Saturday night I got to perform for an awesome group of people up in Kansas City, MO. And when I say awesome, I do mean awesome because I got to perform at the Kansas City Juggling Festival. Not only I, but there was also one of the best yo-yo guys (Eric Tran-ton), baton twirler, jugglers and a half-naked french guy (which will take a moment to explain).
I showed up at the festival a bit early to teach a half hour jump rope workshop. As soon as I walked in the gym I knew this was going to be a fun day. There was juggling with balls, clubs, rings…a poi spinner, unicyclist, etc.. And that was just what I saw at first glance in gym 1. This was a happening place. Turns out the term ‘juggling club’ in Kansas City has a more open meaning. They’ve folded in a few different clubs and they share practice space on a weekly basis. Needless to say, it was very cool to walk into. I taught a workshop and had some very engaged students that were picking up the tricks as fast as I could teach them. I love working with people that want to learn, even if they look a bit foolish trying it out.
After the workshop I did a sound check for the evenings show. There were 2 french guys that had been flown in as the headliners for the night and there was definitely a language barrier as they were trying to run over their lighting needs with the tech crew. Mine went quick as always and I was able to take a break before the show started. It was fun seeing the jugglers goofing off with various tricks and styles. I watched one kid practice with 7 balls while getting ready to set a world record in juggling (and was recently featured in a google commercial). Very entertaining.
Show time finally came at 7 PM. I hung out backstage and enjoyed the customary pre-show routines that people have. I just stand around and stretch while others were running through their entire routines (some mentally, others actually went ahead and did it). As each performer went out to do their thing, I stood there and watched every routine. They all did a great job, but I have to say I was most impressed with Eric Tran-ton, the yo-yo guy. I haven’t really seen very many performers in this discipline and he did a great job and was seriously good. My show was after the intermission (and right after a world champion spin-top performer, who knew right?). I had about 15 minutes and it went really good. I love crowds that appreciate the work that goes into what I do. Since they were all jugglers (once again..that term is used loosely), they all understand the hours of repetitive practice that it takes to master a skill, and then the hours that go into making the hard stuff look easy. They were very appreciative and was one of the best crowds I’ve performed for.
You’ve probably read this far because you want to know about the French guy. It’s tough to explain. They started out in the first half doing some juggling stuff. The second half had them doing 2 different acts with hair dryers. Being privy to the background info, I found out that they had brought them over from europe so when they were plugged in, they didn’t quite work right since they were designed for 220. The festival organizers had to run out at rent a generator just so they could get them to work properly. Basically, they used the hair dryers to levitate styrofoam balls in the air. It sounds unfun…but they did a great job with sight gags, etc. to make it a very funny and engaging routine. At the end of the show one of the guys had 9 hair dryers duct taped to him so that he could keep 9 balls floating in the air. The start of the skit had one on his head and 4 on his arms and there was a black skirt around his waist. At the end, they ripped off the skirt and he was in his boxer briefs with 4 more taped to his feet and knees. So when I say half-naked, I do mean that. I can honestly say that I could have lived my whole life without seeing so much French skin. Anyways…it was hard not to watch as I was curious what on earth they were going to do. They ended up getting all the balls floating in the air and then floated a balloon above his head. They used a bb gun to pop the balloon and confetti then rained down on him. Did I say that I was almost the most normal person performing?
I did have a couple people come up to me afterwards and say that they never thought it would be possible, but they went to a juggling show and their favorite part was the jump roper. I am honored that people enjoyed it that much, especially considering the talent on stage. I almost forgot, I also met a girl who has 140+ Guinness World Records for playing video games. They even had the book with them to show me the entry. She has some serious skill with dancing games. Just goes to show that you never know who you’re going to meet when you’re out performing.
It was a great night with a lot of laughs and some great demonstrations of skill. I had a blast and highly recommend checking out the club if you’re ever up in Kansas City. They meet on a weekly basis and you can learn a lot of different skills. Maybe you’ve always wanted to juggle or unicycle? Head on in and they’d love to teach you.