Sunday, November 5, 2017

TSF Blog #2: Monthly Recap: October 2017

This past month was probably my busiest yet as a pro juggler. Ever since I started performing at CGA Haunt, my Octobers are usually pretty busy, with me performing late into the night every weekend. It's been even busier this year as I started teaching diabolo in middle schools with Jester Games and DiaboloFest. I even went to two festivals, one of which I won 2nd place competing. During the week I'm busy taking an entrepreneurial business class as well as doing other things like making marketing materials and writing business plans and game design documents late into the night. I had to temporarily stop work on my indie games as I put my full time and energy into taking my juggling business off the ground. I hope to be successful enough to not have to get a regular job so I can juggle more and go around performing and teaching juggling as well as making indie games on the side.

Speaking of practicing juggling, I didn't really spend much time with my usual training sessions this month. It's currently more urgent that I get a good marketing base established to try and land new gigs, especially for the holiday season which is usually the busiest time of year for performers. I started using a few gig bidding sites like GigMasters and GigSalad and am also currently looking into using Thumbtack. I've been needing to update my website to better reflect the services I offer and to put my newer videos on there. I updated my business logo and caricature to look more clean and spiffy. With the new logos I ordered some stickers to hand out to the kids at all the middle schools I'm going to start doing. I painted a Draco Diabolo sign that glows in blacklight, which really helped when performing at Haunt. I also started a holiday sale campaign for my DiaGlo LED diabolo sticks, in hopes of making them more known among jugglers.

Even though I didn't train much or learn new tricks this month, I really felt like I pushed myself as a performer. CA Great America Haunt had an awesome new stage for Sideshow this year, and since we had one less performer I was able to go on 10 minutes before my act and freestyle contact juggle and ball juggle. The freestyle sets to the DJs helped me to get comfortable performing to random songs and listening to beats in the music to switch between tricks, and this even started showing more and more in my choreographed 15 minute fire and light routine. I really started to get the feel for adding style and confidence in my body movements and overall stage presence, and even started to incorporate more movement and basic dance while I juggle. Oh, it was also really nice that it didn't rain at all this month for Haunt... I'll write another post soon to talk more about this gig and my past few year experiences doing it.

Training to do Diabolo Fest has been fun and helpful for performing as well. I went to four separate schools with Jeremiah Johnston to see how they run the program, and for the last two I had to run things while Jeremiah supervised. This gig is really helping me to get out of my comfort zone as a performer as I've always been shy of speaking, especially when performing juggling. It's pushing me to speak clearly and concisely, as well as confidently so the kids pay attention. It's been is super helpful to watch Jeremiah perform and talk to the kids, he's not only an amazing juggler but also an awesome performer and strong public speaker. After going to 4 schools with him I feel pretty comfortable to start doing the schools myself and have my first solo one on November 6th in San Jose.

Speaking of the festivals I went to this month, I went to the Portland Juggling Festival at the beginning of the month; this was their 25th anniversary! It was fun driving up with Cassie, Diego, and Sara and getting to see a lot of friends like Curt C., Hall Sensei, Richard H., Michael P., Brian T., Mark H., Eli M., Jeremiah J., Alexis and Victor, and many others. Thanks so much Eli March and friends for letting me stay at your house for my time up there! Some of my highlights at PJF were having a spin top jam with Mark and Curt, as well as a diabolo jam with Matt, Victor, Alexis, and Jeremiah... Oh yeah and also trying to rola bola while Brent Fiasco had a shoe and plate on his head as I attempted to throw a spintop on it. Brent, we gotta renegade that act next time! I also did a small unplanned glow diabolo act for the renegade show which seemed pretty well received despite me thinking I messed up a lot. I was a little bummed that one of the gyms got closed due to the roof collapsing, but on the plus side great job organizers for handling such a curve ball just a week before your event!

The other festival I attended was the National Yoyo Contest in Chico. Surprisingly, it was also their 25th anniversary! Although the event was 3 days total, I only went on Saturday as I had a DiaboloFest the day before, and Haunt the night of. I left around 6 in the morning and got to the contest around 9:30 where I checked in and talked to the organizer about doing a diabolo demo during intermission. I got to see some of my yoyo friends like Josh, Everett, Ian, a few of the spin top folk and some others. I spent a lot of the morning painting my Draco Diabolo blacklight sign so as to have it ready for when I performed. Around 2 was when they had the intermission and I got up on stage to do a diabolo and juggling demo. The diabolo demo was dropless, and juggling demo also went over well although was a bit more difficult with the blinding stage lights. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to record as my phone was being used to play music. Afterwards I had about an hour before the Spin Top division which consisted of me and 2 others. It was fun watching the other competitors go before me so I can see what's possible with spin tops. I'm pretty new to spin tops and mostly entered so they can have enough participants to hold the tops division. I used a regular spin top to start out with, and then my kongzhu (chinese monobolo that whistles), followed by my serving tray dome top, and then finished with me throwing another top into the spinning serving tray dome. You can watch the video of the performance here (https://youtu.be/04TEDUQgGGQ?t=3h18m10s). I then had to leave briefly after the spin top division around 5p in order to make it back to Haunt... I barely made it back in time, just enough time to get dressed and have 5 minutes before doing my fire act! Later that night I was surprised to find out from a friend that I won second place in the tops contest... totally was expecting last place. I also want to give a special shoutout to Mike Hout for sponsoring me and paying the entry fee for me to compete in the tops division.

I also want to give another shout out to all of you! Thank everyone who has supported me thus far in my juggling endeavors, especially after the big incident earlier this year. It really means a lot to me emotionally and physically to have so much support in response to things. I'm feeling pretty good now a few months after my facial surgery and my shoulder is feeling pretty normal. I'm still debating on getting surgery for the shoulder, as it's mostly seemed to heal on its own but I do sometimes worry and have dreams of it re-dislocating.

I think that's mostly it for my October recap. This month represented the first step forward into full time professional juggling. November is going to be a month of business and website refinement and video editing. I also plan on making improvements to the DiaGlo sticks, get more marketing things going like decals for my car, some shirts for selling, etc. I have a few school gigs coming up, and hopefully will land other performance gigs for private parties and compaines. I started using a time tracker called Toggl to keep track of what I do. Below are some metrics reported from Toggle for the month.

Estimated Total Hours Worked: 191 hours (new record)
   Administrative: ~50 hours (new record)
   Gigs: ~80.5 hours (new record)
   Marketing: ~35.75 hours
   Training: ~1.25 hours
   Travelling: ~22 hours

2 Festivals Attended:
-Portland Juggling Festival
-National Yoyo Contest in Chico

Highlights:
-Won 2nd Place in Spin Top Division at National Yoyo Contest
-Got a new Public Announcement System for performing / talking
-Finished training with Jester Games to start going to Middle Schools and teach diabolo
-Logo Redesigns, and new Blacklight Reactive sign painted
-Began DiaGlo Holiday Sales












Tuesday, June 30, 2015

TSF Blog #1: Before The Spin Force


I first picked up diabolo at Silver Creek High under the teachings of Matt Hall in end of 2003. I remember most of my high school days were spent in Hall Sensei's classroom practicing diabolo at break, lunch, and before cross country. Me and the other Silver Creek Jugglers would perform in school events, and every so often go to juggling festivals together. We'd also make videos together and post them on youtube and other forums like rec.juggling and diabolo.ca. These videos would often feature Matt Hall, Daniel Acosta, Matt Brown, David Pham, myself, and a few others.

Upon graduating high school in summer of 2008 I thought it'd be a good idea to try and juggle professionally. I came up with the business name Go Draco and stage name Draco the Juggler, with goals of doing birthday parties, corporate gigs, and other events. I did very much enjoy going out and performing even though I was very shy at the time. Going into college, I continued doing gigs and parties within the 100 mile radius of San Jose. I'd drive my 74 VW Beetle to my events, which I decorated with business logos and put the words The Juggle Bug on the hood.

During the first few years of my business I also focused on teaching workshops and performing at juggling festivals throughout California, where I'd get tips about professional juggling from friends at the events. These fests inspired me to start and host my own Santa Cruz Juggling Festival through UCSC's Rec Department and UCSC Juggling Club in 2009. My focus on gigs and parties at the time started slowing down as I focused more on college and running the UCSC juggling club with JC Sue.

College is time where I picked up fire spinning. I went to my first FireDrums in 2010, and would spin at the Cowell Beach Lighthouse with Fire University SC. I was lent fire diabolos by Stu Branoff to add to my fire practice. I was able to modify the fire diabolos to even use sparklers and smoke bombs for a cool effect. Around this time I also picked up rope dart, initially being introduced by Cosmo Hom at the first SC Juggle Fest.

The first summer of college was an interesting one. It was the first time I was asked to teach a summer group juggling, of which I was very excited. I drove up to Berkeley once a week to teach a group of around 30 students the basics to toss juggling and diabolo. This gig had a connection the year after to me teaching juggling classes and game design through ATDP Berkeley at the UC. I began selling my own diabolos around this time, after inquiries about where to buy them at multiple gigs.

As I became more occupied with college my business shifted less from parties and more towards teaching. I re-branded my business name to The Spin Force at the start of 2012, and started teaching classes through Santa Cruz Parks and Recs for both game design and juggling. Each session consisted of 6 classes where students would learn the basics. These classes went on until the end of college in 2012.

Upon graduating from UC Santa Cruz my juggling career slowed down. I went to less festivals, and did less gigs. I was focused on getting a job as a game developer, and 2012 was the last year I taught at ATDP Berkeley. In October I landed a job as a game developer for a small startup in Palo Alto. For the next few years this took most of my time and the only juggling related things I'd do was go to a few festivals, practice in my free time, and do a few performances like The Flow Show, BACA fest show, etc. I did still keep my business and websites registered through this time, but mostly stopped advertising as I had little time.

Although I haven't pushed my business the past few years, I am hoping to get back into it again. It is nearing the end of June 2015; I will be 25 in a few days. I still work in the gaming industry, and am using time outside work hours to once again run The Spin Force.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Bay Area Diabolo Group

Hi Everyone,

For the past few months I've been brainstorming ideas about starting a diabolo group in the Bay Area. I held a few pre-meet ups in conjunction with Santa Clara Juggling Club's Sunday get together. Since then I've moved to Concord, CA and am now in the process of putting together the Bay Area Diabolo group. I'm also looking to teach classes through Pleasant Hill's city recreation department, and getting back into doing personal juggling gigs / instruction.

There's a lot of work ahead like pitching the class proposal, setting up bayareadiabolo.com, creating a few logos, business cards, fliers, etc, and recreating my professional juggling site thespinforce.com. I'm planning to set up multiple social media sites like a Facebook page, twitter handle, meetup group, as well as some listings on Craigslist.

Mostly tonight as I write this initial post, I'm spending a lot of time planning how to reach these goals, while at the same time unpacking and settling into my new house (which has high ceilings for juggling, woo!).