This is what it's like to party at zero gravity
I WENT RAVING IN SPACE! Nearly.
I don’t feel like I can continue with 2017 until I give you some insight into what would’ve been the highlight of any year, not just 2016 – Desperados very VERY kindly gave me the opportunity to go raving.
In Las Vegas…
On a plane…
At 30,000 feet…
But let’s take it back to the beginning before I get over-excited.
The idea behind the stunt was to experience “The Ultimate Bass Drop”; that utterly glorious moment in dance music (most obvious in genres such as EDM, drum and bass and dubstep) where every note reaches a crescendo and the rhythm and/or dynamic of the song changes on a beat, the hairs on your arms stand on end and your heart rate increases. Or, to put it more simply: that part of the song where everybody loses their shit.
So come with me, if you will, to the SLS Hotel in Las Vegas on a Tuesday morning. After being thrown into the most gaudy of outfits complete with golden trousers and a painted on gold beard (no, seriously) we made for the bus, then it all got real.
We reached the airport and stepped into the back of the Boeing 727, which had been heavily modified for these parabolic flights (a little more on the science later). The walls were covered in padding like a cell for the clinically insane. Oh, and there was a set of friggin' decks on board for the DJ.
OK, now for the educational part: according to the “zero-g” website:
“Aboard our specially modified Boeing 727, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic manoeuvres known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic manoeuvres which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G’s passengers experience true weightlessness.
Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONE flies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45° to the horizon reaching an altitude of 32,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is “pushed over” to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilise on the aircraft floor. This manoeuvre is repeated 15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.”
There. Explained far more concisely than this bumbling clown could even begin to attempt.
DJ Mike Cervello was there to provide the aforementioned “shit losing” bass dropping moments. While EDM might not be for everyone there was no other option; a genre which focuses on “the drop” and the bassiest of bass to really hammer home that feeling of exhilaration while floating aimlessly through the air.
OK, the nitty-gritty, the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
First, we were ordered to lie flat on the floor, arms and legs together to the increase in gravitational forces that effectively make you feel a lot heavier than you actually are. I felt like I was being pressed into the base of the plane that I was lying on.
A sharp crackle is heard over the intercom, warning us: “In 30 seconds you will experience Martian gravity. Martian gravity in 30 seconds.”
Game time. Eyes fixed on the ceiling and knowing I was about to be thrown into the unknown I lay still, as a cacophony of multicoloured lights and sounds built around us, as if the urgency of the building lights and sounds matched the countdown to what was about to occur. The moment we flew over 5,000 miles for.
Suddenly, through no voluntary movement, without being able to help myself, my feet and hands lifted off the floor as the plane descended groundwards. This was Martian gravity and suddenly we were able to start pulling off aerial stunts like we were in The Matrix.
Lunar gravity was next – the same again only more extreme. I did a one handed push-up off the tips of my fingers, and pushed myself airborne. I'm built like a noodle, so know this is surreal.
Finally: zero gravity. The centre-piece and main event.
Let me do my best to break down for you how it feels to be in zero gravity:
We’ve all swum underwater before, right? Imagine that feeling of suspension, only you’re able to breathe. And obviously you’re not submerged in water. Also, unlike being underwater, once you start moving in a direction, you won’t ever stop unless you use something that is fixed down to manoeuvre yourself.
In water you can change direction because of the resistance offered to you when you kick your legs or move your arms through the water; in zero-g there is no resistance. And the only thing to stop your movement is (in my case) your head colliding with the ceiling of the plane.
The exhilaration cannot be described, however the good folks at Desperados provided me with graphics that show the effects of the event on my heart rate and pulse, thanks to a little fit-bit type wrist watch thingamajig:
Unfortunately that gosh-darned party pooper known as turbulence interfered with our fun. We experienced zero-gravity twice, for 90 of the most incredible, surreal, otherworldly and quite simply fucking ace seconds of my life, but it was cut short for our own safety.
Absolutely no complaints from me at all… I can’t say the same for the guy who spent the whole ordeal hurling his morning nachos and dip into a paper bag though.
We touched down back at the airport a mere 30 minutes later, and even as I write, I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I’ve been suspended in mid-air, in an aeroplane, listening to EDM, 30,000 feet above the Nevada desert, all in the name of undoubtedly the ultimate bass drop. But as you’ll see from this video, I have: