As I walked up to the 90,000 square feet of fabric that housed the traveling Vargas Circus, I can honestly say I was scared to enter the tent. I was excited, I had never been to a circus before but my fear of clowns played in my head and visions of haunted house clown hallways kept flashing through my mind.
Finally when it became obvious that it was too late to turn back, I grabbed my ticket and entered the tent. To my exultant surprise, there were no clowns in sight. With that relief I made my way ring side and took my seat at the edge of the center ring.
It was a Thursday night and it was the opening night of the Vargas Circus in Henderson. With captivating performances, sequenced and brightly colored costumes and spotlights galore, the Vargas Circus proved to be an evening of fun and amusement.
While carnival games and food stands attracted the attention of guests outside the tent, inside, bright yellow and blue chairs stood in rows that led to the sidewalls of the giant tent. As the minutes drew closer to the start of the show, the chairs slowly disappeared as they began to be filled with audience members of all ages.
I couldn’t wait to see the show, and once the tent was full and the crowd was seated the lights dimmed, the smoke from the hot lights began to part and the spotlights focused in on the host of the show as he welcomed the crowd and, by captivating their senses, brought each of us into the circus show.
For the next hour, laughter and cries of excitement filled the tent and I found myself sitting with a permanent smile plastered on my face as performances entertained to the sounds of music and applauds.
Among the many acts in the show, the Anton brothers performed a routine, which demonstrated mastered precision, balance and severe strength as they flipped and turned in the air while balancing on each other’s legs.
Just when the show seemed to be almost rhythmic, cast members set up the daring Wheel of Destiny, which spun from floor to ceiling and provided the perfect playing grounds for performer Leo Garcia to climb around high in the air.
With this final act of adrenaline pumping and dangerous excitement, a brief 15-minute intermission midway through the show allowed audience members to grab a snack while the next thrilling performances were prepared for set up.
During lulls between performance setups Monte the Clown entertained audience members with various routines that demanded volunteers and audience involvement. Thankfully Monte the clown, though a clown, was not in the least bit scary and I was able to watch his entertaining and ostentatious personality soar to all levels as he entertained the crowd with various routines that demanded volunteers and audience involvement.
Kids weren’t the only volunteers and audience members included in these acts however, during the second half of the show adults were pulled into the spotlights of center stage for a moment to be part of the comedic acts.
The cold temperature that filled the tent of the circus was intense from sitting still for so long, but not I, nor anyone else for that matter could leave our seats. We needed to soak up every performance, and the second half of the show was just as captivating as the first.
Following the break performers entertained with various acts including the Zinduna brother’s tumbling and pyramid routines and black and neon clad performers took to the trapeze for mid air stunts and jumps that left the crowd cheering for more.
As I watched the performances that were displayed I couldn’t imagine the type of training it took these performers to master their acts.
“We practice about four hours every day and that includes aerobics, running, muscle strengthening, dancing… it’s a combination of everything,” said Patrick, of the Zinduna brother’s routine.
Wrapping up the show for the evening the final performance held a first in circus history, a 3-way parting globe containing racing motorcycles spinning inside a middle section while being suspended above ground. Showcasing the Garcia family; a husband, wife and son performance, this speed spiraling act pushed the limits in danger and laws of gravity.
“My favorite part of being in the circus is you get to see new places, the farthest I’ve ever been is Hong Kong” said 8th generation performer, Maximus Garcia, 9.
The time that is invested in putting on the thrilling performances only displays the passion of the circus lifestyle that is lived each and every day by the performers in an effort to entertain, inspire and amuse audience members from around the world.
“The best part of being in the circus lifestyle is you get to be with your family 24 hours a day. We get to travel together,” said Geti Garcia. “I get asked what the most difficult part about this lifestyle is all the time, and honestly I can’t think of anything that is difficult about it. The hardest part is when we are not traveling for a month and we aren’t on the road. Sure it’s a vacation for us but our life is us being on the road 11 months out of the year.”
The entertainment continued until the very last curtain call, and even after the final bows, audience members made their way to the entry of the tent for a chance to meet the stars of the show. I made my way through the line of performers speaking to many of them about their acts, the circus show itself and life under the big top.
The theater-style tent that is home to the traveling show seats 1,500 people and is set-up in each city it performs in, by 30 men who embark on the seven-hour process of raising the big top at the crack of dawn for a weekend performance of theatrical excitement.
The Vargas Circus is performing in Henderson through Jan. 24 before it packs up and hits the road to head to California for more performances. For more information on the Vargas Circus and for performance times visit the Circus Vargas website