My friend Kara, my sister-in-law, Heather, and I went to trapeze class in Washington, D.C., a city well-known for its clowns. I found the school through Living Social. ( http://washingtondc.trapezeschool.com/ )
We arrived in a plane hanger of a gym to find the class before ours swinging and falling into nets and juggling and balancing on each other’s backs. Above us, a man in very sparkly pants swung back and forth on a trapeze, preparing to catch people hurled his way. His spandex pants were like thick, tight nylons. Any sport that lets you wear full-body Spanx can’t be all that bad.
As we gawked at the crazy-flippy people, someone announced we needed to stretch to get ready for class. The three of us had just polished off two appletinis each in preparation, so we were already pretty loose. Crammed into the corner of the room, we did some quick yoga poses and became intimate our friend’s asses, which were almost always in our faces.
They broke us into teams so we could use the three stations as smaller groups. Balancing Acrobatics, the Silks and Trapeze were the first indoor sports. Outside, three other groups were starting on Juggling, Wall Climbing and more Trapeze.
We started indoors on Balancing Acrobatics, which brought a collective groan from the three of us. While it is nice to have friends who aren’t supermodel skinny, it seems less awesome when you have to lift and balance them on your feet.
If you ever want to giggle uncontrollably, lay on your back and try and lift your friends on your feet while they soar like chubby little airplanes.
Next, we moved to the Aerial Silks, which we hoped would make us feel very Cirque du Soleil-ee. We had no idea the area decorated by beautiful ribbons hanging from the ceiling was run by Nurse Ratched. The woman ran through the different ways we could shimmy up the silks high enough to hang ourselves, and when I volunteered to try something she slapped my leg, barked “NO!” like I was a bad dog and snatched the silk from my hand. Charming.
Our lovely instructor wore Daisy Duke jean shorts, which seemed inappropriate for climbing silks. Then she did an elevated split and I found myself face to face with a thin strip of jeans being eaten by a black hamster. I turned my head away so fast I nearly fell over.
When our silks/pole dancing class ended, we moved to the trapeze station, run by a big, goofy, lovable guy named Mike. They wrapped us in belts so tight we could barely breathe and then we lined up to climb the bouncy 40ft ladder to the trapeze platform. At the top, a girl half my size explained that I should lean over the platform while she held my belt and kept me from falling. She might be awesome at trapeze, but she had clearly failed basic physics.
As I stood on the edge of the 40 ft high platform, they pulled the trapeze bar to my sweaty hands. It felt like it weighed 100lbs. With Mighty Mouse clinging to my belt, I took a deep breath as she counted down to the moment I would voluntarily leap off the platform.
Through a haze of appletini and self-preservation instincts gone horribly askew, I swung above the crowd trying to remember the little routine I was supposed to do (swing my legs up, lock my knees over the bar and hang head down, then reach up and return to hanging from my hands). Surprisingly, it was much easier than I imagined, even as a middle-aged old lady.
After my routine, I released and fell to the bouncy net. I crawled towards the dismount area, giggling, my body shaking with adrenaline.
See? Graceful as shit.
As we broke for lunch, Kara, Heather and I seemed to have one thought in mind: Did we really need to juggle? I know how to juggle. And frankly, every time I’ve announced that particular talent of mine, eyes glaze over. We’d all been on a rock wall before and we just did trapeze like pros. It looked like it was going to rain outside for the outdoor trapeze session, anyway.
After doing so well on the indoor trapeze, didn’t we deserve another cocktail? Nay, hadn’t we earned one?
We sneaked away from the food truck and sprinted to the car like thieves, lest the angry silks lady and her snapping snapper catch us and drag us back to the big top.