Wednesday, 19th July

Crawl out of bed regretting the excesses of the night before. Pass on breakfast, and make for the gym. Wander into the room where the diabolo show and tell is about to take place, and find Anthony Gatto jamming. He cleanly flashes eleven rings, with and without holsters - the eleventh ring starts between his legs. He pulls off two consecutive behind the back throws while juggling seven clubs. He balances a pole on his face, spins a ring on his leg and cleanly flashes ten rings. He pulls ten rings down over his head. Conclude that he is still the best, but that he has reached the point now where progress is very slow.

Anthony finally stops and the diabolo workshop can start. Donald Grant hosts an open floor for people to show off their hot tricks. Though his thumb is still hurting, he can't resist showing us 'just one more trick' about half a dozen times. He and Martin Mall pass three and four diabolos, then Martin does three all by himself.

Watch young Vladik Miagkostoupov, Anatoli's son. He is eleven years old, and working on six clubs. He flashes them cleanly several times, and does not seem far from a qualifying run, though we do not see one. He also works on seven balls, and various tricks with smaller numbers, including a four high pirouette out of a four ball shower. He is very good at pirouettes - some of his tricks involve double and triple spins. Barry Bakalor thinks he is not as good at numbers as Anthony was at eleven, but is better at performance.

Make it up to Treasure Island on the bus to pick up my ticket to the Cirque, and check out the Mirage and Caesars' Palace. Back in a taxi as I do not fancy spending any more time out of doors. There is a yo-yo championship going on in the gym, which I ignore.

In the theater waiting for the show I sit next to Nathan Hoover and Mark Bakalor who are doing a broadcast on IRC channel #juggle. Some newbie comes on and starts asking about chain saws. I am invited to flame him, but reflect that the IJA has just given a high award to Dick Franco who juggles chain saws in his act. Suspect that he may have cut the chain saw bit from his act at Circus Circus the other night as half the audience were jugglers. Decide to play up to my r.j character by being the official drop counter for the IRC broadcast.

The technical level in the juniors is astonishingly high as usual. The only competitor who does not juggle five clubs has only got one arm. There is a clear winner however. Vladik has the technical edge on the other performers, and is in a class of his own for performance skills. He is a great showman, smiling, building up his tricks and taking energetic bows, all in the true Vegas style. He only drops twice, and one of those is probably part of the act. He finishes by juggling five glow balls on a free standing ladder. Second place goes to Casey Boehmer, who performs four clubs and five rings without the benefit of a left arm.

There is no clear winner in the teams, three of the four are at a similar level. The long awaited Blink routine consists of intense radical fish manipulation - there is some innovative side by side passing, but there are a number of drops, and the performers do not appear to have much character. The Cousins Brothers do some wonderful variations on a single idea - one stands above and behind the other who is seated on the stage juggling five (or seven) balls, and then takes some of them out of the pattern and puts them back in. Wonderful, original stuff, but a little rough in places. Trio One Over Par, from Germany, do a comedy club passing routine. None of the acts seem polished enough to deserve a gold, but the judges decide Blink has the edge, and the Cousins Brothers are second.

There are four great acts in the seniors competition. Jay Gilligan performs a stunning technical routine including a five club pirouette, five high. He is clearly one of the world's great technical jugglers. There are a few too many drops, including a botched attempt at an eight ring flash, and he shows total disdain for the audience, wears street clothes and chews gum throughout. The gum chewing is almost redeemed by the demonstration that it is possible to balance a club on your chin and chew gum at the same time, it's just that the club moves up and down.

Francoise Rochais performs a glorious routine. She wears a very feminine dress, and picks a bunch of flowers (her batons) which she proceeds to juggle very gracefully and elegantly. She performs with up to six of them, and does her whole routine with only one drop. Audience impressed by her technique, style and beauty. Should admit that graceful feminine dresses are not entirely to my taste, but hope that she may some day develop a taste for black leather and chains.

Jochen Schell performs with devil stick and up to three diabolos. His routine is almost flawless, beautiful, difficult and exciting to watch. John Gilkey is a marvelous clown. He performs a comic three ball routine followed by four clubs, then a three ball and hat stand routine. His face and body movements are very amusing. His act and Francoise's are the two that could work in any show in town. However, he takes few technical risks.

Ngaio is MC of the show. Speculate that this is because he could not afford a ticket. However, he is wearing a rented Tux [UK: dinner jacket], and to cover the rental fee asks the audience to pay eleven cents each. He keeps repeating the punch line to one of his jokes - 'It started out as a boil on my ass' - so that the woman who is interpreting for the deaf will have to keep pointing to her bottom.

When the Blink wins the teams, Gilligan walks on stage still chewing gum, takes the check and is about to walk off, but has to come back for the medal. Someone in the audience shouts 'Smile, Jay!' and he sneers at them. However, he redeems himself somewhat when the results to the Seniors are announced. Schell is third, he is second and Francoise is first. He points at her as they are standing in line wearing medals and... smiles.

There should in justice have been several gold medals in the Seniors competition, and none in the teams. Consider proposing a return to the Kappell system, but value own life too much. Strange to think that if Jay Gilligan had been able to wear a costume, smile and not chew gum at the same time he would have won the championship - these are performance skills that even I have. His stage attitude must be very important to him, that he is ready to sacrifice the individual gold medal to it. Perhaps some day it will develop into a full blown killer stage character, and everyone will understand what he has been trying to do, but he is not there yet.

Get a ride with Jim Lloyd and some other rec.jugglers to Treasure Island to see the Cirque du Soleil show, Mystere. It is spectacular, astonishing, stunning. It is everything I expected, and less. The show is over produced, even by Vegas standards. It is hard to focus on a skill act when it is surrounded by twenty dancers in weird costumes. It is hard to be swept up in the audience reaction when it is drowned by the volume of the music. It is hard to relate to the performers as people when they are wearing masks and dressed as... well, I'm not sure what they were dressed as, but they did not seem human. Only at the end of the second bow did they remove the masks to show the real people underneath. The masks should have come off much sooner. Note that creativity thrives on constraints, and by removing the constraint on the budget, perhaps some of the creative edge was lost.

Am still most impressed by the contact dorrito routine. Thank goodness they did not make the jugglers wear masks. Note with some alarm the color of Pat McGuire's hair.

Back to catch the end of Club Renegade. Some good acts - some not so good acts. Myron Wilcox is almost sixty nine years old and still has his own prostate. Hope mine will last that long but have my doubts.

Out to the buffet for a 3am snack, then hang out with Ben Decker in the gym. Try to trade the rights to my convention diary for a years subscription to Two Ply Press, but Ben is too cheap. Get the inside dope on the judging from Barry. Return to my room about four to write this up. The TV is on in the room next door.