Three fes­ti­vals ev­ery week for a year. Mark Gra­ham dreams of run­ning away with the cir­cus

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES -

A TRAPEZ­ING, masseuse, zom­bie nurse is not some­thing you en­counter ev­ery­day, and the im­pact of such staff train­ing on A&E wait­ing times might be worth in­ves­ti­gat­ing. Imag­ine my sur­prise at find­ing a trio of young ladies boast­ing such a skill set; un­usual tal­ents were de rigueur in Tralee last week­end for the Na­tional Cir­cus Fes­ti­val of Ire­land.

Peo­ple whizzed around the bustling Kerry town on uni­cy­cles, walked from tree to tree on tightropes, cracked bull-whips on pub­lic thor­ough­fares, cy­cled mini mon­key­bikes round ho­tel lob­bies and twirled hula-hoops of ev­ery colour, di­am­e­ter and girth. To let off steam af­ter a hard day’s tum­bling, they raved in ladies toi­lets. This crowd were a lit­tle more freak than Fos­setts and a good deal more de­ranged than Duffys; a healthy cross be­tween Foróige and Cirque de Soleil. That was just the au­di­ence, wait till I tell you about the acts.

A bunch of f@*kin’ clowns! I mean that in the nicest way pos­si­ble. Ac­ro­bats, jug­glers, plate spin­ners, il­lu­sion­ists, bal­loonat­ics and an im­pos­si­bly cute French con­tor­tion­ist who man­aged to make pick­ing her nose with her big toe while in a re­verse crab po­si­tion look al­lur­ing; even eat­ing it didn’t de­tract from her charm. There were three Brazil­ian lads who also stole hearts, not through their ac­ro­bat­ics and slap­stick, but by per­form­ing a naked bal­loon dance. I’m not sure how the bud­get will hit cir­cus per­form­ers, but rates of in­fla­tion were de­creas­ing rapidly for the toned and bronzed Brazil­ian buachaills, this saw an in­crease in in­ter­est rates from the ladies present.

It took a while to ad­just to be­ing an au­di­ence mem­ber at this fes­ti­val. To say they were bois­ter­ous and up for a buzz is an un­der­state­ment. Watch­ing a per­for­mance with the cir­cus crowd was like sit­ting in the mid­dle of a Mup­pet Show AGM. I also mean that in the nicest way pos­si­ble. They were ready for fun, en­ter­tain­ment and to par­tic­i­pate at the drop of one of their many multi-coloured hats.


Nanu Nanu took to the stage to en­ter­tain the troupes, their strik­ing pres­ence and bit­ing beats and blips, usu­ally more suited to dark­ened rooms, draped with strands of smoke pep­pered by strobes and scans, seemed at odds with the tum­blers, twirlers and tossers who pop­u­lated the dance­floor. I mean tossers in the nicest way pos­si­ble too, this crew were ply­ing their trade. The spark that ig­nited the cir­cus folk was pro­vided by Lords of Strut who rolled up with their mo­bile disco to pro­vide and old-skool rave sound­track for some se­ri­ous shape-throw­ing. There has never been a bet­ter bash in a ladies’ toi­let as that their Lord­ships laid down last week­end. Con­sult google­tube for the vi­su­als and let me hear you say way-ohh . . . Way Ohh!

The Big-Top at­trac­tion this week­end is Other Voices in An Daigean. St James’s chapel will be con­verted into a tele­vi­sion stu­dio and the south­ern leg of the Other Voices se­ries will be filmed in one week­end.

The ac­tion isn’t lim­ited to the chapel; there are lots of bands in venues around the town mak­ing the sideshow a fes­ti­val in its own right. Keep sketch for Kodaline, Daithí and In the Wil­lows.

The only way into the chapel is by sac­ri­fic­ing your first-born or en­ter­ing one of the many com­pe­ti­tions on Fa­cepuke or Twat­ter. But don’t de­spair, pic­tures are beamed in to mul­ti­ple venues, so you can still catch all the per­for­mances live while wrapped around a hot whiskey by the fire.

This Sun­day for the first time, the shenani­gans in the séipéal will also be broad­cast live on Net­work 2. Sky Plus Love Hate. Whether you snatch a pew for mu­si­cal mass or not, a Dan­gle in Din­gle is al­ways de­light­ful. If I don’t see you there, I’ll catch you in An­nascaul.

Safe trav­els, don’t die



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