Aerial Shenanigans at Smith

Despite my last post about Reunion feeling slightly strange to me because only a portion of my community was there, the fact is that I had a blast with the friends that I did see. We caught up, we bought drinks, we ate delicious food, we wandered around campus and celebrated old memories and made new ones. Most of these new memories involved good conversations and having good food and wine and revisiting old haunts.

And then there was this one.

My friend Echo is an aerialist, and she majored in Engineering at Smith, back when the then-new department was housed in a temporary building affectionately dubbed the “Green Monster” for being an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful brick-and-ivy campus. Now that the very new and shiny engineering and science building is up and running, Echo felt that she had to pay tribute/play a prank in the best way she knows how: by hanging from the ceiling.

Now, Echo has been a friend for a long time now, and I know that she is generally quite paranoid about safety. I also know that she is incredibly stubborn, and that any attempts to dissuade her that might be made by well-meaning friends would almost certainly backfire. So I knew it was my duty as a friend and fellow aerialist to come with her and make sure that she didn’t break her neck while attaching her silks to the ceiling.

Also, I admit it. I wanted to hang from the ceiling too.

Along the way, we found another Smithie aerialist and her girlfriend, who wanted to participate in the insanity. But because there was only enough equipment for one person at a time, and Echo was the only one who knew anything about rigging, she was the one to go climb on the beams.

So. This was the space we were working with.


The very tall atrium in which we were planning to hang silks.




We went in, wielding the kind of equipment normally associated with mountain climbing: a harness, carabiners, ropes, etc.  And Echo began to climb.


Echo sorts the span sets while hooked onto a beam.


She got to the main pillar…


Can I really climb this thing?


And discovered that she couldn’t actually get the span sets over the main beam.


If I only had a few more tools...

So. We decided to simplify our plan and hang from one of the lower beams, and Echo began the slow process of shimmying back along the beams she’d climbed on previously in order to get back to the balcony where the rest of us were standing. As we traipsed downstairs, we were intercepted by a Public Safety officer.

A report of people climbing on the beams? Surely not!

But we confessed to trying to hang fabric from the ceiling (without mentioning that we were planning to then climb, contort, and otherwise do tricks on said fabric), and told him that we had special insurance (which was entirely true). Unsurprisingly, he still said we needed to leave. Damn.

So, no actual photos of doing aerial dance or acrobatics. But we didn’t die, and we didn’t get arrested, and we now have a story to tell…