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29th European Juggling Convention 2006
Co. Cork, Ireland (9-16 July)

I had an overnight gig working alongside Out of the Box Puppet Ministry up North at Portsoy Boat Festival on the Friday and Saturday before the Convention (which started on the Sunday), so as soon as that gig had finished, I began the long drive home to pack, then a few hours sleep and we left at 5am for the EJC!

 

My wife Rachel and I had never been to Ireland before, so this was as good a chance as any to visit! We headed across on the car ferry from Stranraer to Belfast, then drove the whole length of Ireland to reach the venue in Co. Cork! It gave us a chance to see a bit of Ireland as well as get completely lost in Dublin instead of bypassing it on the ring road! We never managed to work out how to change our cars mileage to kilometres, so we had to try and work out all the speed limit signs as we reached them!

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Venue

The Green Glens Arena was built to host the Eurovision Song Contest way back in the early 90’s. It was the year that Riverdance became a worldwide phenomenon! Maybe they will put up a plaque stating that the EJC was held here also?!

Welcome Sign for EJC 2006

World Cup Final

We arrived and got our tents set up just in time so we could watch the World Cup Final Penalty Shoot-out in the bar area between France and Italy. As this is a European Juggling Convention, there were plenty of French and Italian people huddled together, and lots of emotion as Italy won!

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Sightseeing

The shows were always at night, and there wasn’t many workshops on the board during the day (especially earlier in the week) so we took the chance to spend a while in Cork and Killarney. Both are beautiful places to visit.

Outdoor practice area

Mill Street

Most people tended to shower on site, but that involved getting tokens and queuing. Rachel and I would head into town in the morning, shower at the GAA Hall, and then go for breakfast at Nibbles which had excellent food and friendly staff.

Mill Street in full bloom

Emma and James

Our friends visited the Convention for a couple of days, and we had a BarBQ with them on site. James ran a swimming workshop which was well attended (as the weather was making everyone hot and sticky!)Horizontal Rule - Devilstick

Traders

It was great to finally meet Erik (who makes Erik’s Poi) at his stall, as I have been selling his excellent poi in my juggling store for a while now. I bought lots of magic stuff from Kablitz. This time last year, I would have been able to just cross the road to purchase from her! Juggling.TV did a great job playing DVD’s on the large screen at the bar area throughout the convention. They also filmed the JuggleJam which I look forward to seeing as a DVD extra!

EJC 2006 - Erik's Poi stall

Shows

The following shows are the ones that Rachel and I saw. There were at least 2 shows every night plus Massacre (renegade) so we didn’t see everything!

Manu & Jay Gilligan’s Show
They put on an excellent 2 person ball passing/stealing show choreographed to music which was very impressive. I still can €™t get used to a happy looking Jay Gilligan though!
Kris Kremo
Never seen this guy perform before. His show was very glitzy Vegas style. He doesn’t say a thing, but then again he doesn’t need to, as his skills are phenomenal! He did a fast 3 ball routine, 3 x hats, 1 x hat, 3 x cigar boxes and he had a great routine involving a hat, cigar and ball.
Emerald Circus Some great acts, and some OK acts. The 2 clown comperes did an excellent job, and the highlight was when they mimed driving a car while sitting on earthballs!
Thursday Open Stage
This was a fantastic show. The opening act did a good routine with tennis balls and a cannister, but he then followed it up by placing a tennis ball on his head and doing practically nothing for 4mins! Other memorable acts:

  • a man dressed as Cinderella performing a club juggling routine with a fantastic skirt twirling finale!
  • Toby Walker doing 5 clubs with flat spins
  • A 7 person French/German Circus Project were the best act of the night when they did a choreographed routine to Prince’s  “Kiss”. They got a standing ovation, as did… Stefan Sing who did some very fluid ball juggling!
Renegade
This was called  “Massacre” this year in memory of one of Irelands greatest ever Street Performers.

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Workshops

The Convention was not that well attended, and there was a distinct lack of volunteers, meaning that it was only later on in the week that the workshops boards began to fill up.

Lots of fake (but funny) workshops put up on the board, such as:
1) Sleeping workshops  “all day in main hall“ all levels. Just join in, don’t wake me
2) Prancing around like a ninja  – all levels
3) Blood sport – 2pm  – Knives welcome
4) Chris Bliss masterclass – bring your own knives and chainsaws to the massacre tent

The most difficult sounding workshop
–> Ryo Yabe and Tempei Arakana with Mega Advanced Diabolo tricks!

 

I ran 2 workshops this year:

  • Christian (Gospel) Juggling – I ran this successfully at the British Juggling Convention this year, and it was well attended, but I had no participants at this workshop! It all worked out well in the end, because I put in a solid hour of 5 ball juggling and managed 100 catches (woo-hoo!) Find out more about my Christian (Gospel) Juggling.

My workshop

  • Fun Things to do with Props – I had approx 25-30 participants! We started off with toothbrush twirling, and moved on to beach flingo. I covered lots of neat little tricks to do with balls, clubs, scarfs and rings, devilstick, diabolo, and also some simple magic. Lastly, I showed FlashCups which I had only just purchased, at which point a guy called Christian demonstrated the basics with this prop and after some discussion, he agreed to run a FlashCup workshop the next day which we learned loads at!

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Other People’s workshops I attended
Flashcups Workshop Christian
I now use Flashcups at all my workshops!

 

Flashcups Workshop

Money Magic – Circus Kevin
Learned how to make a coin disappear and how to put a pen through a 50Euro note!
Lindy Hop
Rach and I do a form of modern jive dancing called Ceroc, so we thought we would give this workshop a try. It was hard work, but good fun!
3 ball football tournament
Trying to keep a cascade pattern going while kicking a ball is harder than you think! You end up way off balance and either falling over or kicking the ball in a completely different direction that intended! Excellent fun to watch!
Ultimate Frisbee
never played this before. Fantastic fun! We played for over 90mins.

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Parade

Excellent fun. The locals flooded the streets to watch, and Millstreet Pipe Band led the parade!

Peter and giant Ball!

Games

The heats for the long-distance club passing seemed to go on for ages as people kept on cheating and re-entering the competition! I entered the devilstick propellor obstacle race, and the high diabolo toss. After 5 heats of club gladiators, with the 5 winners set to face each other in the final, it was disappointing that they were given novelty caveman clubs to juggle with instead of fighting it out expertly!

Only in Ireland! A guinness balance on top of Juggling Club on Head endurance challenge!

Solas Circus (Public Show)
They let us queue at the side of the seating, and then after 30mins, a Steward came over to tell the massive queue that the  “real queue” had started outside, so we had to join the very end! We were then left baking in the hot sun for another age while being constantly reassured that it would be just another 5mins. Just tell the truth!
Disappointed that in the Public Show, there were entire routines we had seen performed earlier in the week (such as Jeremy James excellent ring routine). Surely the performers could have just shown their performance during this show?!
My favourite act was Professional Idiot who arrived on a giraffe unicycle and climbed inside a green balloon! Luke and Pola did their Art of Juggling which I have now seen 3 times, but it’s still fantastic to watch! The trio of acro-balance guys were amazing. Leonardo did a fantastic, humourous and technically brilliant hat manipulation routine. Sergei Ignatov was the surprise guest star finale, and he was excellent!

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Heading Home

We had packed up the tent into the car in the morning, and as soon as the public show finished, we drove to Belfast. The queue for the 2nd public show was blocking our way out the car park, but they all gave us a very warm send off and bowed as we drove past! We decided to listen to Irish bands all the way to Belfast, so we put on CD’s by the Cranberries, U2 etc! We stayed at Emma and James flat overlooking the Belfast Terminal so we didn’t have far to travel when we woke up the next morning! When we reached Scotland, we went home via Electric Brae (near Ayrshire)

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Summary

GOOD POINTS: We really enjoyed this convention. The weather was fantastic the whole week. At least 2 shows to watch each night! The locals were the friendliest of any EJC I have seen. Early in the morning, a group of elderly residents of Millstreet would be out picking up litter in the main town centre, just so we all got the best impression of the place! There seems to have been good build-up activities ran by the EJC staff in the run-up to this convention, as everyone knew about this event, and many had taken part in circus skills workshops activities and bought tickets for the Public Show.

BAD POINTS: The convention wasn’t well attended, which in turn meant that there wasn’t enough volunteers or enough workshops running (especially earlier on in the week). Most shows started later than advertised, and there were always queues of people being assured that it will be just 5 more minutes. Just be honest so we don’t waste half the convention standing around when we could be juggling!

Thanks to the organisers for an excellent Convention!

 

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