The Babylon Boogie, July 2015 , Empuriabrava, Spain..
(or The Art of Learning to Fly, Whilst Having Loads of Fun…)
If you don’t like post-Boogie depression, then the Babylon – Giconi Boogie was not made for you. When the 4 days of jumping and partying came to an end, the return to reality hurt… A lot!
The Babylon Team and the Giconi Staff do not do things lightly and they presented us with a 4-day event of pure awesomeness. The program was intense, and every jump was unique because of the Babylonian’s major problem; they can't do jumps where the briefings are simply “follow the coach, be on level and do a good separation”… They had to add something like “don’t forget to inflate your balloons, be careful when you fire your smoke canister at the door, don’t over-inflate your dolphin during the climb or it might explode, keep your tube in the left hand, extend your arm fully while opening…”, etc, etc.
So the most difficult thing for us all to achieve was, not having a constant idiotic smile on our faces, not doing enough 'checks' and not giving away too many hugs loaded with joy and happiness to our fellow boogie skydivers as we gathered on the ground.
After attending several Skills Camps already this year, I arrived fresh in Empuriabrava to test out the Babylon – Giconi Boogie. As a well-seasoned flyer on the stereotypical scheme of modern boogies, I was immediately looking for the group that would correspond to my level; I’m ready to fly…
But it soon became apparent that – that's not how it rolls out here, soon I realise it's much more open and less constrained… I can jump with everyone! In fact the more diverse the skill levels, the merrier!
They set up the score from the first day; after a few warm-up jumps, I end up in a 20-way with 6 tubes and 14 free electrons eager to invade the skies of Empuriabrava – the sky is big there, so why not use it to its maximum?
The jump was epic and memorable! This is certainly the first time that I have seen the sky coloured by so many rotating tubes and so many skydivers flying toward them like flies around a jelly jar. Amazing to watch, especially with the Mediterranean Sea adding poetry to this atypical canvas!
They want us to discover what it was like in the old boogie-style days, where not everything was necessarily smooth and conformist, where having fun and a sense of belonging were key. However, they haven't forgotten that we are also eager to progress and that we are here to learn from those more exceptional flyers.
Between her crazy jumps, Cathy Bouette, double World Champion, took care of the head-up and Belly groups with all of her signature joy-fuelled playfulness. Training jumps, indeed, but always with that little extra that meant so much more fun.
What better way could you find to work on level and learn to stop before taking a clean grip than jumping with a giant Chupa-Chups lolly?! I can assure you that it has no mercy if you don’t approach calmly and on level before trying to grab it!
Working your approach and grips in head-up with a tube, trying to pass it to your friends. It doesn’t seem much, we think we are having fun – and we do! – but most of all we learn. We focus on the tube but we learn to fly proximity and try to find the best position to catch the tube in the proper way.
Steff Fardel, owner and founder of Babylon in 1998, focused on the more advanced Head down and Trace groups.. and why not facilitate us to do a tight trace with a few smoke canisters to colour the sky? All completed with a fully detailed debriefing of our positions, exits, and separations after each big jump.
Steff enthusiastically shared his passion for the more artistic side that skydiving has to offer too; traces well set into efficient angles, moving head-down jumps and Ninja tricks. Considering that Stephane Fardel is a double World Champion, double World Cup winner, and that with 10 podiums at World Class Level, he is still the most titled athlete in freefly Artistic Discipline (FAI), he certainly has a lot to teach us! The flow of his coaching and attention to us all was meticulous, generous and effective.
Aldo Comas; the multi-tasker man and most recent new member of the Babylon crew. Aldo is a long time freeflyer with over 5,000 jumps; he’s also a musician, singer, producer and creator of the Giconi suit brand with Juanma Ruiz. He brings his style that is quite like an eccentric, brilliant, nutter!
He took care of the evening's entertainments, filmed the jumps, provided us with masks, costumes, balloons, inflatable animals, and… brought us his amazing London double decker bus to party in!! Painted with a Mexican style and in the colours of his brand Giconi, it set a crazy scene, complete with pool and 1,000 free beers. He was our DJ and made us dance every night, under the illumination of fireworks and smoke to light our crazy night…
Babylon and Giconi do not do anything by halves, I could talk about it for hours on end, it was so intense in terms of skills sharing and activities. So for those who were not with us, here is what you missed for 50€ registration: All jumps at 16,500ft over the stunning bay of Skydive Empuriabrava, Giant Chupa Chups jump, skydives with inflatables, more tubes than you have ever seen, track races between tubes, beach jump, a mega “Tunnel Jam Session” at Windoor under the supervision of Babylon tunnel crew and Eliot Pothet, and, for those who wanted more… an extra possibility to jump from a helicopter.
So it would seem that after a recent year or so of relative quiet and a period of change, transition and refocusing, reflected in Babylon’s new ID, the new Babylon vision is here, present, strong… and they don't seem to be in the business of following convention. Babylon want to breathe a new life into modern skydiving, and they want to inject some of the spirit that pushed them to create such an exceptional group of flyers throughout the years and where the art of flying, team spirit, friendship, sharing and mutual respect for the sport and each flyer's abilities were the backbone of the team. They want to pass this on to new and young flyers and assure us that we will learn as more in those types of jumps than in conventional skills jumps alone. That’s how they got to that exceptional level… So can we!
This is the compilation of the 4 videos of the day done during the event.
And, don’t miss their next 'Rendez-vous' from the 29th October to the 1st November for a Mega 'Halloween Party! Better get ready, It’s gonna be scary…Mwahaha!!…