“Roll up. Roll up. It’s show time!” Well, I’m assuming that’s what the Vietnamese ringleader shouted over the speakers as we walked through Gia Đình park anyway…
Contortionists, clowns and gymnasts; all you’d expect from a normal circus really.
I’d read about the circus in July’s issue of Ơi Magazine and it looked like a fairly hilarious night out. I did a little bit of research and found the HCMC Circus website, which says that shows are performed every Saturday and Sunday evening at 7.30pm. On arrival, we were informed that this was in fact out-of-date information and that the show actually starts at 8pm. We were also informed that the online ticket price of 70,000vnd was also incorrect, and that tickets are now 120,000vnd. Who were we to argue with a price increase from £2 to £4 though really?
The circus pavilion was as you’d imagine: a huge circular tent structure with tiered seating inside. With our tickets, we were allocated seats, which were the best in the house (being ‘tourists’ and all) but which also meant, the nearer it got to show time, the more and more we became surrounded by a sea of Vietnamese families. It soon became obvious that we were the warm up act.
Anyway at 8pm, music begins to blare from the speakers and my initial thought is ‘why am I at a Jewish wedding?’ The music was what you’d expect to be played during the Horah. The ring-leader arrived on stage, a woman dressed in a gorgeous, white Áo Dài, keeping things traditional. Shortly after, the acts followed:
The next act was a dog act. I didn’t take any photos because it was actually really difficult to watch. 4 dogs were brought on stage, all stuffed into a small cage. They first did a few Crufts-esque tricks, which were cute, but then they moved onto a ‘classroom’ sketch. During which, the dogs were clearly a little antsy and mischievous (I guess being cooped up in a cage for hours will do that to you) and whenever they misbehaved they received quite a severe slap on the head. I didn’t enjoy that.
While the night was hilarious, it wasn’t quite the glamorous affair it’s depicted to be online, or even in Ơi. But, to be fair, I think my overall view of the evening was probably tarnished by my unnecessarily eager anticipation to see some trapeze artists, who obviously had the night off on this occasion.
The animal acts were too difficult to sit through. If you’re sensitive about animal cruelty, I wouldn’t advise going to this circus. Especially as, during peak season, they apparently introduce monkeys, elephants and horses into the mix.
The clowns were genuinely hilarious and clearly loved to perform. (They weren’t too bad to look at either). Similarly, the contortionist-turned-hula-hoop woman was perhaps one of the most talented gymnasts I’ve ever seen. Although my loyalties still lie with Beth Tweddle, obviously.
Công Viên Gia Đình, Hoàng Minh Giám, Phường 9, Phú Nhuận, HCMC