Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If You Build It, The Cirkus Will Come

After seeing the Circus Maximus in Rome in the first weekend of August, I thought it was pretty cool that I would be able to see the Cirkus Maximum on the last weekend of August. Cirkus Maximum is Sweden's national circus. Unlike Cirque du Soleil, which usually comes to Perth for more than a month, or Circus Joseph Ashton, which never seemed to stop doing performances, this circus usually only does one peformance in each town. Given that Ronneby is one of the largest towns in Blekinge, we were fortunate enough to have the circus arrive on Friday, which meant a Friday evening show. Being such a small ever-travelling group, they do not sell tickets until the day of the performance. However to partially make up for that, and to prevent a last-minute rush, they do sell tickets at lunchtime as well as two hours before showtime. I decided I did not want to miss out on a ticket - there would be no second chances unless I travelled out to Karlskrona the next day, so I cycled to the ticket booth at the circus grounds in my lunchbreak. Ronneby actually has its own circus grounds, called Cirkusplatsen, located on Cirkusvägen, which runs off Risatorpsvägen. Unfortunately, there were only elderly women at the ticket booths, so I had a feeling they wouldn't be speaking English. Optimistically, I began with the usual "Talar Ni engelska?" to which the woman rambled back something in Swedish which was completely unintelligible to me. Nope, if I wanted a ticket I was going to have to speak Swedish. And here's where I made my error. I tried to ask for a 250SEK ticket (about AU$45), except I stumbled on the word for 'two' and ended up saying it twice. Consequently, the woman expected 500SEK for two tickets. When I handed her only 300SEK (I only wanted one ticket) she started yelling more stuff in Swedish. I was speechless. I was unable to communicate what I wanted, and had 200SEK being demanded from me. Fortunately, a middle-aged woman was also waiting in line and she did happen to speak a small amount of English. I explained the problem and got her to translate for me. Crisis over. Here is a photo of what the ticket looked like. After work, I cycled back to the cirkusplats. They have a traditional big top, which they have to put up and take down every day. I got there with a while to spare, and there was parking chaos outside, so I was able to get a fairly good seat right in the centre. It _was_ a fairly good seat, until a really tall guy decided to sit right in front of me just before it started.
Of course, it was all in Swedish, so only understood a handful of the words. However, they did have a lady singing. She sang a few songs in English, for example "Sparkling Diamonds" from Moulin Rouge. There were also songs that I recognised but now sung in Swedish, for example "Tomorrow" from Annie sung as "Imorgon", and "When You Wish Upon a Star". There were quite a few animal acts, namely a dog act, camels, horses and elephants. Also interesting was that they gave free animal rides to children at intermission. I hadn't really seen that before.
A lot of their acrobatic acts were imported from China. They did things like pole climbing and diving through rotating hoops. The one really weird act was the clowns - Los Rivelinos. Two of them were dressed the same and kind of looked like Hulk Hogan trumpet players (I'd never really seen the Swedishness in Hulk Hogan, but I do now). But the third guy was very strange. A painted white face but dressed up in this type of dressing gown and pointy shoes. He looked to have almost a transvestite quality. Reminded me of the Pompadour character in the Babar cartoon for some reason.
So that was basically it. It finished after about 2 hours 10 minutes. Having journeyed there by bike, I was able to beat a lot of the exiting traffic and was home by 21:30.