Run Away and Join the Circus
For many, the circus evokes a certain magic. This magnetism might be inspired by childhood memories, but there's also a powerful draw in the seemingly adventurous and bold move of pulling up stakes, saying goodbye to a stagnant and all-too-predictable life, and touring the country as a wandering vagabond. Circus performing is wholesome family entertainment, perhaps a little corny to many in this so-called sophisticated era. The clowns, jugglers, and trapeze artists do not have the hip cutting edge of today's popular performers, yet the ringmaster in his garish outfit, the sights and sounds and smells under the Big Top still draw crowds as they hark back to a simpler time.
You may think of the circus arriving in a small town in the heartland as something uniquely American, but circuses have been around as a form of entertainment for thousands of years. Julius Caesar spoke of giving the masses “bread and circuses” to keep them fed and entertained and thus passive and not inclined to revolt.
In today's high-tech world, the ringmaster in top hat and tails, the brass band playing the lively strains of John Philip Sousa, the parade of animals, jugglers, acrobats, trapeze artist, and of course the clowns are anachronistic and passé to many. But there are plenty for whom the smell of sawdust is still thrilling, and the circus will forever captivate their imaginations.
As in all forms of entertainment, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, and very little of it is as glamorous and romantic. Let's take a look at some of the more mundane and earthy aspects of the circus world.