Tuesday, 3 May 2011

True Self-Expression; Slacklining; The Swiss Mission Part 2; Sunday Funday

The Swiss Mission, Part 2; Sunday Funday

In a couple of hours’ time, I would be staring down one of the biggest monsters Lausanne had ever seen.

A combination of early morning summer-sweats and excitement became my alarm clock. Navigating the young, heat-less hours was our incentive, as James had been plotting the rigging of the 125m monster to be our first mission, and the cooler the temperature, the better.
The previous day’s excitement had meant we were a little geriatric in our movements down to the bus stop. We soon began to limber up however, as the enthusiasm grew in unison with the sun’s rising line above us, somewhat defrosting our stiffness.

I hadn’t really any expectations for the day, I’d travelled too far to risk being disappointed by events not living up to my train-time daydreams. I had more a gut feeling; elements of the radical were about to present themselves in full effect. Much to everyone’s delight.

When a season gives itself in its entirety, like it has one last chance to prove itself, it strikes a note that leaves an indelible impression.
Nature was giving her last performance - not one member of the audience was to leave with a hint of negativity, and I had managed to get a ticket.

Riding the Dragon

James is an up and coming PhD wizard, so something as technical as rigging 125m of nylon-knarliness was all figured out. In his head.
In these situations, it’s just easier to act the servant. If Pharoah were to explain to his masses how the pyramids functioned, instead of where to stack stones, he would probably have had a revolution on his hands.

Rigging the Dragons

It all became clear what the James-brain had conceived after about an hour of jogging, adjusting, tugging and tightening. The tug of war tensioning efforts felt like a re-enactment of a Viking Longboat scene; every man giving his brawn to the rhythm of the drum- his own pulse. All we were missing were the silly hats.

The 125 line cut the park in half, sitting at about 8ft off the ground. A royal-blue, nylon dragon had landed in Lausanne, deciding to uncoil itself between the two tallest trees it could find. And little did it know, it would be battled by many a knight throughout the day.

It was an intimidating sight. I was witnessing one of the longest lines I’d ever dared to look at. I personally only made a few steps before the dragon seemed to realise something was on its back; casting me off like dust upon its scales.
Only the most skilled and courageous in attendance managed to send the beast – a crossing time of anything from 5 to 20 minutes, end to end.

Mounting the Beast

Beast Awakens

The 75m line would prove to be my personal task for the day, and although I didn’t cross it, the lessons became more about how to cross a line so long. I made the most of the skilled slackers in attendance, asking where possible for tips and advice on various aspects of the art of balance.
And slacking wouldn’t be the only form of entertainment for the day.

Taming of the Beast

‘What happened over there?’ I asked, spotting some activity by a big tree.
‘He tried to take a piss in my bag!’ Fabian replied, through a grin that was comprised of half shock and half hilarity.
Lausanne’s drunk and homeless population hardly existed from what I saw, but we were graced by one fellow’s presence, and to his credit, he did very well: free beers, cigarettes, food and a place to have an afternoon nap. Apart from the moment when we decided to take a piss in his bag, as a reminder.

Only joking.

That was only one of the many social delights that would unfold on this summer-like Sunday. A very successful BBQ, supplied by no other than James’ science department, provided a re-enactment of what felt to be the feeding of the 5000. For those not yet accomplished in slacking, they brought with them an array of culinary delights and chef skills, grilling up mean meat-feast material.

First Grill Results

During the digestive period, where many of the crew were out of action combating numerous cases of food-coma, the longer lines even served as temporary volleyball nets. Who would have thought park life to be so innovative?
One of James’ friends had done especially well to not only bring racks of chicken wings and sausages with him, but at least 10 women also.
(Fellers, take note; if you’re invited to a meat-feast, balance out that energy with some of the feminine. It’s the least you can do.)

James had done very well at organising everything. More than thirty people showed themselves throughout the day, some experienced slackers (with enough Swiss precision to make Victorinox envious), some keen to try, and some experts in chilling.

Higher than it looks!

There were a selection of different lines to try, of varying lengths and difficulties. Beginners had the freedom to attempt sending the shorter lines by themselves, or ask one of the many competent slackers present if they would show them how it’s done. Members of the public stopped in their paths, some even joining in amongst what looked to be a mix of circus escapees with barbeque connoisseurs, all laughing and lounging together.

I was particularly taken a back by the positive vibes from the whole day.
Usually you get one or two upsets at events like these, but even a drunk urinating in someone’s bag was laughed at and didn’t affect anyone for the worse. Slackliners have proved themselves, yet again, to be some of the most genuine, sound people across the globe.

We had moments of challenges; a game in particular I took part in, involved using a plastic plate as a marker to show the distance that each slacker fell off. The aim was to outdo all who fell before you and move the plate as far down the line as possible.
Thanks to that little charade, I managed to add another ten meters on to my attempts.
Personal records were broken.
If I’m not mistaken, James even had time to set a personal record by nailing the 75+ meter line.

And despite the dangerous first-impressions that Slacklining can give to members of the public and authorities, there were no injuries sustained and we weren’t once interrupted to be told that we had no rights to set up in the park.
The day had an underlying current of helping each other running through it, and the result meant that instead of coming to the park and losing, breaking or missing something, everyone seemed to leave better off than when they arrived.

We finished the day as the light began to remove itself from the sky, being replaced with the orange tint of Lausanne’s street lamps.

A cooler breeze swept through the air, and in true European style, we decided there was only one last thing left to accomplish -

Sinking a cold, white beer.

Next Up; Swiss Mission part 3 - A Lion's Guide to Waterlining

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