The first thing people notice about Circus Vargas is its big-top tent. Hand-fashioned in Milan from 90,000 square feet of cerulean-blue fabric dotted with yellow stars, the canopy completed the illusion of an elegant lost era when used in the 2011 film Water for Elephants. The last thing people notice is the absence of animals. They're too busy gaping at a man balancing a 12-step ladder with his mouth.
Keeping its marvels strictly human, Circus Vargas builds on a 40-year history by blending classic feats of fearlessness with surprising new tricks. The show features magic tricks along with a skilled hand balancer, a speed juggler, and the wheel of destiny.
On 12 sunny courts at Arcadia Tennis Center, certified instructors help students learn the fundamentals of tennis and hone their playing skills. Under new management as of June 2012, the staff is dedicated to new beginnings, organizing group lessons for both juniors and adults, each with a low student-to-teacher ratio to ensure individual improvement. In addition to the beginners' lessons, Arcadia Tennis Center hosts youth summer camps and regular leagues, which merge healthy competition with the sport's social aspects, much like a football game's halftime debutante ball.
The sound of galloping horses and the scent of barbecued meats fill the air during the annual Winner's Circle BBQ Championship Santa Anita. Grill masters from across the state and country travel to Santa Anita Park to pit their slow-cooked, wood-fired chicken, pork, and beef against one another in the daylong event. The winner not only receives cash prizes and the recognition of best barbecue in California but also goes on to represent the state in national cook-off events. Attendees receive the tastiest side of the arrangement, as those bearing tasting tickets can nibble samples of the competitors' best slices and vote for the People's Choice winner. They can also partake in carnival games, face painting, pony rides, and jumping sessions inside an inflatable jump house. The horses of Santa Anita Park conjure even more excitement as they speed through the track during live races viewable from the park's infield, where the cook-off is held.
With more than 2,000 years of history behind it, tae kwon do merges traits of karate and kung fu into a form of combat often characterized by its white uniforms, powerful strikes, and devastating kicks. Although Master Michael Han of Best US Tae Kwon Do Academy Martial Arts Center trains his students how to execute these moves, he believes tae kwon do is ultimately predicated on the desire for peace. To that end, he fosters a community that promotes self-discipline, respect, and confidence.
In addition to traditional tae kwon do, Master Han teaches classes in two other Korean combat styles: hap ki do and tang soo do. The former is characterized by its strong joint locks and use of weapons such as staffs, nunchucks, and barbed insults; in the latter, practitioners dole out self-defense techniques with empty hands and bare feet.
Founded by Dancing with the Stars choreographer Christian Perry, Havin’ a Ball Studios strives to fuse fun, health, and the culture of dance with lessons and social events. With studios in Arcadia, Pasadena, and Valencia, Christian and his squad of instructors imbue students with the rhythms and motions of the waltz, swing, salsa, tango, and more. They also host dance competitions and mixers such as '50s-themed dance parties. Dance fitness classes, including Ballroom Burn, present fitness enthusiasts with an alternative to standard workouts.
Inside a cavernous gym with aquamarine floors divvied up by clean white lines, badminton devotees thwack shuttlecocks over taut nets. Arcadia Badminton Club’s facilities boast 17 Olympic standard badminton courts, along with amenities such as three ping-pong tables, a lounge, and men’s and women’s showers. Players can load up on gear at the pro shop or stop by the café to strain tea with a racket.