Swing out sister: Learning to trapeze with Gorilla Circus
For many women, the seminal TV series Sex And The City inspired them to search for the perfect shoe, call time on a dead-end relationship… or even visit Ann Summers for the first time. However, as a bit of an adrenalin junkie, there was something Carrie Bradshaw did in one particular episode that inspired my latest adventure in London. Die-hard SATC fans will remember the episode, called The Catch quite appropriately, in Season 6 when Carrie has a trapeze lesson.
Well the dream of trapezing has stayed with me, and nine years after watching the episode, I finally got to try it out this week. Although they’ve been around for four years, I have only learned about the existence of Gorilla Circus this summer. After speaking about it with a few friends – many who thought I sounded crazy – I realised their outdoor sites were only on for the summer before moving inside, so I finally bit the bullet and booked a session.
I’ve always been an adrenalin junkie – I’ve done two skydives, a parachute jump and a bungee, as well as ridden numerous rollercoasters, but I’m finding as I get older, the fear builds up the longer I don’t do anything adrenalin fuelling. However, on the morning of my two-hour ‘Flying Trapeze Class’, I admit I felt sick with nerves.
When we arrived at the site in Battersea Park (there is also a second summer site at Regent’s Park), we were greeted by the Gorilla Circus team and a class of students who were doing four week or intermediate courses. After signing the disclaimer – fingers crossed for no injuries! – we warmed up our muscles with some stretches ready for all the bending, stretching and flinging of limbs we would be doing high up in the air.
Unfortunately, I was chosen first so had to swing off a ground-level bar, put my legs over it and hang upside down hands-free – a basic swing. It was a strange sensation of the blood rushing to your head, but you soon get used to it. After we all tried out the ground level practice, it was time to try out the real thing.
Climbing the high ladder up to the small ledge at the side of the trapeze was quite nerve-wracking. It was only when the ladder got even narrower at the top and I glimpsed how far down it was, it suddenly hit me what I was doing. There was a safety harness attached to me the whole time and a net to catch me, so I had to reassure myself nothing could really go wrong. It took me a while to finally jump off the ledge and after the first initial second or two where I felt the urge to scream, I suddenly relaxed. I swung my legs over my head onto the bar and managed to hang upside down with my arms hanging down – without falling off! I have to admit I was in shock that I was actually doing it. After putting my legs down and putting my hands back on the bar, I then jumped off the ring onto the safety net, and managed a semi-gracious landing.
After three simple swings, it was on to the catch. As I was first, I didn’t really get to see anyone doing it – at least in the style we beginners were doing it – which made me rather anxious. I swung forward and put my legs on the bar and hang upside down, waiting for the professional to ‘catch’ me. Am happy to say, that unlike Carrie, who couldn’t bring herself to let go and do the catch in the episode, I managed to do it. The rush of successfully throwing myself off the swing and being caught by another person was amazing. I was on cloud nine.
After the catch, I tried two more swings to somersault off the bar, but for some reason, it didn’t quite happen for me. In fact, my sixth and final swing, I landed on my head. Perhaps I had used up all my concentration on the catch and I just couldn’t absorb any more information.
To anyone toying with the idea of trapeze classes, I can highly recommend them. The team of Gorilla Circus were professional, friendly and made you feel safe. At £25, I thought it was very good value for such a fun afternoon.
- Gorilla Circus has sites in Battersea Park and Regent’s Park in the summer (June to September), but moves to an indoor site in the winter (Mid-Sep onwards). Check their website for booking details and more information.