by Jackie Grade
Since 1969, Circus Vargas has travelled worldwide to perform death-defying and breathtaking circus stunts that glue onlookers of all ages to the edge of their seats. This all-human circus leaves nothing but wonder, awe and a tinge of mystery in the hearts of their onlookers – just like the circus should.
Circus Vargas knows how to entertain families best because it is itself one large – and very flexible – family. The owners and operators, Nelson and Katya Quiroga, encourage members of all ages to participate in everything from the flying trapeze acts to the slip-of- hand card tricks. The Quiroga family has five generations of its own traveling with Circus Vargas. Add to that the many other performers from all over the world along with their families and you’ll understand why no one is ever lonely or bored. The circus welcomes all of its acrobats and magicians into its vagabond van, starting with the direct family generations like the Quirogas as well as the friends who have joined the carnival community on their own.
“The circus is a family in the sense that we feel responsible for each other,” says Jon Weiss, who travels with his wife and three children. “There is a tremendous respect you have for each other that doesn’t come from any other kind of job. Sometimes you literally have each other’s lives in your hands. We work together. We play together. We have barbeques, birthdays and baby showers. There is a kinship and sense of community.”
Despite their pick-up-and-go lifestyle, this unique family remains constant and comfortable around each other and its audience. Behind the curtain, these performers from all different countries and backgrounds have united and formed deep, lasting friendships. It is only fitting that with so much togetherness, these friendships foster a deep respect and camaraderie that cultivates into sincere affection. They care about each other. Not only while they are performing but behind the scenes, as well.
“We are our own little community,” Quiroga says. “We have the same neighbors in each town. The trailers are parked in the exact same spots relative to the Big Top, so the environment is always familiar. You feel at home even in a place you’ve never been to before. We may not be related, but we are definitely family!”
From May 1-19 at the Irvine Spectrum, Circus Vargas will open up its Big Top to all Orange County families and invite them to partake in the mystical excitement of the circus.