Flip Circus: Nostalgic and Modern at the Same Time.
Do you remember the days of the traveling circus, complete with dancing dogs, lion tamers, and jugglers?
You won’t find any such thing anymore, but that doesn’t mean the circus is entirely a thing of the past.
Reimagined and brought into modern times, Flip Circus feels exactly like you remember (or imagine) the circus should feel. Magical, noisy, energetic, jaw-dropping, funny, memorable.
When I heard that Flip Circus was coming to Rochester, NY, practically our backyard, it immediately brought back childhood memories of my grandparents taking me to see the circus, so I knew we had to take the kids.
The experience was even more impressive than my hazy childhood memories conjured for me. Flip Circus takes those traveling circus expectations to a whole new level.
Not quite a Cirque du Soleil (which I’ve never seen, by the way), but you’re thinking in the right direction.
The circus tent, with classic red and white stripes, everything a circus tent should be, was pitched in the parking lot of the Greece Mall.
A large semi-trailer was off to one side as the box office, and a bright, reflective carousel-style horse was out front, drawing in the crowds.
Carnival music and an inviting description of the circus blared from the loudspeakers, further attracting attention from passing traffic.
Because of little ones and napping and bedtime considerations, we went to the mid-day show, so although it was well-attended, it wasn’t as crowded as I imagine the evening shows would be.
We filed into the tent, showed our tickets, and were put against the Flip Circus backdrop next to a posing performer for a photo op. These photos were also offered for sale in large 8×11 prints.
Then we marched past the concessions with promises of homemade popcorn for the kids later on.
Here on offer were snowcones with light-up cups, candy, popcorn, hotdogs, and glowing, spinning toys of all kinds.
Call me a skinflint, but I make it a point of pride to hang on to my money at events like these where everywhere you turn is an opportunity to part with more cash.
But for some shelling out the greens is part of the fun, and that’s okay too.
Inside the seating area, I was actually surprised at how small the space felt. Much smaller than an arena or theater, where most other types of performances are held.
We had front row seats, which felt like we were practically on the stage.
But even back row seats would have no trouble seeing everything clearly. No opera glasses needed here.
Just a note on seating choice.
Front row seats are fun because they make you feel like you’re in the midst of the action, and there’s opportunity for interaction with the performers, or even being able to volunteer for certain roles during the show.
But for some of the acts, I thought we would actually have been able to see better from just a bit farther back. So, pros and cons of being in the front versus rows farther from the stage.
Either way, the tent, the stage, the equipment and gear for the performance all had a quality ring to it.
The ushers also came across a bit like bouncers, so you know everything’s kept well in hand.
I especially appreciated the live band up in the gallery behind the main stage entrance area.
As we waited for the show to start, the kids were starting to get a little bit ansy in their seats, which made it even more of a surprise when the action got started in a very subtle and off-the-cuff way, with the clown sitting down in the crowd and starting his antics before the show was formally introduced.
Once the show got underway, there were so many of the elements that you expect from a circus.
The clown and his antics, the midget ringmaster, the trapeze, the juggler, and acrobats of all varieties and skills.
What I was surprised by was the quality of the lightshow, the excellent live music, and most of all the extreme skill and strength of the acrobats and performers.
Every single act was a wow performance, with all the elements of awe, surprise and fun that make for outstanding entertainment for the whole family.
I was also impressed with the safety measures I saw in place.
Equipment was laser leveled, and staff seated themselves in strategic positions during more dangerous elements of the performance.
No one fell, no one even made any significant slip-ups that I could observe.
The few minor instances of things going off-script, such as the clown’s mic being off or the juggler dropping his spinning disc, were handled with good humor and professionalism.
I will say that for those with certain sensitivities, the loud music and flashing lights could be a bit overwhelming.
My three-year-old was covering his ears most of the show, although he still clearly enjoyed it overall. I also saw another individual who came prepared with ear protection.
When we the family the debrief question about favorite acts, the kids all said the clown was their favorite, and getting to high-five the juggler.
My personal favorites were the spinning double hoop and the tumblers jumping over a whole row of volunteers from the audience.
And we’re still debating whether the lady called from the audience to hold the flower for the bow and arrow act was actually an audience member, or a plant.
Would they really have shot an arrow like that for just anybody to hold?
A twenty-minute intermission gave everyone a chance to stretch their legs (and spend more money), just right to get excited again for the final half of the show.
More photo ops included standing next to a large white bear (the one-year-old’s favorite part of the show) and Steve the clown.
At the end of the show, one final photo op included the supposed sister trio of gymnasts who had performed impressive gravity and flexibility-defying stunts.
If Flip Circus comes to a city near you, it’s definitely worth going to see the show, and you won’t be disappointed.
Take the kids and the grandparents – everyone will have fun.
And especially for the kids, it will be a memory to shape their childhood and for them to look back on as an unforgettable, nostalgic experience.