Travelling Summer 2016 – Part 1: The journey to, and set up of, the EJC

My travels to the European Juggling Convention (EJC)began Friday the 22nd of July. I packed checked all my packed bags and travelled from Galway to Dublin with my companion to sleep for a few hours before getting up at 3.45am to go get the bus to the airport.

I got the 4.35am AirCoach from Cabinteely to Dublin Airport, T1. Coincidentally, my radio co-host and oldest friend was flying out the same day, and almost same time, from T1 – but to Japan.

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We only realised the timing about a week before so it was very amusing to navigate the airport together before our 7-ish a.m. flights.

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I arrived in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, Netherlands, around 10.30am local time (GMT+1). At this time the  direct train was still available to Almere Poort, where the European Juggling Convention (EJC) site was, though I was a week early. I’d applied to assist site set-up but thought I was three days to early even for that.

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But I hopped off the train, and almost immediately had someone new come up to me, smiling, asking “You’re here for the EJC? Come on in!”. I later found out it was Tom, one of the five members of the EJC 2016 core team.

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I was introduced to the ten or so people currently on-site, given some water and coffee and asked if I’d like to start working now or later. So I started laying power cables immediately. One of my co-volunteers joked about how this was how he spent his vacation time; manual labour. And it was a great time!

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The weather was warm and the site was dusty from the lack of rain. None of the big tops were yet up. Everyone currently on-site, the core-team and five or six volunteers, ate together for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That evening set the tone for most for most of that week’s evenings; We sat around, people discussed their juggling clubs and circuses, people juggled and played instruments.

Everyday for the pre-EJC week more people would arrive until there was about eighty of us. The first few days were my favourite, when you knew everyone and worked the hardest, all day every day. Some days we took breaks if it got too hot during the day to work, and visited the lake nearby.

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During the week there was every kind of job to do, building fences, planning tent sites, painting signs, repairing the workshop sheet, building trusses, signage, laminating, registration packages….

And also hanging lamps!

And raising trusses and looking at new boards.

Then Saturday the 30th came to open up!

Travelling: 28th of July-24th of August – Part 5; EJC Bruneck

Day 2) Sunday: It was a bit foggy waking as we got up this morning (I moved from by the trees, which I was told was prone to flooding, to Camp New-New-Ireland which is comprised mostly of Irish jugglers from Dublin, and one Danish juggler).

I woke up this morning to find a spider in my tent. I tried to catch it with an empty botle but ended up drowning it in rum. I shouted out asking did anyone have a tissue and one of the Dublin jugglers asked why;
I just spilled rum in my tent!
“OH! Here! *another bottle of rum*”
I decided to leave the rum outside in case anyone wanted some.

Today was parade day. Parade’s are common enough at juggling conventions. They’re a way to thank the town for having us – and also warning everyone (just in case you lived in a tiny town like Bruneck and didn’t realise the world’s largest juggling convention had set up camp for the next week and a bit).

After the parade I went to find food. I’m not usually one for the shoe-less juggler look but there I was, shoeless, wearing short-shorts and a bikini top. Though I did regret not bringing shoes with me to go into a pizzeria. The local people, despite it being a very small town, were very welcoming and friendly towards the jugglers.

That evening also saw the first Open Stage and renegade! An open stage is where anyone (generally) can volunteer to perform something. It is usually a polished piece though, but people are happy to perform for other jugglers at a convention for free. I volunteered as a stage-hand at it and had a lot of fun, meeting all the performers.

After that was the renegade which is like an open mic for jugglers. It generally starts off with tricks people have just learned or short bits of unfinished choreography. As it gets later and people get more drunk it degenerates into a lot of shouting and chaotic madness and people doing tricks with extra beers involved (which is also very impressive). You generally also get a shot of tequila if the audience likes your performance.

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This person is playing a clarinet while balancing a juggling club on it with an added beer bottle on top. Pure skill.

Day 3) Monday: We woke up to a beautiful sky.

Time to go see what’s been added to the workshop board!

The two bottles of rum I left outside my tent had also multiplied in the juggling weather. So we decided to make a small bar.

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I found the UFO café behind the main EJC area.

 

 

Watched some of the Team Combat. Combat is where people juggle three clubs in cascade (the usual pattern) and try to knock other people out by breaking their pattern, stealing their clubs and such. Team Combat is basically the same but with two people working as a team – great for club stealing.

That evening we saw the Flaque show which was really amazing. They had a technician who was secretly a juggler – it really appealed to me. After that was also the second Open Stage – one of the acts, Yosuke Ikeda, was great. You should watch the video, especially if you like The Beatles. After this I went following the Dundu puppet.

Attended the improvisation night for a n hour and then to bed.

Travelling: 28th of July-24th of August – Part 4; An Introduction to the 38th European Juggling Convention

The European Juggling Convention is the world’s biggest juggling convention. It takes place in a different European country every year and was in Ireland in 2014 – my, and many other Irish people, first EJC! It runs for nine days from Saturday to Sunday the following week. It’s like a regular convention in that people give workshops, there are masterclasses, lots of shows, people playing games. It’s also different in that it’s longer, all camping (conventions in Ireland have little to no camp space), has people from all over the world, and thus has pretty much every circus discipline you can imagine.

We had arrived a day early to Bruneck, on the 31st of July. As had a lot of people who were currently camped outside the gates. One of our party new someone who might be able to get us in so we made our way straight from the station to the site – and magically passed inside when our small party was mistaken for the much larger group of circus students from Berlin. We had infiltrated the EJC a day early!

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The camp site was still very empty save for a few tents belonging to organisers and volunteers.

We didn’t bother trying to leave camp again and just set-up our tents near the trees,

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The small blue dot by the trees is my tent.

shared the food we had and went to the bar tent “The first one’s free”.

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Day 1) There were some romantic views to behold.

As well as some not so romantic.

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People mostly arrived today so it was time to check out the camp, the town, and collect my ticket!

EJC is like a small town. It even has its own rocks!

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Then I went into the actual town of Bruneck to get some supplies and have a look around.

I then returned to perform my civic-juggler duty and get people registered!

My ultimate language goal is to be proficient enough in three languages to work at an EJC registration desk. This year I settled for shouting at people asking did they need pens or paper – Stylo? Peann? Páipéar? Stift? That evening Matthias Romir had a solo show which was a Very big deal to me. He’s one of my favourite performer. He’s a great juggler but he has great stories as well. After which we all went to the bar, where people juggled and danced and drank – and that is what you can expect from a regular first day of a convention!