Well, after yesterday’s camera fiasco, Naked Lens stepped up to help out and provided the photos for today’s recap. So a big thank you goes out to him.
Today was the big day. Everyone who is attending this year makes an appearance on the Saturday. Even before the official opening of the event, suspensions were taking place. The first suspension of the day goes to Samar and her “Shrimp” suspension, put together by Christiana, Havve, and Alan from Wings of Desire.
I believe Havve is responsible for naming this modified inverse resurrection.
And with that the day had begun. The first order of business was to welcome all 180+ attendees to Dallas. The day started out on a somber tone as we took the time to remember Adam. Mike from Hooked then approached the microphone to talk about the other member of the community that was unable to attend this year, Arwen (Spliff). Mike read a letter from Jill, and turned the stage back to Allen who led the crowd in the Disgraceland chant which must have been heard all the way in NYC, as it shook the walls here in Dallas.
I’m going to take a quick break here just to save some space on the main page. To read the rest, you know what to do.
After the opening ceremonies, a cleansing ritual was performed by members of CORE. From there the crowd dispersed into smaller groups to prepare for the day. Already the piercing rooms were filled with both veterans and trainees, all throwing hooks and learning the ropes. That goes for both groups as SusCon is very much a learning environment. All around me I could see yellow trainee badges paired up with the assorted colors of team leaders, piercers, and riggers. On top of that, I saw a trainee pull a team leader aside and was able to help them learn something new.
With all the learning going on around, it was no wonder that one of the next suspensions to take off the ground was one I had never seen before, the “Recovery Position” suspension.
Anyone trained in first aid will instantly recognize that position. Joe there was such a great sport about having a hook in the side of his head for a few hours, especially when it meant he had to spend the rest of the day with a lime green bandage wrapped around his head.
While Joe was up in the air, Steve Joyner was leading the first class of the day. The topic at hand, planning a live performance. Crews all over the world are getting more and more requests to perform suspensions at events, and with Steve’s guidance there are a lot more people prepared to navigate the world of stage performance.
If it seems like I’m jumping all over the place, it’s because there is so much going on at any given time. Knot tying and rigging lessons were happening non-stop. The piercing and bleed out areas were always filled with people working like a well oiled machine. Windows were open in the piercing rooms so that those who weren’t on the team throwing hooks, they could still observe and learn. Jason and Santos took the stage for their blood borne pathogens and contamination seminar, while outside Ryan was hopping on his bike to take to the air.
As you can see, things didn’t go quite the way they were planned on the first attempt, but in the end Ryan was able to get up in the air.
I headed back inside to see who was getting prepared for a suspension when I had the pleasure of meeting Ashley and Carl Morris, a married couple from Tulsa who came down with the AGRO team. This weekend marked their 4th wedding anniversary so they decided to do something a little special. Initially they knew they wanted to travel for their anniversary, so when they got invited to join the AGRO crew to SusCon, they made this their vacation. For this couple suspending wasn’t what brought them together. In fact it was Ashley who first discovered a love for taking hooks after modeling in a fetish show. From there she started attending AGRO meetings, and eventually Carl joined along. While Ashley was gung-ho, Carl took his time, and last October he had the opportunity to suspend for the first time. Since then, he hasn’t had the chance to hang, but with it being their anniversary, he decided to get back up in the air to celebrate.
After first contemplating sharing a spinning bar, the couple then decided to use the crane that was parked in the courtyard for a pendulum suspension. With a pendulum, the two people are suspended individually from the same point. As they spin around, they fly apart, swinging back and forth, passing each other in the air.
Unfortunately the suspension didn’t last long as Carl needed to be lowered down, but that didn’t stop Ashley as she went right back up as Carl looked on with a smile on his face.
With all the action going on around, it was easy to miss some incredible moments, but there were some events that nobody could miss. Neil from CORE, who you may remember from his forehead pull and throat suspension, wanted to pay tribute to his dear friend Spliff.
Now Neil’s plans were pretty well known by this point in the day, so when word got out that he was about to begin, everyone migrated outside for the first part of his plan. To begin, he was pierced in 5 locations around his body. His right chest, back right shoulder, stomach, left side and right butt cheek. Attached to these 5 hooks were pull lines, which were tied to the throats of 5 girls, each one representing a different suspension team. Nicola from SMS was linked to his chest, Olive from CORE on his back, Sabrina from Disgraceland the stomach, Dede from Hooked the side, and finally Opal from AGRO his ass. With the Disgraceland chant still ringing in the air, the girls began to pull. You could see in Neil’s face all the demons he was releasing. These girls went all out, each one in their own space, controlling their bodies and minds. By then end of the pull the girls were worn out, and Neil was energized.
We all moved inside where the final phase of this journey was to begin. When the signal was given, the familiar sounds of Tool began to blare through the speakers. Neil, with a rope attached to his chest hook, and a second line attached to his back began to sway to the music. In his hands he held the rope attached to his chest, the back, left loose. With a growl he began to lift and shouted for the suspension to begin. He rose in the air, held up only by a single point in his chest. Steve Joyner, who was leading the suspension team called for the first transition. The rope attached to his back was pulled taught as the chest rope was loosened. As the carabiner on his chest was pulled free, the tear that had formed began to pour blood. Yet at this moment, there was no time to stop. As soon as Steve reattached the clip to his stomach, the second transition began. Neil’s body heaved as he flipped from the hook in his back to the one in his front. Again, blood started to drip, Neil’s face grimaced in agony as he was spun around into position for his fourth hook. This time twisting onto his side, he dangled above the ground. The crowd sat in stunned silence as they watched a man push his body to the breaking point. Spinning one last time the final clip was attached to his ass as the ropes did their dance of pain. Slumping forward, arms reaching for the ground, he gave one final scream as he was finally lowered into the pool of his own blood. With quick hands Steve and the rest of the team moved into action, quickly checking just how wounded Neil was. They didn’t have to wait long as Neil rose to his feet with a guttural yell that broke the silence in the hall. Standing like a gladiator in triumph he arose to the crowd and began that all too familiar chant that had started the day.
With that proclamation, one would think that the day was finished. The crowd was in tears of joy and ecstasy. Witnessing something that profound isn’t something you get to witness every day. Yet here at SusCon, that is what happens. All around the venue life changing events are happening. Mental blocks are shattered as individuals push themselves harder than they’ve done before be it through suspending, or simply throwing hooks for the first time.
Even with a massive tear in his chest, Neil knows that this weekend is about sharing knowledge, and sure enough, as soon as he is able to move towards the suture room, he calls for people to come and watch as they’ll have an opportunity to see the skills they’ve been learning put into practice.
As the light fades, lightning blazes across the dark Texas sky. The final outdoor suspensions are brought down, and the last of the indoor ones go up. Every where you look people are either in a lesson about rope tying or suturing, cleaning up the hall, or observing the final suspensions of the day.
We arrive back to the hotel both tired and energized. Tomorrow is the second day of suspensions, and there is a lot more to come. For myself, I’ll be getting the chance to get the rest of the interviews that I wasn’t able to get to today, including one with Neil himself.
As I look at the clock, it’s 4am Dallas time, and I’m headed to bed. I hope everyone’s Easter weekend is going well, and I’ll see you back here Monday with the final day of SusCon.