The level of rope in the studio has been increasing tremendously over the last years and this is really exciting to see. There are so many people doing beautiful, sexy, safe rope, and we can see personal styles and dynamics evolving from week to week. This makes it so rewarding for us to witness, and we’re so proud of this growing community!
As a result, there are now also more people incorporating suspension as part of their rope practice/play in the studio, and some really amazing stuff is happening as a result, only a thimble of this makes its way into photos, so it’s one of those things you just have to witness for yourselves by perving over the balcony at Anatomie Studio.
Our philosophy on this is very much one of ‘personal responsibility’ – there’s a writing on the wall with a disclaimer and information about suspension, we provide resources and information all over the studio about rope, safety and anatomy, and we put together regular classes and workshops to disseminate information as much as possible – which means we usually keep an eye out at jams but we’re pretty hands off about telling people what they should and shouldn’t be doing. If it looks consensual and isn’t unsafe (even if it looks misguided or isn’t how we would do it/teach it ourselves), we don’t intervene.
But when people who do not know how to suspend start locking off up-lines to points – no matter how innocuous the situation might be – what happens is that those of us who run and help out at the studio have to allocate all of our energy into keeping an eye out, and in being ready to intervene if something does go wrong. This becomes very difficult to do if several people are doing this all at once, and it becomes even harder if some of us are tying/being tied.
As you may have noticed we don’t operate the studio by policing behaviour or scenes, there is not ‘crew’, no hierarchy in the studio. Instead we count on common sense, respect, personal responsibility and consent. We find this creates a positive atmosphere of openness, sharing and community that we absolutely love in the studio.
… And we want to keep it that way!
So how can you help? It’s easy : if you have not been to a class or workshop or taken private tuition on how to suspend, please do not suspend in the studio. Go to a class or get some 1-on-1 tuition, getting started towards learning to suspend costs as little at £25 (for a 2 rope TK class).
Picking up a few tricks at rope jams is really awesome and you will learn so much that way, but not regarding how to suspend. The reason we ask people to learn suspension in a class/workshop/private tuition context is because this means your harnesses and lock-off have been (in principle) personally supervised, assessed and checked by a teacher. There are no qualifications in our field, no certifications, no degrees, so asking for this as a minimum requirement for suspending someone else in the space is the best measure we currently have to ensure safety.
We don’t want people to be afraid of suspensions, suspensions are popular for a reason, they’re challenging and also incredibly fun. What we do want is for people to acknowledge that suspension is edge-play, that it can be dangerous, that it can lead to injuries. Therefore it is an activity that should be treated with respect, and that should be learned and practiced.
Unlike many other high risk activities, when you tie, it is not (just) your own physical and emotional well-being that is at stake, but someone else’s – sometimes it’s someone you love, someone it’s someone you barely know.
Anatomie Studio isn’t just a space, its our home, so we care deeply about what happens in the studio – we have invested in insurance for aerial work, we have hired a structural engineer to assess our frame is safe, we do our homework about how to create a space that feels safe. If we have to start telling people they can’t suspend in order to preserve this… we will do it.
Thank you for reading this and thank you in advance for your cooperation!