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Messages - donald grant

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Performing / How Many Professionals are there?
« on: September 03, 2006, 08:54:41 PM »
Me Again!

Hi Steve, Nice to see you here, didn't know you were into this forum (for those that don't know, Steve was doing nice creative diabolo stuff back last century, when we had to check for pterodactyls before we did high throws :wink: )

Just to add:

1) Street show are probably the best schooling you could ever have.  I started out doing street shows at the Glasgow International Street Fest way back in 1989 (before pterodactyls were invented) and they are the absolutely the best way to learn how to "share your gifts" with the real world.

2) Imagine if I told my parents that I was now going to give up my "bobbin chucking" and go and work as an accountant or a legal consultant.  No more cool holidays abroad, no more fun backstage parties: the disappointment would be crushing!

All the best, chase your dreams,


Performing / How Many Professionals are there?
« on: August 28, 2006, 10:59:03 PM »
Well, guys, I guess I'm one of that "rare breed".

I've been full-time professional diabolo player for the last eleven years, or so.  Not as a back up to any real job, nor do I have any other numbers I perform.  Just my good-old-six-minutes-thirty four of bobbin chucking.
That's what puts bread on the table, beer in the fridge and even paid for my house where I keep my table and my fridge.

I've been thinking hard and searching my address books, and I would probably guess that there's about 30 other full time diabolo performers I know.  Doesn't sound a lot, but it's a heck of a lot more than ten years ago!

Just to add to the listings.....

Bruce Wilson (also does poles number and ring number)
Jochen Schell (also does ring number and top number)
Jonatan Thomas (Jonas)
Jonas Zeller
Pierre Marchand
Martin Mall
Giles Le Leusch
Patrick Leonard
Michael Korthaus
Tim Hellebrandt
Double Face

....are all professionals who have "diabolo only" numbers.

Now I look at it all, we're a fairly rare species.  Probably ought to be on some sort of endangered wildlife list or something.  Maybe someone will be kind enough to start a breeding program.....

All the best

Gear / Black string
« on: June 21, 2006, 11:04:30 PM »
Dying string should work, but we found a quicker and easier version when we were shooting the new DVD last summer.

The studio background was totally white, so there was a fear that even fluo yellow string wouldn't show up too well on film.

The problem was solved by the simple formula of white string + permanent marker pen + Alan Blim.  Half an hour of frantic colouring in by Alan and we had enough suitably dark string for everyone.  The string feels a little stiff at first but you soon get used to it and it also gets softer with a bit of use.


PS Just got the first copies of the DVD last week, and yes -phew- the string is visible!

Performances / Bruce Wilson - the leather clad diaboloist
« on: April 24, 2006, 12:10:04 AM »
Yay the Bruce!  

Welcome to the weird world of!!!

First of all, sorry I didn't let you know about this "thread" going on about you....especially as all those hits on your site must have given you a bizarre impression, as you say, of loads of work coming in :roll:

Second, I apologise for the state of my "not quite 100% feedback" memory: I'm sure you'll understand if I put it down to...

1)  Too much House of the Dead
2)  Too many whiskies
3)  Too much German variety :wink:

And yes, sure I remember Robert: medium Babache, recumbent bike, streamers on his handsticks, wonder where he is now?

Anyway, excellent post (found myself nodding and shaking my head, both in full agreement with you!)  Glad to see Father Hacket in your corner, and welcome again, if it weren't for you who knows what I'd have ended up doing!

All the best

PS  "Soundtrack", eh?  Sounds intriguing....

Performances / Bruce Wilson - the leather clad diaboloist
« on: April 11, 2006, 08:41:36 PM »
Well, seeing as I've known Bruce for about fifteen years and he came over to visit just last week, I guess I'd better clear up some of this.....

Firstly Fredo's comment about "how he holds his sticks", that's priceless!!  I'll have to tell Bruce THAT next time I see him.  Hell, if only I'd told him that when we were working together at the CeBit expo in 1998 (when he was doing 3 diabolo high pirouettes for a laugh).  "Very impressive Mr. Wilson, but DON'T hold your sticks like that :lol:

Also, the line about "the majority of performers are quite bad".......based on what experience, exactly?  Exactly how many professional performances (eg NOT including convention shows or on video?) have you seen?  There are actually quite a few good performers out there, just they don't all happen to post here.  

Anyway, to answer Tom's original's a few Bruce-related facts:
i)  Bruce and I both started out about the same time (early nineties) and spent many happy hours throwing stuff around in his kitchen.
ii)  He actually has three different numbers: diabolo, rings and an original piece with chrome poles.
iii)  He likes white puddings (Scottish delicacy) and Father Ted (quality Irish humour)
iv)  Originally from Scotland, he now lives in Berlin and works a lot in German varieties.
v)  He DOES read this forum occasionally and heavens only knows what he'll make of all this :lol:

Hope this helps,


Gear / Mister Babache Jumbo
« on: April 10, 2006, 08:48:51 PM »
Oh yes, and another thing.....

Back then, doing more than one diabolo was a rare thing.  The old jumbos came from four different moulds, and have individual numbering on the rims JD1 through to JD4 (JD for Jonglerie Diffusion or Jumbo Diabolo, we just don't know!)

The idea was that if you wanted a diabolo from exactly the same mould, you ordered one with an identical serial code.

Do I win nerd of the week for this one?


Gear / Mister Babache Jumbo
« on: April 09, 2006, 11:39:31 PM »
Aaah, the old jumbo swiss.  

The first ever "full-size" european diabolo.  They were THE diabolo to have way back when you had to check for pterodactyls before doing high throws.

Don't know exactly when they came out, but they pre-date Henrys Circus and Renegades (both about 1993) by a long time.

Still used by many street performers, as they are virtually indestructable ( the diabolos, not the performers!)  Jochen (Schell) used them til fairly recently, when he switched to Henrys; Bruce Wilson still uses them on stage but the hubs are slowly eroding after many years of loving play and he's gonna have to switch eventually.

If you track one down for your "collection", you'll soon find that the narrow axles make a lot of modern stuff much harder, but hey, they're a part of history.



General / diabolo - 100 years
« on: April 03, 2006, 10:18:02 PM »
eeeeh! Ye cheeky young whelp!

The quotes on performers are taken from the Babache diabolo book (1995) whilst the drawings and diagrams are from the Declic "Le Diabolo" booklet (1994).  That might explain the lack of Diabology folks on it and the lack of your favourite nu-school tricks :wink: .

I've heard that there are even some books out there that were published BEFORE then.  Probably on papyrus........


Tricks / 3 Diabolos Low: Throw Start, Anyone?
« on: March 30, 2006, 08:50:12 PM »
Hi Steve

My history with three diabolos ain't so illustrious as Mr Heathcote's.  That's the reason I asked him to contribute material for the "Two Hot to Handle" book, way back in 1993.  In fact, that book came out at the EJC in Leeds and I have some very funny video of Guy trying to explain his three low, with his diabolos laid out on the floor, to a rather confused and admiring group of myself, Todd Strong and Ralf Runde.  Jurassic footage, and no mistake!

I did learn three high for a while way back in 94/ 95 when I was training in Montreal.  Not much, just put 'em up and finish clean.  It never went into the number though, because:
a) it felt a bit "token"; crazy one diabolo, crazy two diabolo, then ping ping ping ping ping ping ping ping ping catch catch catch with three.  
b) the piece was already around 7 minutes, quite long enough, so I just left it out.

Since then, most of the diabolo I do is in shows.  The number has been tightened down to 6 minutes 27 seconds, so there's even less space for it on stage.  

Also, when I'm working, I find it's not a good idea to do more than about an hour of intensive practice in the day as it tends to knacker your arms for the evening show.

All feeble enough excuses, maybe like Guy said, it comes down to how much you really want.  Then again, I've got a couple of months off just now and three Henrys in the corner, mocking me.  Perhaps I'll give it a go (with the wrap start :wink: ) and let you know how it goes......

All the best

Tricks / 3 Diabolos Low: Throw Start, Anyone?
« on: March 29, 2006, 09:10:12 PM »
Yay Guy, you stand your ground!!!

Seriously, having seen both starts (and masterered neither!), you've got to admit that they both work, and are totally different tricks.

The wrap start certainly seems to have a higher success rate, but the throw in looks cooler, in my opinion.  If in doubt, learn 'em both!

"New" versions of tricks aren't automatically superior: which would you rather see, a modern-day double sprinkler-to-double suicide out, or the original we-didn't-know-any-better-back-then two diabolo double suicide on open string??? 8)

Just an old bloke letting his mind wander.....


General / What makes for an interesting diabolo video?
« on: March 24, 2006, 10:56:08 PM »
My tuppence worth, if anyone's interested.......

The greatest test for "skills videos" is, for me, whether they can be watched for more than five minutes by a non-afficianado without them losing interest.  An educational film needs clarity first and foremost, but a skills-based or "freestyle" is free from such restraints.  Unfortunately, technique is never enough to keep anyone interested for long, even the most dedicated trick freak.

Pacing, edits, music, camera angles, etc. are all important.  Narrative, themes and characters can also add greatly to a "skill film"  but be careful not to get too carried away, Speilberg!

Don't know how many of you out there come from an "alternative sports" background, but many of the "classic" films are still hugely watchable today, regardless of the fact that the tricks are often seen as old-school or outdated.  If you can get your hands on them, I would certainly recommend....

Skateboarding:  Anything by Powell, especially "Animal Chin".  
                        Deathbox "Spirit of the Blitz" .
                        Plan B "The Questionable Video".

Skiing:              Warren Miller stuff is great, but I'd always go for a bit of
                        Greg Stump.  "Blizzard of Aaaahs" and "Maltese  
                        Flamingo" are hugely dated but still so watchable....

BMX                  "Steel Rods" and "Stress Kings" are a couple of road trip
                         favourites, but "Ride On" and "Mad Matt" are true
                         classics.  And the "Dorkin" series. (If Dave P is out there
                         reading this, I hope he agrees :)

Watching other "skills" vids (especially for skills you're not so familiar with) is, in my opinion, probably one of the greatest aids to putting together one of your own.

Thanks for listening,


Tricks / What's that called? Trick name thread.
« on: March 02, 2006, 10:58:26 PM »
Just in case anyone's interested, here's a brief explaination of the etymology (ooh, posh word) of some of those trick names we all know and love......

STICK GRINDS:  Back in 1991, I used to do a bit of skateboarding in between lectures with my mate Ewan.  He was also into diabolo, and any tricks on the stick became known as "grinds" after the similar trick of sliding on your trucks on coping/ kerbstones/ etc.. The first book (Stick Grinds and Suicides) came out in 1992, and the name seems to have stuck ( hey, it's better than "the catch on the stick trick")

SUICIDES:  The BJC in Coventry (1992) was the first time I saw a "letting go of the stick" trick and the chap who showed it to me called it a suicide.  The name seemed appropriate, that was crazy behaviour back then, so again, the name stuck.

DUICIDES:  Ok, I made this one up.  It seemed clearer than "double suicide" or "two-hand suicide".  So duicide it was....!

GENOCIDES:  Robert Biegler came up with some of the first ones.  He originally wanted to call it a "flipcide", but they seemed much too life-threatening for such a gentle name.  Then again, "genocide" may have been a bit too extreme, but there you go.

That's enough dusty history for the moment, I'm gettin' all misty-eyed and nostalgic....


Gear / Re: How many diabolos?
« on: February 21, 2006, 11:18:03 PM »
Okay, I've been round the house again.  The official breakdown would seem to be, in descending order......

12 1/2 Renegades (one of them fitted with the original prototype LEA light tubes from Aerotech.  Looks great when charged but weighs in at about half a kilo. Still, that's not so bad for 11 year old technoprop!)

12 Henrys:  5 Circus, 3 Glow Circus, 3 4er wide axle circus and one black jazz for some reason.

9 "Toy" diabolos of varying levels of crappiness.  The funniest ones are the "no-string" ones with a strange pelota-type claw for throwing and catching...

7 Babache: 2 finesse, 2 original harlequin jumbos (pre-"wobbly phase"), 2 mediums and one of those useless ultra-tiny ones.

5 Wooden ones, some crap 'n' ugly, the African ones are crap but prettier in a nice two-tone wood, and a not so bad Danish chinese-style one which, being solid wood rather than bamboo, will happily remove your teeth the first chance you give it.

3 Jugglebug(?) adaptable whistlers.  You can set 'em up as a one-wheeler or a two wheeler......or just leave them alone, as I tend to do.

2 Flare Jumbos

2 Ball-bearinged Yo-ho things

2 Toss-ups (if it wasn't for their mind-melting physics, they should be in the toy section of this.  Or the bin.  Honestly:  drive with your right hand, they spin anti-clockwise.  Drive with your left, they still spin anti-clockwise!  **** witchcraft, but witchcraft nonetheless....

2 Bamboo one wheelers.  Classics, love 'em.

2 Fire diabolos: the aforementioned Fyrefli in car-crash condition, and a beautiful Tom Nesbitt Mk2, still pristine.

That concludes the safari of my toybox.  I'll let you know if anything turns up down the back of my sofa........


General / Re: Craziest place you have diaboloed
« on: February 20, 2006, 11:24:25 PM »
1)  In the Russian embassy in Berlin

2)  On a trampoline in Dundee

3)  On the back of a tractor in Switzerland

4)   Over a shark tank at a sea-life centre

5)  In the arctic circle

6)  In a dodgy nightclub in Australia for two bloody hours in front of a video wall and the boss wasn't there so they had to pay me in all the beer I could carry and it hurt my arms, **** I had bruises for a week, but by god I carried it.

Is that enough?  I have more but I think I may have repressed the memories.....


Gear / Re: How many diabolos?
« on: February 20, 2006, 11:09:30 PM »
I found myself at a loose end tonight, and spotted this thread..... I noticed in earlier posts that It was estimated that I had "about 80" diabolos in my posession.  That kinda scared me, so I grabbed a pen and paper (this is already sounding a bit sad) and went for a wander round my house.....

And the final total is.......

58 and 1/2 diabolos.

I guess I have been doing it longer than most, but still....

Most popular brand was somehow still Renegade, even though I don't use them on stage anymore.  For anyone who cares, they beat Henry's into second place by 12 1/2 to 12.

Lots of these (like the African and Chinese ones) are ornaments these days, but it's still scary to find out just how many of them I actually have.


(PS Funniest find was one of the first prototype Fyrefli fire diabolos from the EJC in Leeds (1993).  They gave me it with the instruction to "give it a good going over".  It didn't last long, but I still have it in its buckled wobbly state, for some reason..?)

General / 3d instants
« on: December 20, 2005, 09:58:16 PM »
Interesting point, Mr GbH!

Being "pro" has nothing really to do with having attained a particular skill level with the diabolo.  The bloke who does the "chucking it really high" trick busking on a street corner is just as much a professional as the high paid Vegas entertainer.  It's all about being in the fortunate situation of playing with the old bobbin and getting paid for it.  This isn't some kind of international sport where higher skills automatically invite greater contracts/ fame/ financial reward.  If someone from the real world is prepared to offer you cash to do a cat's cradle and a couple of string climbs, there are worse "pro"fessions to be in :D

(grizzled old "pro", who's quite happy to stick some harder tricks into the number for an extra fiver.......)

Videos / Videos of the week anyone?
« on: October 19, 2005, 12:41:28 AM »
Mithew's point about "bad" tricks appeals to me.....

Why not have an alternative thread for "tricks of the weak".  I'll be warmin' up my "walrus of time" variations in readiness......

(in London, if anyone's coming down this weekend...)

Community & Events / Montreal
« on: September 25, 2005, 03:51:25 AM »
It's 4 in the morning and i'm stuck in Edinburgh airport.  Heading over to Montreal for the next 2 weeks.  Will be doing 3 shows and maybe teaching a bit.  

If anyone fancies hooking up for a beer or a bit of chucking stuf around, drop me a message,


Community & Events / Scarborough Convention??
« on: September 05, 2005, 04:17:47 PM »
Yep, convention was a great laugh.  Good to see lots of folks again and to meet some new folk too.  I DID learn something new too from Matt (and his new haircut), plus we worked out a few new tricks too.

Sorry I couldn't stick around too long afterward but Sam had offered me her spare bed in York (compared to the tent next to the chip factory, that was a no-brainer) and anyway, I was getting right royally sick of Barnsey doing long runs of 3 low every time I seemed to look at him :wink:


Community & Events / Scarborough Convention??
« on: August 17, 2005, 08:28:53 PM »
Steve, the organiser of Scarborough, has coaxed me to come down for the day.  I'll be teaching a workshop, and despite my protests that I already performed it at York and everybody's seen it, I'll be doing the show in the evening too.

Unusually, I have actaully been doing a bit of practise of late, so I should have some new stuff to share with anyone who fancies coming along.

All the best

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