Sunday, 1 September 2013

Trapezing at Gorilla Circus, Regent's Park

Swinging through the air with my legs kicking like a drowning hamster, my knuckles turning white from gripping to the metal bar which held me from the 20ft drop below, and my eyes squeezed shut to cope with the intense dizziness, it was hard to appear dignified. Yet despite my body working against me- as it so often does in these situations- I felt surprisingly elegant, swinging effortlessly(ish) above the splendour of  Regent's Park at sunset.
This isn't actually me, I just love the silhouette against the sunset colour!
Gorilla Circus hold open air trapeze classes in Regent's Park and various other locations every summer, and after two years of teasing myself, I finally signed up for a two hour beginners class. Unsure of what to expect, I poddled along after work one day, and was relieved to find nine other people in the same novice situation.

We were taken over to the practice swing first - a normal trapeze bar, suspended about 7ft of the ground with a crash mat below it (initially it was hard to know whether to be reassured or intimidated by the presence of the mat) - and were taken through the motions of getting our legs onto the trapeze swing, letting go with our hands, and then doing the reverse.
It all seems so easy with a little help!
The next (massive) step was to take this exact sequence onto the actual trapeze, at least 20ft further from the safety of the ground. The ladder of doom, as I came to call it in my head, felt like the longest ladder in the world, and the relief of reaching the top was quickly wiped out by the realisation of what was to come.

What HAVE I let myself in for?
With the help of one of the instructors, I reached one hand out for the trapeze bar, whilst clinging desperately on to safety with the other. The bar was surprisingly heavy- a shock at first, but more of a reassurance as time went on and I considered that it was responsible for preventing me crashing onto the ground below. After tentatively putting my second hand onto the bar and letting go off my last remaining link to solid ground, I was off. The aim was to lift my legs onto the bar, let go with my hands, hang from knees and then reverse. Simple, huh? NO. Not as simple as it sounds. My lack of flexibility and grace, coupled with an innate fear of knocking my teeth out with my knees saw me unable to complete this task, and crashing into the safety net into a crumpled heap.

A couple more attempts later, I was no closer to being able to achieve the desired athletic prowess, but was nonetheless enjoying the adrenalin of speeding through the air. Whilst I don't believe that trapezing is a viable alternative career move for me, should the journalism dream not work out,  I can sleep easy knowing that I have explored this avenue to its full potential.
I doubt  I will ever look anything like this elegant again in my life!
See the Gorilla Circus website for details of upcoming courses, and to book tickets.

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