Manchester Rope Jam – September 2021

A little later than I planned to write this up, but sometimes life happens and time becomes constrained.

For our second foray in tying in public, we attended the first post covid Manchester Rope Jam, hosted in a beautiful central manchester location, the space is amazing… the people, even better.

Hosted by @Lou_Lou_C and @Beasttt, with whom we had briefly spoken to in the past, the Rope Jam is an informal space for practice, socialisation and inspiration. Being predominantly self taught in many aspects of our rope, with the exception of a workshop many moons ago, the array of Online workshops over lockdown and the exceptional private tuition from Christian Red, tying with others hasn’t been something we have been able to experience often. Usually when we have this has been with friends who often have never picked up rope and we spend time showing them basic safety and a good solid (Somerville flavoured) single column tie.

As we spent lockdown in online workshops, building relationships and learning from such talented rope artists like Wykd_dave, Clover_Brook, Fred Hatt, Anna Bones, Soptik, Ravi, Kurogami, Shiawase, Zor Neurobashing, Margout Darko, it became abundantly clear to us that we were missing the inspiration of tying with others at a similar or better skill level. Seeing some of the worlds best rope artists during these classes set in motion a deep need to prioritise the same experience once we were free, which is why we knew once the MRJ reopened we had to make a concerted effort to get a babysitter and be there.

We were not disappointed. On arrival we checked in, speaking to Beasttt for the first time he asked us our background, experience and reassured us that we would definitely not need to attend the beginners workshop downstairs. So heading upstairs we entered into a beautiful space, exposed wooden beams (unffff) and stage grade rigging pulleys for suspension. While some people setup bamboo, we squirreled away into a corner while Pixie started her usual stretching routine and Mo checked on gear. From across the room one of the few people we had met before in person came over to say hello and make us feel at home.

As there were limited numbers of suspension points we began our evening with some floor work, having spent the last few months focussing on gaining experience with suspensions, labbing extensively and practicing our skill, it was refreshing to work on something a little different. Taking inspiration from Pixies yoga style warm up, we worked on a pigeon pose inspired rope tie, something I had wanted to do for some time.

After a few minor transitions in the arm position, from overhead, to bunny ears and into a tengu style, we were able to get some airtime sharing a point with some newly aquired friends, while they took some rest. As we have become more socially active within the local rope scene its always nice to see how supportive and friendly people are. Its also nice to capture some of the lighter moments in rope. So often we see these serious and very beautiful creations, a snapshot of an idea executed to perfect. However, to us rope is emotive and connective, not just for the end goal but mostly for the journey, sometimes thats intense, sometimes painful or challenging… sometimes its levity and laughing, silliness and fun…

In taking to the air we have been working on some different positioning, and took the opportunity to work on our flying agura tie, a combination of chest harness and agura, working out some positioning and comfortability. You can see form this photo that it seems pretty comfortable…

but also still fun…

Part of the reason we have been exploring this is due to an ongoing injury Pixie is experiencing with her IT bands, making strenuous loading on her hips quite difficult, to the point she was somewhat upset earlier in the evening about how this would impact our tying. However, this challenge has been helping us to think differently about how we experience rope and push us towards different shapes and expressions to ensure that we are both able to work together for something we can enjoy. Its often why you will see us avoid hip harnesses in suspension while we are still testing ones that work well for Pixie.

Aftercare for this required a quick break for a cup of tea and a lovely chat with some other attendees, about things both rope related and just general life, remembering what it was like in the “before times” when you could chat and connect with people you didnt know in spaces you felt comfortable, how much we have missed this.

Rounding off our evening we took the opportunity to work on a partial suspension using strappado…. Strappados scare me… a lot. Although when we first started rope we did various different strappado quite frequently (albeit poorly with virtually no tension and very stretchy rope), as we learned more about anatomy in rope, safety and the dangers of strappado, it becomes something we used less and less while instead focussing on building the necessary skills and safety to work within our risk profile. Fast forward 4 years and strappado is still scary, a healthy fear that keeps us from taking too many risks. This particular tie was done with a simple chest harness/shinju and upline, followed by the strappado tensions with its own upline, while Pixie kneeled on the floor. For a quick photo we removed the chest upline for what must have been only 30 seconds. Knowing that Pixie has hypermobility in most of her joints, we both knew that this extension in her arms was no where near the limit to which she can stretch.

Winding down the evening we packed up our bags, got changed and said good-bye to new friends and old. MRJ was already feeling like a place we were comfortable, relaxed and also inspired. We were able to watch some beautiful rope by some wonderful people, who without their consent I haven’t named, yet, but that inspired us to come away with some new ideas that we could try ourselves. We were both eager to return and spend time around other likeminded individuals, grateful to the lovely hosts and all attendees.

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