Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chilean National Jam at La Concepcion

My last weekend in Chile was spent at a national parkour jam held in La Concepcion in the south of Chile. Carlos had told me about the event a few days after my arrival and since it coincided perfectly with my visit, we decided to road-trip down together after Friday’s Parkour School class. The all-night bus ride was actually kind of fun, since unlike in the US, UK, or Australia, long-distance bus riding is not an excruciatingly painful experience. There was a movie (like the airplane, the sound was regulated from your seat and not blasted from a central speaker), free snacks, a water fountain, a decent bathroom, and best of all- lots of leg-room. The seats reclined and the leg-rests came up to make a semi-bed arrangement, which although not the Ritz, was way better than any Megabus or Greyhound that I’ve taken.

Chilean National Jam: Day 1
When we arrived in Concepcion at six in the morning we emerged from the bus to find ourselves surrounded by a number of squinty-eyed guys with baggy sweatpants, hoodies, and backpacks that were sleepily eying the surrounding walls and railings with halfhearted interest. A half hour later we were met by one of the local “Nelquihue” (the local team) traceurs that had offered to drag himself out of bed in order to meet the visiting traceurs and guide them to the jam location. When we got there a number of the guys woke up and immediately started jumping around on the scaffolding that had been put up in the middle of the square for the jam. Carlos and I decided to treat the day as a marathon instead of a 100-meter sprint and found a good place to take a nap until the sun was properly up in the sky.

After 2-hour nap and a quick trip to the supermarket for breakfast we headed back to the jam, which at this point was starting to get rolling. We signed in and got our official “jam wristbands” (the cost of the jam was 1000 pesos, about $2 since all of the scaffolding and equipment had been donated by local businesses in return for advertising and signage space) and the jam kicked off with a quick warm-up and stretching session.

Warming up

Carlos and I decided that we weren’t quite warm enough afterward so we led a quadrepedie session for a lot of the traceurs based on stuff that I had picked up through my travels and had been sharing with Carlos and the Parkour School.

Everyone loves some quadrepedie...

and some more...

While I spent a lot of the morning filming, after a quick lunch I tried to put the camera down in the afternoon to get some quality training in, talk with the guys, and even learn how to do a wall flip (big shout-out to Rodrigo). The rest of the afternoon was spent playing around on the scaffolding and exploring the nearby hotspots with some of the local traceurs.

By the late afternoon everyone was pretty exhausted and the first day of the jam came to a close with the group disassembly of the scaffolding.

Group breakdown of the scaffolding

Carlos and I headed home with one of the local guys to take showers at his house and hang out for a while before dinner. Much refreshed afterwards we headed to the house of one of the team organizers, which turned out to be the perfect location for a barbecue and drinks. The barbecue and drinks soon led to the usual parkour party antics- push-up contests, handstands, cinderblock curls, and by the end of the night we were Greco-roman wrestling on the kitchen floor. Realizing that we had to get up in a few hours for Day 2 of the jam we all collapsed in sardine-like arrangement onto couches and air-mattresses to catch a few hours sleep before the next day.

(Interesting note: One of the first things that struck me as the guys arrived for the jam was the number of Urban Freeflow “Glyph” t-shirts in the videos. While the presence of Urban Freeflow paraphernalia initially surprised me, I learned after talking to the guys that all the clothing that I saw was “homemade” and that most of them didn’t know that it was the UF logo, having adopted the symbol as a “parkour sign”. (Case in point about the spreading of inaccuracy and misinformation of parkour “history” via the internet.))

Is UF official gear really this popular?

Not quite...

Chilean National Jam: Day 2

The second day of the jam kicked off in one of the main plazas of the local university with a very tired-looking crowd. After an intensive warm-up led by Parkour School Santiago instructors Osho and Emme, the much more lively assembly split off into smaller groups to train in various hotspots around the campus. After exploring the campus for a few hours we all met up for an ambulatory tour of the city hotspots. We stopped at various points to work on particularly interesting routes or challenges although Carlos and I took it pretty easy since we were both exhausted from a few days of intensive training and a general lack of quality sleep.

The sleepy traceurs congregate

A stiff warmup

Getting more dynamic

Carlos's video of the Jam:

By the end of the afternoon everyone was pretty exhausted and the jam started to close down as people left to catch buses or rides back their hometowns. Carlos and I headed back with a core group of the local traceurs for a final cool-down and stretching session and goodbye’s. Since our bus wasn’t until late at night we hung out with a few of the locals for the remainder of the evening. Our walk back to the “home base” was delayed by an extended exploration of an abandoned factory on the way home, which had most of us looking over our shoulders for incoming zombies or other apocalyptic life forms.

More pictures and videos to come....

*Big thanks to Carlos Hidalgo and Paulina Moreno for thier great pictures!  Also a big shout-out to the people below for thier parts in hosting and welcoming me to La Concepcion!

Yes, that is a Davidson hoodie, no one has any idea how it got to Chile.

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