Juggling club includes street performers, students and pros

College students learn to juggle classes, work and a social life. On Thursday nights, they can also learn how to juggle colorful balls and bowling pins in the UC breezeway.

An unofficial club known as the Coconut Grove Juggling Exchange welcomes everyone to come and learn how to juggle.

The club members began as street performers in Coconut Grove, participating in events like the King Mango Strut. They practiced in the old Peacock house before it was converted into the Coconut Grove police station, then took to the streets to ply their trade for three years before winding up at the University of Miami.

The club includes about 50 members who drop by from time to time to toss multicolored balls and have a few laughs.

“We can teach anyone to juggle in 10 minutes,” said David Landowne, a physiology professor and member of the CGJE who has been juggling for 20 years.

The club runs like an open workshop where anyone can simply show up and juggle for as long as they want.

Michael Shore picked up juggling as a method of stress relief after his late night lab sessions.

“It opens up neurological pathways in the brain that aid in studying,” he said jokingly.

Irina Patterson, a local balloon artist and member of CGJE, believes juggling is a form of meditation, while also a source of income.

“I juggle for food or for beer,” she said.

While some participants use the sessions for stress relief, others pursue the hobby further by going to competitions.

Fifteen-year-old Andrew Ruiz started attending the juggling sessions three years ago with his mother, Connie McGehee. He grew to love it and began to participate in tournaments worldwide. He is now aiming to join the World Juggling Association in St. Louis.

Whether for relaxation, competition or light-hearted fun, the CGJE jugglers have a few words of advice.

“Getting over the embarrassment is the hardest part, [and] the second problem is people get too excited,” Landowne said. “There is always more to learn.”

Ivette Figueroa may be contacted at i.figueroa@umiami.edu.