The unseasonably warm weather has summoned the masses to Staller steps once more. But another grassy area close-by attracts a different group –slackliners.
Slacklining is the practice of walking along or performing stunts on one-inch webbing held between two anchors, most commonly trees. Not to be confused with tightrope walking, the line is not taut and bounces under one’s weight, which makes balancing more of a challenge.
The group of slackliners has only recently resurfaced, though, after being ordered to stop by campus police in November.
According a practitioner who asked to remain anonymous, two police offers once approached the group and said that they were going to write a report on the incident, but revealed no reasoning other than that a member of administration had complained.
“They asked us for our I.D.s and told us that someone had complained about us,” the source said. “We asked them what rule we had broken and they wouldn’t tell us. They said only that someone had complained.”
The source said that the officers took the identification information of two group members and threatened to confiscate their equipment and punish the group with a referral if they were found slacklining again.
In the past, the group has had pleasant interactions with campus police, who have stopped while walking or driving to watch their performances. According to the source, an officer once asked if he could participate and walked on the line himself.
Since then, the group has spoken with administration and attempted to figure out what rule they had broken by reviewing the Student Conduct Code.
“Failing to find any violations, we initiated the process of establishing ourselves as a club,” the source said in an email. “At this point, we have been engaged in this process for more than four months without making any substantial progress beyond receiving verbal permission to continue slacklining.”
Campus police did not return phone calls for comment.
In the past, those who practice the sport on campus have had no real organization. Typically, they would arrange to meet each other through text messages whenever the desire struck, the source said.
Once they gain official recognition as a club, though, that will change.

“We will promote it and encourage anyone on campus to join,” the source, who is a second year grad student, said. “We will probably hold a weekly slacklining day.”
Slacklining became popular in Yosemite National Park in the 1980s thanks to rock climbers Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington. Bored at the bases of the rocks on bad weather days, the pair began tying their old webbing between trees for a new challenge and inspired others to do the same.
The activity blossomed first among the rock climbing community and has since spread around the world. There are several variations on the sport: highlining, slacklining at an elevated height; slackline yoga, practicing yoga on the webbing; and tricklining, performing tricks like juggling or jumps for a crowd while slackling.
Last month, tricklining was introduced to perhaps its largest audience when Andy Lewis, former slacklining world champion, performed back flips in a toga during Madonna’s halftime show at the Super Bowl.
However, the sport is not reserved for professionals. Chris Dillon, proposed president of the pending slacklining club, said that anyone can participate and encouraged passers-by to join in.
“At the beginning, it’s going to be challenging,” Dillon, who has been slacklining for over a year, said. “With practice anyone can do this, even if you think you don’t have good balance. You just have to keep doing it over and over, and eventually you’ll be able to walk all the way across.”
Others insist that the sport is about more than balance, though. Slacklining is a good workout for core muscles and increases proprioception, which is the sense of how your limbs are oriented in your surroundings.
“Slacklining is a safe activity for relaxation, concentration and relieving stress,” the anonymous source said. “It’s very peaceful and enjoyable and great to do after a day stuck at a desk.”

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