Observation “I don’t walk the dog,” said the kid’s shirt, in bold white type on an ominous, oversized black background. Having just come up the escalator into the common area of Glendale Mall last Saturday, I didn’t yet have the context to understand the message. My concerns about neglected terriers were quickly laid to rest, though, when I saw dozens of people doing all kinds of maneuvers with yo-yos. I had arrived, I knew, at the first annual Indy Yo-Yo Fest.

I cannot walk the dog. Nor can I shoot the moon. And even though I’m not sure what they are, I know I can’t do a Spread Eagle Warp Drive or a Behind-The-Back Cattle Crossing, both of which are required of a 2a Championship Yo-Yo League competitor. (See videos of these tricks and confirm your inability to perform them at www.nationalyoyo.org/nyyl/nyyl_tricklists.) But I can absolutely watch someone else do them. I can watch that all day long.

Illustration by Penelope Dullaghan That, actually, is just what many Glendale-goers did this weekend, peering out over their fountain beverages and cash registers, marveling at the stringbound feats of Indy’s yo-yo elite. “One guy was, like, dancing and yo-yo-ing at the same time,” reported Katie, a particularly animated member of the staff at Décor For Kids, a children’s furnishings retailer facing the area where the proceedings took place.

“He was all down on the floor like this,” Katie illustrated, simultaneously waving her arms and hitting the deck outside her storefront. “I mean, that’s hard enough as is … let alone trying to yo-yo while you’re at it.” Her admiration was palpable.

Amazing bystanders is an everyday thing for the competitors at the Indiana State Yo-Yo Championship, whether in person or over the Web in digitized video format. After all, there’s surely a certain satisfaction that comes with mastering the Sidewinder or the Double Gerbil, but it must pale in comparison to the joy of showing off these newfound skills. Each freestyle performance features undeniable artistry, obvious dexterity and more than a little showmanship — you can’t help but stare.

It really is amazing what these people can do with their yo-yos. You really do end up forgetting to close your mouth. It truly is, in its own unique way, cool as hell. Just ask Katie.

Find out more about yo-yo-ing and how to get involved with the local yo-yo community by calling 580-8675, and visit the American Yo-Yo Association’s Web site at www.ayya.org/.

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