Oh serendipity! This is the closest I have ever been to the International Jugglers’ Association festival! I have video tapes from renegade shows from a couple of decades ago that just look like a blast. Years ago, young and bullheaded, I had attitude toward the IJA as being the evil juggling overloads (for profit) that popularized that horrid 4-4-10 nonsense. In truth, I just wasn’t innovative enough to get myself to one of the festivals. Groundhog Day Juggler’s convention in Atlanta and the one Neil Stammer (Andrew J. Allen) hosted in D.C. were the ones I was able to attend.
Juggling festivals are wonderful. You learn so much. And there’s nothing to really describe the sensation of walking into a gymnasium filled with a few hundred people throwing things at each other. And when you get some really talent passers together, the juggling is like clockwork, everything around you fades away, and you are in a single group mind defying gravity!
I went to the Knoxville Juggler’s Club night last night. It was thrilling but my skills have faded and long since been surpassed by superior jugglers. I never uttered that I was the best juggler in Knoxville; that would be wrong, lacking humility, egotistical, and arrogant. But years ago I heard it, and secretly I didn’t think it was too far off base not because I was talented but because Knoxville just didn’t have that many die-hard jugglers. Of course back then I’d blow off classes to go listen to Jimmy Buffett, The Grateful Dead, reggae, and the occasional acoustic guitar player while juggling barefoot in the grass at the World’s Fair Park. Met one of my best friends and has wife on one of their first dates while skipping class to juggle in that park. I want to keep going to the club and I want my juggling fire back. I doubt I will catch up to these guys. As the has-been juggler, I wonder how I would hold my own at the IJA Festival. I feel a bit like Fast Eddie Felson; there was then and there is now.
61st IJA Festival
July 14-20, 2008
Lexington, Kentucky [Source, juggle.org]