By Ben McPhee
By trade, I’m not a paid entertainer. It’s not something I pursue and often I regret not doing it, because it can be so much fun!
From the Geneva Autoshow to Fashion Week in NYC and Sydney the gigs that come my way always come with an amazing party as well as maybe even more fun whilst doing the show.
This one was no different. I was to be a roving performer at the F1 GP in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE is amazing. Like no-where on the planet. Not just like New York when the skyscrapers first went up, think Rome, but built in a day.
Not my first trip, I tagged a stopover vacation there in 2010 on the back of Russian national contest, but not somewhere I get to visit often. The YoYo scene is very very small. A few player are contactable in Dubai but in AbuDhabi there isn’t anyone who clearly identifies them self as a ‘YoYo player’.
An event the size of f1 is a giant machine, it takes a lot of work to get all the parts moving but when it does it is amazing.
My brief was pretty nondescript: play YoYo at these specific places at these specific times, make people entertained. Mission accepted! Added was the bonus of deep supply of Yoyofactory yoyos, custom made to the signature YAS blue of the track, for race goers to play and keep.
From the corporate boxes to the rowdy beer gardens I covered most of the track. I went from bottom of the south grandstand to the start finish line I twirled my yoyos, people clapped and have it a try themselves! I performed on the main stage to a crowd of hundreds, I performed in the chill out zone to a crowd to 2, didn’t matter, there were loops and string tricks for all. In the actual grandstands were some of the best moments moving from section to section giving short shows to race fans waiting for the action to start on track. People really were into it too which made it even more fun.
The most memorable moment, the tale I will repeat the most, happened when I went the extra effort to go and perform for a group of 4 people, alone at the end of main straight. It was pretty quiet and my flashy tricks or maybe just the noise of my portable sound system caught the attention of some people on the opposite side of the track, specifically Prince Harry (of the British royal family). When I concluded my show, with a customary skyrocket to the pocket (-3 for those who compete) I turned and bowed and was rewarded by the signature royal handclap.
Work was fun. Fun was work. I managed to get seats for the race, checked out some of the other performers on track and found time to see Pharrell Williams. HAPPY I was.
Checkout my pictures below.
Thanks to YAS marina circuit for having me and to all the race goers who gave YoYo a spin!
By the numbers:
Travel time round trip: 60
Longest flight 15hrs
YoYos taken: 328
Yoyos coming back: 2
Strings used: 72