There's only one real skill that first-time flyers need to succeed in trapeze school: the ability to listen. While your body wants to do one thing, the only way to fly safely and successfully is to follow the instructions shouted up to you. In trapeze, timing is everything. You become a living physics experiment.
I take a small hop off the platform. For a split second, I am just falling. Then, as I become engaged with the bar and start to swing in an inverted arc, I feel every fiber of the grip tape pressing into my fingers. My arms are stretched as far as they can go. I hang straight down, my toes pointed. I feel like gravity is stretching me instead of pulling me down toward the ground. Mr. Malcolm has been pushed out of my thoughts completely, as I now have much greater issues to deal with. As I get to the top of the arc, clear on the other side of the tent, I hear another "Hep!" I let go and fall backward, my legs together and pointed toward the front of the room, my arms in front of me, and my eyes looking ahead so that I fall in a sitting position. The bar falls away and I drop into the net. And then everybody is clapping. I am not dead, after all.
During the next 90 minutes, I take four more trips up the ladder. Each time, I swing a bit longer. It turns out that, with the thrills of the initial leap and dropping to the net, I could happily swing forever. Though my hands sting like I have been gripping a tennis racket for an entire summer's worth of matches and I never really fully get over my ladder issues, the swing's the thing - even though I am the only student who never makes it to the upside-down position.
By the end of the fifth flight, I am about as tired as I have ever been. With each trip up, the adrenaline goes full tilt and then drops as you await your next turn. It's a supercharged sugar rush, no dessert necessary. I will fly again.
The Trapeze School sends people flying in three cities. Depending on the day and time of the class, a two-hour session costs from $47 to $75.
New York City