Francisca Vazquez had never seen something quite like it. The genius of P.T. It was 1916, in Mexico City, and young Francisca’s dad and mom had brought her to see the world-famous Barnum & Bailey Circus. Barnum’s was to gather exotic acts from across the globe and showcase them to rapt native audiences.
The act that enthralled Francisca, herself a second-era circus performer, was executed by a duo of long-haired Chinese men. Dressed in silk tunics, the men had been lifted into the air by their long, black hair and spun around in a dizzying circle. As painful as it looked, the males wore serene smiles and even sipped tea from small tables set on their laps [source: Wadler]. Relying on who’s telling the story, teenage Francisca both taught herself learn how to braid and tie her hair or was tutored in the secret apply by a “nice Chinese lady” [sources: Beck, Wadler].
Five generations later, the women of the Ayala family are still some of the premiere hair hangers on the earth, their act showcased in none aside from the modern-day Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus [supply: Millat].
The members of Ayala family are some of only a dozen hair-hanging families worldwide [source: Barr]. The scarcity of hair hangers is a tribute to the issue of the act, which even probably the most seasoned performers admit will be incredibly painful. It’s also dangerous.
In May 2014, eight hair hangers with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were seriously injured when a metal clasp suspending them 15 ft (5 meters) within the air snapped, sending the girls toppling to the ground in entrance of 4,000 horrified spectators [source: Fieldstadt].
Marguerite Ayala, granddaughter of Francisca Vazquez, suffered her personal disastrous fall in 1982, waking from per week-lengthy coma to a broken neck. Two years later, although, she was back within the act [supply: Wadler].
What are the secrets and techniques behind this feat of follicle strength, where did it originate and what does it feel prefer to be swung round by your scalp? Keep reading to be taught all about hair hanging. The unique hair hangers were mostly men just like the tea-sipping Chinese performers that Francisca Vazquez saw in Mexico Metropolis.
China has a protracted and rich history of contortionism, acrobatics and variety acts. to 200 C.E., variety acts have been recruited to entertain the royal Chinese court [source: Chinese State Circus].]. Through the Qin and Han dynasties, roughly 200 B.C.E. Chinese artwork and crafts dating back more than 2,000 years depict lithe acrobats in high-flying action.
The Chinese hair hangers from the 1916 Barnum & Bailey Circus had been possible amongst the primary to share their scalp-stretching act with the world. The basic elements of the hair hanging act have modified little or no over the previous century, except that almost all (however not all) fashionable hair hangers are girls.
Hardly ever does a circus college train hair hanging. One of many few that does, Merely Circus in Massachusetts, limits its college students to just 10 minutes within the air after 5 years of training [source: Caligiuiri]. Most people be taught the act from a family member.
Hair hanging is a type of excessive-wire act. Backstage, the performer’s hair is carefully braided around a steel loop. Assistants in the wings use pulleys and information cables to control the spinning motion of the performer. Through the act, the loop is attached to a steel cable, by which the performer is lifted 15 to 35 feet (5 to eleven meters) into the air.
As hair hangers soar in widening circles for five to 20 minutes, they might perform graceful pirouettes, twist in athletic contortions, twirl a hula hoop or even juggle fire [sources: Wadler, Barr]. Joanna Sawicka, a Polish-born hair hanger identified by her stage title Anastasia IV, holds a Guinness World Document for lifting the most weight with hair. She has a stage act by which she is suspended upside down from a cable while holding one other performer aloft with her hair [source: Cawley].
How on the planet do hair hangers get their tresses strong enough to hold their whole body weight? We’ll get some grooming suggestions, subsequent. Otherwise, would not it damage like crazy? The steel cable should attach to a body harness hidden beneath their clothing, proper?
To reply the query – sure, it absolutely hurts, not less than at first. “It feels simply such as you might imagine hanging out of your hair would feel – a very fast pulling sensation at the highest of the head” [supply: Cawley]. Ultimately, she turned used to it and now she simply feels a dull ache. Nevertheless, she usually suffers from headaches and gets a bump at the highest of her scalp by the top of a 3-month tour. The ache is worst, her daughter added, when the performer is first lifted in the air, when the scalp stretches with the load of supporting more than a 100 pounds (45 kilograms).Okay.-based mostly Circus of Horrors, told the BBC that the ache initially drove her to tears. Marguerite Ayala of the famous Ayala family told the new York Instances that when she was learning hair hanging, she felt like boiling water had been poured on high of her head.
Even worse than the pain of hanging out of your head is the prospect of plummeting to the bottom, which is why hair hangers take nice care to build up the energy of their prolonged tresses. The secret’s maintaining the hair from getting brittle or split.
Anastasia IV detailed her hair care regimen in 2014 [supply: Cawley]:
Conditioner is utilized to her waist-length hair 5 instances a day while touring.
No hair coloring or blow-drying is allowed.
Conditioner is applied straight before a performance and the hair is absolutely wetted down to offer further energy.
“Hair vitamins” are taken as a supplement.
However the true secret to hair hanging, in response to its small cadre of practitioners, is within the intricate braiding of the hair. More on that subsequent.
Protein is essentially for strong, healthy hair, in addition to vitamin D, zinc and vitamin B5, also referred to as pantothenic acid (the “pant” in Pantene) [source: Krieger]. To ensure his hair has enough muscle for showtime, hair hanger Christopher Williams not solely eats foods naturally wealthy in these essential vitamins, but in addition treats his elbow-lengthy locks with a homemade slurry of avocados, eggs, mayonnaise and vinegar [supply: Barr]. Yum.
A single strand of wholesome human hair can hold 3.5 ounces (a hundred grams) of weight, the equal tensile power of copper wire of the same diameter. So, theoretically (if not in observe) the hair on a typical human head might help 2 tons (1.Eight metric tons) of weight [supply: Lee]. However it’s not the length or even the conditioning that is the real secret to performing this feat.
If the tension on the scalp is uneven, chunks of hair may be actually ripped from the performer’s head. Yikes!
The details of the braid – and the knot that secures it to the ring – are properly-protected trade secrets and techniques. Anastasia IV mentioned she figured it out herself by painful trial and error. Each circus family has its personal braiding method that requires cautious research and years of experience.
Doing the braid requires time and a group effort. It takes her half-hour to brush out her hair in preparation for it to be braided. Then her husband and second helper fastidiously plait her hair like a rope, which takes one other forty five minutes [supply: Cawley]. The Ayalas have it all the way down to a science, requiring solely 20 to forty minutes for the men of the family to braid and tie the women’s hair to the thick help ring [source: Beck].
For heaps extra hair-elevating feats of human endurance – and a few sensible hoaxes – check out the associated HowStuffWorks hyperlinks on the following web page.
Hair hanging shouldn’t be only painful, it’s also dangerous, which is why hair hangers take great care to construct up the energy of their prolonged tresses.
How much weight can a human hair hold?
A single strand of wholesome human hair can hold 3.5 ounces (a hundred grams) of weight, the equivalent tensile strength of copper wire of the identical diameter. So, theoretically (if not in follow) the hair on a typical human head might assist 2 tons (1.Eight metric tons) of weight.
Is hair hanging bad for you?
It is harmful because if the tension on the scalp is uneven, chunks of hair might be actually ripped from the performer’s head.
Are you able to dangle out of your hair?
Most likely not. Professionals, like members of well-known performing Ayala household, are some of solely a dozen hair-hanging households worldwide. They are specially skilled to hang from their hair, which they also treat with a special hair care regimen to strengthen the strands.
How can a person cling by their hair?
The real trick is the braid. When the members of the Ayala household cross down their hair-hanging secrets and techniques to the following generation, it’s all about securing the hair to the steel ring in such a manner as to distribute the pulling drive equally throughout the scalp.
Creator’s Notice: How Hair Hanging Works
For a few years, my family and that i lived in Mexico, where there’s a lively tradition of small, household-run circuses. To drum up business, the circus would parade among the animals via town through the week. Thankfully, there have been also loads of avocados. The performances themselves had been of wildly varying high quality (one that includes an endless series of trained dog acts), but I do remember just a few truly gifted hair hangers. We took our youngsters to several touring circus troupes, at all times named after the family (¡El Circo Guzman!). I wasn’t surprised to hear that the Ayalas, maybe the “first household” of hair hanging, originated in Mexico. I’ll never forget walking with my 2-year-outdated daughter to the market and her pointing over my shoulder with eyes ablaze, “Tiger!” Expecting to see a Tigger balloon behind me, I turned to stand face-to-face with a large, very actual tiger pacing her cage.
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Barr, Meghan. “‘Hair hanging’ a uncommon, painful circus act.” The Boston Globe. Might 5, 2014 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/05/05/hair-hanging-rare-painful-circus-act/AHkuk1EUK00ooz6tOH7KyH/story.html
Beck, Barbara. “This Act Will Curl Your Hair on the Circus; The Ayalas Really Go back to Their Roots.” Philadelphia Daily Information. Might 29, 1990 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://articles.philly.com/1990-05-29/entertainment/25890092_1_hair-excessive-wire-braid
Cawley, Laurence. “Anastasia IV: How do you make hair robust sufficient to hang from?” BBC News. April 5, 2014 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.bbc.com/information/uk-england-26712995
Chinese State Circus. “2000 years of tradition explode in the world’s best acrobatic circus” (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.chinesestatecircus.com/
Columbia Artist Administration Inc. “History of the Chinese language Circus” (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.cami.com/worddocs/worddocs2109/Historical past-OF-THE-Chinese-CIRCUS.PDF
Fieldstadt, Elisha. “Ringling Bros. at Fault for ‘Hair Hanging’ Stunt Malfunction: OSHA.” NBC News. Nov. 4, 2014 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.nbcnews.com/information/us-information/ringling-bros-fault-hair-hanging-stunt-malfunction-osha-n240991
Krieger, Elizabeth B. “Top 10 Foods for Wholesome Hair.” WebMD. Oct. 20, 2012 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.webmd.com/magnificence/hair-styling/top-10-foods-for-healthy-hair
Lee, Jolie. “What is the circus hair dangle act?” USA Right now. May 5, 2014 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.usatoday.com/story/information/nation-now/2014/05/05/hair-grasp-circus-ringling/8719429/
Millat, Caitlin. “Couple finds love in a 3-ring circus.” New York Daily News. March 9, 2008 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.nydailynews.com/life-type/couple-finds-love-three-ring-circus-article-1.287665
Murray, Rheana. “What It Takes to Be an expert Hair-Hanger in the Circus.” ABC Information. Could 5, 2015 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://abcnews.go.com/US/takes-skilled-hair-hanger-circus/story?id=23593385
Wadler, Joyce. “The Hair Hold Remains a Family Affair.” The new York Occasions. April 7, 1998 (Feb. 26, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/07/nyregion/public-lives-the-hair-dangle-stays-a-family-affair.html