Pippity Pop from Dunedin is one of New Zealand’s very own superstar twisters, and has given us permission to publish a post she made online recently.
While this topic has been covered many times, Pip’s views are fresh, candid, and cover a lot of ground as well some of the less common solutions. Well worth the read, even for old hands like myself! Thanks again for your permission, Pip!
Closing and Managing Your Line
by Pip Milford-Hughes, aka Pippity Pop
—response to a question about keeping order and closing lines—
Honesty, I think I have tried everything so I will give quick run through of the most common methods.
End of the Line Vest
I purchased a cheap High Visibility Vest. I screen printed on the back – “Sorry the line is now closed”. I gave this to the last Child in my queue to wear with the promise of a SUPER SPECIAL BALLOON SCULPTURE when they reached me. Sounds an excellent solution doesn’t it.
Well 3 times my ‘end of line child’ got sick of waiting and ran off, complete with my vest and embarrassed Mums brought it back to me as they too saw that my queue was now off in the far distance. So then I gave it to the parents to wear – reluctantly they did so for the sake of their children, but I found that they spent the entire time in the queue fending off children pushing in, or having to take all the disappointed feedback aka abuse.
Bought some table tennis paddles aka Ping Pong paddles and numbered them. 20-30mins to go before my ‘gig’ finished I gave them out and repeatedly announce that only those with numbered paddles would receive a balloon. They do work well.
BUT Babies use them for teething and hitting themselves or dropping them on their Mum’s Jandal clad feet. Young boys see them as weapons and go into battle with other paddle welding siblings.
Tried this once and NEVER AGAIN. Hand out uninflated balloons as ‘tickets’ to those remaining in your queue. What do you get back.sticky, sucked on, and stretched balloons! Sorry this was a definately no for an OCD girl like me.
Hand out numbered tickets (purchase cheap raffle books from the dollar store). I think most people have success with this – until you are faced with “I had a ticket but I lost it”. Then you have to decide whether your facial recognition skills are up to scratch and you do remember giving them a ticket OR do you suspect that they are ‘trying it on’ and are you going to be the ‘hard man’ and say “no ticket – no balloon”.
One Million Dollars
I once found a paper note pad made up of ONE MILLION DOLLAR NOTES – When closing my line, I will issue the remaining children with a Million Dollars – these were more successful than the ticket books, as they added a fun element and I would yell out – sorry my line is closed, unless you have “A Million BUCKS!” and the children would triumphantly wave their money in the air.
A few years ago, I had a stamp made up with my Pippity-Pop! Clown on it. To be honest, I have still found this really successful. The stamp is not transferable, you can’t hurt anyone with it, it’s not going to get lost and your advertising goes home on the back of their hand.
I always have an ‘escape bag’ – no it’s not like Dr Who’s Tardis (now that would be cool). It’s a bag that contains, 10 -20 super simple sculptures. These are for those that reach me with a stamped hand and say “can I please have another one for the baby brother” that’s waiting over there – I look and see a little fella waiving like mad at me. Or for the child who takes 5 steps and their balloon explodes. Or for when you are way over time and “JUST HAVE TO GO” – so you give them to the organiser or if you are lucky enough to have a ‘line closer’ – they can hand them out.
I met Justin W recently at Oz Jam and he closes his line with a sword fight. Great idea, make swords for those remaining and they can go and do battle while you pack up (actually he joins them). My problem would be my Menu Board, once children are in my queue, they have worked out what they would like, and maybe a sword won’t cut it (pun intended) – but one day I will give it a try, but I will be sporting a light sabre! Muaahaaahaaa!
I have a small whiteboard attached to my menu board that clearly shows my start and finish times. This gives people the choice, do they want to come back later, knowing when I’m finishing, or should they wait now to ensure they don’t miss out.
In my small city, at the supermarket deli, we don’t have those ticket dispensers. We wait for our turn. There may be only two of us waiting and the shop assistant always greets you with “who’s next?” and it’s accepted as the done thing. I set up my stand, and within a min I might have 40 children in a group in front of me and you guessed it EVERYONE is next. It’s not uncommon for Mum’s (esp Grandparents) to push their child to the front as “they are in a rush”. I have even stepped back to find that queues have formed behind me.
Last year I tried something that honestly changed my Twisting Life! – Yes it was that good (I feel I should be on early morning TV! – well it is 2am when writing this).
Years ago I came across an American Twister’s picture who had some chairs placed out for his ‘guests / clients’. I then came across an Ozzie Twister who uses chairs for his queue and I thought I would try it.
SoooooI purchased 4 Strong Plastic, Fold Out and Stackable Chairs from Kmart (at a whopping $15 each!). I numbered each one. I use a Balloon Menu Board and placed it opposite chair number 4, and situated myself opposite chair number 1.
So here’s how it works. Children sit on all 4 chairs. When I twist, I still twist to the crowd (bad jokes and all) – BUT chair #1 receives the most attention as the balloon being twisted is theirs. When they receive their sculpture, all the children move along one chair (like musical chairs), and a new child enters “the corporate box” as I call this space.
This simple act of adding the chairs has done a number of wonderful things.
- By the time the child has reached the number one chair, they have had to make a decision on what Sculpture they would like, so I’m straight into it.
- I have room to move and breathe, the chairs form a natural barrier, so the crowd now doesn’t close in on me and all my gear doesn’t get touched or pulled at (including me). I now can fully entertain, instead of constantly dealing with crowd control.
- THE BEST THING is – a natural queue is formed behind the chairs AND it is regulated by the parents / caregivers not me. I purposely concentrate on the chairs in front of me when the chair swapping happens, so responsibility of who is next to join the ‘corporate box’ is no longer mine.
It is seen as, and IS a fair system, so everyone is so much calmer. Everyone has to wait the same amount of time. So everyone is happy, including ME!