EJC 2002 – Bremen, Germany

European Juggling Convention

Bremen, Germany 8-16 August 2002

Travel Problems

Having secured enough funding for Andy, George, Euan, Lee, Steve Dobinson and myself to go to Bremen, we all met up at Off The Record (a youth resource place in Stirling) with all our gear, and George’s sister Fiona gave three of us a lift to Rosyth. As Fiona was on her way back to pick up the remaining three, the guys phoned to say that although we had been told by phone that there were plenty of seats available on the Ferry, they were actually sold out. We were gutted, but there was nothing we could do about it. We would have to wait till the same time (5pm) the following day to travel. Fiona offered the 6 of us a place to stay in Kirkcaldy so that we could at least get out of Stirling.

EJC 2002 - The team pass under the Forth Bridge

I got to watch some of her Bagpuss video’s and relive my youth, then we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail (a timeless classic), and the guys played with her kids star wars light sabre!

EJC 2002 - Stuck in Kirkcaldy for an extra day!

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A Close Shave – Friday 9 August

We all woke with plenty of time to get to Rosyth from Kirkcaldy. Fiona offered to drive us there in two trips. Euan and I went in the first carload with all the gear. On the way, we got caught up in heavy traffic due to a bad car crash. Fiona dropped us off, and headed back to get the others with 2 hours before the Ferry was due to leave.

Waiting for them…

Still waiting for them…

4.30pm, Euan and I make the decision that if the others do not make it to the ferry on time, that we would go without them, as the tickets would be non-refundable. We manage to convince the staff at Rosyth (lovely people) to give us 15 more minutes before we had to go. 14.5 minutes later, Fiona’s car came screeching round the corner, and we were rushed through with our passports and bags scanned etc! WHEW!!

The Ferry journey lasted 17 hours. We spent most of the time in the Colours Panoramic Lounge, or out at the side of the Superfast Ferry, or practicing juggling.

Finally There

(Saturday 5 August) – On arrival in Zebrugge, we caught the bus to Brugge, then George and I had a walk round the City Centre, before we caught the train to Koln (5.5 hours) and then another train to Bremen (3 hours). Then we caught a tram (not been on one of these since I was a child), to Wilhelm Kaisen Brucke, and walked for 50 minutes to finally arrive at about 10pm exhausted.

Me and my Tent in Bremen!

Stephen and I immediately set up our tents in the camping area. We had to go away to the back of the campsite to find 2 spaces beside each other. He had to give me a hand with my tent (which I bought a couple of weeks previous). We then stayed up for ages in the beer tent and relaxed. The other guys all stayed in the 24 hour hall for the week. I wouldn’t have liked to do this as the midges were crawling over everyone, and the place was right beside the toilets!!

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First Day at Convention

(Sunday 11 August) – I got up and went for a shower. Not used to sharing with naked women, but I don’t mind either! Steven had to go to the first aid tent and get his feet bandaged up. Lee and I decided to go and get food for everyone at the supermarket, so we followed the map we had been given on arrival, and walked past the beach along the side of the river and over the bridge, only to find that the supermarket was shut because it is a Sunday!

EJC 2002 welcome sign

We decided to have an ice cream and drink at a cafe, then to try finding the other two supermarkets in the City Centre. This meant going all the way back towards the camp, and then walking for 50 minutes into town. It was a very hot day, and we didn’t mind the walk as both of us were keen to see Bremen. We looked round the very few shops that were open, Lee had a pizza and I found a bakery, then we went to a park and watched a German group sign James Brown’s “I feel good”! Both other supermarkets were closed, so we found the boat and made the short trip across the river back to the camp.

I had a walk round the trader’s stalls with Steven who was feeling better, and we met Lee and Andy down the beach. Lee and I went for a swim, but the others were too scared of the cold water to jump in! I then went for some chips (chip van on site)! I headed off by myself and went to see the Der Gerschwindel show in the renegade tent (awesome).

I found Aidan Burns in the Games Room and we played a game with others called Redirect Robot, which was very tricky! I then found out that there was 3 Club Gladiator games happening in the 24 hour hall, so I went there and managed to win 4 games out of 30! I got back to my tent and realised that I had left my roof hatch slightly open, so there was a puddle on my sleeping bag.

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The workshops that I attended were mostly taught in English, so it was easy to cope with this convention without knowing much German other than “Thank you” and “Good morning”! I would have liked to learn Quidditch Juggle, but that workshop was in German. Here is a list of workshops I attended throughout the week:

  • Devil Stick – learned how to do overhand throws.
  • Principles of Juggling – learned about the 12 principles such as staging and anticipation from a fantastic 3 ball juggler called Phillip Meyhofer
  • 5 Ball Juggling workshop – This French guy taught us the 3 and 4 ball tricks we should practice in order to work our way up to juggling a 5 ball cascade.
  • 3 Ball Movement – Some cool moves that you can do while juggling 3 balls.
  • Mudsliding Workshop – There was so much mud after several nights of thunder and lighting, that it was decided to have a mudsliding competition. I captured some of it on my digital camera!

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Memorable Acts

Throughout the convention, there were acts on most nights at both the Open Stage and Renegade Tents. On the Wednesday, there was also a public show at a Theatre in Bremen. The following, is a list of the acts that I found the most enjoyable:

  • Balancing – Someone balancing a bench on their chin. Another guy balancing 5 chairs on his chin. Someone doing a headstand on a rola board.
  • Bob – All of Bob’s acts. Especially the one where he got a member of the audience up on stage to throw an axe into his juggling pattern. He didn’t mean for her to throw it, but she did, and it was lucky that he caught it properly! He was an excellent Compere at the Renegade shows and for the Juggling Games.
  • Gandini Gym Show – I wish the people in front of me had sat down, as I kept missing the best bits! They still continue to amaze me every time I see them. Didn’t enjoy the wee annoying one with her cry of “three three”! It became an annoying catchphrase throughout the campsite!
  • Fighting/Stealing Routine – This was in the open stage tent. A double act which involved two guys continually stealing each others clubs.
  • World’s Fastest Juggler – A joy to watch!
  • Dancing Club Jugglers – two guys dressed identically (think they were twins) A great double act at the Public Show.
  • 3 Groovy freestyle ball jugglers – This was perhaps my favourite act. The guys came on and took it in turns to juggle 3 bouncy balls doing really cool moves, and when one had finished, he would throw a ball in the air for the next person to take over. They came back and did an encore!
  • Devil Stick act synchronised to music – during the Latino Night at the open stage. It was perfectly choreographed.

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Money and Trader Stalls

The bar tent uses tokens which you have to buy at the info point. I am also getting used to spending Euro’s, as I went to the supermarket and bought lots of food! This means that I may let my shop sell juggling equipment in Euro’s when it opens online soon.

The Trader’s stalls were open on Edinburgh Walk (each street is named after a place that has hosted the European Juggling Convention). I met and spoke to the guy who is in charge of Beard Juggling Equipment (Greg Barbour), who is a really cool guy. I had bought lots of stock from him the previous month for my new juggling store. He even gave me a discount on some clubs to sell to Stephen!!

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We had no idea that there had been severe flooding in parts of Germany throughout the week. It rained heavily (thunder and lightning) most nights, and the ground was always very muddy, but during the day, the heat was blistering, which explains why I am still sunburnt a week after coming home!


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Other Stuff
  • EJC Museum – hosted in a Caravan on the campsite. I got to see what all the previous passes looked like, and see where each event had been held on a big map.
  • Beach – Where Lee, Steven, Andy and I spent a lot of time. We mainly swam and set adrift in the raft or sunbathed or practiced our juggling by the water side.

The beautiful river beside the campsite - we went out in this raft loads of times!

  • Juggling – I didn’t actually do a lot of juggling at this convention. I enjoyed exploring Bremen, and soaking up the sun. I did improve on my 4 ring and 4 ball juggling, as well as 3 club doubles.
  • Camera Battery – I forgot to buy a European Plug Adaptor for my battery charger, so I couldn’t take as many photographs as I would have liked to!
  • CD’s – On the Wednesday, I went for a big walk into Bremen City Centre, and found a second hand CD shop and purchased loads of CD’s which are far cheaper than back home!
  • Burning EJC2002 – Flammable material in the shape of the phrase “EJC2002” was attached to railings and burnt in a wonderful fire display which lasted for a good 30 minutes.
  • Games – Gladiator was played most nights in the 24 hour hall. Descriptions of the games played on the final day have been added to the Juggling Games page.

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Heading Home…

(32 hours travelling – Friday-Sat 16/17 August)

We had to make sure that we were ready to leave the campsite at 6am on Friday morning! Steven had packed his tent the night before and stayed awake partying with Lee in the Bar Tent all night so he would be ready. Andy had stayed up all night watching the stars and chatting to folk. Aidan had gave me a loan of his alarm watch, so I could wake myself at 5am, at which time Andy turned up at my tent to help me pack it away. George was staying on in Bremen and heading off to another couple of Conventions, so it was just 5 of us that began our long journey home.

We left at 6am, and walked into Bremen, and caught a tram to the station, where we caught a train to Koln and then another train to Brugge. We then struggled to find a way by foot to the Ferry Port, and ended up walking on the dual carriageway to get there! I slept for most of the ferry trip, apart from waking up at 2am and heading up to the Bar with Steven, where we met a big bloke who bought us drinks and kept threatening us. We made our excuses and headed up to floor 10 where we sat and chatted on the stairs for a while.

On arrival in Rosyth, we walked for 40 minutes to the train station, caught a train to Edinburgh Haymarket, then a train to Stirling, where we said our goodbyes, and I got home for 2pm on Saturday afternoon.

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Excellent Convention. This was my third convention (having already been at the Scottish and British earlier on in the year). I am already looking forward to next year’s in Svendborg, Denmark, and I hope that the ground will be a lot less muddy! I met lots of wonderful people, and got to enjoy being in a foreign country for only the second time in my life (I went to LA last year). It’s a shame that all 8 of us couldn’t go to Bremen, but I did have a wonderful time and have lots of good memories.

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