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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Sideshow...Tricks...? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Kondini
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There were no midway faires in England,,,the earliest sideshows would have been Booths (See Fawkes, St Barts Fair) For a later type of fairground booth show.

The start were Mops (Labour trade fairs)But it goes back further than the Tobers. Try travellers >>> Entertainers,,,troubadors!!!

Well will leave it with you for a few days,,,off to work Sideshow at Swallowfield Show,,,,Berkshire.

I still feel that there is a vast void between US sideshow and UK sideshow,,,not only the lingo but the understanding as well.

Down the road.
Ken.
critter
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Have a good show. If you wish to continue this later we should probably open a new thread. I feel we've diverted this one. Sorry about that.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
Harley Newman
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"Sideshow" as known in America, coalesced circa 1850, taking "dime museums" on the road.

While PT Barnum is often credited with it, he didn't originate it. Barnum put out the "Great Asiatic Caravan" in 1851 or so, with General Tom Thumb's father as manager and co-producer. It had Tom Thumb, circus, and menagerie, as one show. It fell apart in the second season, because the elder Stratton was a drunk. He went into an asylum and died.

While Barnum was certainly the definitive marketing genius of the time, he didn't originate much of anything. He took things, and made them bigger. And he didn't plunge into circus, until around 1880.

Gilbert Spaulding probably put out the first "sideshow", around 1853. He put a dime museum collection onto a specially constructed barge, which came to be known as a "showboat". It was an adjunct to his circus. He was also the first to put a sideshow under tent, and to transport a show by railroad. Again, it was an added attraction to the main circus show. James Bailey and Barnum copied many of Spaulding's innovations, 30 years later. Barnum, true to form, tried to take credit for them.

A number of folks mention the year 1844, as the first year of "sideshow". I've asked for sources, a number of times. Nobody seems to know who or where, or the source for the information.

Since the name came from the fact that the show was to the side of the main show, it strikes me, that a menagerie might also be called a sideshow. I don't know when the first of those went on the road. It would still have needed to be an adjunct show.

Show contents...everything. We'd call it "variety entertainment". In this sense, it's no different than the European traditions that grew out of fairs. Anything goes, if you can get someone to pay to see it.

As I understand it, "midways" were an innovation from the 1893 Columbian Exposition, in Chicago. Prior to that time, everything was jumbled over whatever space was available. The idea to concentrate the entertainment on a glorified street, was new. The concept spread through the entire entertainment world, in just a few years. "Sideshow" certainly wasn't an adjunct, on midways.

So, if we really want to be picky, it's only a sideshow, if there's a main show. But we tend to use it as a generic term, to describe a particular style of performance.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

www.bladewalker.com
Kondini
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Thanks for the heads up Harley,,,I know now the US deffinition.

Best summed up over here by your final words " Term to describe a particular style of performance,,,also over here we would include the type of unit or booth as well.

Without ploughing through my books,,,to put dates on things (Not got the time right now) All the info in the sideshow sphere has been passed down Father to son ad infinite,,, Jonny Eagle last of the Gypsy showmen had his tree traced way way back. The ancestors or offshoots all performing a sideshow act,,,

Regarding a sideshow being connected to a midway >>> The only time in the UK such a venture was planned was some 15 years ago when Cottle was going to set up a travelling fair to run as a run in to his Circus. This never took place,,,mainly due to cash flow reasons. So our deffinition as a side act being a sideshow could not have formed the way it did in the US.

Will look further into our history on this when I have more time.

Ken
Harley Newman
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There's a great book "Theater of Marvels" by Marian Winter Hannah, available thru inter-library loans. While the author is interested primarily in finding the history of ballet and dance, it's totally interwoven with the history of fairs, circuses, and "sideshows". You can find out what was popular in rope-dancing, for example.

There's a constant discussion of everything related to our business, going back for hundreds of years, primarily in England, though it touches on other European places. Vienna was a big showplace, as was Paris.

I've never seen such a collection of old banner pictures. The book itself is a marvel.

I hope you're doing well, Ken!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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