Friday, 3 June 2011

Have You Got The Balls For It?

I have always been fascinated by jugglers: their ability to move objects through the air from one hand to another with apparent ease, such objects including not merely balls and clubs, but knives, flaming torches, chairs and even working chainsaws.

I started juggling myself in the early 1990s, when there was quite a popular interest in the art and juggling equipment could be purchased with relative ease. I taught myself numerous three-ball tricks and was also able to juggle with rings and clubs, though never quite made it to switched-on chainsaws.

She Who Must Be Obeyed tried juggling, but she didn't have the balls for it.

I still have numerous juggling balls, including a set of fluorescent ones: leave them in the light for a few hours and then they light up as if by magic when one juggles in the dark. I also still have my clubs and I think there is a set of rings back in Belgium. I was never very keen on rings, I must admit, much preferring the wide variety of tricks that could be easily practiced and performed indoors with three juggling balls: shower, cascade, cathedral windows, tennis… The most complicated trick I managed to master was one called Mills Mess.

People often ask me what it's like, juggling, and I can only reply that it has its ups and downs…

I used to carry my juggling balls with me on my various trips and so have juggled in Belgium, Wales, England, France, Spain, and the USA, where I was able to juggle on the stage of the Overton Park Shell, the site of Elvis Presley's first public performance as a recording artist.

I continue to enjoy the occasional juggle and like reading about it and watching tricks. Plenty of excellent jugglers doing their thing can be viewed at Juggling TV. Believe me, I am nowhere near their class.

Should you wish to learn how to juggle, then take a look here. A simple three-ball cascade is really not very difficult and starting off can cost very little money. Indeed, you can use ordinary balls to start with, though then I would advise juggling against a bed (I kid you not) to avoid running about all over the place chasing dropped balls. As long as you have more than the average number of hands (you need 2, think about it), then you should be fine. There are plenty of other juggling resources on the Web, just Google the word "juggling" and be amazed. And if you'd like some juggling software for your Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Windows machine, then the Internet Juggling Database offers a fairly comprehensive list.

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