Page 8                                             Fall 1992

1983 European Convention shakes up sleepy Laval

By Tom Sparough Photos by Marcus MandaI


There was steady applause for about a minute during the business meeting of the Sixth Annual European Juggling Convention. The record-breaking crowd of 200 participants were showing their appreciation to the people who put together the smooth-running toss-up Sept. 16-18 in Laval, France.


For 60 francs, less then $8 U.S., jugglers more than got their money's worth.  A huge, open, multipurpose building gave people plenty of space to practice. Housing was just as inexpensive as the registration fee.


It was a friendly, easy-going convention, but there were enough scheduled events to keep people busy. Friends from at least 11 countries shared tricks and passed clubs. A parade through the city was a smash success. Competitions were just for fun, and the free Public Show filled the hall.


Business conducted included deciding to hold next year's European Convention for four days in Frankfurt, West Germany. A group of about a dozen people from the Wiesbaden juggling club will organize it, with the city of Frankfurt paying 80 percent of the rental fee for the hall.


Also, Toby Philpott of England was reelected IJA European director.


This year's convention was organized by the Institut Francais de Jonglage - Susan. Hunt, Jean-Marc Lucas, Bart Landenberger and Tim Roberts. They managed to raise a bit of profit, which is being sent to Frankfurt to help pay for next year's hall rental.


Laval, a city of 55,000 about three hours southwest of Paris by train, was treated to juggling on three separate occasions on Saturday. The Laval mayor drank wine with, and gave key rings of the city to, jugglers from each of the countries represented. He also tried juggling, but met only with limited success and a cou­ple of bonks on the head!


Jugglers arrived throughout the day on Friday. Workshops were given on multiplex, five ball juggling, club spinning and beginning club passing. A Saturday morning parade through the weekly mer­chants' market gave Laval a taste of juggl­ing it will remember for years.


As Tim Roberts said at the start, the parade was to cause a disruption in town so the people would become aware of the jugglers' presence. A block-long blaze of color and sound swept the streets as stilt walkers, unicycle riders, ball spinners, hat manipulators, dancing gypsies, clowns, and a barrage of jugglers unloaded their tricks on the unsuspecting shoppers.


Traffic stopped. One fun-lover, particularly light on his feet, danced atop a car as the driver laughed hysterically.  There were lots of grins, some frowns and a load of people who scratched their ears, blinked their eyes and let their jaws drop.


A continual treat of the weekend was the free-spirited band Uranus Bruyant from Rennes, France. During the parade their sounds bounced about the brick buildings as the participants marched and danced through the route. The live music added humor - and tension later in the Public Show.


A wedding was just finished as the parade madness started to peak. The troubadours found the wedding party at the top of the city hall steps and moved in for a show the newlyweds will never forget. The band blasted its way to the center of the stairs as dozens of manipulators cavorted and careened on one knee.  A tunnel of clubs was formed. With a bit of prodding, the slightly nervous couple strolled through the formation down the steps.


In the center of town, one juggler fed a circle of 18 others. Another climbed a statue of the first French surgeon and put an assortment of clubs between its stiff arms. Posing for pictures, the climber explained, "He taught me everything I know!"

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