International Yo-Yo Open

The Time Warp isn't just a dance from The Rocky Horror Picture Show-it's also a hard-core yo-yo trick. See it-and much more-performed live at the South Street Seaport this weekend.



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  • Left: Howie Chu; Right: Patrick Cuartero

Left: Howie Chu; Right: Patrick Cuartero

Yo-Yo Nation founder and CEO Patrick Cuartero loves performing a looping yo-yo trick called the Vertical Punch, which involves throwing two yo-yos above your head, vertically. “They can sometimes hit you in the face,” says Cuartero, 28. “But it’s my favorite style of yo-yo play.” Cuartero will demonstrate the Punch on Saturday 8 at the 3rd Annual International Yo-Yo Open and New York State Yo-Yo Contest (South Street Seaport, Pier 17 at Fulton and South Sts;; 11:30am--5:30pm, free). He’ll also act as the MC of the event—yo-yoists from Brazil, Japan, Italy, New York City and elsewhere will battle one another for championship titles in two divisions.

The 11:30am opening ceremony begins with a group performance by the Duncan Yo-Yo Professionals, who will run through the five variations of yo-yo play. 1A, for example, involves mostly string tricks; in 5A the yo-yo isn’t connected to a finger, but rather to a counterweight tied to the other end of the string. The competition heats up at noon: Thirty minutes of formal “Sport Ladder” contests (players must work their way down a list of tricks; miss two and you’re out) and freestyle rounds (improvising to three minutes of music) will be interspersed with stage acts, including a set by speed-punks Peelander-Z (4:30pm).

Two-time New York State champ Howie Chu, 19, is a former Yo-Yo Nation intern whose tricks resemble a kind of yo-yo string origami. In defense of his title, he’ll show off the Brain Twister (the yo-yo swings around your hand, pendulum-style) in the freestyles portion. “I’m not too worried about hurting myself,” says Chu, a chemical-engineering student from Chinatown. “But lately tricks have gotten a lot flashier, and include the use of other body parts.” (Tales of a sliced eyebrow or a battered shin are one way of earning yo-yo street cred.) On-site experts will mill around to school you on the difference between a Suicide Catch and a Warp Drive, and Cuartero has organized a yo-yo marketplace selling “everything that relates to yo-yos,” from a $20 YoYoFactory Velocity to an imported yo-yo that just so happens to be made of 18-karat plated gold: It’s yo-yo couture, and it’s yours for a mere $350.

Rock the Baby is a beginners’ trick, but it’s still a crowd pleaser:

1 Throw a sleeper, in which the yo-yo spins at the end of the string.
2 Grab the string right in the middle with your nonthrow-hand.
3 Pinch the string 4 to 6 inches above the yo-yo with two fingers on your throw hand.
4 Bring your non-throw hand (that’s now at the top) toward your body and below the yo-yo.
5 Spread your nonthrow-hand fingers so that you create a large triangle base below the yo-yo.
6 Rock that baby (yo-yo) through the triangle.


Video: Learn how to perform the "Rock the baby" trick on a yo-yo.

Video: Watch two International Yo-Yo Contenders perform crazy tricks!

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