Winnipeg Circus Club Hosts Inclusive meets every Sunday

By: Tanner Banas

Mateo Lopez, 28, performs at Nuit Blanche in Winnipeg in September. Lopez is a member of the Winnipeg Circus Club. /TANNER BANAS

Hips don’t lie at the Winnipeg Circus Club.

Juggling and unicycling are just some of the activities the club is trying to push into mainstream sports.

Karrie Blackburn, the non-profit club’s president, said getting people into a relatively unknown sport would be great.

“When I took over as president, something I really wanted to focus on was the community side of things,” said Blackburn.

The 31-year-old is a professional hula hooper and took over as club president this past year.

Karrie Blackburn, 31, spins a hula hoop at the Winnipeg Circus Club meetup Sunday, November 10. Blackburn is the President of the Winnipeg Circus Club. / TANNER BANAS

“For as small as Winnipeg is, we have a terrible habit of being very segregated,” said Blackburn. “We want to give people a chance to taste the surface of the art, and we try our best to be very inclusive.”

The Winnipeg Circus Club offers the opportunity to learn how to juggle, hula hoop, tightrope walk and unicycle. All equipment is provided by the club for free at every meet.

The club welcomes all skill levels and offers a free session for first-time participants. The diverse group of members is obvious, with members of all ages and abilities practicing their circus skills at the Broadway Neighborhood Centre, the club’s home base.

April Gowler has been coming to the Winnipeg Circus Club meetups for the past five years and said it’s the people and members of the club that keep her coming back each year.

“It is really just a great place to come. All the members are good people, and everyone is always in a good mood,” said the 57-year-old. “They let kids in the neighbourhood come in for free too.”

Karrie Blackburn, 31, performs a ‘chest roll’ with a hoop at the Winnipeg Circus Club meetup on Sunday, November 10. Blackburn is currently the President of the Winnipeg Circus Club. / TANNER BANAS

Mateo Lopez, a dog trainer and fire performer also said the club provides a strong sense of community.

“Everyone is always so supportive and willing to help teach one another,” said Lopez. “It’s also nice because it provides me with easy access to a gym and a place to practice during the winter.”

The Winnipeg Circus Club meets every Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The first visit is always free and costs $5 per session after that. If the club is a hit with people, they can purchase an annual membership for $30 which gives access to every circus club meet.