Borne out of Yosemite National Park in the United States no less, slacklining has become quite the hit among acrobatic carioca boys and girls over the last twelve months. Espousing several of the elements integral to any Rio past time worth its salt - showing off, wearing little in the way of clothing and hanging around on the beach - despite being somewhat unusual, its rise in popularity in this outdoorsy city is of little surprise.
The story goes that when climbing conditions in Yosemite were unfavourable, the frustrated adventurers would simply tie a rope between two points and practice their balance. That rope was soon switched for a more elasticated cord and mere balance supplemented with inventive manoeuvres, and so a new craze was born - Tricklining. It may look like a pretty ad-hoc past time, but the materials are crucial. The Gibbon lines - named after the tree-swinging monkeys - come in thicknesses of 25mm, 35mm and 55mm, the more elasticated they are the better for tricks, the thinner the better for walking.
Slack D'Ávila has taken over the palm trees at the end of Rua Garcia D'Ávila in Ipanema, a group that meets religiously between 6pm and 9pm to work on their technique. There are already signature moves like the Butt Bounce (landing on the bum and then bouncing back up onto your feet) and The Buddha (forming the lotus position on the cord), but the whole point is individual creativity and, as Slack D'Ávila founding member José Helu says, relaxation;
"For me its totally meditative and stress-relieving - you have to concentrate and focus completely. Its an individual sport, like yoga."
What looks a little dull to the casual observer can quickly become an obsession, and learning from scratch with a helping hand then finally 'going solo' has a sense of achievement not unlike riding a bike the first time. Its also a great workout for the legs and bum which has not gone unnoticed by the local girls now picking it up en masse.
There are even competitions in Brazil, with Gibbon's 'Slackline Master' the most sought-after title, where elements such as time on the rope, difficulty of tricks and style are evaluated, so get up there and see if you've got the inner equilibrium required to make running away to the circus a possibility once more.