My mum is the first person who will tell you that I’m a great catch; good hair, big smile and a quirky sense of humour—with interpretive dance moves thrown in as a bonus.
But even she was surprised when, out of the blue, I declared I wanted to become a swinger.
Not THAT kind of swinger! I wanted to be the kind that glides through the air with the greatest of ease. I wanted to be the daring (not-so) young girl on the flying trapeze!
Which is how I found myself leaning off a platform seven metres in the air, one arm holding on to a trapeze bar and the other gripping the platform edge for dear life.
Oh my god!
At that moment I simultaneously realised that I have a fear of heights and that booking the lesson was a very bad decision given that fear of heights. It didn’t look this scary on Sex and the City, I thought.
Before I go any further, I should explain I didn’t just wake up one day to find myself on a trapeze. It was always something I’d wanted to do, especially after Carrie Bradshaw became a high flyer on an episode of Sex and the City.
While looking for birthday present ideas for my Dad last year, I stumbled across a discounted voucher for a 90 minute trapeze lesson at Cirque Espace at Mudjimba on the Sunshine Coast. I was sold.
But, six months down the track, I pulled into the car park at Novotel Twin Waters and my nerves went in to overdrive as I saw how high the trapeze was.
I joined a group of other trapeze novices—all but one seemed to be still at school and after a quick safety talk we headed over to a static trapeze for our first taste of the high life—hanging up-side down by our knees.
“Sharing Circus thrills with non-experienced and experienced people creates an electric learning atmosphere. Strength is not necessary, just strength of passion!” Cirque Espace’s Nikki Gheysen.
Apparently, the key is being able to quickly swing your knees up over your head and hook them over the bar—no easy feat when your abs have been long-buried under a layer of brownies, ice-cream and cake!
Once we’d all had a go, we made our way up the ladder one-by-one for our first encounter with the trapeze.
Which is how I came to be standing on that platform, legs shaking as I cursed my sense of adventure.
Then, with a few words of encouragement, our instructor yelled “HEP!” (I’m pretty sure it’s the trapeze word for “get off the platform”) and I was flying through the air.
Within seconds, I was hanging upside down by my knees and then hands off!
It’s hard to explain the rush of swinging through the air, hooked on to the bar by only your legs. For me, it was 95 per cent terrifying and 5 per cent awesome.
As I stumbled off the net, my whole body shook as adrenaline coursed through my veins.
My cheerleader/photographer Mum asked how it was. I told her I’d just crossed skydiving off my bucket list. And then, with just a few minutes to calm down, I was back climbing the ladder; my legs feeling heavier with each rung.
This time, when the instructor yelled ‘hep!’ I stayed on the platform.
On the second ‘hep!’ I took the leap, letting out a rather loud “ssssshhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittt!” as a whizzed back and forth, legs hooked tightly on to the bar, arms dangling in the air.
After three successful swings and dismounts including two backflips into the net (followed by less than graceful dismount off the net), it was time for ‘the catch’.
Trust, faith and courage are three qualities I don’t seem to possess in large quantities. So to know I had to put my faith in someone I’d met an hour earlier, was a pretty big ask.
But I was there to challenge myself, so I took a deep breath and gave it my all.
At close to 9.5 metres off the ground, I stretched out, my small hands grasping the catcher Luc’s wrists as I dropped my legs from the bar!
While my nerves didn’t seem to ease with each climb, I was pretty impressed that I had the courage to keep getting back up there.
With two successful catches under my belt, I was taught the secret trapeze handshake and presented with a flash little certificate declaring my successful completion of the ‘Knee Hang Catch’.
As I hobbled towards my bag, cursing my bruised and battered body, Luc caught up to me and told me to come back to learn more tricks.
I immediately envisaged myself hanging upside down by my feet and felt my heart rate start to quicken.
I told him I’d think about it, but I believe my career as a daring young girl on the flying trapeze may be over before it began … although that’s not to say I won’t give dangling upside down on the monkey bars a try the next time I’m at the park.
Or drop my trapeze skills into conversation the next time I’m trying to impress someone at the bar!
Who: Cirque Espace
What: Cirque Espace was opened by Spaced-Out Productions, an entertainment company, in July 2005 with a view to making Circus activities accessible to the public. They offer: Flying Trapeze, Static Ariels, Juggle School, Tight-Wire and Astro Boing Bungee Trampoline
Where: Novotel Twin Waters Resort, Ocean Drive, Mudjimba, Sunshine Coast.
Find them: http://www.cirqueespace.com/ or call 0412 55 22 86