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Three torch cascade.I started juggling in the third grade. Our school system had a collection of roving specialist teachers who would visit each school in the district on a regular basis. There was a art teacher, a story teller, and a phys-ed instructor. One day he showed up with a bushel basket full of tennis balls. We started off fairly normally along the path to three ball juggling. First we tossed a ball from one hand to another. Then we threw two balls simultaneously  trying to keep some sort of rhythm. Then we were encouraged to try to do all three. Mayhem naturally ensued.

There were balls and kids everywhere. I remember running head-down, head-first into the teacher while chasing one errant ball. By the end of that afternoon I could actually do a few throws of a what I came to learn was a three-ball cascade. Here it pretty much stayed for years. I got slowly better at three balls. I eventually learned a four-ball pattern in college, but I never really practiced much.

Three club cascadeTen years after college I accepted a job at Cyrix in Longmont Colorado, and I met this guy named Fred Dunlap. He had been a juggler for years and suggested that we try juggling together. It did not take more than a couple of sessions to get to the point where we keep six beanbags going between the two of us. Fred pointed out though, clubs looked better and allowed many more permutations. So we each set off to learn how to juggle clubs.  Well, why not? I got a set of hard, plastic, Airflite clubs and threw them all over the tiny yard in front of our condo. Compared to learning how to juggle balls progress seemed glacial The competitive aspect of who could learn faster helped quite a bit, however. Before long Fred and I could keep six clubs going between us in a variety of patterns. Later I made Nate Jantz at GCS, and we took it to the next level. Double spins, triple spins, three count, ultimate, and even a flirtation with 7 clubs. It's a pity that company didn't hang around longer.

Five ball cascadeBy now the bug had truly bit. I collected a variety of props including a diablo, devil-sticks, and several types of clubs. My current favorite are Dube's European Classics, but I also adore the Radical Fish that Ellen gave me. They are smaller, and easier on the hands. (Nothing is as brutal as those old Airflites.)

I also got a minor bite from the numbers bug. Some jugglers become obsessed with the goal to achieve ever greater numbers of props at one time. I stuck with it long enough to get relatively proficient at five balls (pictured at left), but haven't devoted enough time to do five clubs so I still find people who can keep five in the air really annoying.

So why do it? It is moderately good exercise. It is fun to do with other people. I have absolutely no aspirations towards getting in the Guinness Book of World Records or busking on Pearl Street.

(The indoor pictures were taken using a technique called second curtain sync. The exposure is relatively long, 1/8 second or so, and the flash fires right before the shutter closes.)