Have you ever wanted to run away and join the circus? A group of local acrobats, gifted performers and quirky entertainers decided to do just that. Hidden in plain sight, The Sideshow is located in a West End warehouse converted into a space for different artforms to blend together, creating a performance haven. Co-owners Jaron Walker and Kylie Wihardjo have infused parts of themselves into the project, describing it as a true labour of love.

Walker and Whardjo both came from quite acadamic backgrounds before falling in love with their respective creative physical pursuits. Walker was in marketing, and Wihardjo was a research assistant, but now the fire spinner and juggler say they have found their true passions. Whardjo said, “We have realised how it can connect people and we wanted to build a space that can do that. That’s how The Sideshow was born.”

The classes range from poi and hoola hooping, to salsa, hip hop and belly dancing, just to name a few. Walker explained, “It is really hard to pin down what we do here, but feeding the soul is the easiest way to put it.” The Sideshow’s ethos is to connect artists in an affordable, accessible place to collaborate and create. “I don’t think there is anything quite like this in Brisbane,” Walker added. He took a moment to explain that the method they use at The Sideshow is called “the flow state”. It is a moving meditation style that gives people the freedom of self expression through movement. “It’s a great thing to see as a teacher when someone gets that spark in their eyes; they feel a sense of community,” Walker said with a smile.

Walker has been a West Ender for 15 years, making the suburb an obvious choice to start his business, although he admitted the warehouse space was not the right fit at first. With help from the flow community and local artists, the space was instilled with the eccentric art and pre-loved furniture which makes The Sideshow the vibrant studio it is today. It is also protected by proclaimed “golden knight” Jonathon Sri, the Gabba Ward’s Councillor. “Without him, this place would not exist,” Walker praised. Wihardjo added, “He’s a creative himself, and that’s why he is passionate about keeping spaces like this open.”

Wihardjo said the next phase of The Sideshow would be to host its own performances. “It is time to reach out to a wider audience. We want to get more people involved. We are unique, and we are different — we’ll never change. That’s who we are, but we also want to reach into the demographic of people who are unsure or on the fence.”

But why is it called The Sideshow? Walker paused. “Names are hard, and they corner you in, but The Sideshow just fit.” Wihardjo jumps in with, “It happened organically — sideshow means a variety of acts and it covers all of it for us. Plus, we are a bit weird.” Walker laughed, “The name chose itself.”

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