Slacklining in Tehran

Collection with 15 media items created by Leyland Cecco

22 Apr 2014 09:09

In a park in north Tehran, a new sport is drawing crowds.

With pants rolled up at the ankle and white earbuds dangling, a group of Iranian youth delight the onlookers by balancing on the narrow nylon bands anchored from the trees. Known as Slackline Tehran, this group meets almost everyday to practice. Most days of the week they practice in the many parks around Tehran, and on the weekends they escape to the nearby Alboraz Mountains further north of Tehran.

Unknown to most outside of the country, Iran has a vibrant outdoors community thanks to the many mountains throughout the country. “We were all rock climbers,” says Mojtaba Afarin, one of the group’s earliest members. The climbers soon heard of slacklining, a sport that in Tehran, is far removed from its origins in the United States

Most of the slacklining community credits students Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington with developing the sport in the 1979 at Evergreen State College in Washington State. Originally a cable strung between two trees on the campus quad, the sport has exploded in popularity throughout North America, and is now a fixture on university and college campuses.

To some, seeing a group of youth balancing and bouncing on ropes as an odd sight in Iran. However, over the last few years, urban sports such as parkour and slacklining have made a dramatic arrival. Iranians see Tehran as the most liberal and secular city, and also the one that sets the trends for the nation.

“We don’t usually have problems practicing,” says Afarin. “But if we are wearing shorts, or there are crowds that are too big, or there are girls practicing, then they kick us out.” The group has grown from a few avid rock climbers to more than 100, with 4 or 5 girls.

Because rock climbing is a popular sport in Iran, the ropes and cams used to anchor the lines are fairly easy to acquire. However, the lines themselves cannot be found in Iran, and the group relies on friends and relatives in Canada to provide them with the gear.

Tehran’s sprawling parks make for an ideal spot for the sport to take off. The rich greenery, which is a staple of public life, has more in common with university campuses than a heavily populated city.

Unlike tightrope walking, the slackness of the line creates a trampoline effect. Walkers can bounce up and down and perform tricks that would be impossible on a tightrope.

Iran Tehran Slacklining Sport

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Mojtaba Afarin, one of the early members of the group Slackline Tehran, balances on the line in Park-e Laleh in northern Tehran, Iran.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

The group says they usually don't have trouble practicing in the park. However, if the crowds get too big, if any of the participants are wearing shorts or girls are participating, the authorities will usually step in and shut them down.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

The group, Slackline Tehran, practice five days a week in the park, and two days a week in the mountains surrounding Tehran.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Slackliners will often bounce on the lines (much like a trampoline) in order to get balance back or to perform tricks.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Slackliners will often bounce on the lines (much like a trampoline) in order to get balance back or to perform tricks.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

While the ropes and cams used to anchor the slacklines are found easily in Iran, the slacklines themselves have to be brought in from abroad. Mojtaba Afarin says the group gets theirs from friends and relatives in Canada, where the sport is popular at university campuses.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

A slackliner completes the 35 meter line anchored between two trees. In order to help concentrate, the slackliners in the park listen to music as a ways of blocking out stimuli around them.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

The group doesn't only walk across the lines- they also convert bicycles to balance along the nylon webbing.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Hamed Mehrjoo, a member of the slacklining group for the last 6 months, tightens the line. The group stretched a 35 meter line across the park, which some attempted to walk blindfolded.

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SlacklineTehranIran-4.jpg
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Mojtaba Afarin puts on a blindfold prior to walking the slackline.

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SlacklineTehranIran-5.jpg
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Hamed Mehrjoo balances on the line as a spectator watches. Unlike tightrope walking, the line is purposefully slackened, allowing the walker to bounce or perform tricks.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Mojtaba Afarin was one of the first members of the group Slackline Tehran. Originally a rock climber, he and other outdoor enthusiasts practice slacklining seven days a week. The group has grown to more than 100 people.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Slackliners will often bounce on the lines (much like a trampoline) in order to get balance back or to perform tricks.

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Slacklining in Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

The lines can be walked barefoot or with shoes, but some slackliners prefer shoes that mimic the foot for increased grip and balance on the line.

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SlacklineTehranIran-2.jpg
Iran, Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
17 Apr 2014

Unlike tightrope walking, the nylon webbing used in slacklining is more flexible, allowing the walker to bounce on the line like a trampoline. However, incredible balance is also required.