St Albans Trapeze Club is a best kept secret

PUBLISHED: 14:56 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:11 06 May 2010

St Albans Trapeze Club

St Albans Trapeze Club

One of the best London shows I ve ever seen is Cirque du Soleil: the tumbling acrobats, pretzel-shaped contortionists and flying trapeze artists blew me away and I thought I d never see anything like it again. But that was before I discovered our very own

St Albans Trapeze Club

One of the best London shows I've ever seen is Cirque du Soleil: the tumbling acrobats, pretzel-shaped contortionists and flying trapeze artists blew me away and I thought I'd never see anything like it again. But that was before I discovered our very own Cirque right here in St Albans.

The St Albans Trapeze Club is one of the city's best-kept secrets. A group of 10 or so enthusiastic amateur acrobats transform the usually serene Yoga Hall on Hatfield Road into a mini circus every Friday night, decorating the hall with ropes, trapezes and hanging hoops that have spent the week hidden away in the roof.

Determined as I am to expose my city's weird and wonderful underground scene, the opportunity to try out a trapeze club was not one to be missed. So on a free Friday evening, I grabbed my sister Elise for company and headed to the Yoga Hall to join the circus.

Our instructor was 23-year-old Rachel and she kicked off the session with her unique warm-up comprising some inventive yoga moves, headstand practice and the splits. I struggled with almost everything but the trapezers are such a relaxed bunch ("sometimes we just lie on the mats all evening!" said Rachel) that it didn't seem to matter.

St Albans Trapeze Club

Rachel was a wonderful instructor and she taught Elise and I how to climb a rope (way harder than it looks and I didn't quite reach the ceiling), how to swing on a trapeze, and even a couple of fancy tricks including my personal favourite, the gravity-defying Bird's Nest, and the slightly trickier Gazelle move.

But the best part of the night for me was watching the experts at work. From 16-year-old Harvey's incredible Toe-Hang to 60-something Alan's aptly named Inverted Crucifix and Coffin moves, it really was as if Cirque du Soleil had come to St Albans.

Every member of the club has their own special move (Sarah's 'Rib Hang' was discovered accidentally) and it was so entertaining to watch such a hardcore group of people. Sue, the most elegant Gazeller among us, joined the group to master a fear of heights and the moves Harvey pulled provoked plenty of shrieks and gasps from Elise and I - a snake pit would have been the cherry on top of his thrilling act.

Even more impressive was the fact that the only instructions they followed were in French: Méthodologie trapézoidale is a haven of fancy trapeze tricks and, should any of the trapezers wish to learn a proper move, all they have is a few sketchy pictures to follow. But, for the St Albans trapeze club, that just adds to the excitement.

Despite aching arms and blistered hands, our heads were buzzing with dreams of mastering the Curly-Wurly move when we eventually left the trapeze club. It's by far the most entertaining club I've ever been to and, for those in need of a swinging time, it's the place to be on a Friday night.

When? Friday, from 7.30pm until they get tired

Where? The Yoga Hall, 11 Hatfield Road

How much? £10 a session

Contact: Rachel Walker at walker.rachel@gmail.com (please let her know in advance if you want to go along).


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