Chronicles of Bath

The students' union wing, sponsored by Lego

I visited Bath, UK this weekend,  a place I’ve called home for a number of years with the allure of a homegrown juggling convention and the potential to reunite with dear friends I’ve made through juggling.  A reunion is perhaps the best way to describe this year as nearly all of us have spread out across the land like jam on bread.  Having a reason to return to the historic city really gives enthusiasm to make the effort to travel and it was definitely worth it.

Bath UpChuck is a juggling convention as I described previously and I would wager that it is one of the better one-day conventions held across the year.  It is hosted by Gravity Vomit, the juggling and circus society at the University of Bath and the event is still in it’s infancy with this being the third year they’ve run the gauntlet.  This time though, the campus has been through a bit of a renovation following a substantial £5.5 million investment, with the Students’ Union being flashed out with new furniture, doors, walls and even floor where previously was a large hole.  As it was the first time I had seen any of the changes since last year, I was quite impressed with the modernisation that has occurred.  So modern in fact, that £100 000 of Alumni funding was used to replace all the existing advertising posters, with flatscreen LCD televisions.  Still, plenty of places to sit down now.

The convention itself was a lovely occasion with a bustling army of GV members marshalling the whole event to ensure everyone was catered for.  Plenty of space to juggle in, lots of workshops to learn new skills in and the infrastructure of the university for food, drink, toilets, and did I mention seats?  A lovely addition this year was a room dedicated to some of the slow-motion magic filming from last year and also 3D camera work that will make for some interesting photos and videos that I look forward to.

One of the aspects I think makes UpChuck the best are the Games.  Juggling games at a convention are standard fare and often ignored by some for unoriginal displays of endurance that favour the hardcore competitors.  I can understand the disapproval, it’s a convention for all from amateur to professional, and not an international athletics competition.  The aim is to have some fun, and I think UpChuck’s games achieve just that.  Examples such as:

  • 2009 – The year I ran the games, my contribution was “Ball Whack”.  Standing one end of the hall, each competitor juggles two clubs and one ball, throws the ball high and attempts to bat it with the clubs as far as possible.  If you can juggle clubs, everyone’s in with a chance.
  • 2010 – My friend Rich organised these games and devised “The Creme Egg Challenge”.  Each person gets a chocolate creme egg, which is enough of a prize.  First to unwrap and eat the egg with just one hand wins!
  • 2011 – Dave was put to task this year and invented a brilliant game of “Sponge Gladiators”.  Each gladiator balances an ordinary wash sponge on their head, and the only way to defeat your opponents is to blow their sponge off, no contact allowed.  People gingerly walking around with a sponge puffing at everyone that passes like an angry cloud.

The show is another staple of the convention and is fantastic.  So much so, I’ll write about it in a post to itself.  After the show and a quick clean up, Gravity Vomit all went for a celebratory and congratulatory drink, where we practically took over the pub with sheer numbers.  Scott, the organiser and chair of the society this year has done fantastically and his team of volunteers are all worthy of praise.

Essentially, if you’re in Gravity Vomit, you’re all right by me.  Bring on 2012.

– C



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