Slackline Communities – more diverse than you’d expect


I’m constantly amazed by the social groups among which I find slacklining prevalent. Coming from a climbing background, there was a time when I naively thought all slackliners had some connection to the climbing community. In the time since, I’ve realized I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This was first highlighted to me when I met Slackline Australia’s Logan Hurford. Here was a surfer – someone with no connection to the climbing community what-so-ever – running a slacklining business on the coast. What’s more, the people he slacklined with were similar – surfers and non-climbers.

This was reinforced when when I was invited to do a demonstration at Newton’s Nation, an action sports festival held on New South Whales’ Mount Panorama. What started as a downhill longboarding competition has grown to include trial biking, BMX, mountain biking, and a host of other sports. Few of those present climbed, yet almost all of them knew what slacklining was, and many were proficient line walkers.

What’s more, I’ve just returned from a manipulation and flow arts festival just north of Brisbane. Initially I doubted there would be much of a connection between throwing flaming things around and walking on tensioned straps, and wasn’t entirely sure why I’d decided to go and teach workshops there. As it turns out, there were many people at the festival who were extremely appreciative of the instruction, and perhaps more appreciative of the crash mats – allowing them to try things they’d never try without protection.

To prove my point, check out my ‘Do’s and Don’t’s: Front flips’ video, featuring footage from the weekend. See what the guys in the background are playing with? I don’t see any direct relationship between Poi and slacklining, but there’s a strong overlap in participants.

I began to wonder what overarching theme might span most slackliners – what common thread connects us all? Perhaps it’s simply a love of the outdoors? But there are gymnastics halls all around the world sporting slacklines these days, and gymnasts aren’t notorious for getting outside. Over time, I am sure indoor slacklining will pick up, further discrediting this hypothesis. Perhaps it’s a love of being active and exerting oneself – but then there are people who thoroughly enjoy simply having something to walk along and pose on at barbecues.

The more time I’ve spent thinking about it, the more I’ve come to accept that there might be no common background to which slacklining appeals. It is a non-discriminatory disease of awesomeness. Once embedded in a community, it spreads at will, infecting the old and young, strong and weak. What other communities are out there harboring this disease? Dancers? Boxers?

If you’re looking to grow your slacklining community, by all means talk it up at your local climbing gym or surf shop – but don’t sell yourself short by only pushing the sport in the usual circles. Approach on-lookers and people you wouldn’t think would be interested. I can guarantee you there’ll be interest in the most unlikely of places, and slacklining is always more fun in a group.

Do you know of any communities that have a strong slacklining presence I’ve missed? I’d love to hear about them – shoot me an email or post below!

Dom.

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