Last week I found myself standing on the Santa Monica Pier in LA staring up at people flying through the air 30 feet above the boardwalk. Upon spying the trapeze one of my friends jokingly suggested that is what I should be doing on my vacation. After a few slack jawed moments of sheer wonder and excitement I got my wits about me enough to locate the office and sign up for my first class in flying trapeze.
Trapeze School New York has several facilities across the country, Santa Monica Pier being their newest, which specialize in flying trapeze. Their trapeze class is taught as a 2 hour session in groups of 10 students or less. The classes are priced between $50-60 a lesson which is a bit expensive but in a discipline where safety and equipment is a priority you may need to be prepared to pay a little more to ensure the quality of your instructor and the maintenance of the equipment.
I arrived the next morning bright eyed and bushy tailed for my first class. I had been advised the day before on best choices for clothing which was the usual leggings and tank top. Lucky for me I was traveling with silks attire in anticipation of attending a work shop at a local circus school later in the week. I was surprised that they did not recommend leg warmers which are usually quite useful for apparatus where there are hoops or bars. In retrospect compared to lyra or static trapeze my shins and calves did not come into much contact with the bar. Leg warmers would have done little to protect the back of my knees and that is where I took a majority of the strain from the class.
After each attempt you will receive some coaching on what to work on during your next turn on the platform. Over the course of about 3-4 attempts depending on the number of students you will hopefully start to understand the trick and solidify your timing. If you are able to successfully complete your trick solo you will be allowed to attempt a catch. A catch means that you will have a partner on a trapeze across from you and you will attempt to make a transfer from hanging on your trapeze to your partner. Remember the trick is all about timing and in this case it is the timing for two.This time instead of being prompted from the ground you partner is giving you instructions and the success of your catch is based on executing those instructions without hesitation or error.
After 4 attempts on the platform with the solo trick some of the initial butterflies in my stomach had subsided and I was completing the knee hang reliably but I did not expect to make my first catch. On the platform I watched as my partner started his swing and waited for the command to ready and then jump. Once I left the platform I tried to forget about the impending catch because if I did everything properly it should come naturally. I completed my knee hang and when I came up from the third swing and looked out there was my partner ready to grab my hands. I immediately released the hanging grip I had on my own bar and found myself being suspended from another person high above the ground. Flying through the air I thought to myself "This was the stuff dreams are made of." I was practically giddy when moments later I landed on the net below.
After finishing the class I would highly recommend the experience to anyone who ever thought they might be interested in circus arts or had any passing fancy with the flying trapeze. The way they have structured the class and from what I saw of the other students I believe you can have a successful first lesson even if you have no prior experience with the aerial arts. If you are aerial experienced the flying is a fun departure from the static apparatuses most of us use. The Trapeze School New York was a pleasurable experience I hope to repeat on future visits to California or any other states where they have facilities.