The things you don’t see are the things that matter the most!
If you think that all the instructors just turn up and deliver outstanding training at WBC then can I just stop you there.
There’s years of planning behind each and every World Balloon Convention but from an instructors point of view it starts about 12 months prior when we are all selected. I’m not quite sure how the selection process works but once again I was asked to teach and feel quite honoured.
We first of all have to agree and sign a contract and then the hard work starts. Each instructor needs to develop between 2 – 4 training course that are unique to WBC and submit to Pioneer (Qualatex). Once this has been sent the WBC team will look over your notes and select which course they would like you to deliver. Course notes need to be written but it’s not as simple as that. You have to think how your are going to deliver that class, the content of the class, how your notes should be lade out. You want them yo be sharp and precise, easily understandable as these notes are then added into the hand book which every delegate receives in their welcome pack. This year I was asked to teach the Organic class with Tina Giunta and Chris Adamo both from Australia.
Once Tina, Chris and Myself have emailed each other to discuss ideas we set up a video meeting, late evening for them and midday for me. We all chatted for about 1 hour and a plan was hatched. I offered to lay out the course notes once they had given me their content as i believed they should look similar as this was a joint class.
A few more emails changed hands, information was shared and an Organic class was born
Once the course info had been supplied I set about laying out the content page by page. We all decided to keep it short, simple but fun. You can find them from page 414 – 422. Riveting reading…possibly a best seller.
Once proofs were agreed between Chris and Tina final PDFs were paginated and sent across the pond to HQ
But the fun does not stop there, deadlines need to be meet. Stock and equipment needs to be ordered and the all important shirts have to be ordered and flights have to be booked
I was also scheduled to teach a Balloon Drop Class, I think it went down well (excuse the pun)
As WBC edged closer Susan Flemming / Dhillon kept us all updated with regular post.
….and so my story begins
My journey to San Diego started at 08.15 am on Sunday 11th March when my train pulled into Coventry Station for the 1.5 hour journey to Euston in London. From there I took a taxi to Paddington to catch the Heathrow Express to terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. I checked in and went straight through to departures where I found Debbie O’Neil wandering around aimlessly so pointed her in the direction of a bar where we enjoyed lunch and a few drinks. Boy can that girl drink….HELP!
I was booked onto flight BA273 a direct flight to San Diego with a duration of 11.5 hours. I settled down for the long haul, watched a few movies. I was forced to drink more beer and wine by the lovely BA trolley dollies. Once in the cruise the view is amazing at 36000 ft as we flew over the tip of Iceland and the frozen wastes on Canada
Once checked into the hotel I made my way to the bar for a quiet drink. Not a chance as the Australians had the same idea
God there a noisy bunch. Hello Tina Giunta and Chris Adamo.
I left several hours later, it was the Ozy’s fault
Monday 12th MarchWide awake at 3.30am due to jet lag.
My body clock is telling me it’s 11.30am UK time
I pass the time with emptying my suite case and checking I have everything I need. I need to make this last 4 hours. Completed in 20 mins so I decide to go walk about and familiarise myself with the hotel. The hotel cleaners think Im mad as I wander aimlessly along long lonely corridors. My first job of the day was to help Stuart Davis with the Opening Ceremony decor. I was drafted into do the balloon drop consisting of 100 x 3ft balloons, I’m sort of good at these. Slight problem, it’s a late add to the list so we need to get permission from the hotel. Whilst that is being sorted I get to work helping Stu and his crew. Stu has ordered Aluminium rods to create the waves but it’s not thick enough, so with a little thought I offer to bend the metal conduit into shape. All bent into shape in 6 hours by hand and then we are told that the stores has a pipe bender….Nice.
I now head of the my prep room with aching shoulder and arms. Tina, Chris and Myself check off all the stock required for the Organic course.
We bring day one to a close with a few beers and a staff Dinner but my body clock in still in the UK so I hit the sack at around 7.30pm
Tuesday 13th March
Wide awake at 2.30am…FANTASTIC!
I head down to the prep room and start prepping. Well you can only empty your suite case once
My main piece for the Organic class was a Photo Frame, 800 x 5″ balloons all hand pumped for precise sizing with balloon shine, ivy and tulle tuffs
Quick message from Stu Davis in the marquee, the balloon drop in on so off I go. The team assemble and we blast is out in 20 mins. Were then told it needs to be two smaller drops either side of the rig so we set about cutting the net in half and re stitching. 1 hour later there up and in place
We were not allowed to rig ourselves so left it to the in-house team
Instructor meeting at 5.30 pm so best not be late (eyes and body tired as been awake since 2.30am)
After meeting went to bed as still on UK time
Wednesday 14th March
Wide awake at 3.30am. Slowly adjusting to US time day by day. Suite case is empty so nothing left to unpack
Today’s the day… YES! YOU CAN DO ORGANIC
The class is totally maxed out at 150 delegates per session
It’s taken 4 months + of notes swapping and preparation with Tina and Chis to get this far and we still have not done a live rehearsal. We have access to the room at 12 noon and the first class goes live at 1.00pm
The doors open and in they flock, all 150 of them.
We had no time to rehearse so what you witnesses was the 3 of us for the first time ever together teaching one class
The atmosphere is good and Chris Adamo leads the way, Im up next and then Tina brings up the rear. Well that’s the demo done, now onto the BIG BUILD
We split the delegates into 15 teams of 10, appoint a team leader in each and get them building 5m of organic garland using 3ft and 16″ balloons
After each class we stored the organic garland for use the next day
Directly after the Organic class all instructors had to change and be present in the marquee for the Opening Ceremony of WBC 2018
The decor for this was lead by Stuart Davis and he did not disappoint. It was truly amazing, bright, bold and colourful
Prior to arriving at the marquee for the Opening Ceremony Stu informs me they managed to get 2 more nets up. So that’s 2 nets cut into 4 nets, I look at Stu, Stu looks at me (roll eyes back) why not just do two large nets as planned
Well it does not really matter but well done to the crew for going beyond the call of duty and rigging 2 more.
As I was an instructor I was on the floor waiting for the drop to happen, and it did, and it was impressive. Well done everyone.
Once the ceremony was over I headed back to the pre-room as my next class was at 8.30 tomorrow morning and I need to get it all ready
Once all was done I headed to the bar for well-deserved drink but not a late one at I had to teach in the morning
Thursday 15th March
Wide away at 4.30am. Start to put worn cloths in my suite case ready for the flight home in 3 day’s time
Head off towards pre room to gather stock and equipment for the balloon drop class
Set up class and head off for breakfast. Now I’m a little nervous about the balloon drop class, Im on my own for this and it’s got 40 people in the first one and 30 people in the 2nd one so I decide to do something a little different. I did not steer ways from what i wanted to do I just decided that this class should come from the heart, my heart. I decide to tell them all about the emotions I went through with the Black Sabbath balloon drop, how the job came about and how we were treated by the entire crew and band themselves. I still showed them the difference between running stitch and chain stitch and everything that was in my course note but I made it more personal and I’m so glad I did. We discussed the balloon drop from the Opening Ceremony and how they felt once the balloons had fallen. I also have Stu Davis sit in my class who emphasis what it was like to do large scale drops as he was one of the crew for the Sabbath gig
I did get some feedback from a few people and all was good
The second class ran very much the same as the first class
PS. I can be louder than you David Mahoney when I have Sabbath on my side.
Once all was done that meant my teaching experience at WBC was over but I still had work to do, remember those garlands in the Organic class
Chris Adamo wanted to use them outside the hotel, I walked with Chris and Susan Dhillon in the hotel gardens as we discussed what to do with them and a plan was hatched. Susan got permission and another hi-light of WBC was born
I’ll let the pictures do the talking
Finished rigging all the organic at about 4.30pm, time for a quick shower then headed over to the marquee for the Beach Party
Again stunning decor by Federico Onida of Italy and all his crew.
Again I’ll let the pictures do the talking
After the party I retire to the bar because I really need another drink like a motorbike needs an ash tray.
Friday 16th March
Woke at 7.am. Yeah I’m on US time. Suite case is in the bath, not sure why.
My work load continues. Ive been rostered to help Ann Cahill McGovern and Mrs Jill Shortreed (The Boss) with the centrepieces for the Gala Ball. Obviously, no one else wanted to do it so I drew the short straw
Class started at 9.30am to 12 noon. Just help for an hour of so they said, its will be fun they said.
At 9.30pm in the evening I’m still there, I’ve been kidnapped by them and they wont let me go. That’s 12 hours in one room with the pair of them. Susan Dillion had sent a search party out for me because I was suppose to be helping with the Deco-Twist Jam
To be honest it was a great day and I loved working with the pair of them. It was like being with your adopted Mum and Old sister. ( I’m in trouble now)
We worked all day so it was only right we dinned together. Thank-you Girls
Saturday 17th March
Woke up at 8am with a bit of a head ache. See picture above. Linda Soto’s fault
Im working with Chris Adamo on the After Party decor today. Is this guy for real, WOW what a truly magical day, the decor was AMAZING
And whilst we were decorating the After Party the two Russian girls Olga Samoilova and Olga Baranova were creating a masterpiece in the Marquee for the Gala Awards
And at 2am Sunday morning it was all over, de-rig time
Sunday 18th March 2018
Not sure what time it is. Suite case now on the balcony, pink fluffy feathers on the floor, glitter everywhere and Salvador Evans-Tovar asleep in the bath tub. ( Don’t worry I can explain)
It’s going to be a very emotional day
But first lunch with this girl
So that’s it, WBC 2018 comes to a close and its time to say good bye
But before I close off I would just like to say thank you to all the staff and crew behind the scenes who make the magic happen as without you lot this would not be possible
Thank you to everyone who turned up to the Organic class and the Balloon Drop class, I do hope it was a lot more than you expected
….and thank you WBC. Let’s do it all again very soon.