During my thirty-plus years of balloon twisting, I have learned some valuable information regarding line twisting. Line twisting is when a balloon entertainer faces the challenge of making as many balloons as possible in a given period while kids stand in line waiting for a balloon.
Every balloon entertainer will be placed in this situation, and working efficiently is key to being a successful line twister. I try to avoid jobs that require line twisting, but many large church picnics, festivals and fairs, schools, kids’ exhibits, and park districts have hired me to be a repetitive balloon-producing machine.
There are several critical elements to being successful line twisters. I first learned that I was hired as a balloon-twisting dispensing machine. Not for my comedic entertainment abilities, but the ability to get “every child” a balloon figure. That’s what the client wants. It does not matter if I can make funny pun after pun; it’s all about keeping the line moving and producing many balloons very quickly.
For me, it is hard to remove the entertainment value from working with a balloon, but I have learned that it needs to be reduced dramatically. Being a balloon-producing factory is draining me, both physically and mentally. The energy used to make people laugh is now being focused on keeping my wits about me while people glare, comment, show me attitude, and misbehave. As I stand in front of them, seeing and hearing them, they gripe about being in a line that wraps around the room in an endless spiral.
Secondly, I must shift my thinking regarding balloon entertaining and how I charge the client. Part of my charge is based on me inflating the balloon onsite. That time and energy are built into the performance rate. However, when line twisting, I have learned that to be successful, you need to bring pre-inflated balloons. That time and energy are in addition to the time and energy I will exert during the actual balloon-twisting dispensing machine process. The extra seconds add up, and the energy not used in inflating does help because line twisting is a marathon, not a sprint.
The third thing I think about is the designs I will make. What is quick, efficient, and creates a wow factor? Efficiency is the key. The experience I gained while working at Harris Casino as a balloon entertainer was that a primary teddy bear that I make involves twisting ten bubbles. In contrast, a penguin has the same amount of bubbles and three balloon colors, only takes seconds longer to produce, reduces stress on the hands and fingers, and increases the wow factor by 100%, so it was the more efficient balloon design to use in large crowds. The efficiency with a wow factor, I have learned, generates repeat business.
Color and selection are tossed out the window regarding line twisting. I like to use a base color; these are the pre-inflated balloons. This way, everyone in the school, church, and exhibit has the same primary body color; the details may be customized if the person receiving the balloon is a boy or girl.
I learned that using a base color makes it easy to use on my balloon inventory. I’m doing a school; I need 3-4 bags of white balloons and three bags of mixed colors. Recently, I chose random color balloons for wristbands that I twisted for a school, and the only option for the children was an alien head or smiley face. Sorry, kids, no color choices; what type of head do you want?
Lastly, I look at the audience’s age. School events ensure that all kids are the same age, so one or two designs are needed. The other day, I made all the Kindergarteners, 14 classes, wristbands with heads, while 1-5 graders received twisted hats. Both groups were over two days, during which I dispensed over 1,100 balloons.
Advanced planning makes the line-twisting process easier for both the client and me. Once I have a plan on what I’m going to make at the venue, little things like line control, where equipment and supplies are placed for efficiency, padding to stand on to reduce leg and back stress, water to keep hydrated, and all those other tips and tricks I do to be successful, all come into play just like all my other venues. The significant difference is that the balloon selection is limited, comedic energy is lowered, and balloons are distributed like a machine. If I keep the machine from breaking down, the client is happy, and the results are repeat work and money in my pocket.