Where should I put the hand loop on a Spanish Web?
Trix Circus supplies equipment for many different aerial disciplines, including the beautiful soft and strong cord rope used for Spanish web. Many studio owners buy equipment from us, but some studios have limited height. Many of these clients have asked us an important question:
How far from the rigging point does the hand loop on a Spanish web need to be?
In the perfect conditions, the hand loop should be between one and one-and-a-half meters from the rigging point. This height gives the web sitter/spinner the ability to create a large enough circle with the web, around the vertical axis, and the performer. This will pull the performer horizontally away from the rope and enable them to complete the many shapes and poses usually seen on this apparatus. In a low space, losing this one meter of height seems a preposterous waste of valuable real estate, so can you move the hand loop closer to the rigging point and continue training as normal? Sadly, this is not the solution. The closer the hand loop is to the rigging point, the less circle can be created by the web sitter and the less effective the spin will be.
Another reason to have space above the hand loop is when the performer wants to place their foot into the loop. They will need to climb above the hand loop to elegantly place the loop around the ankle from which they will hang.
Most web sitters are not very experienced spinning a person on a web. Incorrect web sitting can make the performer swing wildly in an elliptical rather than in a circle, making it impossible for them to do any skills. The distance between the performer’s feet and the head of the web sitter has a big influence on the ability of the web sitter to perform their job of spinning. Spinning web while kneeling or sitting on the ground is very difficult and can indeed be very painful. The forces generated by the effort required to web sit is hard on the base’s legs, let alone having to deal with those forces while sitting or laying on the ground.
For instance, in a 6m high studio, your web could lose 30cm to rigging (pulley, carabiners, swivels, etc.) Then you lose another 1m of height to the hand loop. Then the length of the standard hand loop loses you another 40cm of height. When the performer hangs from the hand loop on a single arm, their feet will come down another 2meters. A web sitter needs to hold the web above their head and this could be close to another 2meters of height, leaving the distance between the two partners about half a meter. This is not enough distance for the performance to be aesthetic.
The beauty of the Spanish web act is the speed of the spinning of the performer. In order to get the performer spinning at this speed, the web sitter requires the rope to move away from the vertical axis (the imaginary line directly below the attachment point). The further away that the performer can move from this axis, the better for the sitter and the quicker that the sitter can generate spinning speed. The higher the hand loop, the closer the performer is to the vertical spinning axis and the harder it physically becomes to generate a spin for the performer. The web sitter needs to add more weight and strength to the bottom of the web rope in order to create the necessary spin required for this discipline. This in turn adds more dynamic load to the system from which you are suspended.
However, if you desperately want to do a Spanish web performance and you choose to put the hand loop closer to the rigging point, expect that you will no longer generate sufficient speed for the performer to achieve a horizontal position during the performance, thus reducing the effectiveness of this discipline. I have based/sat and taught Spanish Web for many years and my experience has taught me that unless the performer is spinning very fast, doing this discipline is just as unsatisfying do to for the performer as it is to watch from the audience.