20 May 2024

Juggling saved Dave Evans’ life and now he’s using it to help men juggle theirs

| Kellie O'Brien
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Dave Evans is running Juggling Life weekly workshops for men over 50. Photo: Supplied.

As a kid, juggling saved Dave Evans’ life and now he’s using his skill to help men juggle and transform their own lives.

The Kiama circus performer has launched Juggling Life, a free weekly juggling workshop for men aged over 50 looking to not only learn a new skill but develop real friendships.

Through a self-development course, Dave was encouraged to create a project purely to do something positive in the community and help others.

He decided to use the skills he had from a lifetime of juggling and focus on men such as himself who were 50-plus and looking to make new friends.

“I’m 52 this year and a lot of people know me because I do festivals and events in our area, but I don’t really know a whole heap of men that are my age. I know of them, but I don’t really know them,” he said.

“The aim for me is to get a group of guys my age to get to know each other and hang out together a bit more.”

He said while learning to juggle, he hoped the men would talk and open up, which was something they traditionally struggled to do.

“Men bottle it all up and don’t tell anyone about anything that’s going on until it’s too late,” he said.

“The mental health outcomes for men of my age are just terrible.”

However, he said a simple conversation could make a massive difference.

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“I like the fact we’re all going to fail together and we’re going to learn; we’re all going to make mistakes in front of each other,” he said.

“We’re being vulnerable and open with each other and that’s what we need to be so we can share things that scare us.

“When you first start juggling, you’ve almost got to teach your brain to do something it doesn’t want you to do – it wants to do it in a certain way and you’ve got to teach your brain to do it a completely different way.”

Dave said he started juggling when he was quite young.

“I often say to people that juggling kind of saved my life in some ways – it put me on the straight and narrow,” he said.

“I was a fairly wayward teenager getting into all kinds of things that I shouldn’t be getting into.

“Then my brother-in-law, completely by chance, went out with me one day and he took three balls and started juggling them.

“I said, ‘That’s cool. How did you do that?’ So he taught me how to do it.”

He said from that point on, he was hooked.

“It’s one of those things that really triggered something inside of me and I just became a little bit obsessed with it,” he said.

“I think my parents, bless them, who had been a bit concerned about the path I was on, saw this flicker of positivity, so they encouraged me.”

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Living in London, when a circus came to town offering juggling classes, Dave was the only one who turned up and so got their undivided attention for the entire afternoon.

It sealed the deal for him.

“Although it may not have been the career path my parents imagined for me, they definitely saw how positive it was for me,” he said.

“It’s all I’ve ever done, really, since then.

“It was a very profound effect that it had on me.”

Dave started busking on the streets of London before touring Europe doing outdoor festivals and events and, eventually, ending up in Kiama where he now runs the annual KISS Arts Festival with his partner and fellow entertainer Tamara Campbell.

“One of the installations we do at festivals is called the Circus Dropdown and it’s a mobile circus workshop where we invite people to come try their hand at everything – juggling, unicycling, spinning plates, hula hoops and even trapeze,” he said.

“You see these kids who aren’t the kids that excel at sports or not the kids that excel academically and suddenly there’s this little niche thing they can do.

“You just see the transformation in people and how it can instil a sense of pride.”

He said the same would happen for the men participating in the workshops, who would all be starting at the same level.

Juggling Life is a free event held each Friday from 6-8 pm at the Kiama Uniting Church in Main Street. The church has made the premises available free and all equipment for participants will be provided. To learn more, visit their Facebook page.

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