This guide has been compiled from the experiences of our members. Its aim is to offer advice and information to people who are interested in getting jugglers to perform at May Balls, garden parties, and other events. Any comments, suggestions, or other feedback would be most welcome, and should be sent to the CUJA Secretary.
The Cambridge University Jugglers’ Association (CUJA) is the student juggling society of the University of Cambridge, England. The society is aimed at anyone in or around Cambridge with an interest in juggling or related circus skills.
Generally members of the society are more interested in juggling for fun, and the society itself does not organise juggling routines. However, a significant number of members are interested in, and regularly take advantage of, opportunities to perform their skills to an audience. This document is intended as a guide to organisations who are considering hiring jugglers to perform at an event.
We run a separate mailing list for people interested in performing, and although the society will offer advice and guidance, the final agreement will be with individual jugglers. We do not vet our members in any way, and organisers may wish to hold informal auditions or at least discuss the performance in advance. Event organisers should also note that most of our members are students, and won’t be around outside term-time.
Normal juggling equipment includes balls and clubs, and also less common things such as diabolos, devilsticks, cigar boxes. However, if these are being performed outside in the dark, it is very difficult to obtain suitable lighting. Both the audience and the jugglers need to be able to have enough light see what’s going on, without blinding the jugglers in the process. If you’re after jugglers for outside at night, you’d be far better off with Glo equipment or fire.
These are solid balls with a white transluscent outer shell. Inside they are fitted with a rechargable battery and lots of coloured LEDs. They provide their own illumination and can be juggled to great effect in complete darkness. Without the safety issues of fire, and the lighting problems of ordinary equipment, they are perfect for the roving performer.
In the dark (or even at dusk) the most spectacular item of equipment has to be the fire club. Basically these are sticks with a handle at one end, and a large flame at the other. Colleges may well be nervous about fire jugglers and insist on various safety precautions. Fire jugglers will certainly have to be outside in a reasonably large cordoned-off area. A bucket of water and a large wet towel are the most important safety items. Despite the safety issues, colleges have been reasonably accommodating in the past, and successful fire juggling has taken place at events in Jesus, Sidney Sussex, and King’s colleges.
We also have people who can ride unicycles and walk on stilts. Unicycling doesn’t normally work very well at events (due to uneven ground, and lack of space) but stilts have been used successfully in the past.
This is perfectly feasible, but is not always as effective as might be first thought. Wandering round means having to avoid bumping in to people, and negotiate other obstacles. Obviously fire is out of the question here. Unless globalls are used, there can be problems with ensuring adequate lighting. Finally, if jugglers are wandering around, there has to be somewhere secure for them to leave any other equipment they have brought. If this is not readily accessible, then both the jugglers and the audience may get bored with the same props being used all the time.
Jugglers can be very effective for entertaining guests as they queue to enter the event. Queuing usually takes place while it is still light outside, so ordinary juggling equipment can be used without requiring additional lighting. Also, jugglers may be more willing to work for free entry if they only have to work for a couple of hours in the queue and then are free to enjoy the Ball, than if they are required to perform later in the night so must avoid alcohol before the performance.
This is the only feasible option if you require fire juggling, due to the safety issues. If the jugglers are going to put on a prepared performance (perhaps to music) then they will need a space to use that is well marked out to prevent intrusions from the audience. If music is to be used, a sound system will need to be provided that is capable of being heard above the surrounding noise by both the performers and the audience! The jugglers will need time to prepare a show, and will usually charge more money for this. Unprepared juggling can be almost as effective, will be much easier for the performers, and cheaper for the event organisers.
Juggling continuously for long periods can be very tiring, and we recommend a break of 5-10 minutes each hour. Also it is probably best not to ask an individual juggler to do more than three hours work without a much longer break. Juggling on your own can also be a bit dull, so it’s probably best to have two or more jugglers at an event. This also gives the possibility of passing (juggling things between different people).
The exact figure that jugglers would like to be paid will depend on exactly what is required. Additional perks (such as free food/drink or entry to the rest of the event) will reduce the likely cost, but fire jugglers will also need to cover the cost of their fuel.
Free entry is often offered in lieu of, or in addition to, other payment, especially at may balls and other large events. While understandably popular with organisers, many of our members are less enthusiastic about such offers. Juggling itself is fairly tiring, and juggling fire means getting rather sooty. After performing for a few hours, jugglers are not always in the best position to get the most out of their free entry.
The Cambridge University Jugglers’ Association doesn’t usually arrange groups to perform, but we do have a lot of members who are interested in such opportunities. To help put you in touch with them, we run an email list specifically for people interested in performing. Event organisers can post messages to this list asking for interested parties to get in touch. Please email jugglANTISPAMing@cusu.cam.ac.uk for more information.
When sending an email requesting jugglers, it is advisable to provide as much information as possible. People are more likely to respond favourabley if they know exactly what they are letting themselves in for. Things jugglers would like to know include:
We can in no way guarentee a response. However, in the past there have usually been enough people willing to juggle at term-time events with reasonable terms.