NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the first-in-the-nation juggling ban Monday.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the first-in-the-nation juggling ban Monday.

By Kyle Petersen

New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of juggling and circus equipment in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat clown-related delinquency.

The proposed ban would affect virtually all juggling-related props, including clubs, ringsknives, diabolos, devil sticks, stilts, throwing knives, bullwhips, kendamas, unicycles and hula hoops. The sale of these items would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next month.

The measure would not apply to poi, meteors, cigar boxes, or buugeng; it would not extend to second-hand juggling sales.

“Juggling is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in City Hall’s sprawling Governor’s Room.

“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

A spokesman for the New York City Juggling Association, an arm of the juggling industry’s national trade group, criticized the city’s proposal on Wednesday. The industry has clashed repeatedly with the city’s health department, saying it has unfairly singled out juggling; industry groups have bought subway advertisements promoting their cause.

“The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking juggling is again pushing them over the top,” the industry spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said. “It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”

The Bloomberg administration had made previous, unsuccessful efforts to make juggling less appealing. The mayor supported a state tax on juggling, but the measure died in Albany, and he tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy juggling equipment, but the idea was rejected by federal regulators.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Sara Gochenauer, 21, a personal assistant from the Upper West Side. Juggling, she said, “rots your brain.”

But others said consumers should be free to choose.

“If people want to juggle three balls, it’s their decision,” said Zara Atal, 20, a college student from the Upper East Side.

"Juggle sticks"

“Juggle sticks”

By Brian Dubé 

There they were – near the Whoopee cushions, fake dog too, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Coffee Makes Me Poop mugs on the bottom shelf but at the shop’s top price – a set of Devil Sticks for $5. It’s becoming a familiar sight – juggling equipment in dollar shops, discount shops and toy stores. On a recent visit to Five Below, where every item is $5 or less, I spotted these flower sticks. Of course in the juggling community, an entire set of devil sticks (rubberized handsticks included) for $5 is unheard of – to see them there among cheap gags and toys near the floor made them literally look Bottom of the Barrel. But here, at Five Below, they’re Top of the Line.

By Kyle Petersen

One of the biggest downsides to juggling is that no matter how much you practice and prepare, you will still drop. In juggling, you’re only as good as your last toss; one errant throw can destroy an otherwise beautiful 5-ball cascade. The juggler’s concentration is fragile, susceptible to light, noises, gusts of wind, strong gravity, etc. Sometimes, the safest thing is not to juggle.

Don’t get me wrong, you still should juggle. But there are many skills that don’t involve juggling that will lengthen and add variety to your act. Your audience, in turn, will appreciate seeing a diversity of performance skills.

If you are looking to add length and some fun audience participation, consider adding a spinning plate act to your routine. Simple plastic spinning plates can easily be spun by audience members with a little assistance. The plates can be passed from one audience member to another. Allowing your audience to participate in the performance is a great way to engage the crowd and create opportunities for humor.

Kyle Petersen performs in Brooklyn

Hula hoops are another great option. Why? Something about hula hooping is inherently funny. With a little practice you will be able to do enough basic maneuvers to keep an audience entertained. Try hooping while juggling, or combine the hula hoop with other skills. Perhaps you can challenge an audience member to a hula hoop dance competition. The possibilities are endless.

Natalie McFancy, hooping it up with some children

One of my favorite props to work with is a trick rope, also known as a wild west rope, also known as a lasso, also known as a rope. The art of the trick rope takes years to master, but some basic tricks can be attained within a few months. One of the nicest things about the trick rope is that it is very light weight and won’t take up much space in your suitcase; perfect for the juggler on the go!

Chris McDaniel, photo by Norman Blake

Chris McDaniel, photo by Norman Blake

What are your favorite non-juggling props? Let us know in the comments below!

Name the Dubé Juggling mascot

Yesterday when testing one of our new spinning balls, we decided to see how durable it was. Brian came up with the idea of putting it in an oven to see how the ball responds to extreme temperatures. Unfortunately, the ball quickly exploded. Rather than being destroyed, our ball seemed to come to life. We decided that he/she should be our new mascot. The only problem is that we don’t have a name! Vote here, and one lucky winner will received a $50 gift certificate courtesy of Dubé Juggling!

By Kyle Petersen

Juggling Zombie

Juggling Zombie

Everyone knows that December 21st is the last day of human existence as we know it, but don’t fret. Dubé Juggling has got you covered with our handy guide to surviving the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse!

-Lots of people are planning apocalypse parties on December 21st. Performers: Make sure to raise your rates accordingly.

-Make sure to stock your bugout locations with lots of kendamas. Extended periods of isolation can lead to insanity. Shredding some sweet kendama moves will help combat this.

-Give all of your unicycles a proper tuneup. Unicycles can travel at speeds up to 20 mph, much faster than the average zombie.

-After the apocalypse strikes, diabolo string will be extremely hard to find. Dubé Juggling sells string by the roll. Stock up now!

Throwing knives are ineffective against zombies.

-If a zombie is chasing you, toss an LED hoop by Troo Hoops in front of them. They will spend at least an hour getting into some serious flow. This will give you time to escape.

-If you find yourself in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada surrounded by droning, seemingly undead poi spinners, remember: it’s not the Zombie Apocalypse; it’s just Burning Man.

-Zombies are susceptible to fire. Juggling torches, Monkey Fist Fire Poi and Fire Fans are recommended.

-Whatever you do, don’t go upstairs. No! Stop!!! Ah, it’s too late.

Below, you can see the effects of zombieism on the average juggler.

By Brian Dubé

Hovey Burgess in blacked-out Manhattan

Hovey Burgess in blacked-out Manhattan

Many of us who live in Lower Manhattan and lost power during Hurricane Sandy found ourselves leaving our neighborhoods and heading uptown where there was power. Many stores and restaurants were open and in some locations; it was business as usual. One would barely notice evidence of a major power blackout.  Many photos taken were taken and articles written about this bizarre bifurcation in Manhattan – in parts of the Village one needed a flashlight to walk, yet midtown was all aglow and abuzz. Two days after the hurricane while on a journey midtown to a pharmacy, I spotted none other than Hovey Burgess.* He too found the blackout conditions quite depressing and was wandering in a world of light to pass time and brighten his day.

Hovey is one of my very earliest customers, going back to the very inception of my business in 1975. He often came to my home (where I ran my business for the first 6 years) with his wife Judy to pick up juggling equipment. Hovey is one of the greatest supporters of his fellow artists and suppliers I have ever met. When I have called him over the years to tell him of some new prop or publication as a point of information, I would often find him at the shop immediately to peruse and purchase. Money was never a consideration – purchasing new juggling related equipment or books, or attending juggling or circus related shows of merit, was always his number one priority. He is well known to often attend numerous performances of the same show. He is the quintessential patron of the arts and if possible, he is someone that ideally you want to have interested in what you do. He was one of my earliest customers and advisers. I owe him a great deal. And so, that is why it was no ordinary occurrence –  it was a Special Serendipitous Meeting :)

*Note about Hovey: For those who do not know him, Hovey is a circus aficionado, performer, juggler, and educator. For over 30 years, Hovey has taught circus arts at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is the author of the book Circus Techniques. Hovey has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Pasadena Playhouse College of Theatre Arts.

His skills and work includes clowning, juggling, equilibristic and trapeze work with Circo Dell’Arte, Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus, Electric Circus, Patterson Brothers Circus and Toledo Zoo Wild Animal Show. He is a former President of the International Jugglers Association.

He taught at American Conservatory Theatre, Juilliard, National Theatre School of Canada, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College and Sarah Lawrence College. He was circus choreographer for Robert Altman’s Popeye (Paramount). Hovey is Author of Circus Techniques and is currently a member of Circus Flora based in St. Louis. In 1999, he was inducted into the People’s Hall of Fame, which honors living cultural treasures and is housed at the Museum of the City of New York.

Russian Ball in Orange

You asked for it, so we delivered. Our new Russian Ball is a soft-shelled ball filled up to 100gs with sand. This gives the ball a low center of gravity making it ideal for stalls and dead drops. Beginners will also like this ball because it is low-bounce and low-roll, meaning you won’t constantly be chasing the ball down after you drop. A great ball of professional and novice jugglers alike! 2.7 inches, 100gs. Custom weights available upon request. Available in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and white, just $9.95 each!

Click here to order.