I wrote this blog post and it’s been getting a lot of attention. Thoughts?
Nope. Just can’t do it.
Is there any historical precedent for calling them pins?
In Dutch they are called “kegels” which translates to pins, but the bowling association is not very strong, luckily. However, even older jugglers, or jugglers who have no connection to the scene, call them differently. This is looked down upon, those jugglers are outsiders because they use the “wrong” term. It’s weird.
I never understood what it matters if someone calls them pins? The reason why someone would is quite clear. Does it change anything if they are referred to as pins? I am struggling to see a problem, please explain.
On a historical note, I did some research on the history of bowling and possible connections to juggling. I could not find any, but I only spent a few days online, gathering what I could from there.
Nope. They were clubs right from the start. The only connection was later, when jugglers used plastic toy bowling pins to make juggling clubs. However, to do this, they had to greatly alter the shape of the bowling pin, cutting off it’s top. The following meme shares my feeling about the matter, in general.
I agree with Erik that it really doesn’t matter to the audience for the most part, but I personally don’t like supporting the idea that jugglers used bowling pins. When audience members pick up one of my clubs, they often will comment that they thought that they were much heavier, which then occasionally turns in to comments along the line of “Well that’s not nearly as hard as I thought.” I understand this to a point, because if I saw someone running backcrosses with five real bowling pins, I’d be mighty impressed. I just feel that supporting the common notion that jugglers use bowling pins has several negative side effects and no positive ones. In fact, I go out of my way in my show to explain that what I’m about to juggle are not bowling pins or some kind of small bat, but that they are juggling clubs, made specifically for juggling.
Just my personal thoughts on the subject.
Really interesting David. Thanks for your input.
Erik, I agree. I don’t see where the issue is. I’m in favor of communication that is democratic. In my opinion, the people have spoke, and they like “pin”. It doesn’t change the function of the object or even how we would talk about it if we called them clubs. For all I care they should just be Labeled props a-z
Here are some more thoughts on the issue. I want juggling to be taken seriously as an art form, hobby, athletic endeavor, and everything in between. As a result, there are certain notions about juggling that I want to dispel, or at the very least, not support. Jugglers using bowling pins and all being clowns are the top two things on that list. Secondly, being a juggling historian and museum curator, especially one that specializes in the history props, I feel that taking just a short opportunity here and there in my show to educate the audience, even while making them laugh, about juggling history is worth the effort. I may be the only professional juggler many of them ever see in person, so I want to be a good ambassador of juggling while I have the opportunity. If the audience can spend an hour being entertained and can come out also knowing a little more about juggling than they did when they got there, then I say that’s a good thing. That’s why I go out of my way, ever so briefly, to explain to my audience what juggling clubs are.
I think the entire set up of this dilemma is based on a fictional situation. There is no clubs vs pins situation. There are only people who do not know what the object they are looking at, is. They connect what they see to something that is known to them, in this case a bowling pin. Therefore they call it a pin. That is the entire reality, clubs are not part of that reality until someone introduces the concept of a club, by informing those who were previously unaware of it.
Someone who is unhappy that they are referred to as pins, is missing this.
It seems as if it is often forgotten that words are only representations for actual concepts of reality. The word “club” and the object club, are not the same things. The word club only functions as a representative for the item, club, when spoken of.
I guess the question is: what should we call them. If the general public calls them pins why do we persist in calling them clubs?
Also I disagree that people don’t know what they are. People know the difference between a juggling pin and a bowling pin. If you showed someone a club and asked them what it was for, they’d say juggling and if you showed them a bowling pin and asked the same question they’d answer bowling. I think they know what it is and they think it’s called a pin.
Some distinctions obviously have to be made. Seems as if we are not on the same page of what is being discussed here. We are dealing with 3 or 4 groups of people:
Does not know the difference between bowling pins and juggling clubs, calls both objects pins.
Understands there is a difference between the two objects, but are only aware of one word to represent them, pins.
Understands the difference, and uses the words clubs and pins to distinguish between them.
Perhaps there is a group 4 (but I think it is probably insignificant?)
Understands the difference between the objects, are aware of both the words pins and clubs, but insists on calling both objects pins anyways (to piss off jugglers?)
I will assume that we means jugglers here. Are you suggesting that jugglers somehow get together and decide over what word “we” should use when we talk about (the object formerly known as) clubs? This is not a possible scenario, I think? And I still do not understand what the problem is? Seems as if David thinks the audience generally thinks the clubs are bowling pins, but Thomas seems to think they know the difference, but are unaware of what word to use when talking about them. David likes to inform them of the difference, both in concept and in word to represent what they are, which I think is perfectly fine. Can you explain your problem further Thomas, sorry that I do not follow.
I totally agree with your second post @Erik
I feel as if all of this could easily be explained by psychology. People, or that is, non-jugglers, have a schema for plastic objects that have a wide base and a thin handle (bowling pins). Therefore, when they see a juggling club, they compare it against their schema. They see that it is plastic, has a thin handle, and has a wide body, so they consequently think “bowling pin!” or “pin!”.
I’ve had people simply not know what to call clubs. They just point and say “can you juggle those things?”.
I solve this super easily in my show. When I pick up clubs for the first time, I simply say “These are juggling clubs. They might look like bowling pins, but bowling pins are made out of solid wood and these are made out of…” hit myself on the head “… hollow plastic. So you guys in the front row don’t have to worry if something goes really wrong.”
That 10 second bit in my show serves to:
A. Educate the audience in juggling terminology.
B. Demonstrates their lightness.
C. A small moment of levity before a 6 minute juggling routine with no talking or jokes.
D. Establishes that I may not make it through without a mistake, and that a mere drop isn’t a huge failure (anything less than a club bouncing off stage is great, I guess?).
E. Means that later, when I get out the juggling knives, there is a bigger gap between the “danger” of juggling knives and the total non-danger of juggling clubs.
Lol! Good line! I also like how it serves multiple purposes.
I think this type of juggling terminology education is very important to include in one’s act.