Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, the world's largest and most prestigious circus event, the 40th Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, is running until January 24, 2016. To celebrate this coming together of the world's greatest circus performers I present the Circus Mania bluffer's guide to circus history and culture - 15 fabulous facts about the sawdust circle.
1 - The word Circus dates from Roman times when arenas such as the Circus Maximus staged chariot races, gladiatorial contests and mock battles.
|Inside the Monte Carlo International|
Circus Festival big top
3 - Astley’s rival Charles Hughes was the first to use the word circus in the modern sense when he founded the Royal Circus.
4 - A standard circus ring is 42-feet in diameter.
5 - Clowns are nicknamed Joeys after 19th century pantomime star Joseph Grimaldi.
6 - Leotards are named after the first star of the flying trapeze, Jules Leotard.
|Don't try this at home!|
8 - The traditional circus theme music is called Entrance of the Gladiators.
9 - Charlie Cairoli was the first clown to appear on This Is Your Life.
10 - Chinese acrobats first appeared in European circuses in 1866.
|Viva le Cirque!|
12 - Circus Space, in London, is the UK’s only training facility to offer a BA (hons) degree in circus arts.
13 - The first American circus was founded by John Bill Ricketts in Philadelphia.
14 - A ‘Josser’ is an outsider who joins the circus.
15 - According to circus superstition, it’s bad luck to wear green in the ring.
For more on the history of circus, and the lives of today’s performers, read Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away With the Circus by Douglas McPherson.
“Circus Mania is a brilliant account of a vanishing art form.”
- Mail on Sunday.
“The Greatest Show on Earth... in a Book!”
- World’s Fair.
Click here to buy the paperback or ebook from Amazon.
And may all your days be circus days!