“If you can walk on the ground, you will be able to walk on a slackline in some time,” said Faris Fawaaz, co-founder of the Delhi Slackline Community, while comforting a newcomer who was struggling to find her way on a polyester rope suspended between two trees. As Fawaaz helped the novice take her first walk on a slackline, the joy of trying something new was evident on her face.
Founded a year ago by Fawaaz, an avid mountaineer, and Radhika Agrawal, an aerialist, the Delhi Slackline Community has managed to grow exponentially over time as a result of their regular meet-ups called ‘Slack Sundays’ that take place at Lodhi Garden every morning. The community’s aim is to introduce slacklining--a sport that incorporates walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors--to more people.
“These are community sessions. We are trying to introduce the sport to people since it's fairly new. The only time people have seen this is when acrobats tightrope walk in melas,” says Fawaaz.
A space for all
When we reached Lodhi Garden on a chilly Sunday morning, there was a flurry of activity at the slacklining spot. Even though the sport may seem terrifying to a newbie, the space where they practised exuded an inviting vibe-soothing music, relaxing mats.
The members of the Delhi Slackline Community welcomed everyone with a friendly grin and were keen on helping every individual remotely interested to try slacklining. Every now and then, a passerby would halt at the spot, staring in amazement.
The eager ones would end up trying the activity with the community’s help. With a number of activities-hula hooping, parkour, acro yoga, and juggling-taking place here, the vibe instantly changed, now seems more like a picnic.
“The response [to Slack Sundays] has been really overwhelming. Our idea is to bring one new person to the session every Sunday, and if we are doing that then I think we are doing well," says Radhika Agrawal, co-founder, Delhi Slackline Community.
“Slacklining is a very interesting activity. You develop balance, focus, concentration while you do it. Once you get a hang of slacklining, you can keep experimenting with various lines and heights,” says Sonakshi Mittal (26), a resident of East Delhi, who started slacklining with the Delhi Slackline Community last year.
The space is open to both novices and professionals alike. “I have an inclination toward adventure activities. I was looking forward to trying this for a while and I hope to become a regular here," says Mehak Chauhan (24), a Dwarka resident who tried slacklining for the first time on Sunday.
As the slackliners wrapped up their session in Lodhi Garden around noon, a similar group of slacklining enthusiasts started gathering at Chanakyapuri’s Nehru Park. The members of Slacktivism, one of Delhi’s oldest slacklining groups, also meet every Sunday to practise the sport while introducing it to others. Ever since their launch by Delhi-based German photographer Enrico Fabian in 2013, the group has been regular with their meetings.
“Anyone who wants to practise or get better at the sport or eventually take it to a highline or water line can join us. It is a good place to start. We have beginner lines since many newcomers come here. In fact, depending on one’s skill and progress, people can change lines,” says Mohit Tanwar (35), who is the admin of Slacktivism.
Concerns at rest
Though often perceived to be dangerous, both Fawaaz and Tanwar affirm that the sport is safe provided the individual does not rush their way through the learning process. “One needs to know how to take controlled falls; for instance, you should not be landing on your back. It is also advisable to start with lower lines, ideally about the height of your knee. As long as people know how to take a fall, you can say it is just as safe as climbing or any other similar adventure sport,” Tanwar explained.
Slacklining is also believed to cause damage to the trees since the activity entails fastening ropes between two tree trunks. However, both these groups have been careful to avoid any harm to the trees that act as anchor points during practice. “We pad the anchors with towels to ensure that we don't damage the bark of the tree. If you are regularly tying the rope at the same spot, it [the bark] will wither over time and cause damage. With padding, you can limit this, to some extent” concluded Fawaaz.
Learn the ropes
The Delhi Slackline Community, which started a year ago by Faris Fawaaz and Radhika Agrawal, meets every Sunday at the Lodhi Garden. The meet titled ‘Slack Sundays’ features a bunch of slacklining enthusiasts who usually begin practising from 9:00am.
Slacktivism was started by Delhi-based German photographer Erico Fabian. The group usually organises weekly meet-ups at Chanakyapuri’s Nehru Park, every Sunday afternoon from 3:00pm.