable breakfast. I agree, but enjoyed a couple of veggie Full Montes in the week too. Seeing Bob Fromcanada around made me miss his great coffee stall that was at EJC.
I have never understood why people for whom coffee is so important cannot bring along the means to provide their own. SMH
I could... but given my campsite was at least 5 minutes walk from the main communal / juggling area, and that I would have to whip out a camp stove, boil my own water and bring my own fancy cafetiere in the first place this seems a rather extravagant means to an end.
Much easier to rant on the internet than self provide a simple practical solution. That being said I am sure there is a commercial opportunity there given the success of EJC ventures.
I could being the Leeds convention filter machine along, but it’s not PATed so insurance mght be an issue...
I do, thanks! Aeropress and hand grinder. But there is a bootstrap problem in that some people - not me, cough cough - need a coffee before they can be organised enough to make coffee.
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