Monday, September 1, 2008

Just Clowning Around

Picture it...The lights fade to black, the music subsides save for a lone base drum with a low, steady rhythm. A single brilliant white spotlight shines down onto the Ring Master, and in a booming voice he hollers out:

"Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, welcome to the greatest show on Earth!"

From the time that opening line is spoken and throughout the next two plus hours, if you're sitting in the audience of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus as we were the other night, you are in for a real treat.

The Rose Garden Arena was absolutely electric with spectators from just a few years old to those well into their eighties. As I looked around during the show, the one thing all of us seemed to have in common was a sense of wonder and excitement. It was as if time stood still even if it was for just a couple of hours during a late summer's evening. Children didn't have any dictated set of rules to follow and the adults were free to let the stress of the "daily grind" melt away.

All of us watched as the acrobats twirled and flipped through the air making their high flying leaps and jumps with the greatest of ease.

There were elephants that performed, dare I say, graciously, and of course the other circus must, tigers. 700+ pounds each of kitty cat and one brave (or crazy) guy leading them through their various maneuvers.

This rather odd looking photo to the right is of an acrobat performing on a set of rings high above the arena floor. There were six separate performers on six different sets of rings all doing the same moves in unison. Most of the photos I took turned out pretty crappy because of the low lighting and the distance away for my small camera. This shot however was kind of cool. By leaving the shutter open for just a bit I was able to get this nice effect from the movement and color. FYI I didn't alter this shot in any way, just a lucky capture.

One of the things that amazed me (there were many) were the motorcycle riders in the sphere. I was pretty impressed when there were four of them zipping around the sixteen foot diameter sphere, but then they upped the ante to five and finally to seven! With speeds of around 65 mph there was no room for error. I just kept thinking to myself, "How on Earth do you practice for something like this?"

There were jugglers and contortionists, trick riders on horses and even more amazing acrobats. They seemed to have all the usual players that I remembered from the last time I'd been to a circus so many years ago, and they of course had clowns. Loud, silly, gregarious clowns. Come on, you didn't think I was going to forget about them did you?

They seemed to work the crowd perfectly too. In between acts these guys and gals would carry on keeping everyone in stitches while the stage workers set up for the next performance. The cool thing was you hardly ever noticed any of the set up or breakdown of other things because the clowns were so entertaining. I've got to think that is a pretty good gig, being a complete goofball and getting paid for it.

Well, there you go. A glimpse of my trip to the circus. If you ask anybody in my family if it was worth it, you're get a unanimous YES!


Jules~ said...

How fun! I love the circus. I didn't realize they were in town. I am glad you got to go.
Confession: When I was about 11 years old I read a fiction story about a teen girl who had been in a circus tent mishap, was separated from her family, and had amnesia. The circus story people took her in and she learned how to train the elephants and do all the special riding tricks. For a while I wanted to be that girl after reading that story.

RAT GiRL! said...

Giggle is a tart over at my place!
Ya might wanna bring a bucket because you'll probably puke!!!

Giggle! said...

Hey great photos!!!

I LOVE the circus!! xx

buffalodickdy said...

With kids grown up, and no grandkids- I won't go without a kid along!

Matt-Man said...

You had to mention the clowns didn't ya. Glad you all had a great time. Cheers Jeff!!

nitebyrd said...

Clowns creep me out so no circus for me. Glad y'all enjoyed it. Love the acrobat picture, very cool!

CrystalChick said...

I had to skim thru this one REALLY fast.....
the circus and clowns freak me out.
Okay, the motorcycles in the cage thing is neat.

Jeff B said...

Jules- how many kids have wanted to run away and join the circus? Heck, there are some days now when I think that isn't such a bad idea. Good to hear from you.

Rat Girl - Giggle- Another brilliant installment. I love that comic you've created.

Buffalo- Run, don't walk to the nearest Rent-A-Kid shop and pick one up to take with you.

Matt Man- Sorry dude, but the show must go on.

Nitebyrd- You too? bummer about the clown phobia.

Crystalchick- What the heck? is this some sort of "hate the clowns" pact? I wish I could have got a decent picture of the motorcycle riders, they were truly amazing!

Bond said...

Been too dang long since I have seen a real circus...going to have to make plans for next season when they roll through Memphis...


buffalodickdy said...

My wife, the gramma waiting to happen, keeps stealing kids to take to this stuff... Explaining to the cops why we took the kid causes alot of grief..

Anndi said...

Mom and I used to take Chicklet to see the circus when they came to town. Growing up my girl (who just started 5th grade - *sob*) had a thing for elephants and would watch Dumbo over and over and over...

Thanks for sharing that!

Akelamalu said...

I love the circus but I haven't been for years! Maybe we will take the grandchildren when the circus comes to town.

Check out my post tomorrow m'dear there's an award for you. :)

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

It's been years since I've been to the circus. It's a shame too since it is indeed grand fun. Thanks for the smiles. Have a great day. :)

Real Live Lesbian said...

I feel like I just went to the circus! What great fun!

Sandi McBride said...

I'll never forget the first time we took our two young boys to the Circus...I am not sure who was the most thrilled, the grown kids or the four and five year old! Great post!

Jeff B said...

Bond- Definitely go, it;'ll make you feel like a kid again. And finally...a non clown hater...hahaha

Buffalo- cops are funny that way aren't they?

Anndi- Chicklet would have loved this show too. They had plenty of pachyderms.

Akelamalu- The grand kids (and you) will love it, Thanks in advance, I'll be sure to come by and take a look.

Sandee- Always glad to provide a few smiles.

Real Live Lesbian- Could you taste the cotton candy and peanuts?

Sandi- Both our boys were wide eyed throughout the entire performance too. Watching them was as much fun as the show itself!

Mel said...

Awwwwwwww......see, I'm ALL about the effalumps!

I take the kiddos from work to the circus every year. Mostly cuz none of them have ever been.
Well, that and it's a good cover for Mel getting to go to the circus.....LOL

Amazing Gracie said...

Great post! I could smell the popcorn and peanuts...but I hate clowns.
Years and years ago, like maybe 50?
My aunt took me to the RBC. This was back in the day of the "Sideshow." I went up ahead of her and wound up in that tent and scared myself to death! I am SO glad they don't allow that kind of crap any more. It was enough to make me run screaming back to my aunt!
Today's circus is a kinder, gentler circus - thank heavens!

Hammer said...

I was never able to appreciate the circus till I was an adult. As a child it was sensory overload :)

Ron said...

OMG you were first describing this...I could actually HEAR that INTRO!

I had chills! Honest!

It brought back a flood of memories.

This sounded like so much freaking fun!

Did you any eat cotton candy?

Good...cause I hate that stuff!

oooh...and you mentioned the "C" word.


That's when I would have started screaming at the top of my lungs and running!

Thanks for sharing such a magical moment, buddy.

I felt like I was there with you guys!

Jeff B said...

Mel- Sneaking in under the guise of taking the kids to the show. HA...Brilliant!

Amazing Gracie- I missed the whole sideshow aspect of the circus. Probably just as well too. it might have ruined it for me.

Hammer- cool that you can enjoy them now.

Ron- I knew you'd be by with an excited comment. I've got to think going to the circus with you would add a whole other level of fun to it! The clowns rocked too. Their timing was spot on and the choreography of the entire show was amazing.

Desert Songbird said...

No one in my family is all that interested in going to the circus. We took our daughter once when she was two, and she liked it, but she didn't LOVE it. Clowns creep us all out, so that might be the problem. We just go to the zoo to see the animals.

Vodka Mom said...

do they serve martinis at the circus???

San said...

Wow, Jeff, I haven't been to the circus in YEARS. Today is my birthday. Thank you for taking me to the circus.

Come over to my place when you can. There's a song dedication for you.

Marilyn said...

Ooohhh, I love the circus. I always wanted to be a clown, you know, rather than just being called one from time to time.

Rhea said...

I LOVE the circus. I haven't been in about two years. We used to go yearly. It's just so much fun, for kids and adults!

My pictures usually turn out crappy too.

Jeff B said...

Songbird- I never realized how many people dislike clowns until I posted this. Yeesh.

Vodka Mom- That certainly would put a twist on things.

San- Happy Birthday to you!

Marilyn- Ha..i resemble that remark!

Rhea- They said they wouldn't allow any SLR type cameras into the show and low and behold, there in the row in front of us, there were two people with that style of camera. That was irritating. Had I of known, I'd have brought Lisa's nice Cannon. Oh well.

Travis said...

Somehow, clowns in a circus context aren't as creepy as clowns in any other context. They are still creepy, but not as much.

Kimmie said...

Hey Jeff! I love the circus also. My niece was a performer with Barnum and Bailey for about 6 years. She had to leave about 5 years ago due to a back injury. She did a variety of acts that inclueded, the rope acrobats, horse riding, elephant riding, dancing and I guess what ever else they would need her to do. The costumes were just amazing. Her portfolio from the circus is stunning. She looks so gorgeous in all of the different costumes she wore. It was a very grueling job, but she loved it. :-)

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful reflection of your night. It took me back, for I haven't seen the circus in queite awhile now.