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British Juggling Convention 2003 – Brighton

Getting there

After only a couple of the members of Stirling Juggling Project made it to the Glasgow Face Painting and Juggling Convention just 2 months previous, we were determined to make sure that we were well represented at the British Juggling Convention. It couldn’t have really been much further away for us to travel to, seeing as it was in Brighton though!

BJC 2003 - Brighton Pass

We gathered a list of about 10 people who were interested in going to the Convention, and then began finding some funding, and doing the odd workshop here and there to get some money saved up for the trip. In the end, we had enough money to pay for nearly everyones tickets, if our gang could cover paying for their transport costs ( £66 return by Train or slightly cheaper by bus), and also their food etc. At this point, 4 people dropped out, and in the end, only 6 of us decided to make the trip (which meant we had our tickets paid and  £11 towards our travel costs each. Lee and Sean went to the Convention by bus, which took them approximately 11 hours, and Captain Duncan, Ewan, George and myself all booked train tickets and shared a table on the way down. The guys did not let themselves down in the way of food for the journey, as they were able to eat a veritable feast! For the journey down, Captain Duncan, George and I all wore our Pink Waistcoats (which we made for our Christmas Show)!

When we reached London King’s Cross, we had to walk across to the London Thames Link. It was at this point, that Ewan did a commando roll over a railing, and kicked the plastic bag containing all the food out of Duncan’s hand, breaking the glass olive jar on the ground! For the remainder of the journey to Brighton, Ewan never heard the end of it! The guys had played a game on the way down to Brighton where they had to encourage other travellers to taste the Pickled eggs, but no-one rose to the challenge. Because they had each ate the same amount of pickled eggs as each other, there was one remaining. George would occasionally shout out on the crowded train  “who will rid us of this troublesome egg”! When we arrived at the Convention, we had no trouble getting DevilStick Pete to eat it!

Horizontal Rule - Bar Flair

We have arrived!

The weather had been dry all day until the moment on the Thursday that we arrived on the Sussex University campus when we suffered hailstones! We took refuge in the registration tent, and 10 minutes later, it was dry enough for Duncan, Ewan and myself to set up our tents. It was no problem finding where to put our tents, as we could see a huge Scottish flag hanging up near the front of the campsite (Fuzzy  “Graham Benson”) so we joined his tent to form a wee Scottish corner for the convention. We had a cluster of people from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling Juggling Clubs all in the same area (our own wee community)! The gang met up once again in the Beer tent, and it was good to see so many familiar faces once more from previous conventions. There was a ska band  “Tragic Roundabout” who were playing just the best kind of music for the Convention, and so much dancing had to be done!
RenegadesAndy Wilson from Glasgow Juggling Club then joined me and we headed outside to watch a fire show, and then we challenged some strangers to table football and lost every game! There was a really neat Arcade room at the back of the beer tent, with a dance machine, arcade games, table football etc.

RENEGADE NIGHT I: Luke Burrage was the compere. Cries of  “eat the cheese” were indeed back (the catchphrase that we started the year before)! Gordon played his didgeridoo (fantastic), there was a great hat manipulation double act, and Luke jumped over a flaming bit of wood which was attached to both his hands by tape, and while blindfolded, all whilst a drunk accordion player staggered about stage playing random music! Great stuff!
RENEGADE NIGHT II: Hosted by DevilStick Pete. I can only remember that there was an act about  hope and  despair that the audience got bored of pretty quickly. Zanzibar also did his 2 diabolo routine.
RENEGADE NIGHT III: Little Paul and Tim Foolery compered the best night of the Renegade. Little Paul is really funny (as always), and always a joy to listen to. Haggis and Charlie Dancey put on a fantastic Club passing routine with a volunteer (Erik) in the middle who totally outstaged them! Best act of the whole convention was a visual comedy by one guy who had a fight and eventual shootout with a mosquito, and the guy was amazing, funny, and sad/poignant all rolled into one. The Reduced Public Show made an appearance and mocked all the acts who appeared on the big stage only hours earlier to great effect!

I had got the back of my head shaved into the shape of the fish that appears on the BJC2003 flyer. There were other people who had the other objects shaved on the back of their heads to make up the complete BJC2003 logo, but unfortunately I was half asleep in the audience when they gathered us all together for a group photo, and by the time I got to the stage, they were all leaving! Still kicking myself now!

Horizontal Rule - Bar Flair


First thing on the Friday, I received a phone call from my agent to say that a gig she had postponed for Monday, was now back on again. This meant that I had a whole lot of organising to do whilst in Brighton to make sure I could get back in time to Stirling, to pack and be able to get up to Dundee for the workshop!

I was feeling frozen stiff, so luckily there weren’t many people having a shower, and I spent at least 30 minutes in there, getting warm again! Throughout the weekend, when I felt extremely cold, I would go for a really hot shower, and feel much better! I spent the day attending loads of workshops.

The amount won in the Money Juggling contest!

Workshops Attended throughout Convention

The squash courts were the main rooms for workshops. These were far too small for the amount of people wanting to attend workshops, so I found myself unable to do much practicing during certain workshops, and being hit by stray objects in other workshops. I hope the workshop areas will not be as tiny next year.

Club Stealing for Beginners
(Dave Kent)
I met a bloke called Henry, and practiced a few new Club Stealing tricks. Excellent teaching and ideas flowing throughout the class.
6 Club Passing beyond the basics
(Charlie Hull)
Thankfully, I have learned a load of club passing moves since last years convention, so I was able to attend this sort of workshop and not feel out of place. I practiced with a guy called Chris for about 20 minutes, but the workshop was in too small a venue, and I kept getting hit by stray objects, so I gave up after 20 minutes.
Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Club Juggling Luke Wilson
The best workshop/seminar of this convention. Luke showed so many different ways to do all the tricks you could think of using clubs. These involved multiplexes, and using the wall, and surroundings in your performance. Well thought out and presented, and certainly gave me loads to think about.
Tray Manipulation Ewano
Never thought I would be learning to spin a tray on my finger! I still have a cut on my forehead from when it spun off and hit me! I managed to get the tray spinning, and a few people stepped forward and showed further tricks such as tray and ball manipulation.

Ball on Parasol
Mike Armstrong
Fantastic class. Mike had brought along loads of parasols that people could buy if they wanted, so I bought 3, so I can teach the tricks back home in Stirling. It took a while to master the ball spinning on top of the parasol, and everyone was at beginner level other than the instructor. Hopefully next year if everyone keeps practicing, we can have a trickswap session!

Parasol workshop by Mike

Te Pooka Fire Show

Te Pooka are an Edinburgh based company. They put on a fantastic fire show, with explosions and fire spinning and loud music, and it was well received.

Lee and I caught the bus into Brighton seafront for the parade. After about 45 minutes of standing about, we got bored waiting for the parade to start, and went for a walk along the seafront, and eventually the parade caught up with us. The dancers and the music were very good. We all ended up at the ellipse on the Brighton Seafront where the games were to take place (see below).

Brighton Beach (photo taken during parade)The games event was hosted by Charlie Dancey (of Compendium books fame). There were many new games I hadn’t seen before. I particularly enjoyed the Talent Show spot in the middle where everyone was encouraged to just come forward and do a quick trick. There was a race to the sea and back, and the campest poi spinning competition which was hilarious. Unicycle Gladiators was fantastic to watch. Ewan got pulled off his Unicycle by a wee boy who basically leapt from his own unicycle to topple him (Ewan fell on top of him though)! It was won by the guy with the giraffe unicycle surprisingly (I thought that anyone on a giraffe would be at a disadvantage)! I took part in the tossup at the end, so I couldn’t photograph it this year. I hope someone else has a good photograph of the tossup.


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Aidan BurnsPublic Show – “up in the air” – Brighton Dome

Lee and I found the rest of the gang upstairs, and we had a great view. It was about 30 minutes before the show was due to start, so the balloons came out, and people aimed them at the grill on the ceiling of the theatre, and there were huge whoops and cheers when they stuck in the grill!

The show started with the yo-yo king Aaron Sparks doing his two yo-yo routine to music. Other acts would include the 3 hat manipulators who were perfectly choreographed to music, the gandini’s did some glo-ball routines, an act involving a seesaw/springboard and acrobatics, and the Racketeers (a mixture of top-notch jugglers) put on a tennis themed juggling show. The show was not as good as last years, but was still awesome. Most acts seemed to have a connection to Circus Space, and they seemed to be short of acts, as the show didn’t last as long as last years. Maybe this was because there wasn’t a 20 minute box jumping while attached to ropes routine this year! (thanks for pointing this out Arron)!

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Sunday – Time to go home

I got up early, and packed my tent, and then went to get some food for the long journey home, then went to the traders stall to see what bargains and equipment I could buy before returning home. I ended up buying several useful books (including Circus in a suitcase by Reg Bolton – fantastic read), and I also bought a Fyrefly Meteor Fire Diabolo, Fire Balls from Passe Passe.

The trip home lasted longer, because we had to make the last part of it by bus, as the train line was being worked on. The guys soon found out they weren’t allowed to do club passing while waiting for a train at London’s  Kings Cross, despite not taking up that much room with their accurate passes! When the 4 of us arrived back in Stirling, the remaining two were just getting on the bus back in Brighton to begin their 11 hour trip home! We headed to the Bistro to toast a fantastic weekend, then I dashed off home to prepare for my workshop the next morning in Dundee!

Convention Fish Logo shaved into the back of my head!


Better convention than last year. This could be largely to do with the fact that my juggling skills are much improved compared to this time last year, and I enjoyed the workshops a lot more. I wish we had got a group photo of the 6 of us at the Convention, and that I had made it onto the stage with my head shaved, as then I would have been able to say that I had been on stage at the BJC2003 in all my juggling posters and adverts!

The weather was freezing the whole time, and I did have to try hard to stay warm, but you can’t do much about the weather. The sports hall would have been fantastic if it were open constantly for the whole weekend, but it shut every night at 11pm, and everyone got moved to the other hall which wasn’t as big.

I didn’t see much of the gang while I was at the convention, but we kept an eye out for each other as we all went off and did our own things with new found friends and old acquaintances. The food was excellent, and the renegade and shows were top class.

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