The go-cart man is earning his crust, the generator of the bouncy castle punctuates the air and the other side of the swings is funnel of carts selling popcorn and inflatables. Staking out our territory in the middle of the plaza, Chu puts down ‘the floor’, a big circular mat with a star on the middle and a sign that says ‘Circo Hoy’ (circus today). We run a long cable to a tree on the periphery of the plaza, I give Chu a foot up and she plugs us into the sockets in a box attached to the branches, we have power for our speakers. We start drawing attention to ourselves by pumping music out of the speakers and Chu calls out over her headset what we are up to. We begin our transformation from two girls on over-packed bikes into two clowns, complete with oversized shoes and red noses. Chu fiddles with cables and I go round-up the audience, personally inviting all the nearby Children to sit in the front row.
Pulling at my dress I bound over to each child, some greet me with little fingers itching the air, others a little more timid, glance back to their parents who confirm with nods and smiles that I am safe and slowly slip their palms into mine. The first three children have been lead to their spot about two meters from the floor but stand chewing their fingers and twirling their hair, looking back to where there parents are sat. I realise I haven’t explained to sit down, my clown doesn’t speak you see. I clap to get their attention, point to my eyes, then point to my bum, finally plonking myself down and slapping the concrete next to me. Fingers still in mouths and hair mid coil they stare, they didn’t get it. I get back up with a big sigh showing my frustration and then make the gestures bigger, slower and more ridiculous, parents chuckle as the children twig and sit down next to me. I celebrate their intelligence and then bound back up to recruit more of our most honoured guests.
This routine starts with us running off and ‘hiding’ somewhere in the surrounding audience, then on the count of three we bound out to the cheers and applause. I choose to ‘hide’ behind a lamppost, nearby members of the public are looking at me and laughing. Joy starts to wobble outwards from my heart and into my fingertips, pushing the corners of my mouth into a real smile, I am starting to get high. On the count of three we bound out to a mediocre applause, we are not impressed. The audience can do much better than that and we let them know it. What was that? Someone didn’t clap at all? When we hide this time I choose to hide behind the non-clapper. She is dying of embarrassment hiding in her hair, she doesn’t look at me but I’m pulling the biggest grin I can behind her, her family are loving it. One… Two… Three… We bound out to a much more audible applause, take our bows and let the show begin.
Silly jokes get the audience warmed up and once the energy of anticipation for some real circus to begin presses on us, Chu reveals two juggling clubs. Guiding the audience through shows of two, then three, then four, and finally five clubs, the wide eyes and applause mark her success. Then I’m up, first with one, then two and finally a badly rehearsed third hoop trick. I pull it off, just, and the audience ooh, ahh and giggle in all the right places. Audience participation as Chu spins a ball on one finger and then gets all the kids to hold up their fingers to have a go, a line of crooked fingers pick at the air desperate for a turn. Finally the big guns, Chu juggles with fire. Not a single child burned considering how close she juggles, but then Chu is a professional. We close the show with final cheers and applause and do the rounds with the hat. We didn’t make mega bucks today but everyone loved it and so did we. We pack everything down and strap it all back onto the bikes again, the best joke saved for the cycle home as we don’t have make-up remover.