Rigging: Know that you know nothing.

So, this was going to be a sort of Christmas gift guide to buying rigging and equipment, but, oops, its January and I’m still sat in my pjs working through left over chocolate.

You too?

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In the weeks leading up to December I had a massive jump in people asking about rigging, so if you or a loved one has recently acquired a shinny new bit of kit, or maybe if you are on a bit of a January invigoration and think “ooh yeh I fancy me a new bit of something to hang from my ceiling” then read on.

Firstly, I’m going to acknowledge my limitations here: I’m not a qualified rigger, I’m an aerialist with rigging experience. Throughout this will be directions to more informative resources when you need to actually consult a professional. However, I am part of the rigging team at Greentop Circus, have taken rigging courses, and in February I will be harnessing up for a super sexy IRATA course, which stands for Industrial Rope Access Trade Association. See, sexy right? I have a lot still to learn, but I’m excited to be doing it.

When students or parents (Yes, everything I’m talking about applies to your kids too. Just because they are smaller doesn’t mean the laws of physics don’t apply) ask me about how to put equipment up at home it gives me very mixed emotions.

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I’m completely delighted that people love aerial and circus enough that they want to invest and commit by dropping some money on what makes them happy. It also makes me feel good knowing that they are thinking smart and asking questions, and I feel very honored that they are coming to me with their curiosity.

But… here’s the thing…

You probably know as much about rigging as Bill and Ted did about philosophy. Everybody repeat after me:

The-only-true-knowledge-is-knowing-That-you-know-nothing-meme

Especially when it comes to rigging, the first thing to know is know that you know nothing. It takes an entire team of experts across different fields to make a safe set up for aerial, so please don’t underestimate it.

Advice for rigging equipment at home

DO NOT RIG YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT AT HOME.

Cool? Ok.

I would also encourage you to really think if you are truly ready to buy your own equipment. Having your own silks/hoop/trapeze/rope will not get you better faster. Unless you have some reason that means you cant use the equipment at your training space, then save yourself the headache. Also, please always buy your equipment from an actual circus retailer or supplier and make sure they have at the very minimum the load ratings of the equipment on the website. No, random fabric from ebay is not ok.

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Here are some better and much safer options:

1. Spend the money on more classes.

Get in touch with your favorite tutor (*wink wink*) and get some private lessons, or sign up to another discipline that you might like. I promise its much better value then getting equipment thats just going to take up space and gather dust.

2. Even more classes!

Take an intensive or weekend workshop. Travel to another city and take their masterclasses. Hell, you can even go to another country and see what they have to offer! Get all the lovely benefits that you wouldn’t get from swinging around your ceiling by yourself, like making new circus buddies.

3. MORE CLASSES YO!!

Did you know aerial festivals are a thing? That’s right, whole week long or more festivals dedicated to circus. Put your money aside and go spend it on a ticket. Its a fantastic way to immerse in a variety of styles, tutors and apparatus.

4. Rig at your training space

Get in touch with where you have lessons and ask if you can rig your own equipment there. You might have to pay a fee or membership, and should have to pass some basic competency test (if they don’t, that could be a bit of a red flag) but it will be their responsibility to keep the structure safe. Its also good practice for them to help facilitate you inspecting your equipment every 6 months.

If I really cannot convince you otherwise…

This article by Simply Circus that goes in to more detail of what you need to consider before rigging at home including, unsupervised training and insurance issues. This one for studios is also worth a read.

If you still want to go ahead, step one is to hire a structural engineer in to make sure you aren’t going to pull your ceiling down. If you chose to use a free standing structure, you need someone to check that the floor can take the load instead.

Drop me a message with any questions and I will try my best to help or direct you to someone with more knowledge. If you need more detailed information you can expect a rigger or engineer to charge you for their expertise (as they rightly should) but many are also extremely generous with their advice so never be afraid to ask questions!

Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.

x

(In case you were curious, the picture at the top is what the rigging inspection looks like when we wash all the silks! Ahh, the glamorous life of an aerialist…)

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