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10-August-2002 to 11-August-2002
I arrived at around 9.30am, pitched the comedy tent & then chatted to the few who had escaped what sounded like the carnage of the previous night the least scathed. After that I went into the main hall to start juggling. I did a bit of diaboloing but after missing a trebla whip catch my diabolo rolled underneath the tiered seating. My apologies to Beard for making them move all their boxes of kit so the staff could get to the hall's back door! Over the weekend I joined up with the team from Hastings, honourary TWJC member Danny, partner Catherine & their highly excitable sprog Jenny & lots of new faces who made this loner feel very welcome.
There was so much amazing stuff going on in the gyms & outside. Guy Heathcote juggling three diabolos very tightly on the string (not in the air) was pretty cool. As was Sam I Am's knee pit catches.
Vova was coming along nicely with his five club backcrosses & ten clubs with his sister seemed pretty strong as well. Olga was also practising five clubs quite a bit over the weekend & we played endurance for a bit. Starting after three & then juggling as best I could I lost the vast majority of rounds & suffered joyful taunts of, "Easy peasy!" but that was enjoyable too.
Jamie Fletcher was doing some nice five ball work, knee pit catches, quadruplex throws, 5up flashes & more. As well as six ball half showers & a foot lift from six to a very solid seven.
Outside reception after the show Jason & Robin were doing some seven club popcorn with triples thrown behind the back. Still with seven clubs they did a pass pass self pattern, ultimates on singles as well as your basic patterns with slapovers, tomahawks, pirouettes & alberts.
Before the show we all had a play with modelling balloons & paper planes, I wonder if anyone actually unfolded them to find out about the Royal Tunbridge Wells Juggling Festival? First up was David Eriksson performing some great three ball juggling. Lots of fluid placement & contact stuff & a really nice but extremely simple shuffle move (which I have written a tutorial on & named Eriksson's Shuffle).
Cecille Poncett showed us the meaning of the word grace with her club juggling, lots of clean multiplex tricks with three, four & five, solid five club cascade all performed effortlessly finishing with a six club multiplex cascade.
Yo yo nut Arron Sparks got the audience going performing with the skill & style that won him the freestyle event at this year's UK yo yo championships all to a stomping rendition of the can-can, great stuff!
Bob Pearce clowned around a little between acts & performed his own spot mucking around diving through a coathanger, running around a stationary case, then balancing a stack of cases on his head & performing a half pirouette. Nice.
David Eriksson returned with partner Rod Laver for the latest version of the act I first saw them perform in York, ping pong balls, silis, handstands & silly faces abound. A joy to watch again.
New to me were Tuyo, an acrobalance duo performing a highly energetic routine where the poor girl was literally being thrown from balance to balance. For their finishing piece, the girl performed the splits, holding her head against her knee whilst upside down & being held aloft by one of her partner's arms.
Top unicyclists Roger Davies & Leigh Wilkins paired up for a bit of a ride, while standing on the forks, wheelwalking & gliding.
The stars of the show were the Crawley favourites Vova & Olga, who performed two spots. The first their flashy club passing routine working up from 6 to 9 clubs (back to back) with solo interludes from Vova, such as juggling four clubs with lots of tricks such as triple singles with the triples alternating between backcrosses & over the top throws, then kicking up a fifth club for some more jaw dropping stuff. They finished off the show with their piano routine, with Vova trying to play his favourite tune while Olga interferes. Since Whitstable they have added a lot more jokes & also a unicycle, which for their final juggling trick Vova rides around the piano passing balls with Olga as she plays a tune.
Despite a few too many long pauses between acts & the compere seeming to not be bothered who was performing, it was a show worthy of a national festival.
Hosted by Richard in the marquee, I managed to catch some superb club juggling by Robin, the trick where he'd place a club on top of his head, tip it off & turn 90° before catching it behind the back was pretty smart. As was his club placing spot where he sat on a chair & carried & placed clubs all around his legs & body to great effect, should be a smart part to his routine that I think.
From the brilliant to the bizarre, a toy Evel Knievel was sent soaring on his wind up motorbike over a ramp of vinyl records through a flaming hoop under the watchful eye of two other toys: Stone Cold Steve Austin & Tonto acting as fire safety officers. For his finale Evel performed the same stunt naked!
There was more than that but I can't remember it right now! I do remember the police pulling up to see me sitting in my car eating chocolate cookies in the wee small hours.
Sunday morning, loads of us sat outside Laguna Blu in the sunshine waiting expectantly to hear the words, "Egg & sos on white." But what exactly was the sos? Certainly no substitute for a good few rashers of bacon.
On Sunday afternoon we all went outside for the games hosted by Richard. There were some wonderfully hard fought games, the tribal gladiators were good fun. Divided into tribes dictated by which style of pass everyone was issued we all lined up on either side of the arena. Battle tactics were discussed & popular formations such as 'the tortoise' & 'the wedge' were abandoned in favour of 'the rabble'. As Richard pointed out it was a bit like a scene from Braveheart, after the first charge you had no idea who's team you were on. I had a brief period of success where my fallen team members called out who to attack but was eventually scuppered during a 'who next' period. Unfortunately my tribe failed to win both the ball & club events. Glyn Hanton won the solo three club gladiators with a superbly aggressive lunging attack that left his opponent reeling. Olga won the solo three ball by tiring her opponent out by running all around the arena, slowing him down with a well placed kick (suggested by the host of the games) before mercilessly going in for the kill.
The handstand endurance saw Alan Fell lose concentration after a promising start leaving Vova & Olga (who had recovered from a difficult start by lifting herself from having her face mere centimetres from the ground cleanly back up). There was some taunting in Russian & out of the two Vova managed to remain upright. The five club endurance saw Vova beating Jason Perry under breezy conditions (well that was my excuse) to win a set of three clubs :)
The most brutal of the lot though was the grouping game. There was no skill involved at all, everyone stood in the arena, Richard called out a number (after a bit of mental arithmetic) & you had to get yourself into a group of that number. All remainders had to leave the arena. The first few rounds were easy enough, but as things hotted up people were hurling themselves & bearhugging the required amount into a group & kicking out any surplus bodies. When it came down to the final four & a group of three was called there was a big ruck until one guy came to a conclusion as to how much his dignity was worth. Fantastic fun - should be an olympic sport.
I had loads of fun & I think I must have juggled more at Crawley than at all the other festivals I have been to put together. Why does anyone go to the EJC?