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Throwing and keeping multiple objects in the air
Today, juggling is quickly becoming a popular hobby and good source of exercise. In its general sense, juggling can refer to all forms of artful or skillful object manipulation. This includes most prop-based circus skills such as diabolo, devil sticks, cigar box manipulation, fire-twirling, contact juggling, and hat manipulation.
The most recognisable form of juggling is Toss juggling. Jugglers refer to the objects they juggle as props, the most popular being specially made balls, beanbags, rings, clubs, or bouncing balls. Some performers also use "dangerous" objects such as chainsaws, knives and fire torches.
The growth of juggling as a hobby
Until the early 1950s, juggling was only practiced by performers. Since then more and more people have begun juggling as a hobby. The International Jugglers' Association began as a club for performing jugglers but soon had non-performers joined up and started attending the annual conventions.
As more amateurs around the world began to juggle as a hobby sport or pastime, they started meeting together regularly to practice and socialise in local groups. These groups formed into juggling clubs, and currently there are clubs for jugglers in almost every city and large town in the western world.
When juggling was practiced by professionals only, jugglers were secretive and possesive of their tricks and skills. Over the years the attitude has changed, and juggling has now become a major social activity for hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of people all over the world who are more than happy to share their skills and encourage others to join in. This more open approach, and the fact that basic juggling is not that difficult to learn, has made juggling into an activity that almost anyone can participate in. There are many reasons why someone may learn to juggle. These include:
* It is fun to learn and fun to teach
* It looks impressive even if you aren't very good at it... great for showing off!
* It can help relieve stress
* While it is initially easy to pick up, juggling is challenging and no matter how good you get there is always more to learn
* It can help improve reflexes and hand-eye coordination
* It has been "proven" to increase the size of your brain
* Some jugglers claim it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex
* It can be used to keep fit (often combined with jogging,which is called joggling)
* It can be a great icebreaker at parties
The majority of hobby jugglers can be split into one of two groups. The first are those who learned to juggle at university or college juggling clubs. These people are often mathematicians, scientists and computer programmers. They like juggling because it can be very structured and it can be analysed and modeled easily by maths and physics. Juggling has established itself as a very useful model for researchers studying motor skills and learning techniques. The second group are from the counter culture or alternative culture scene. They enjoy juggling because, while it can be very structured, it can also be as free as you want it to be, with a virtually infinite scope for individual personal expression. Fire juggling is a common appeal.
Since the 1970s, "Juggling For the Complete Klutz", a book by John Cassidy that is sold with a set of three beanbags attached, has probably introduced juggling to more people than any other single source. Another reason for the increase of people who can juggle is that many businesses and schools have employed professional workshop leaders to teach various circus skills.
Modern Juggling Culture
Since the late 1980s a large juggling subculture has developed, almost completely unknown and unrecognised by the general public. The scene revolves around local clubs and organisiations, special events, shows, magazines, websites, internet forums and, possibly most importantly, juggling conventions. In recent years there has also been a growing focus on juggling competitions.
Populating the scene are many "juggling celebrities". These people are notable (or notorius) for being good or creative jugglers, entertaining performers, convention organisers, experts in their field or just for having a curiously interesting personality or character. Of course, outside of the juggling world they are completely unknown.
* Local clubs/societies/workshops - most cities and large towns have juggling clubs where anyone is welcome to learn and share skills. Many universities and colleges have juggling or circus skills societies. There are also many community circus groups that usually aim to teach young people and put on shows. The maintains a searchable database of most juggling clubs.
* Organisations - The first organisation that promoted juggling and helped jugglers was the (IJA), based almost entirely in North America. The facilitates the annual European Juggling Convention and promotes juggling in Europe. Various countries have national associations, including Italy, Spain and Switzerland. There is also:
* Magazines - is the European juggling magazine, published in both English and German. is the official publication of the IJA and focuses on the North American scene. is published in Italy. Newton Las Pelotas is published in Argentina for the Latin American readership.
* World Juggling Day - is the second or third Saturday in June. There are events organized world wide to teach people how to juggle, to promote juggling or for jugglers to get together, and celebrate.
* Conventions/festivals - Many countries, cities or juggling clubs hold their own annual juggling convention. These are the backbone of the juggling scene, the events that regularly bring jugglers from a wide area together to socialize. The attendance of a convention can be anything from a few dozen to a few thousand people. The principal focus of most juggling conventions is the main hall, a large space for open juggling. There will also be more formal "workshops" in which expert jugglers will work with small groups on specific skills and techniques. Most juggling conventions will also include a big show (open to the general public), competitions and juggling games. The maintains a searchable database of all conventions in the past and future.
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