127. Ride an Elephant

I didn’t think the opportunity to ride an elephant would come around until a trip to south east asia, but sure enough, at the Danish Circus (Cirkus Arena) there was my chance!

I had to share the elephant with some random family, but it was still very exciting! Also, just a wee tip: skinny jeans aren’t the best elephant riding atire…

For a brief minute I felt a bit sorry for the poor elephant family, not only in captivity but trained up and paraded around 107 cities per year. Then I remembered I was in Denmark, so they probably have an elephant Union and an elephant minimum wage that’s higher than the average wage in most countries, despite the fact they are elephants that can’t actually spend money… and who was I to pass up the opportunity to gallivant around on top of an elephant?

I didn’t really enjoy the parts with animals so much, particularly the horses. While they were trained up to do all kinds of things, I couldn’t help but think about how they might have been trained. Particularly when the horses were directed by a girl in the middle of the ring with a whip, and you could see fear in their faces at mere motions from it, let alone actually being hit.

The rest of the circus was pretty good, although the best acts were acrobats imported from China and Romania, and a surprising amount of acrobatic children. Again I’m not really sure what the child labour laws are around travelling circuses, but the things these kids could do were amazing! There was this whole family that did all kinds of acrobatic tricks on the elephants. The boy did all the best tricks, like having one elephant stamp on one end of a seesaw-like contraption and send him flying, where he did a backflip and landed on the girl’s shoulders. The kid reminded me of my little brother, if he’d grown up in the Circus. Which isn’t too far from reality in my family!

Apparently that family, and the troupe of Romanians, have won special carny awards. The Romanian’s did all sorts of launching each other onto people’s shoulders with the same seesaw. They were awfully nimble (and apparently pants were optional), apart from this one guy. I was watching this great big Romanian hulk bumbling around, thinking ‘buddy, no-one’s catching you’, until finally the stage-hands bought out a giant pole and his role was revealed – bottom of the giant stack of humans.

I really enjoyed how every last detail was in traditional circus style (as told by the movies). From the stage hands, who rather than being dressed in black were in Victorian Military inspired jackets, except in bright carny colours, to the trucks, which looked like Dumbo-esque train carriages. The style was very much like the trailer for the film ‘Water For Elephants,’ though I haven’t actually seen the movie owing to the fact it has that Godawful twilight boy in it. But I assume the rest of the film is like the trailer!