Maverick at The Outdoors Show

Maverick at The Outdoors Show

Maverick Slacklines at the Outdoors Show London 2012

The Outdoors Show is the UK’s number one show for outdoor pursuits, held annually at London’s Excel Arena. This year, Maverick Slacklines had been invited to add a little orange spice to the mix of the numerous pilgrims making their yearly outdoor/indoor adventure.

Curious to see what awaited us for the most hyped weekend of 2012 thus far, Chill and I scurried our way across the footbridge towards the pyramid entrance of the arena. Like a couple of eager archaeologists, we entered our temple for the weekend, immediately hit by the bright, shining lights of Maverick orangeness. The pitch was fantastic – the first stand that the crowds would see as they entered the massive, Truman Show exhibition palace.

The Outdoors Show 2012

Set up
Straight through the twenty foot-high shutters and there it was. Four differing slacklines, an array of crash mats, all bordered with a boudoir of beanbags.

Welcome to our utopia!

The stand was a showpiece. Colour-coordinated shelves stacked with the latest run of Maverick lines. A phat, flat screen television running a showreel of all the Maverick videos so far, all backed by our own sound system and P.A! I couldn’t withhold my excitement. Bouncing around on the spot, I ran a montage through my mind as to how this was going to pan out; thousands of applauding, cheering bodies. Goosebumping beats. And a show the audience would never forget.

maverick slacklines workshops

I had great fun observing the kids I was teaching as they attempted our intermediate line. From what I could gather, about one in 20 kids really mastered slacklining quickly. They really understood the deeper side of balancing – a glint would form in their eyes the more they tried and it wasn’t long before they had walked the whole thing. The other kids loved the lines just as much, having to work a little harder to keep their balance as wide as their smiles.

Lots of adults seemed to have more fun that they’d had in years on our workshop lines, beaming grins and laughter as they realised slacklining is a little trickier than it looks.

We were one of the few stands that was both free and interactive. Everyone that was bold enough to try slacklining came away with something internally. I really hope that all those that bought lines source out their local slacklining clubs, and all those that tried the lines feel encouraged to work on progressing their balancing skills.

In between demos and workshop shifts, some of us banded together to check out the other stands of the show. There were some very interesting products and even quirkier sales people. Lots of them were very nice, but lots were trying very hard. The first day they were fresh. By Sunday, they had burnt themselves out. Our success seemed to lie in the opposite – relax and let them come to us. And they did! We didn’t need to ask people to buy a line:

“I’ve just had a mini-workshop with one of your instructors. I would now like to buy a slackline please!”

I started the show eavesdropping into people’s workshop feedback, curious to see what people experienced. By the second day I didn’t even need to listen anymore. Everyone was just so stoked, coming up to the stand and just relaying how rad it is to learn how to slackline. I smiled to myself. What was I expecting? The day I hear someone try slacklining and complain, will be the day I quit.

Watch some of the highlights of the show here

Part of the personal joy for me was to just look at people’s faces as my team mates gave them a show. I made an effort to try and focus on one or two people that were really enjoying themselves and the slackline experience. A few just couldn’t contain their excitement. Jake and I concluded; if you can make a member of the audience feel something in public, that they would normally only experience in private, you have got a fan for life. I spotted numerous people gushing with smiles and facial expressions, turning to their neighbour every so often, just to check if it was only them that was going nuts.

The audience’s faces created an excited collage of appreciation and any time I felt a little tired or beat, I would just glance my eyes over at them to recharge. Our energy fuelled their reactions, and in turn we gained more energy. The cycle of a slacklife show was in full flow and it was extremely powerful!

Families gathered around the edges, a little shy at first. As soon as Jake announced that the beanbags we had surrounding the lines were for everyone, they planted themselves, each one moulding their own unique body shape into the bag. Some even unpacked their picnic lunches, chewing and nodding their heads in unison with whoever was bouncing on the line.

The youngest British female to ever climb Everest, Bonita Norris, was also at the show. She was showing a keen interest over at the Maverick stand, chatting to some of the instructors about various techniques. It was great to chat to someone with such a hungry curiosity about slacklining!

Guys from the DMM stand and GoApe! also came and had a go on our lines. Even the Excel Arena security staff spent their lunch breaks with us, learning to walk the lines in our workshop area. It was a glorious display of smiles and concentration-faces all round!

Channel 5 came to film the Maverick team in an early morning special for television. It went so well, they were asked to come into the studio to teach the presenter for a live show!

Maverick Slacklines

Tradeshow audiences amuse me. This lot were very respectable, lovely people. And in true British fashion, they would surround us, curiously eager-eyed… but silent! Gradually, as the team landed ‘bangers’ on the show line, they realised that it was OK to get stoked and clap and cheer and go nuts. Our competition went from a demo with stakes, to a full blown showcase of raw talent and entertainment. People would go to take a bite of their sandwich, never closing their mouth!

Wow did we put on a show! To the audience, we labelled it as a competition and technically it was. With a HD GoPro Hero camera for first prize, only the best of the best would take podium position. But to us slackers, we liked to think of it all as a jam session. It’s more about supporting the people you’re with and putting on a show than it is striving to be number one. The audience reacted to our reactions – to the uninitiated, telling the difference between tricks isn’t always an obvious recognition. So when we went mental, so did they! For all of the rounds, we hyped each other up as best we could. It was such a buzz.

Jake White WIN

Massive thanks to GoPro for putting up the prize

The comp format was two minutes for each rider, timed on two separate stop watches. The team riders judged each of the rounds and each head-to-head was decided by audience members drawing names out of Chill’s hat. There were a couple of moments in between my rounds where I was gassed, breathing super heavy and hoping my jam-mate would bounce long enough for me to recover!

We all dug deep to put on a show for our audience, despite slacklining for 2 days solid beforehand. Jake White, from Brighton, took first prize in an amazing final against Chill – by landing a massive butt-bounce 540 that won us all over.

All the rounds were a pleasure to watch and the showmanship in each of us shone through just at the perfect moments.
Be sure to check Chill’s video at the end of this post!

Thanks to the whole Maverick Team and see you at the Outdoors Show 2013!

Words: @harrycloudfoot
Video: Chill and Freddy

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