Tales from the EJC

The European Juggling Convention is over. The crowd this year peaked at a little more than 2000 people, making it a fairly small EJC (I guess being on an island made it harder for mainland Europeans to get to). For people who have never been to a juggling convention, this is sort of how they work: a lot of jugglers converge on one place, and juggle. There’s usually a big hall, full of people juggling. Sometimes there are workshops. And usually there are shows with professional jugglers and entertainers.

The EJC is not competitive. The most competitive it got was a day of field games. Think elementary school picnick and games, but for people with excess hand-eye coordination who find the egg-on-a-spoon race a bit too basic (maybe blindfolded on a unicycle…). The juggling games featured a distance passing game (the juggler version of the egg toss) with water balloons, a unicycle race, 5 and 7 ball juggling endurance contests, and a club balancing contest. The contestants in the club balancing contest had to balance a juggling club on their nose, chin, or forehead. The finalists had to balance the club with a pint of Guiness balanced on top.

Personal highlights of the convention: Irish dance night was a lot of fun. The local dance club came out to teach us the traditional dances of Cork County. They where quite complex, sort of like square dancing. Unfortunately, hand-eye coordination is entirely unconnected to brain-foot coordination, and jugglers on average are not incredible dancers. The nicely arranged dances usually eroded into mayhem, but everyone had a lot of fun.

Later in the week, there was a concert with Kila, a sort of traditional but high energy Irish band (they had eletric guitar playing next to bagpipes and bodran). I’d never heard of them, but I think they’re quite famous in Ireland.

My favorite workshop was on musicality: juggling to music (following the beat, timing trick to accents in the melody, etc). The shows where all great, I was feeling a bit overloaded on juggling shows by the end of the week (there was a main show every night, and often a Renegade or theme show afterward).

When 2000 jugglers get together, there is never a dull moment. Even intermissions between shows are full of activity (people in the audience start juggling or making balloon animals, or doing whatever it is they do). It was a great week.

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