BJC 2005 – Perth

British Juggling Convention 2005 – Perth

The Convention for Rach and myself started on the Wednesday night when we got all our stuff packed and awaited the arrival of Hazel from the Isle of Man as she was coming to stay with us a day before the convention so that she could visit Stirling Juggling Project that night! After juggling finished, we returned to my flat we watched the BJC Derby DVD from last years convention as this would be Hazel’s first British Convention.

Presscutting from Perth Newspaper

I particularly enjoyed my welcome to the Convention when Mini shouted “get a haircut you hippy” (I had a shaved head), and then Captain Duncan showed me where all the gang were camped so we could set up nearby. The convention pass (compass) was one of the best I have seen, and more than made up for the peg pass at the Scottish Convention (also ran by Graham and Britta this year!)

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Stirling Juggling Project

The convention was not well attended by jugglers from our project despite being less than an hour away instead of the usual trips to England each year! I had started up the Project back in January 2005 once again, but the new recruits were either tied up with final exams, or too busy (Timmy even managed to break his leg while out hillwalking!) Our beloved George couldn’t attend as he was getting ready to head to Spain 🙁 Gary Worrall also turned up at his first convention for years! Noeleen was in charge of security and also ran a stall, so we got to see her quite a bit too! Allen Goldie (from Old Town Jail) attended also. Captain Duncan and Ewan Uno were both in attendance and it was good to catch up with them too!

BJC 2005 - Perth Pass

The Venue
Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth is an excellent venue, although the 24hr Juggling Hall was far too brightly lit for practicing my juggling (3 balls in one hand) as anytime I threw a high ball, I would be glaring into the light and so I was having to keep the pattern low! Lots of space though and very inspiring to sit in the raised seating at the side, and watch everyone else practice.

The campsite was extremely near the Sports Centre where everything happened, and we were only 5mins walk (across a beautiful park with stunning views) from the City Centre, so the location was perfect!

Our tent was very well lit at night as the floodlights were nearby! This was excellent as our torch batteries had all ran out! We had bought a new tent which was quite spacious, and we also brought a double airbed and 2 quilts so we were quite warm and comfy!

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British Young Juggler of the Year

Congratulations to Luke Burrage for bringing this competition back after many years of absence and for hosting it also. It was disappointing that there were difficulties with the sound for most of the acts. The best (and most heartwarming) moment was when the sound completely conked out during a choreographed routine to the tune  “popcorn”, so someone grabbed the mike and sang/hummed the tune!

Ring Juggling

All 8 acts were fantastic. The judges picked the right act to win (John), but I voted for Arron Sparks as his act was the most entertaining and not just full of technical ability, and it used several of the songs that I used in my songs mix routine I wrote recently! Rach voted for Norby (ring juggler)

The Pope’s Death

3 years ago, those people attending the British Convention were informed of the Queen Mothers death, and now this time round it was the turn of Pope John Paul II. We were told of his tragic demise at the very end of the Young Juggler of the Year show which left the whole event on a sour note, but then the next morning, found out that he had just eaten some soup, so it was truly a miracle! Rumours abound the whole next day with people in confusion and then he passed away.

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World Record Haggis Juggling

It was Graham’s intention to open up this contest which is normally just contended once a year at the Scottish Convention, to give it more kudos and maybe make a few extra people make the journey to Glasgow to compete in the world record attempt (3, 4 and 5 haggis endurance records) next year! Luke managed to retain just one of his 3 world records. I managed to beat my previous best time in the 3 haggis endurance and got 6mins 20secs, so I was happy!

BJC 2005 Logo


Excellent seating and stage area (much better than having it in a marquee in my opinion, but I know that others will disagree!) The only thing that let the venue down was the sound which kept playing up.

Thursday Night
was compered by the Void. Lots of hat manipulation to fill time between acts. Lots of singing  “is this the way to amarillo?” also! Nigel was the opening act and did a well thought out dinner date plate manipulation scene. 2 wee girls did some staff and poi spinning, which they then repeated on each of the other renegades! Various technical 3 ball jugglers, and Rossy did some poetry. Luke Burrage did an awesome act where he was all caught up in his jumper.
Friday Night
was compered by Mario, who was awesome and very funny and highly entertaining. I nearly got up and did my 8min songs mix routine which I had brought with me on tape, but the music system was unreliable and I didn’t want to risk it. Priam did an awesome act building up to 3 diabolo’s (this show was better than the one he actually did at the Public Show!)
Saturday Night
was compered by Rossy (Poet). He got loads of heckles when he stopped the show in order to just sell some of his merchandise! Other than the reduced public show which was hilarious and really ripped into the Raspyni Brothers, I can’t remember any of the other acts. I heard that after we had went to bed that Donald Grant, Priam and Guy Heathcote had done an old school/new school diabolo act which went down a storm, and was sorry to have missed it!
Sunday Night
didn’t have a compere, and I wasn’t there, having left on the Sunday afternoon! It was apparently very good and lasted over 4hrs though!
Horizontal Rule - Turbo Bouncer BallsParade/Games
The Parade happened on a sunny/bright Saturday afternoon in Perth. It was a 20min parade from the Bell’s Sports Centre through the North Inch park, along Tay Street, ending up at St.John Street, where I had been hired to do walkabout performances the year before. The public were all very happy and welcoming throughout the whole convention, and the scenery alongside the river was breathtaking.
The Games weren’t that good. It was just way too cramped a space. As the public would want to see the games, and we had hundreds of jugglers, and the area we used was St.Johns Street, which is pedestrianised, but more long and narrow than wide, we couldn’t really get enough room for any of the events to gather much momentum. Russell did an excellent job compering the event (despite having his view blocked regularly)! I took part in as many games as I could, and nearly won the money juggling (down to the last 3!) Rach got a fantastic photo of the tossup. I am sure we could have ended the parade at St.Johns Street, then brought the Public back a short distance to the North Inch and played games in a huge area, but maybe the Council had vetoed all of these alternative locations?


Workshops I Attended throughout Convention
Toothbrush Twirling (Circus Kevin)
Excellent. Loads of fun. Something completely different and novel and I am likely to introduce this to future workshops I run as these are cheap enough props!

Toothbrush Twirling Workshop

Plate Manipulation (Nigel)
Excellent stuff. Easy to learn the basics. Bought Nigel Roder’s CD of tricks (video clips and MS word files) for  £2 which was a bargain. I will definitely be purchasing some cheap plates from a supermarket soon!
Earning a living by Juggling (Circus Kevin, Russell, Donald Grant)
Informative. A few ideas I hadn’t thought of before. Good to know that my juggling fee’s are similar to others in attendance and not wildly different! Also good to learn how people have been burned by clients and what lessons they have learned (which may stop us making similar mistakes)
Comedy Workshop (Raspyni Brothers)
It was very informative, and by asking us questions about what we would find funny, they were able to come up with some cracking material for the public show!
Beach Flingo (Steve Thomson €“ me!!)
I ran my first ever workshop at a convention. It was on the Sunday and it was attended by the grand total of 1 participant!
Tricks withRope / Elastic Band (Circus Kev & Doc)
another excellent workshop which taught some very basic tricks and then showed lots of possibilities. I will add ropes to my workshops and Rach loved the elastic band tricks!
How to deal with hecklers (Graham Benson)
A useful workshop which was well attended. Mini and myself added in quite a few tips also that were well received.

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Public Show Extravaganza

Organised by Captain Duncan Smith. I had got quite a shock when the headline acts management phoned me up from the USA months prior to the event as they thought I was in charge of the whole event and wanted to sort a few things out! I was very proud that the Captain had managed to get the show called  “an extravaganza”, as this word was always in the shows we did as Stirling Juggling Project!

I wasn’t happy that we weren’t allowed to sit upstairs, because the usher said  “those seats are for the important people”. Once they had filled downstairs, they then seemed to let anyone take an upstairs seat (much better view).

General consensus on the show was that the 2nd half was miles better than the first, and that last years show was better than this one, but that this one seemed to have more variety (something to please everybody), which was a good thing. I can’t actually remember most of the names of the acts, so I am sure that people can remind me and I can update this part of the review!

Raspyni Brothers
Excellent. I found them highly entertaining and when they used jokes we helped them create at their workshop earlier, it felt good!
an entertaining and funny routine involving traffic cones.
Ewan Uno
excellent to see Stirling Juggling Project member on the big stage with a fantastic contact juggling act
Luke Burrage and Norby
some old school/new school juggling light hearted competition with each person taking turns on the turntable. Luke did clubs, Norby did Rings, then they both moved on to diabolo.
Hat Manipulation Comedy Guy
Funny and original stuff. Enjoyed it!
Sparky’s Balancing Ladder
excellent idea to have an act in amongst all the others that was like what you would see on the street. Lots of communication and buildup for a walking ladder over an audience member trick. Good stuff.

At the half-time interval, Gary Worrall and myself grabbed all the balloons that were still littering every aisle, and got them out a side door, then jumped up and down on them to try and burst the lot as they had become a fire hazard. Some other jugglers heard the noise and joined us!

Jan (Yo-yo Guy)
Star of the show, got the most applause. Excellent yo-yo ing to the Grease Megamix with one, then 2 yo-yo’s, ending with somersault!
Unicycle Girl
very elegant and graceful and inspiring to watch.
Excellent diabolist, but his show in the renegade the previous night was far more entertaining.
The big finale
This act was a glitzy flashy kind of guy who had some nice props such as one that launched a club in the air. It wasn’t a fantastic finishing act, but it was good enough to have fitted in at any other part of the show.

A beautiful bridge beside the Convention in Perth

End of Convention Meeting

The Convention managed to break even thankfully by the Sunday. Not many jugglers had turned up compared to previous years, using the excuses of  “it’s too far”, or it will be too cold. I am certain that us Scots will wholeheartedly make the effort to head to Cornwall for next years Convention though!

The convention was enjoyable and seemed to go well. The decision was made that next years convention will be in Truro, Cornwall, and that in 2006 it would go to Nottingham. Both venues sound great!

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Excellent to have this convention in Scotland. Shame that it wasn’t as well attended for this very reason though. Unlikely we will see another British Convention held in Scotland for quite some time. Enjoyed the convention loads. The parade was excellent. The games weren’t. Gandolf did a fantastic job of organising the parade and the workshops (all those that I attended were inspiring and entertaining). The public show was great, and the renegades were a bit hit and miss thanks in part to a poor sound system.

Overall, an excellent convention, and a big thanks to the people of Perth and the staff at Bell’s Sports Centre for making us feel so welcome!

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