Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Chapter 86: Snapshots from GDIF: Gandini Juggling "8 Songs"


Barololo: île O
After "Dynamite and Poetry" (see previous post) at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (GDIF) Celine flagged that Gandini Juggling would be on in a couple of hours. That was news to me, and I had mixed feelings about waiting to see them. On the one hand, my phone had was virtually dead and I could feel the pull home to help my husband with the kids and their homework. On the other hand, it was Gandini Juggling (click here for Chapter 29 and  Chapter 59) with a new show, and the kids were in safe hands. Still, torn and undecided, I wandered round the festival, too late to catch more than a glimpse of the enchanting and quixotic Barolosolo's "île O": two clowns on the water and a tide of music. Next was the charming walkabout through "Bees! The Colony" by Artizani, exploring hives of trompe d'oeils and looking through peep holes. Finally I decided to go in search of a pay-phone to gauge my husband's state of sanity, but was sidetracked passing the Cutty Sark where I noticed Collectif Malunés (see Chapter 84), now clothed again, stretching out before their next show. Slipping over the barrier and clambering up on stage, I threw some awkward French at them, and ended up swapping cards. While chatting, it occurred to me that my francophone husband finds my accent decidedly sexy. Blushing at the thought, I switched into English, and, excusing myself, made my way to the pay-phone where my call went straight to answer-phone. Well, that spurred me on. I left a message invoking the Great Gandini, and all the powers of a Victorian mesmerist that the name conjures up, absolving the kids from homework, and saying I'd be home for bath and bedtime story before they knew it. 

Decision made, I could relax into the festival spirit, drink in the warmth of the afternoon sun and bathe in the balmy breeze. Making my way over to the performance space, I spotted a mojito bar in the distance. Well, in for a penny in for a pound (or six!), and I grabbed myself a drink before sitting down on my multi-purpose festival newspaper. The guys next to me were Spanish speakers, which for me, missing life in Valencia, is a red rag to a toro, and soon we were chatting. It turned out they train at Circus Space too, and their company was a welcome distraction from the dying embers of nagging guilt about the family waiting for me at home. Then on came Gandini Juggling, rocking it, and extinguished the rest. 

The "8 Songs" are all cracking rock and roll classics, perfectly pitched for a festival setting and kicking off with the hellfire of Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil. Plenty of kohl eyes, lots of leather, cut-off shorts ripped red fishnets, t-shirts with The Clash or "Let It Be" motifs, complemented the tracks and framed the talent as sexy and fun.  Now, here's the thing about Gandini Juggling. Their skill is such I simply couldn't keep track of the balls and the tricks. It felt like they were spinning a web, through the movement of objects and the suggestive music, that kept us pinned there. I was entranced. Highlights for me included the transfer of balls from one juggler to another set to the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations", the stone(d)-faced lip-synching to Bob Dylan's "I Want You" by a girl wearing a circlet of flowers, and of course Bowie's "Scary Monsters" where two of the girls have hair over their faces (like Cousin It in the Adam's Family), just as able to juggle with their hands behind their backs as in front, so that you lose track of which way they are facing. The final track was a slow burner set to classical music, but with each of the performers wearing headphones and dancing to their own unique silent disco, head-bashing to Highway to Hell, and the like. As they get carried away by the music, caught up in a moment of sheer elation, they begin to strip. Don't we all? Expose ourself one way or another, that is. But the music comes to an end and with it they come to their senses, rockstars no longer but simply "weirdos naked in the street". I shuddered. A bit too close to the bone. Just the way I like it. 

For further reviews and responses to Gandini Juggling: 8 Songs see the National Association of Street Artists at

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