I found the circus space on the internet a couple of years ago and thought that their circus skills day looked amazing fun. So I put it on my list of things to do before 30. I wanted to try to improve my upper body strength a bit before I tried it, just because I really am quite puny and I thought I’d get more out of it if I could at least maybe do half a chin up. I did start going to the acrobatic tumbling class though – which is really good fun, although I can’t go regularly any more.
Anyway, although I am still really weak and half a chin up is still a distant dream, I reckon that I am a maybe a little bit stronger now than this time last year, what with acrobatics, climbing and breaking working my arms a little bit. And I can’t keep putting it off, so I decided to just go for it. (Especially because I need the points this quarter – to track my progress on my 30 things I have allocated each task points and set myself quarterly targets. There’s a spreadsheet and a graph. Geek? Moi?).
Jo came with me as my circus buddy – although she did keep referring to it as Clown School – and suggested that we make it a challenge over who is best at each activity. Bring it on!
First up, the scariest thing of the day – the flying trapeze. The scariest bit was climbing up the ladder to the platform, where you had to lean right out to grab the bar for the person going before you. Especially as you weren’t harnessed in at this stage. So by the time you got clipped in to the harness to have your go at swinging it was fine. We all had a couple of gos at getting the leg swing right, with an instructor shouting what to do. Although I felt ok up there, I was obviously more scared than I realised, because when she said “1,2,3 – let go!” I let go of the bar in my mind, but my hands just kept gripping on for dear life. I did manage to prise myself off eventually. And Amy the instructor declared me the winner so I was off to a “flying” start in the challenge – hoho!
And… dismount (on the third attempt)
Next was stilts, and they were only about 18 inches high so we all could calm down a bit after trapeze. After practising how to fall, Jo led me round by the hand for a bit until I got confident enough to wobble around on my own for long enough to get a photo. Then we swapped over – and Jo also managed a solo toddle with no falls. Amy declared me a very narrow winner in the stilts as well so I was off to a good start – could I finally win a challenge against Jo? I hardly dared to dream…
I finally find out what it’s like to be tall.
Diabolo was next and I’d had my beady eye on the groups doing this before us and they all seemed to be doing really impressive throws so I had high hopes. There’s lots of complicated tricks, but the simplest one is the most impressive – throwing it up in the air and catching it. We started off catching it back on the string, then progressed to catching it on the sticks. We agreed that whoever got the most catches would be the winner and I got 3 catches on the sticks. Jo managed to do it on the last throw of the day, so she did it too, but only once so hooray! another narrow victory for me.
Spin spin spin…
and catch! (ok that was staged…but I did catch it like that)
The last activity of the morning session was the static trapeze and it was definitely my favourite. We had to hook our legs onto the bar and get ourselves in different positions.
The “Bird’s Nest” – I don’t know why
The “Fish” – also no idea
The moment when the instructor waggled the bar to prove how secure I was. I was forced to whimper “please stop doing that”
Jo hit all the positions, but did need a helping hand from the instructor to get up in the first place. So another point for me!
After a sustaining lunch at the Juggle Cafe, we were back for the afternoon session. First was tight-rope and we had to roll up our trouser legs and put on these ballet shoe things which for some reason made me feel extra-circusy. We learnt the technique on the floor and then on a wooden beam, but when we got on the wire we all pretty much abandoned the technique entirely so we did not excel. We both made it across the whole wire twice, so this was declared a draw.
Wobble wobble wobble
Onto the juggling, which was Jo’s specialist field as she can in fact juggle. The instructor taught those of us who couldn’t juggle to juggle 3 balls (I think I managed about 8 juggles which is maybe not massively impressive but a PB for me) and Jo and some other good jugglers got to learn some cheeky group tricks and then do a juggle-battle at the end, which Jo sort-of won (there was some slight confusion over the rules). A clear win for Jo.
This photo makes it look like I’m juggling 4 balls. I’m not.
Back to the flying trapeze, and one of our group was competent and confident enough to try hooking his legs over like we learnt on the static trapeze. The instructor asks if I want to try. I politely decline. Everyone is complaining that they’ve got blisters on their hands from the bar, but I’m fine – b-girl hands y’see.
And finally we have a go at acrobatic balancing and make a human pyramid. When I got on the top there was a big groan from the people underneath me, which I’m trying not to take too personally. Another draw.
Smiling through the pain.
And then the big finale as all the groups got together for a big human pyramid. There’s me at the top right, and Jo second from right.
Yay! I’ve finally won a challenge! And what’s more I LOVED circus day – especially static trapeze which I now want to sign up for a whole course in and I also want to buy a diabolo and juggling balls. I’d highly recommend that everyone gives it a go. And if you do go – tell me because I want to go back!