UK Slackline Collective

UK Slackline Collective

The Maverick Slackline team and some other key members of the UK slackline community got together for a jam, here is some of what went down…..

“Mr White rocked up to Chill’s house.
He was psyched. He had to be, awake at 6am.
Loading up the car, the excitement started to race around my arms. I started to get tingly.
Missions, again; why do they feel so good to us?
The road trip mentality became infectious, and soon the blabbering began. Jake had audio interviews to conduct with us in the car. He wanted to use to recordings for his dissertation on some complicated social sports topic. What an epic way to start the morning!
The two hour journey dissolved itself into a breath or two.
At Jake’s farm the excitement was bubbling even harder.
Everyone spoke a touch faster than usual. Gear comparisons and slackchat started bouncing in the air. Conversations, consisting of brief, compounded phrases quickly led to questions of ‘what, and when, are we rigging?’
It was like an unofficial convention. Dirtbags from all over the country, here on a farm, to walk on nylon. Yes for subcultures.

It wasn’t long until the first farm highline was up. Not long after, the majority of us started to panic. Jake, Nadeem and Ben were the musketeers with the most balls. Everyone else that tried, failed, miserably. The overwhelming sense of incapability struck the majority, myself included.

The reason for all of us coming to the lovely Lower Shaw Farm, was to hold a couple of meetings to discuss various aspects upon which the direction Slacklining is taking here in the UK, and what we as slackers, can do to get involved and help mould the scene a little more. Or less.
And not only meetings. Slacking was also high on the agenda. Cooking up feasts, laughing uncontrollably and bouncing around like an army of statically charged space-hoppers would constitute our ‘time off’.

UK Slackline Collective

UK Slackline Collective

Our first night included a lovely welcoming spaghetti meal from Jake’s parents, the owners and hard workers of the farm. With an array of cold beers in hand, we set up a massive projector screen and had the pleasure of watching, for a limited time only, ‘Flight of the Frenchies’ documentary in its entirety. (Chances are you’ve seen the viral video trailer. I recommend buying the full feature. Amazing!)
Our hearts seemed to race in unison; I reckon I respired at double time. This caused a rather pungent beef odour to linger in the surrounding air. Not that we cared. That movie had just psyched the UK slackline collective to GET ON IT and start doing BIG things here on home turf.
Not right away, however. The majority of us staggered out to find our dorm-rooms, like a single file line of pissed penguins. A couple of slackers even ‘bagsied’ prime bunks, well before midnight. Lightweights, or cunning? You decide.

UK Slackline Collective

UK Slackline Collective

In between rampant phrases of excitement, each one of us managed to fill in the gaps since the last time we met, almost two months previously. It was so great to pick up where we left off with everyone. By the third day, I really felt like I had gotten to know some of the lads quite well; almost as far as calling them my ‘friends’.

Doing anything you love with others who share the same passion means that when you all hang out, over a condensed, intense period of time, you always have you’re topic in common to fall back on. As a result, everybody seems to be much more real. I can talk for myself here – I always feel like I’m being the real me when I’m with fellow slackers.
Didn’t have a shower today? Who cares?
Your clothes have holes in. Who cares?
Who’s up for a Mexican food-feast? Everyone? Done!
That was actually one of my highlights of the weekend. I decided after my first ever highline send, that I would cook up a huge Mexican feast for everyone. I find that there’s something powerful when cooking with love for friends. That energy goes into the food, and the result is just amazing.
I did however, destroy the lovely farm kitchen. Shrapnel-like slops of tomato juice and the remnants of crushed tortilla chip-victims littered the tiled floor. Thanks to Phil and to Jake for clearing up after my culinary train-wreckage!

Taking Jake’s car interviewing skills one step further, we decided we should centre the mic and do a group discussion interview. Not only to contribute our own opinions on the subject, but an excuse to give Jake one hell of a slackers’ manifesto to wade through, come editing time.
We discussed topics like ‘What is a sport?’ ‘Is slacklining an extreme sport?’ and ‘Did the media influence you to get into slacklining?’ which for the most part, was a surprising, collective ‘No’.

The farm felt like a slacking retreat. Each corner I turned, my ears would pick up on the faint hints of linear conversation, or my eyes would glimpse a vertically springing body on one of the many lines rigged there. We even had the pleasure of a floodlight jam session, crash mats included. Oh, the luxury!

UK Slackline Collective

Come the final day, Monday, everyone’s bodies were battered. The majority of us were running on fumes as it was. All we had left to burn off was our excitement. In store for us was a photo and video shoot, as well as a new highline that had been bolted a few days previously. That was enough to get us out of bed for the 7.30am departure, which was a tad more brutal that I had anticipated.
The weather had been somewhat tropical for us for most of the weekend. However, come Monday morning, the slack gods had other ideas, and provided us with one of those wintery, back-to-work mornings. Thick, grey clouds smothered the skies like a gone-off blanket of cotton wool. The air temperature had a touch of bitterness to it. Everyone wearing cotton was suffering, shivering upon our rendezvous. And it was only going to get colder.
Yet beneath the odds, that gritty, British enthusiasm still bubbled away, keeping us all focused on the day ahead.
First up was the highline. I used most of my equipment, and without me realising the obvious, that meant I was rigging. It was a team effort, with at least five of us pitching in. It was, however, my third highline ever, and people were turning to me to ask the odd question, which I must say, was as much a privilege as it was daunting. Thanks to everyone who helped me rig, and reminded me of a few crucial bits and pieces!
Ben got up and sent the line, saying it was very loose, but walking it as if it was his route to work. He even got a cheeky drop-knee in there. The rest of us leaked smiles, seeing as that was all our frozen bodies could muster.
I had second dibs, and sent the line, too. I was coming off a massive high from my first ever line-send at the farm, and so I was in the zone pretty much straight away. I became quite oblivious to the cold. My focus even enabled me to shut out the fact that there was a fat camera lens – probably zoomed in on my forehead’s beads of cold sweat – right in my face. At least until I got to the other end, where I played with a double drop knee, before being flung into the underworld, dangling from the line above.
Ben, Dave and myself were the only three to send the line, which surprised me a little. There was quite a bit of hype, as expected, with regards to who was going to send the line. Personally, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for everyone to send and play around on. However, you can tell yourself as much hype as you want, and it can still all come crashing down around you when you actually stand up there, ready to tie-in.

UK Slackline Collective

The derelict buildings would be our next feature. Throughout the morning, slacking sherpas hauled the film crew’s gear into the compound. Lines and A-frames were rigged, crash mats placed strategically, and then the raging began. We were all so stoked to be there, that the bone marrow-cold and lack of energy all seemed to fizzle out of our collective consciousness. Instead, the RAGE came upon us. Especially after we saw some preview footage on the film crew’s laptop. That really got us psyched to dig deep and start landing bangers. The select few for the video shoot went hard trying new tricks and even making an exhibition of what it means to ‘slack in synchrony’. The rest of us slacked back and stiffened up in amazement, as the cold started to seep in through our uncountable layers of battered, holey clothing.

UK Slackline Collective

UK Slackline Collective

And as with all slacklife missions, the party wasn’t over until all of the gear, some 300+ kilos of it, was ported out of the secret location, and back to its vehicles. This was the ultimate dig-deep moment. Some of us made multiple trips, others buckled and got in the cars for refuge. This is always the hardest part of any mission. Your exhausted. Your ability to speak diminishes. Slurring instructions and suggestions became the norm. Like a colony of semi-concussed ants, we did our best to get all our gear over a 10ft fence and out into the real world.
Eventually, after what felt like hours of solid lifting and carrying, we’d made it.
Reels of footage had been captured. Countless new rips in clothing had manifested. And above all, smiles of contented exhaustion spread themselves over the angelic, dirty faces of all involved.
Thanks to all the UK slackdawgs for making this weekend one of the sickest of 2011.
Big thanks to Jake’s parents at Lower Shaw Farm for putting us up and tolerating such hardcore slacking. It was a pleasure for all of us, and for you, I hope.”

Slacklife. X

Words by Harry Cloudfoot
Photos by David Thexton & Sam
Video by Chill



Posted under News

4 Comments

  1. I like what you are doing, guys! Keep it up

    November 25, 2011 @ 11:06 am
  2. elle

    OMG AMAZING MUSIC ROCKS SO DO U X KEEP IT UP

    December 10, 2011 @ 10:29 pm
  3. bogar

    hey!! what is the title of the music in the second video, the first song?
    you re very good! :))

    April 9, 2012 @ 10:30 am

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