By Kyle Petersen

Kyle executing a wheel walk

Photo by Jill Chernin

When I mention to people that I ride a unicycle, the usual response is disbelief. “I could never do that”, many people respond, “I would bust my…”

A unicycle is really just a bicycle, stripped down to only the most necessary components. There are no gears, there is no derailleur, no brakes, no handlebars and most importantly, no front wheel. Because virtually all unicycles are fixed gear, unicyclists cannot coast the same way a bicyclist would. You cannot “ride” the unicycle, you must “drive” the unicycle. The unicycle and the unicyclist must act in harmony to maintain equilibrium. It is the perfect union of man (or woman) and machine.

My first foray into the world of monowheeling came on my 12th birthday. I was an avid BMX bicyclist, and I had read that learning to ride a unicycle would help me improve my BMX skills. After hastily assembling my $80 unicycle, I stepped out of my New Jersey home one December morning confident that I would instantly hop on and ride down the street. I stepped up with one foot…

…and met the ground. This wasn’t going to be as easy as I hoped, but I stayed at it. After two days, I could go a few feet. After three days, I could go across the driveway. After a week, I could go most of the way down the street. After a month I could go around the block.

Thirteen years and half-a-dozen unicycles later, and I’m still at it. I perform and make a living on a unicycle. I teach unicycle. I ride unicycle for fun and for exercise. I commute to work on my unicycle. Needless to say, unicycle is a huge part of my life.

The beauty of unicycle is that all you need is a one-wheeler, a little determination, and some guts. I’ve seen children as young as 10 and adults in their 60s learn to ride. It’s never too early or too late to start!

Click here to view our full line of unicycles.

By Kyle Petersen

June 19th is World Juggling Day and in recognition of this momentous occasion, we’re featuring some of the funnier juggling records we’ve come across. All videos come courtesy of the Guinness Book of World Records.

Upside-down juggling? Whatever floats your boat. Erik Kloeker sets the Upside-down juggling record at 4 minutes and 5 seconds.

Spaniard Pedro Elis sets the Guinness record for five-basketball juggling. Juggling basketballs is hard, juggling five balls is hard, juggling five basketballs is nearly impossible…

Hannes Neumann from Hannover, Germany sets the Guinness World Record by juggling under water for 49 minutes and 53 seconds. Think you can break this record? Don’t hold your breath…

By Kyle Petersen

New Unicycles

Our new line of Nimbus unicycles!

With the New York City Unicycle Festival fast approaching, we thought this would be a good time to revamp our lineup of one-wheeled options. Dubé Juggling is proud to announce our new line of Nimbus unicycles! But first, a brief history…

The modern unicycle was born from the penny-farthing bicycle sometime during the late 1800s. Penny-farthings were a very difficult and extremely dangerous. The rider would sit high atop an over-sized front wheel, and iff the penny-farthing were to slow down or stop suddenly, the rider would often flip over the handlebars, leading to devastating injuries. Along the line, someone realized that the rear wheel didn’t serve much of a purpose, and removed it altogether. Thus, the modern unicycle was born.

For many years after, unicycling was considered the realm of circus performers, clowns, vaudevillians and carnies. In recent years, however, the unicycle community has expanded. Sports and activities such as mountain unicycling (mUni), trials (similar to BMX), unicycle basketball and distance riding have all attracted a dedicated and diverse following.

In recognition of unicycling’s growing popularity, Dubé Juggling is proud to announce an expanded line of unicycles. The Nimbus Club is an excellent and affordable option for beginners. Our new Nimbus II unicycles are a durable option for beginner and intermediate unicyclists alike. The Nimbus Signature Trials is super rugged ride designed for extreme cycling, but is also a good option for any intermediate to advanced cyclist. Finally, the Performer Convertible Giraffe Unicycle is the perfect unicycle for the variety performer on the go.

By Kyle Petersen

In last week’s Video Friday, we featured videos of jugging and manipulation based sports. This week, we feature athletes demonstrating manipulation skills in the fields of basketball, soccer and golf.

Curley Boo Johnson of the Harlem Globetrotters demonstrates some fancy basketball manipulation skills, juggling the balls and making an unbelievable shot at the end.

Who doesn’t remember this classic Tiger Woods golf ball juggling commercial by Nike?

Although his career has taken a downward turn in recent years, Ronaldinho is still recognized as one of the most skilled ball handlers in the game of soccer. Check out the fancy footwork (and headwork).

By Kyle Petersen

The juggler throws the balls up and catches them flawlessly, executing the most difficult maneuvers with ease. The audience, however, is horrified. The culprit? Juggle face.

Justin Bieber keeps clubs aloft, but can't keep tongue in mouth.

Juggle face is the strange or goofy expression many jugglers wear on their face in moments of deep concentration. Juggle face effects thousands of jugglers worldwide. Symptoms include sticking out tongue, leaving mouth open, and contorting facial muscles. There is no known cure for juggle face, but treatment is available.

When I work with students, I tell them to be mindful of their facial expressions. “That was great,” I’ll tell them, “now do the exact same thing with your mouth closed, and remember to smile.”

According to Andrew “Slammin’ Andy” Peterson, juggle face is caused by “extreme concentration on a physical activity that requires small muscle coordination. People make stupid faces when trying to thread a needle too,” he explains.

In a recent appearance on Japanese television, teen heart throb Justin Bieber demonstrated his meager juggling skills to an adoring audience. But while his teeny bopper fans swooned over his ability to juggle three clubs for almost seven seconds, we were aghast at Justin’s horrible juggle face.

But there’s hope for Justin yet. Slammin’ Andy suggests putting the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth as a way of combating juggle face. My solution has been to always smile while I practice juggling, so a pleasant smile becomes my default juggle face.

Please share any photos, thoughts, or experiences you’ve had with juggle face, we’d love to include them in future blog posts.

By Kyle Petersen

It’s only natural to combine the circus arts with sports. Both require extreme competitiveness. Both require unbelievable physical dexterity, determination and focus. Here’s a peek at our favorite circus sports games:

Combat is a juggling fest classic. The rules are simple: everyone juggles and tries to knock the clubs out of their competitor’s hands. Last one still juggling wins. I haven’t played combat since Sean Blue nearly gave me a concussion…

Unicycle is a skill that lends itself to combination tricks. If people can juggle or jump rope on a unicycle, why not dribble a basketball? The Puerto Rico All-Stars Unicycle Basketball Team is one of the best in the world.

Volley club is a sport that has been increasing in popularity in recent years. The rules are similar to volleyball, but totally different. Instead of hitting a ball, competitors throw juggling clubs back and forth, all while maintaining a cascade pattern.

Do you have a favorite circus sport not mentioned above? Please, let us know about it!

By Brian Dubé

Dazzling Mills

Dazzling Mills

Wednesday, April 21. 2010, I was given VIP passes to America’s Got Talent by Steve Mills, one of the contestants. Steve is a long time customer, literally one of my first and instrumental in helping launch my business in 1975.

This show was a big disappointment in many ways. Firstly, it was a painful and grueling ordeal. We were essentially imprisoned in the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center for 5 hours without a cell phone or electronic device. Yet the number of acts were few and each act limited to 90 seconds. The balance of the time was used to pump up the audience, give out t-shirts and other junky prizes, do a number of audience shots, and rehearse booing and chanting “VEGAS!” the next level for the talented acts.

Many of the acts should never have gotten to stage. I recognized two from the streets of NYC. One of them attends virtually every parade and is essentially talentless. He was booed before even beginning his performance as were others. The audience appeared to be relatively unsophisticated. One of the most talented was a female opera singer who got some negative reaction as soon as she started.

After hours of talent searching Steve’s act went onstage near the end of the day. The Dazzling Mills, consisted of four members – Steve, his son Tony, his daughter Michelle and his son-in-law Kris. Ninety seconds is an extremely short time to do a juggling act and build momentum and enthusiasm with the audience. The approval of the Dazzling Mills was left to 3 judges—Howie Mandell, Sharon Osburne and Pierce Morgan.

The act was a hairsbreadth away from going to Vegas. The final vote was cast by Howie Mandell – a hesitant “no”, equaled two “nos” and one “yes”. Howie felt that the act opened too weakly with a three club runaround (followed by a club passing routine, adding the music and act were dated. He would have preferred seeing a much stronger opening bang to wow the audience. I agree, however, considering the other talent and what I saw, I would have sent them to Vegas for the finals.

America may have talent, but we didn’t see much here. The show will air in June.

Visit my personal photoblog of New York City –

By Kyle Petersen

We’ve long noticed that many of our customers are also musicians. This makes a lot of sense, as both juggling and music require using both sides of your brain. While many have combined juggling and music in the past, and handful of musical juggling acts stand out. Here is a sample of some of our favorites.

Chip Ritter tears it up on his drum set on the Letterman Show, juggling drum sticks while drumming!

The guys from Gandini Juggling syncopate bounce juggling to create an excellent drumming effect. This took a lot of practice…

Dan Menendez uses silicon juggling balls to bounce juggle on an electric piano. Ellen is impressed.

Do you have a musical juggling act? Please let us know!

By Christopher D. Garcia, aka Draco the Juggler

Club Balancing Endurance

Ever since attending my first juggling festival, the First Annual Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Festival, I was introduced to the magical world of juggling fests that has become a huge part of my life today. Ever since then, it has also been a dream of mine to host a well-known juggling festival that is free to all interested in juggling and the circus arts. That dream became a goal, and now that goal has been accomplished. My attempt at creating the Santa Cruz Juggling Festivals is also powered by the fun and inspiration I had from other festivals as well such as the IJA Convention, Humboldt Juggling Fests, Isla Vista Juggling Festival, Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Fests, Johnston Juggle Jam, and other fests I have been to. I have also been inspired by many of my juggling friends like those in the Vulcan Crew, Humboldt Circus, Santa Clara Jugglers, Stanford Jugglers, Silver Creek Jugglers, Klutz Jugglers, Berkeley Jugglers, Santa Cruz Jugglers, and many other jugglers I have met.

As a very special juggler once wrote in my high school yearbook upon my graduation, “I love this page because it has those 2 words on it right next to you [struggle: n. a long fight to attain something] [unique: n. unusually good and special]. You and I both know what a struggle it is to make something unique. But you’ve done it, Chris. You are in my opinion, a great juggler and a great guy. Now go share your gifts with others. That’s my only advice.” This is the man who also “defines the most common paths in juggling as Performance, Art, Sport, and Hobby. But there is a Fifth Path, the one he himself has followed: that of the talented artisan who shares his skills and knowledge to facilitate others’ journeys down a juggling path.” This man has been my main source of juggling inspiration and is like a juggling father to me; he is Matt Hall… and now I follow his Fifth Path.

Last year I started the Santa Cruz Juggling Festival as a one day event in honor of World Juggling Day on June 18th, 2009. The festival took place on UCSC’s East Field on a hot sunny day and there were about 30+ attendees. There was music, workshops, a renegade show, and a fire show; it was a good step to a festival just born to the world.

This year the Santa Cruz Juggling Festival took a huge leap from what it was last year. I spent many months and countless hours planning to make the event more like the juggling festivals I have attended. One huge plus about this year is that the festival actually had a gym. It also had some other cool things like a nature walk/parade, Renegade Juggling Store Happy Hour, public variety show, juggling games (with some cool UCSC slug plushies as prizes), a raffle, and Sunday fire juggling by the beach. I also did the “Blind Juggler Project” a few weeks before the festival, which consisted of me juggling blindfolded across campus to spread word to my fellow colleagues about the fest. We had many sponsors (as seen on the right side of this blog) that donated prizes to the Sunday raffle. There were a total of 110 festival attendees during the duration of the 3 days (according to all who signed the waiver). This year we gained about $300 in donations and from the raffle for next year’s festival.

But as all festivals have their good things, they also have some bad things or things that didn’t go according to plan. This year SCJF didn’t have a Friday renegade show as we had a small number of people Friday, but instead all of the people there went to Taqueria Vallarta for dinner, which was pretty fun too. We didn’t have the gym on Friday, although it was a nice day so it didn’t matter too much. We also didn’t have an actual stage for the public show, but the show still ended up being AWESOME. We didn’t have a set list of workshops during the festival, but I did see some renegade ones happen. One huge obstacle that I had to deal with as an organizer was having a very small budget to run the festival off of. I only had about $230 to work with to make this event happen; $100 came from the UCSC Juggling Club doing an event for our college the week before the fest; $100 from J.C. Sue and his family as a donation; and about $30 or so from J.C. and I street performing in Downtown Santa Cruz; and of course some money out of my own pocket, although I cant recall how much. Unfortunately, I did not submit a grant proposal to UCSC in time to get funded by the college this year. Well, its like they say… learn from your mistakes; these are some things I will keep in mind for next year.

Overall, I feel that this years Santa Cruz Juggling Festival was a HUGE success; all the hard work that went into this event paid off. Thank you all for supporting my and the UCSC Juggling Club’s efforts and coming out to have fun at the Santa Cruz 2nd Annual Juggling Festival. Until next year everyone!

By Kyle Petersen

People have been practicing circus arts in Japan for hundreds of years, demonstrating great skill in manipulation, equilibristics and acrobatics. Near Tokyo, Naranja juggling shop sells plenty of our equipment. We are curious to know whose hands the cigar boxes, devil sticks, shaker cups, and more ends up in. Because we can’t read any of the rad Japanese juggling blogs out there, we turned  to YouTube to show us the way. The following are three of our favorite videos from Japan (with and without Dube props) ranging from skilled, to flashy, to bizarre. Take a peak:

This girl is one of the greatest unicyclists we’ve ever seen, but we can’t find any other information about who she is, or why she’s so unbelievably good.

Some outstanding flair bartending skills.

Hyoga, I choose you! Hyoga is a yellow dragon with some impressive juggling skills…

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