Saturday afternoon, I found myself sitting in a line of folding chairs, sandwiched between 3 little girls on one side and 2 little sisters on my other side. At the other end of the line sat a couple, smiling nervously at each other and quietly taking in the scene around them. We were sitting inside the mini amusement park inside Jordan's Furniture in Reading, MA, waiting for our trapeze class to start. The kids were mostly staring at the water show as streams of water swayed in time to the blaring music. I was staring at the rigging trying to assess how safe it looked. My first thought was that the safety nets down below looked really dinky. There were 2 pairs of swinging trapezes at the top. Below each pair was a narrow strip of netting. There was a partial GAP between the nets. The whole thing was supported by lots of cables and when you climbed up to the top, you realized that the platform sways around.
Once when my sister was visiting from out of town, B and I took her there to try out their trapeze with some trial swings. It was terrifying but kinda fun too. Afterwards we stuck around and watched others swinging back and forth and I thought I'd like to try again some day. Some day came over six years later. My friend had bought a class but her shoulder was injured and it was too late to cancel so I got to take her place.
After I signed in and signed the waiver forms, one of the staff members slapped a safety belt around my middle and tightened it as tight as it would go. Then she slipped a hand in between the belt and my back and tugged on it to test it. She tightened it up some more. I'm so glad we women don't have to wear corsets any more. Class started with some quick safety rules. Don't walk past the red tape because that's where the person holding the safety lines walks. Don't walk under the net because if someone lands in the net while you're under there, you could get bonked as the net sags to catch them. Asking if anyone's injured and maybe shouldn't participate in class today. (I think they ought to ask that question when you register for the class and save people the trip out if they have a bad back or shoulder.)
Then a verbal walk-through of what we're going to do. Walk up the stairs to the platform and they'll clip two safety lines to the belt cinched tightly around your waist. Every time they say, "Ready," then we're supposed to get ready to do something in the next moment. In this case, ready means to bend your knees and HUP means hop off the platform. It doesn't have to be a big jump. After all, we're just dropping into air. We all stand up, toes right up to a line on the floor. We reach out and grab and imaginary bar. One by one, he goes down the line saying, "Ready...HUP!" and we hop over the line. Simple enough.
We sit back down for more talking. Once we're hanging from the bar, they'll call out instructions and we'll hang from our knees and then go back to hanging from our arms before dropping into the net. "So...any questions?" And the kids had plenty. "What if I can't get my knees up over the bar?" "What if I fall off the platform?" "What if I can't hold onto the bar?" "What if I fall off while I'm hanging from my knees?" What if I'm too scared to jump off?" Basically every question I had but was too self-conscious to ask myself.
They they started sending us up to the top, one at a time. I was surprised that we were not trying things out on the low trapeze bar in the back. Instead it was right on up to the top. We walked up about 2 flights of stairs. The steps are slotted and my feet hurt a little walking on them. I wonder if the slots are put there intentionally to sharpen the awareness of how high you're going. If so, it's working. I'm feeling nervous.
looking down through the stairs to the top
When I get to the top, she clips the safety lines to my belt, one on each side. She tells me to rub some chalk on my hands if I need to. I'm about to decline until I realize my hands are indeed lightly sweating. I don't think I NEED the chalk but I rub some on just in case.
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standing up on the platform, getting ready to jump
If you're in the Boston area and you'd like to see one of their free performances, they have one this Saturday night 7:30pm-8:30pm at Jordan's Furniture (the one in Reading, not Natick).( Click for addressCollapse )