JUGGLERS HAVE A BALL
WORLD TRADE CENTRE, SINGAPORE
Photographs by Loh Koah Fong
World Juggling Day, organised via the Internet by the International Jugglers Association, was celebrated for the first time in Singapore. At the World Trade Centre, we had lots of open-air juggling, had free workshops for the public and lots of music, mirth and merriment.
How did this event come to be held here on this tiny republic?
I decided to organise this event in my country because I wanted to share my renewed interest in juggling with everyone else. I learnt how to juggle about 10 years ago but never found anyone to juggle with; juggling in Singapore is pretty much a rare thing until very recently, I'd like to believe. So the juggling became a rather solitary and dormant activity. But two years ago, I had the good fortune of being an undergraduate exchange student at the University of Waterloo in Canada that has a thriving juggling club. There, I learnt how to juggle four balls and had my first feel for club juggling. I consider myself lucky to have also seen with my very own eyes their Numbers juggler juggling seven balls with ease. It's an incredible sight and the image is forever burned in my retinas.
Early this year, I bumped into some jugglers at the East Coast Park by the beach and made their acquaintance. It turned out that there has been a group of jugglers right here in Singapore for the past three years and some of them would get together every week to juggle at the Youth Park in the heart of town. Ben Matthews, a professional juggler and entertainer who is also a whiz on the unicycle started this very informal group.
So what happened to me after that chance meeting? I experienced a renaissance of sorts and am now big on juggling, to the chagrin of my girlfriend.
Later in the year, five-baller Koah Fong who makes his own beanbags, e-mailed all the jugglers he knew informing them of the upcoming World Juggling Day. I thought, hey, let's do it and juggle together. Holding the event publicly might attract other jugglers out there to join us and also attract those who would like to learn how to juggle. Kiki Tay, a professional magician cum juggler, also suggested holding shows for the public at the World Trade Centre.
After weeks of e-mails, preparation and practice, we were ready for WJD 1999 !
We started at about 3 p.m. just outside the World Trade Centre Expo Gateway building with minor glitches. The sun was blazing overhead but we managed to find a large spot of ground shaded by the building. The DJ tripped the power for the sound system in the beginning but that was soon taken care of.
By 4 p.m. things were full swing and we had music and lots of juggling. There was so much activity that I am unable to recall all of them. Here then are some highlights and photographs.
With Timothy and Adam spinning music CDs the whole afternoon, there was juggling of balls, clubs, knives, baseball bats, torches, diabolos, devil sticks, eggs, an umbrella and a mobile phone; there was also unicycling and balancing. People who learnt of our event through the newspaper and the Internet and passers-by, were not only treated to a mass display of juggling and fooling around but were also able to learn how to juggle three balls and the diabolo.
Who were there? Some of us:
Kiki juggled knives on his Rola-bola.
Koah Fong gave lessons on ball juggling and took photos and a video of us.
Wee rehearsed his club routine for his show elsewhere that very evening.
Evelyn brought a bunch of people and taught them the diabolo and 3 balls.
Willie and Ti Eu, extreme diabolists, did some freestyle diabolo-ing.
Ben, dressed in orange overalls with red underwear worn on the outside, juggled torches whilst on his giraffe unicycle.
Roy Perumal balanced a juggling knife, a lollipop, a kid's sandal, the kid's bicycle in succession on either his nose or forehead.
Karen took on and tried clubs without breaking into a sweat.
Carrie mastered 3 clubs in time for World Juggling Day.
Wayne brought his brand new clubs to juggle with.
Philip juggled balls and now wants to buy a diabolo.
Lillian, our local on-line prop vendor, sold out all her 4-panel beanbags.
Vivien (a.k.a. Sweetheart the clown) held a 3-ball endurance contest.
I brought out my umbrella, my mobile phone and a couple of eggs to make a mess of the floor.
At about 6:30 p.m. we brought our happy celebration to a close, ending with a Big Toss-up.