Ghosts of Circus Past


For some people, purgatory is a circus where you can relive your past sins (and get eaten by tigers) every night under the big top.  And sometimes, you can rise above those past sins and fly.


Obviously, the circus is awesome and after becoming obsessed with it a couple of years ago I decided it was high time I wrote something about it.  I had this idea that “Ghosts of Circus Past” would be a cross between The Night Circus/Water for Elephants and “American Horror Story.”


Here is an 8tracks playlist – traditional circus music plus some creepier stuff.  I also enjoyed listening to Cirque du Soleil’s soundtracks while writing – favorites are Alegria, Corteo, Saltimbanco, Varekai, and Quidam.


Since I became obsessed with the circus, I have read a lot about it.  And watched a lot of movies.  And gone to many live circuses.


  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


  • Images from the World Between: The Circus in Twentieth-Century American Art by Donna Gustafson
  • Circus Mania! by Douglas McPherson
  • Learning to Fly by Sam Keen
  • Cirque du Soleil: 20 Years Under the Sun by Tony Babinski


  • Freaks (1932)
  • The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
  • Trapeze (1956)
  • Vampire Circus (1972)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Nouvelle Expérience (1991)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Cirque Réinvénte (1992)
  • Cirque du Soleil: A Baroque Odyssey (1994)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco (1997)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Quidam (1999)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Dralion (2000)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (2000)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Alegria (2001)
  • Carnivale (2003-2005)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Varekai (2003)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within (2004)
  • Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba (2004)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Solstrom (2005)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Lovesick (2006)
  • Le Grande Cirque (2006)
  • Cirque du Soleil: All Together Now (2007)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Corteo (2008)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Kooza (2008)
  • Cirque Rosaire (2008)
  • Circus (PBS, 2010)
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (Universal Studios, 2010)
  • Water for Elephants (Fox, 2011)


  • Big Apple Circus: Dance On! (2011)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Ovo (2010)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Quidam (2011)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Totem (2012)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco (2012)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna (2014)
  • Cirque du Soleil: Varekai (2014)
  • Cirque Eloize: ID (2011)
  • Cirque of the Dead (2013)
  • Les Sept Doigts de la Main: PSY (2011)
  • Les Sept Doigts de la Main: Sequence 8 (2012)
  • Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus: Barnum 200 (2011)
  • Speakeasy Circus (2014)

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