|Workers at The Province constuction site take their lunch of hotdogs and hamburgers, which were provided by the local union members who have been protesting conditions.
Sitting outside around campus, it’s impossible to ignore the bevy of tight-rope walkers on the Greek Lawn and Infinity Quad. A craze sweeping college campuses worldwide, slacklining is a balancing sport that requires only a nylon belt tied between two trees. The basic “tricks” of the sport consist of standing, walking and sitting on the one-inch width of webbing. More advanced slackliners may prefer complicated variations including highlining (which consists of rigging a highline across large distances above ground or water), or yoga slacklining (doing yoga balance postures on the line).
Students at colleges have picked up slacklining as a way of connecting with other groups of people, as well as for the calmness it brings. “I enjoy [slacklining] because it draws people together, it intrigues people,” explained Tal Nagourney, a fifth year Microelectronic Engineering major. “It’s good to have here because people are so cut off.”
Nagourney started slacklining three years ago on his friend’s older brother’s line. “When I was first learning, it was on this huge line, and it was so long it had to be eight feet up so you had to climb up the tree first,” he reminisced, “so the name of the game was — if you fell — to catch the line on your way down.” Shortly after he began slacklining, Nagourney bought his own line.
Like many sports, slacklining is also used as an outlet to relax or an excuse to be outside. Taylor Rose, a third year Computer Science major, said, “For me, I go and slackline by myself sometimes. I get into these Zen states when I’m off on my own, sort of like climbing. You don’t think about work or stress.” Aside from slacklining, Rose is a member of the Climbing Team and climbs frequently at the Red Barn.
Another climber and slackliner, Cameron Parker, a first year Industrial Design major, picked up slacklining after he saw some other students playing on a slackline during his first quarter at RIT. “I see slacklining as an outlet from school and just everyday life,” Parker mentioned. “It’s fun to do, too, and something to do with my friends.”
For all its challenge, this stability sport is one with room for constant improvement. Rose hopes to get to the point where he can do on-line tricks such as kneeling, various yoga positions (like tree pose), and either sitting or sleeping on the line. Nagourney aspires to one day be able to do a handstand or backflip while on the line. A lot of the students slacklining at RIT are still relatively new, but they are generally open to helping out curious passersby get on the line.