Sunday, March 18, 2007

All dues must be paid in advance: The Dangerous Sports Club

From Wikipedia

The Dangerous Sports Club was founded by David Kirke, Chris Baker, Ed Hulton and Alan Weston. They first came to wide public attention by inventing bungee jumping, by making the first modern jumps on 1 April 1979, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, England. They followed the Clifton Bridge effort with a jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, CA, and with a televised leap from the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado, sponsored by and televised on the popular American television program That's Incredible Bungee jumping was treated as a novelty for a few years, then became a craze for young people, and is now an established industry for thrill seekers.

The Club also pioneered a surrealist form of skiing, holding three events at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in which competitors were required to devise a sculpture mounted on skis and ride it down a mountain. The event reached its limits when the Club arrived in St. Moritz with a London double-decker bus, wanting to send it down the ski slopes, and the Swiss resort managers refused.

Other Club activities included expedition hang gliding from active volcanoes; the launching of giant (60ft) plastic spheres with pilots suspended in the centre (zorbing); microlight flying; and BASE jumping (in the early days of this sport).

After a heyday in the early to mid 1980s, the Club declined in numbers and activity level. However, in the early period, it was highly active, with several dozen active members and a holding a wide range of events. The Club was heavily covered in the press, and made a film released in 1982 ("The History of the Dangerous Sports Club") as a supporting feature. The group split into various factions over the years. Monty Python star Graham Chapman was perhaps their most famous member, and he was at work in a feature movie about the club when he died in 1989.

The Club, although later achieving a degree of social diversity, was rooted in the English upper class and centred geographically in Oxford and, later, the West End of London. The style of dress adopted by members during their activities often included top hats and tailcoats, and the Club had a deserved champagne-swilling image.

However, it is the invention of bungee jumping for which the Club is mostly renowned