Tuesday, 24 May 2011

True Self-Expression; Juggling; My First Juggling Convention

I had only looked at the poster in the local, sleepy, supermarket.

And yet with that small glance, I had just aligned the planets.
I wouldn’t realise the implications of looking upon that half-empty notice board for another 48 hours.
Then it would hit me; I’d stumble upon my seat for synchronicity’s rollercoaster.

Oh shit!

Hello, is this the Juggling Lab?’ went the call. ‘I’ve seen your poster and want to come along, what’s the deal?
I wanted enough information to make sure this wasn’t going to be a horrific embarrassment. Suburbia was never known for its cultural exuberance. Turning up to a Juggling Club, in a foreign country’s arse-end, was tipping my risk assessment towards my paper bin.

We meet in a school gym. Just come along,’ she said.
Do you want a slackline?’ I threw it out there, not expecting a catch.
Yeah bring it along, why not.’ She sounded casual. Open, almost.
'Risk it for a biscuit,' I thought.

It was my first night driving on the wrong side of the road, in the wrong side of a car, using the wrong hands for all the right controls.
Miraculously, I arrived alive.

3 other people stood waiting to get inside.
My premonitions about suburbia had come true. Our juggling club was open to all of 3 members. And now a mono-linguistic challenge had turned up, with 25m of nylon to deal with.
A recipe for disaster.
Or magic.

Ciao, I’m Harry,’ I blurted, trying to bypass that awkwardness that always seems to lurk when meeting new members.
Hey, I’m Marco.
I figured he was the teacher. He had the performer’s goatee. The glint in his eye that said ‘experienced’, the black hooded jumper that read ‘natural’ in bold, white letters.
And he had the keys to get in.
The door opened. Lights flickered on; the bulbs not warm enough to illuminate the gym beneath them.
As the filaments gained confidence, an Aladdin’s cave of circustry unfolded.
Clubs, climbing frames, mats and a multitude of juggling necessities, everywhere.
A ton of fun for 4 people.

So tonight, you teach slackline. Is OK?
It was half-question, half-command.
A rebounding ‘Yeah, OK’ bopped out of my mouth.
A hint of confusion, as I thought I came to learn to juggle.

Whilst setting up, reams of bedroom-jugglers - all adepts of the unusual- just flowed through the double doors. A few minutes further and I could feel the excitement bubbling. Circus crews have some weird ability to charge their surrounding molecules with enthusiasm. When a whole gym does this, you can’t help but vibrate, too.
With the help of a translator, I taught a full, buzzing class of 25, open-minded participants. Questions, laughs and the odd squeal of amazement coalesced and seemed to juggle themselves, within shared space.

Not even half-way through and Marco told me about the Convention coming up at the weekend.
This time it was a full-bodied command. I was going whether I could get there or not.

Non-verbal communication unifies feelings and emotions between people that share compatible interests. It’s that silent magic that renders rapport. We barely spoke the same language. But all of us knew we were on the same page.
Before I could calculate it, I had a lift to Italy’s largest Juggling Convention; 3 days of electric, European eccentricity. In just 48 hours, suburbia had swallowed me backstage, into the chambers of the circus. And now I was about to be spat out, right into the spotlight.

Friday

I was thinking we should try this out?’ said Nico, margherita slice in one hand, Moroccan hash in the other. ‘What do you think?
Before I could give an answer, a third limb came into play. He was steering with his knee, chewing his pizza and skinning up a spliff, all at 100km/h.
We were definitely on our way to the Convention.

Nico thinks in 3 languages. He’s not your average Italian.
He drives a German car with a broken clutch, lifting the pedal with his foot after each gear change. To show off, he once showed me he could lift it with his hand.
He drives a bus at the local airport, whilst trying to battle the three multi-lingual devils on his shoulder blades, whispering sonnets of escape.
He would be my partner in crime for the weekend. German organisation with Italian I don’t rushness. A blinding combination.

Nico was no stranger to the fundamental elements of the road trip. We didn’t have tickets, but that was of no concern.
His friends were already at the Convention; they would slip us a wristband so we could get in cheap.
Apparently.
His car was full of beers, cushions and a boombox. And he was rocking the most exotic pair of shit-catchers this side of Arabia - Princess Jasmin would have been jealous.

We pulled into the Convention parking-zone in darkness.
It was warm-up performance night.
Out of nowhere, the roar of the crowd just exploded through the marquee walls, over the fence and into our wagon’s cockpit.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!’ we both screamed in unison, with uncontrollable excitement. The hair on my neck was even looking to exit the car.

The clouds opened, so to return the shots of the heavens, I unleashed my pop-up tent. No wet gear for us; Elements – 0 Jugglers – 1.
We met with Nico’s friends to arrange the necessary accreditation. The security guards weren’t employed at night; like ninjas we slid through the shadows in to the arena – the epicentre of those roars.

We picked out the last seats.
The marquee was rammed.
Friend’s had saved us spots and we supplied spliffs.
The hiss of popped beer bottles echoed into the uncanny silence, as the mass of bodies sat still, waiting for the next act to deliver.
What I proceeded to witness is beyond my literal capabilities of description. Some of the most original displays of human creativity, and I’d only been there ten minutes.
Juggling, Miming, Human-Hula-Hooping; just the most fantastic array of competence and this would be only the warm-up.

The site for the ‘Convention di Gioceleria della Brianza’ (Juggling Convention of Brianza) was miniscule.
Perfect.
1 minute from your tent to the arena.
One minute from the arena to the Palestra (indoor juggling gym), and one minute from the Palestra back to your tent.
A truly intimate triangle.
There were showers and squat-n-shot toilets (an experience!), a bar and food stall, a kids’ playground and even a unicycle assault course made from pallets. This was the 5th year of the convention; performers and fanatics from all over Europe would arrive to experience the delights and wonder in the world of Circus.

Nightfall had well and truly moved in, and the fire-spinners joined. I pulled up a seat and watched in hypnotic appreciation. A variety of flaming sticks, chains and fans created illuminated patterns of combusting kerosene. Between moments of being mesmerised, I conversed with the few in attendance that spoke English. They sounded surprised that this was my first ever Convention. I was in the presence of veterans. Fortunately, my recent moustache won me acceptance – I was addressed as ‘Malaysian Pirate’ and attracted the attention of fellow moustachers.
One in particular, Orzo, would prove to be so eloquent, yet so eccentric, that he even appeared in a dream I had later that night.
I was standing in the melting pot of vivid personality; Orzo was the result when Salvador Dali met Darcy Bussell; one of the many charismatic concoctions of the weekend.



I walked down a set of gritty steps and through a dimly lit porch, skimming a puddle with my heel.

Then it hit me.

I’ve never seen so many people just like me!’ flashed immediately through my head. Dreadlocks.
Colourful, expressive clothing.
Bare feet.
Everywhere!
Juggling balls, clubs, rings. All bouncing in the air as if swapped for atoms and particles. It was overwhelming.
I know it sounds like a bomb had just hit a commune, but it wasn’t that hippy. There were tracksuit bottoms. I spotted some water bottles. People were doing things, not just signing ‘Peace’ with their two fingers.
Never before, had I felt such rapport, such social proximity, with a mass of people that were complete strangers to me.
And yet with such elation, came confusion.
I didn’t quite know what to do.



Suddenly, I began to feel very self-conscious.
All these people looked so comfortable, so at ease with their surroundings.
And yet this was all so new to me. So foreign.
Somewhere inside, for some time, I’d been searching for a room like this.
Now I’d found it. And all I wanted to do was sit in the corner.
But not to sulk. More to watch, to glare in amazement at the thousand or so characters all practicing their tricks and expressing their under-layers of personality.

After a while, their energy rubbed off on me.
The self-consciousness disappeared.
All I wanted to do was get on my feet and juggle; to have a sesh!
Only 4 months juggling experience mattered no longer.

What resulted was something most profound.
Thanks to the hashish, I acquired an ability to manipulate time.
As I began, I felt myself zooming in on each ball, focusing on its every movement, every rotation. It was as if nothing else existed.
I was the Alchemist, creating the Philosopher’s Stone from three, charged elements.
I found myself learning with extraordinary focus – 3 new tricks, at 3am.
Welcome to Psychonautic Juggling.

The Palestra was open 24 hours. It was a massive sports hall, transformed into a juggler’s paradise. Come pre-sunrise, when the rains swept in, it was busier than ever. Jugglers rest from dawn to lunchtime, a body clock format that I had since trained myself out of.
I decided to take my new tricks to my tent as I left my fellow jugglers behind me. I caught glimpses of little ones tucked up on camping mats, fast asleep, as Mummy and Daddy, too, learnt new tricks at 3am.
What cool parents to have,’ I thought.

Saturday

Who would have thought two blobs of wax could save a life.

If there’s one item I don’t travel without, it’s my ear plugs.
Those things ensure a tight night’s sleep, whether you’re in a luxury hotel, or a field clouded by thunder storms.
Come dawn, it wasn’t noise that woke me up.
It was the sensation of an over-heated, sweaty top lip, that interrupted my slumber. The forecast of a brutal weekend of rain storms wasn’t holding true. The sun was practically melting my tent porch and with a moist patch on my lower back, I hurled myself out on to the grass.

Arriving at your destination in darkness, then seeing it in light the next day, brings a delicate magic with it. I spent a few minutes just soaking in my now visible surroundings.
No sign of life.
In that case, time to shower, before the other 2000 woke up!
Festival showers have a reputation for being appalling.
And there’s validity in that infamy.

However, we had struck gold this year, having access to showering facilities within the sport camp.
But still, I wasn’t quite ready for the shock.
These showers in particular were communal.
Turns out jugglers’ balls really do get themselves everywhere.
Bordering on emotional scar tissue, I scrambled out of the toilet block, trying not to mangle myself upon the lethal combination of flip-flops and wet tiled floors.
I felt fresh and clean, but had to laugh at this tragic case of bollock exposure.
The ‘British Reserve’ really has no place amongst shared nudity.



Although this was a juggling festival, there were plenty of slacklines about the place.
I happened to set up a Rodeo line (no tension), which produced amusing results, and seemed to keep the clouds at bay.
Across the weekend were a variety of free workshops; everything from clown performance to tight-rope walking.
By accident, I happened to set my line up at the scheduled time of the latter.



Are you the teacher for the workshop?’ people began asking me.
Officially, no. But we can start one,’ I replied, now somewhat acquainted with teaching people to slackline by accident.
As I result, I helped to teach 5 lads as best I could, how to mount and balance on the line.
Then the real teacher showed up.
He had brought with him a mini-tight-rope rig, that would prove to be bring lots of fun. And lots of blood.

Sandro was from Bologna and had studied at Circus School. He spoke no English, but his body language said it all. About 15 of us magnetised around him, anticipating the release of his secrets, as to how a human can send a piece of steel cable, and not fall off.
He demonstrated some fantastic warm-up drills (that I now use in my workshops); we all partnered off and drilled for the first section.
Then we all tried to walk the line.
Based on our performance, we would split into two groups; those who needed more practice, and those who needed even more practice.
As a little ego boost, I will add that I sent the line first go. All 3 meters of it.
That qualified me into the more practice group.

My first impressions of walking on steel; Pain.
Without shoes, it really chops at your feet. It was like walking in a straight line on sharp stones. Great for conditioning your soles – but a couple of people did have to pull out due to the hurt.
I put my shoes on. The session had begun.
Sandro taught us how to turn, and to walk with more grace and flare.
I thought I would be clever and try to lunge on the line.
It worked.

I then got even more cocky, pulling off a double-drop knee on the steel.
Everyone cheered and clapped.
I got down, despite my now inflated head wanting to float away, and realised my shin was leaking red everywhere.
I had taken a chunk out of my leg, ripping off an old scab. Now the blood was running down into my shoes.
Not so clever.

Macho-ism kicked in.
I still felt smug for pulling it off, even though I now looked a bit of a twat – I’d fashioned a bandage from an old football sock, tied around my leg.
However, ‘Warrior’ was sent my way, and I couldn’t disagree.
Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.



Sandro’s workshop was a great success.
I had to migrate to the areas of shade, as the UV had caught me unprepared.
It was only a couple of weeks since being fully-lobstered in Switzerland, and with a body of new skin, I wasn’t up for reliving the crustacean nightmare.

A spot of lunch in the sanctuary of the Palestra and then it was off to watch some live Capoiera. An international spectacle of music, singing and combat dancing.
Only to be cut short by the eruption of the skies.
The heat had proved to be too much.
An aerial dump of water ensued, turning the sports ground to a semi-floating, refugee camp. I took shelter in my tent at this point; with no pegs. The best I had to offer was my own body weight.
I won’t lie. I was shitting it. Rain was coming in the back. When the lightning flashed, it reflected off the zippers. Too close for comfort. Memories of swimming in Thai pools during storms, and how stupid that was, came to me. All I wanted was my siesta. And now I felt like I was reliving a scene from Jumanji.

However, the wax worked wonders, yet again.
I arose heavy-eyed and off balance, like a lion with a hangover.
Afternoon-recharge was complete.
Countdown to the Gala; 5 hours.
Saturday night’s show was the big one. I couldn’t understand, but I knew everyone was talking about it. Previous years were said to have been funny, but not so high in skill. This year would be different. The card was international, and rumour had it that some super original treats of walking sticks and LED clubs would make an appearance. I was excited.

Earlier in the day, I had met a wizard.
He had a shaved, bald head, with a tiny tail of hair at the base of his skull.
On the top, he had a tattoo of a circle.
He had big, black, ear tunnels that looked like miniature wine barrels.
And of course, no wizard is complete with out his own designated pair of Shit-catchers.
Alessandro showed me into his van; his royal palace on wheels.
I think I’ll be paying for this for the rest of my life’ he laughed. ‘Since coming back from India, this has been my home.
He told me stories of how he had been studying with a guru out there; a 65 year-old Sadhu, with the full dreads-and-robe rig, and how his guru found him, not the other way round.
He lent me a book on brain-breathing; a Tantric science, similar to the breath skills of Pranayama, but a lot more knarly. A perfect esoteric text to compliment my surroundings.

Post-prana digestion, and off to the Palestra to shelter from the storms.
Out of the corner of my eye, I’d noticed some hand balancers.
The fact that they were the only characters upside down must have caught my eye. Amongst them, I noticed a chick really kicking ass. She was pressing effortlessly, holding her poise as if second nature.
That’s who I want to teach me,’ I thought.
I plucked up the balls to interrupt her practice; something I dislike to do. Especially in a foreign, broken language.
To my surprise, she was Swiss, and had a cool name.
Mya had driven down from Zurich with her crew, specialising in balancing and club juggling. I asked her if she could help me with my technique, to which she responded with utmost Swiss-precision.
It’s not about strength,’ she stated. ‘If you’re getting tired, it’s because you’re using your muscles. This is about balancing.
Since sustaining a back injury, I thought my ability to clown upside-down would have diminished. To my surprise; ‘You’re not far off. You just need to close here and open here.’ And she didn’t mean the former to be my mouth.



Mya was also a bit of a genius at the partner acrobatics, or Acro-Yoga as it’s sometimes known. In the UK, apparently it’s difficult to get started in the formal stages of Acro-Yoga without sufficient training and experience. Well, I had zero experience, and an injury, but I was invited to try. My friends who told me about the Convention were already quite adept at the partner-acro stuff. To describe it when man and woman take part, would be like watching male and female energies unifying. It’s like they’re making love, but without the sexually intimate nudity. It’s intense, yet graceful. And you definitely have to trust your partner. You don’t have to be of opposite sex to try, however. My first attempt was spotted by my friend Marco. I tried the Acro bit, he supported me.

Tricky.
I then played spotter.
But with Marco’s Mrs.
Her hands were supporting her weight, in vicinity of my crotch.
And yet Marco seemed fine with it.
What a Man.
I was over the intimacy pretty fast.
I had to support a full, inverted human being, lying on a mat that would not save the both of us if gravity should win.
To my delight, I didn’t kill Marco’s Mrs.
In fact, I only pulled my groin (strain, not mischief).
If you want to try this sort of thing, don’t bother with Acro-Yoga classes if they require lots of experience. Instead, go to a circus workshop. They’ll show you the way.




Post-groin failure and my appetite was peaking.
By accident, I bumped into Marco once more, who then invited me to his magic house-bus, for a meal of Fajitas and red wine. Four of us lounged within his 1970s Mercedes wagon; a most hospitable of machines. Dinner in Italy is never a rushed affair, so for the next 3 hours we chopped, smoked, sipped and split our sides with laughter, whilst Marco did the honours.
With side windows open, we decided to spread the wings of hospitality even further, offering mini shots of grappa to anyone walking by.
Voi un GRAPPINO?’ would become our chant of choice, shocking unsuspecting passers-by into accepting traditional Italian apparat√≠fs.
In a field, you make your own humour.

Stumbling out of the food-cart, half-pissed and half-jedi, we made our way to take our seats for the grand Gala.
The result was truly amazing.
The crowd enthusiasm was at new levels; shouts and cheers were flung at every interval.
Real empathy filled out that tent.

My favourite parts of the show were: a simple, 3-ball juggling act, in which the balls were swapped for ball-size balloons without the audience guessing.
And the opening act; a high-tech, LED juggling-club performance involving a doctor and his human robot-experiment.



Words can’t do the acts justice, however.
Every single spectator left that tent on a high, feeling inspired at what they had just witnessed. You could just feel it. People were too happy to be in a rush to leave, despite thousands of them trying through one exit point.
At any other event, tempers would have erupted.
Not at the Convention.

The Gala would prove to be the introduction for an epic night ahead.
Whilst at the show, nightfall had set itself around the grounds, sparking ideas for a fire-pit in the minds of the flame-spinners.
Everyone would gather outdoors on an old basketball court, to witness a truly tribal performance of humans and fire, accompanied by African djembe drumming.

One of Nico’s friends was taking part in the unofficial flame show.
He had caught my attention the first night I arrived.
His specialty was fire-poi; twin chains attached to cylinders of flames.
When he was practicing, and even performing, he would just go into his trance; 110% focus, tuning out everything around him.
He was one of the few people that I really noticed this with.
He just had this glint in his eye; a reflection of his poi.Wheeling and spiralling lines of hypnotic light, encompassed around his retinas.
You could tell he loved what he did.
This was his path. His form of expression.
I’m not really into fire-spinning. But this unknown friend left a smokey trail of kerosene-induced inspiration behind him, something I would later transform into my world.


The djembe drum circle had decided to move indoors.
I was already pretty high, and I had asked the crew when outside, if I could have a go. Nobody was willing to give up their drum.
We drummers are funny like that.
We don’t share our craft easily.

Instead, I was hauled off my arse by some friends, literally dragged into a dance circle that was forming.
2 or 3 wizards had set the pace.
In their fearless approach, they decided somewhere inside of them, that tonight, they were dancing. Surrounded by jugglers, they got to it. Within ten minutes, their energy had replicated itself into the bodies of another 40 people. This was contagious. This was music in its most primal form; everyone in that Palestra was tuning into frequencies so hard-wired by evolution, you couldn’t help but move.
The dancing waves of energy seemed to feed the drummers.
They absorbed, translated them into their instruments, then boomed them back at us via pulses of sound. This was an unbreakable cycle, and went on for hours. I even managed to join in on the beating – a 10-minute unbroken attack of hand-swelling rhythms. That took a good deal out of me, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. Just after I had stopped, we were shut down by the local mayor for ‘noise pollution’.
It was 5.30am.
Unfortunate maybe, but it proved just how powerful a collection of acoustic drums and the correct company could really be.

I was polarised from it all.
I couldn’t finish there.
I still had more to give.
What better time to learn a new skill, than just before the sun rises?
I had been watching people juggle clubs all weekend. I didn’t really want to learn how to do it. I was comfortable pushing the boundaries of fusing psychotropic drugs with rice-filled balls.
But if there’s one thing juggling has taught me, it’s how my brain works when it learns something new; somehow I can navigate that process.
With a body and mind full of fresh tribal energy, I wanted to test myself.
I wanted to juggle 3 clubs before receiving a solar audience.
Not for transcending club-limits.
For personal ones.

I started hopeful.
Clubs crashed all around me, so I found a spot in the corner to reduce casualties.
A couple of tips on how to get started and I was off.
For the first quarter, I don’t think I took a full breath.
Relentlessly, I kept picking up my juggling shrapnel, trying to burn the new neural pathways in place.
After fifteen minutes, I had a couple of cycles.
After 30 minutes, I was up to ten.
Those in my company couldn’t all believe what they were witnessing.
Apparently, learning the basics of clubs in under half an hour is not possible.
I was truly the anomaly, doing so and at an unholy hour.
Within 60 minutes, I had a cascade down.
It wasn’t perfect. But it flowed – think pre-pubescent waterfall.
I was thrilled with my achievement. And juggling clubs actually felt good.
We friends finished the night with a spliff, before returning to our tents for some well
earned rest.
After all, Sunday had already begun.


Sunday

There she was.
I knew she liked me before she opened her mouth.
And she was in my way.

Sitting there’s not such a good idea,’ I stated. ‘Maybe wait til I’ve finished this.
In any other foreign situation, I would have either been slapped, or looked at as if I’d escaped Mars.
Fortunately, she spoke English.
She also gave me the eyes.

Sometimes, it’s that split second look from a woman that dictates your future.
I was cavemanning it, in a field. Unshaven, sweating and trying not to burn under the ultra-violet air strike.
She had a dry, dancer’s physique. Her hair was blonde, straight and clean. And she wasn’t hairy – unlike the many gravel-bagged bodies I’d witnessed back in my village.

Many people had asked if I would teach them to slackline on the last day of the Convention. With my new drills, roasting weather and some bi-lingual talent on offer, I wasn’t saying No.
For the newly pilfered workshop drills, I strategically chose Maria as my partner.
Making eye contact was a bad idea - I found myself looking down into the greens of a rainforest.
I was lost in an optical illusion.

Concentrate!

Teaching her to slackline had won her over.
It was that simple.
Except, I hadn’t noticed.
I was too busy trying to be a Man.
To be cool.
After all, my subconscious was ticking, formulating a strategy for getting her back to my semi-molten tent!
I racked my brains for impressive tactics.
Mating dances of tropical birdlife flashed through my mind.
In all my cringe-worthy genius, I had decided it was time for the human equivalent: Handstands.
With my newly acquired Swiss-skills for hand balancing, I attempted to show Maria how it was done. I was going to get laid tonight. And I would do so by walking on my hands.
In hindsight, only one word comes to mind.
Twat.

Cue the Crash and Burn.

I was at a Juggling Convention. Yet still it came as a surprise when I found out that Maria was a circus instructor, teaching kids how to handstand. For a living.
Not only could she juggle more balls than me. But when it was my turn to help her with hand balancing, she didn’t even need my assistance.

Trying to repair the chasm unfolding before me, I suggested we grab some lunch together.
She accepted.
Result.
But so did her friend.
In a panic, I reeled my closest Italian companions to join us.
There was no way I was entertaining by myself.
We shared what tent-warmed produce we had, dividing chunks of sweaty mozzarella on to the last slabs of stale bread.
This was a crumbsnatchers’ picnic, accompanied by an array of awkward silences.
My companions knew they were only there to assist my image. The played a strategy of their own – saying nothing.
I found myself picking at the remaining broken shards of crisps, as tumbleweed threatened to cut through our circle.
I would have laughed at it all until Maria pulled out a penknife before I did. Being outclassed by a female with utensils is enough to jerk the tears from any man.

The comedic tragedy didn’t stop there. In fact, the embarrassment and irony would spread even further.
A super stud hand balancer, performing on the outdoor stage earlier in the day, had also spotted Maria. He was a popular show-man, performing for the crowds stunts of calibrated equilibrium. Upside down.
I didn’t have a chance. This dude could invert himself upon another man’s shoulders!
I watched, as if back in the classroom, as he coaxed her back to his luxurious campervan. She had been swept off her feet by a man on his hands.
And it wasn’t me.
The mating ritual was over.
I’d been officially outclassed.

Laughing at my own humiliation, the day transformed itself. Strangely, I felt much lighter. I no longer had the need to impress. I could just relax, enjoy the atmosphere.

Crowds gathered outside to watch Europe’s best jugglers compete in friendly battles for number one. An American, Wes Peden, destroyed all his opponents. He won both the clubs and ball competitions, throwing his prizes in to the crowd like a superstar. I looked on in amazement, in between winces of pain, as my friend master crafted new dreads for me. Sunshine, tunes, expression and creativity. The four elements of a memorable Sunday.




A lot of people left on the last day. We were staying for the full whack. Sunday night was the Renegade Show – a kind of Italy’s Got Talent for Circus Freaks, that involves making an arse of yourself for free booze.
Fortunately, just turning up was enough to receive beverages at no cost. Crates of beer were handed out to the spectators, much to their surprise. I got my hands on to a can or two, and proceeded to sit and glare, as the Italian sense of humour erupted through the audience.
I witnessed brick-juggling and nose-balancing. A fellow Brit even got up, made a complete dick of himself, pissed-off all those in attendance, and still got a free drink. This was truly bizarre. I hadn’t attended the previous years of Renegade Shows, meaning that I left after I noted no more free beers were available.

I waltzed to my tent on a high note, ready for rest and recharging.
I lay on my mat, smiling to myself at how crazy the whole weekend had been.
I felt like this field was home. I’d hardly spoken to anyone in Italian, and yet I felt like I knew all these people.
With most festivals that go exceptionally well, you don’t want to leave. The weekend had left a magical impression on me that was most remarkable and would not be forgotten.
The following day, driving home on the highway, Nico and I shared the last spliff.
We were exhausted; 3 non-stop days of invigorating pupil-dilation were finally coming to a close.
I returned to the clouds one last time, leant my head back and gave an outward breath of completed adventure.

Thank you, Brianza.

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