Monday, February 20, 2006

Juggling festival in Austin

This past weekend saw the 13th annual Jugglefest run by the Texas Juggling Society. It was a blast. I spent a lot of time in the unicycle room because I don't usually get to see what you see there: props and ramps to ride a unicycle on, as well as a unicycle obstacle course, and a lot of different kinds of unicycles and unicycle variations to try.

One of the people there was a level 8 unicyclist, as defined by the Unicycle Society of America . I saw some tricks that I hadn't even imagined doing. It makes me want to spend a lot more time with my unicycle. Tricks like coasting to a stop by dragging one foot on the wheel, and other tricks involving taking one's feet off the pedals, just amazed me.

I saw a 12-year-old (I'm guessing) juggle 5 clubs. I saw people juggling square rings. Lots of fun stuff was going on all the time, and I never cease to be amazed by the friendly atmosphere. It's mostly just a big room where people bring a lot of props and drop them on the floor and let anyone who wants to, play with them.

I didn't get as involved in the festival as I might have...not wanting to take too much time away from the family this weekend. I did manage to take Chloe and Ethan to the festival, separately, on Saturday and Sunday. Most of what I did was hang around in the big festival room, just juggling with people. I even spent some time teaching some people who had shown up for a beginning juggling seminar. They didn't want to get in on the official seminar because they had small kids, so I just did some teaching on the spot.

And then I have a certain resistance to juggling with others. It was a long time before I ever considered juggling as a communal activity. I started juggling as a kid to have something to do by myself, and it always seemed to require so much intense solo practice, that it didn't occur to me to make it a shared activity.

In college, I met some other jugglers, and occasionally attended the Texas Juggling Society meetings. But I never quite felt like I fit in. I'd still bump into folks around town though, and last year the president of the club asked me to juggle in the club's public show at the annual Juggling Festival. I had never attended one of these before, so I came.

Well, I had a great time. And after that I started attending juggling club meetings more or less regularly. And I found folks in the club to be incredibly welcoming. I'm older, some of them are older, it all seems to work better. It's hard to make more than one or two meetings a month because they tend to conflict with cub scout activities.

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