Acro / Festivals

Chicago Acro Fest

If you’re not a professional athlete or you don’t work out for hours every day, and you want to feel like your entire body is bruised for a few days, go to an acro fest.

I love acro festivals. They’re all different, they all have amazing teachers, and they all have this warm, loving, inviting vibe that makes you feel all gooey and nostalgic and a little bit like you’re surrounded by all of your best friends except that you have to constantly re-ask them what their name is and where they’re from. It’s also, more often than not, a kind of a hippie yoga love fest – some with more cuddle puddles than others.

The Fest

Chicago Acro Fest was a smaller event than some of the others that I’ve been to and honestly, I was pretty happy with that. Two days, four sessions a day, and five classes each session to choose from. Each session had a beginner, intermediate, advanced, therapeutic, and “special” class. And the venue was setup in such a way that it separated off the therapeutic classes into different, completely removed (we’re talking, different room, with a curtain over the door kind of separated) area – which was perfect because, I don’t know about you, but if I’m in a therapeutic class and I’m supposed to be relaxing, it’s almost impossible for me to do so when I’m in a brightly lit, giant hall with three other loud, excited classes going on. Plus, you could actually *hear* the instructors without them needing to shout!! Such a novelty!

I also loved the fact that it had only one option each for each level. I personally am loathe to choose between two or three different classes all at a level I can take that all look equally awesome.

They even had 30 minutes in between each session which was incredibly helpful – because you never actually end a class when it’s supposed to end. I mean, come on, we’re acro people, if we have the chance to keep going, we typically do. Having that 30 minutes instead of the typical 15 was such a boon – we actually got to finish practicing and calm down a little and chat a little and prepare ourselves for our next session. It made a huge difference.

And I want to give a shout out to all of the teachers. No, I didn’t take all all of their classes (if someone figures out how to get that time jumping watch that Hermione has, hook a sister up), but it takes a lot to teach at these events, and I appreciate all of them. THANK YOU, TEACHERS! YOU GUYS ALL ROCK!

Basically, I thought the venue was perfect, the layout was perfect, the class sizes were really, really nice, and the taco truck that was hanging out on the first day was Amazeballs (I actually have no idea what their name was – the van said La Jefe, the Chicago Acro Fest site says La Patrona, I give up. However, zomg, seriously one of the best burritos I’ve had in a long long time). They also had some absolutely fantastic kombucha/matcha/bubble tea – from Bubble & Bloom (I looooved their green tea matcha) and vegan vendor (Eat Purely – which looked delicious, but alas I didn’t get a chance to try that one) and some really rad free snacks from Kuli Kuli, Kind, Skinny Pop, Bai, Milk & Honey Granola, Noosa Yoghurt and Go Raw.

Not gonna lie, I actually really do like those Kind bars – especially the dark chocolate and almonds and mint one. They’re not like protein bars even though they do have a bit of protein. And by that I mean: I think that standard protein bars do not have an appealing taste at all. Even the good ones. These bars taste great :). It’s like a chewy party in my mouth.

I only ended up trying one flavor of the Noosa yoghurt, but that stuff was fabulous. I’m pretty positive there was a fair amount of sugar in it, though. I tried the strawberry rhubarb and it legit tasted like one of those cream cheese cheesecakes. Only as a personal sized yogurt cup with a weird little cardboard foldy spoon. Very good (if you like cheesecake).

That might be two full cases of popcorn. And Nik might have gone through half of one by the next day.

Skinny Pop was, of course, popcorn. Honestly, I think popcorn tastes like popcorn. This stuff doesn’t have that weird rubbery feeling that a lot of those other commercially manufactured popcorns do. In fact, it actually tastes like something that you could have made yourself. And I’m that guy who refuses to eat any kind of microwave popcorn because it all tastes and feels really weird and disconcerting. As for the Skinny Pop, for whatever reason, there ended up being a bunch of it left over. Not enough people were eating it. So Nik and I miiiiight have ended up with a ton of it. And it’s coming with us to Teacher Training (unless we eat it all before we get there… no promises). 🙂

Kuli Kuli brought these little energy shot things. They weren’t bad, but they were definitely energy shots and had that distinct “I’m totes full of caffeine” taste. On the bright side, they didn’t taste like pure chemicals like basically every other energy shot ever and that was pretty baller. Though, they did have a pretty distinct taste and I’m not going to say it was a great taste, but it wasn’t a terrible taste. It did make my lips pucker a bit. I also only really got to try the one flavor (raspberry something), so maybe the other flavors have a little less of that “gag me with a spoon” aftertaste. As far as energy goes, I definitely wasn’t falling asleep – and they didn’t make me feel like my heart was going to explode like some of the other energy shots *cough*fivehourenergy*cough*. That said, I was pretty high on life and I’m pretty desensitized to caffeine these days (thanks several cups of coffee every day), so they might have just been a drop in the bucket to my standard caffeine intake.

The Learning

On the note of what did we learn? SO MUCH STUFF. Nik did his first standing hand to hand! XD!!! I am absolutely ecstatic for him! I guess he’s pretty excited too. 😉 And I almost did a hand to hand get-up! And we learned some awesome new pops that I cannot wait to practice more!

With learning all the things, a fact of acro is that you are likely to get injured doing it at some point. However, at these events, I think it’s actually a little less likely to get seriously injured, because: spotting spotting spotting spotting spotting. There are TONS of people around and you can almost always find a spotter or three. Especially during classes, spotting is usually highly enforced.

There were several occasions where a flier was heading face first toward the ground from a standing move and three or four spotters were RIGHT THERE and saved them. Like, literally saved them. That’s a broken neck waiting to happen. With one of the falls, the instructor was watching and he FREAKED OUT about how awesome the spotting was. He was actually yelling “ZOMIGOD! THAT WAS AMAZING! YOU DIDN’T DIE! YOUR SPOTTERS ARE AMAZING!” and the girl who had fallen – totally deadpan – responded very seriously (re: dying): “Well, it’s never happened before”.

It’s nice to know that spotters have got your back. And it’s really nice to know that our teachers are actually just as enthusiastic about spotting as they purport to be.

As for our injuries: Nik is sore, but relatively uninjured – score! As for me, I decided I was going to be a badass lady-base and try to base a girl (I don’t base terribly often) in jump to Reverse Star. Mind you, I’ve based this with guys much bigger than me before with no trouble, and she was not a big girl by any stretch of the imagination – she was my size. So, of course, I was like: Yeah, jump! So she jumped and I had her, aaand then I managed to lose my balance and dump her over my head and totally knee’d myself in the eye. Because, of course I did. So, yay for a bruised eye being the extent of my (new) injuries?

The Feels

Back to that warm gooey feeling. Festivals also give me all the feels. They’re basically reunions where, instead of getting together and just drinking and eating (a favorite Midwest past-time), you get together and play. And play and play and play and play. For those of us with boundless energy, you do a lot of squealing, jumping on people, hugging, and attempting to squeeze in so much playtime that you’re then painfully sleep-deprived but basically high on life. Personally, I also get a little overwhelmed and completely exhausted. And then my most of me hurts and I spend the day after either crying and recovering or happily reminiscing and recovering. Or a little of column A and a little of column B.

The acro community is wonderful and interesting. I go to these events and make a dozen or two awesome new friends. We play the whole time, we hug and constantly exclaim how much we love one another and how awesome each other is, and then at the end we make pouty, sad duck faces about how long it will be before we see one another again, force each other to find ourselves on one another’s Facebook and Instagram, and then promptly don’t speak again until the next event because, inevitably, we live worlds apart.

It’s hard, you know? You get to know these people so intimately over the course of about two days, spend so much time in super close contact, connecting in some really intimate ways. It’s hard not to connect when you’re spending so much time touching one another. Then, suddenly, you have to part ways and you get thrown back into the real world (or most of us do) with a jolt that sometimes shakes you to bone. For me, it jolts me because my “real life” is nothing like the world of acro. At least, not yet. I go to my 9 to 5 and spend hours under florescent lights staring at a screen making random letters and numbers print in boxes on carefully formatted pieces of paper, not speaking to anyone and definitely not coming into physical contact with another human for many, many hours at a time. The withdrawal can really be painful.

However, the experience is wonderful. And it’s worth every moment of the withdrawal. And someday soon “real life” will be more like the world of acro instead of a 9 to 5.


PS: Yes, I know there aren’t any pictures of the festival. You know how I said I stop looking at my phone at these fests? Well, I also utterly Fail at taking pictures at them too. I’ll find some that other people took eventually and get them linked up. For now, though, I got you this kitten.

It’s a ball ‘o kitten.

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