Flying through the air with blue LA skies, a warm ocean breeze and plenty of sunshine is picture perfect – but on a trapeze? That’s exactly the pristine atmosphere I got when I tested my abilities at Trapeze School New York – Santa Monica. Yes, the same place that the “Sex in the City” actresses filmed their famous episode years ago, only at the LA location.
The outdoor trapeze school is on Santa Monica Pier, near the roller coasters, ferris wheel and shops. Massive nets, trapeze bars, ropes and fit-looking instructors fill the somewhat fenced-off area. Tourists even mill about watching the free circus-like show that comes with being located on such a populated spot.
A safety belt is fitted snug to me. Five of us are given a lesson by Dean Chapman, an athletic 28-year-old local LA’er with eight years of experience on the trapeze. There is a first-timer in our class and another guy with a lot of skill, although he tells me he’s only been doing it for a year. As for myself, I have tried trapeze two other times — third time’s the charm, right?
“Hep” is a key word to know in trapeze; it means “go.” Dean tells the class that he will shout “hep” when we are to take off from the platform. He will never say “go” because it can be confused with “no” (which is said). When doing trapeze, communicating clearly equals safety.
I climb up the tall extended ladder, carabiner safety locks attached at both my hips — trapeze is not for anyone afraid of heights. But the blue skies and ocean beach views from the top platform are breathtaking!
I really want to take a picture in this moment, but I must focus on what Lizzi Sparks, another instructor, is saying: Place my toes over the ledge and reach for the trapeze bar.
“Ready,” Lizzi says, so I bend my knees. “Hep!” I fly off the platform.
Trapeze is not easy. It is exhilarating. It is living in the moment and being challenged in that brief time. Remember monkey bars as a kid? Oh yeah, trapeze is like that.
There are at least three instructors at all times present while each of us take turns: one on the platform, a lines person and a catch. The two hours are action filled, and the instructors are more than happy to teach you more and more tricks.
Towards the end of the class, I was convinced to try a “split” — an upside down split while holding the trapeze bar. Another pro, Alyson Domoto, coached me, and surprisingly, I pulled it off. For my final trapeze swing, I did a split and Dean caught me mid-air — just like a true circus performer. It may not be a typical way to spend a sunny LA afternoon, but it easily qualifies as one of the most memorable!
Trapeze School New York – Santa Monica offers a two-hour lesson for $39 (reg. $87). Check out Travelzoo for more great activities and classes.