ROP BBQ 2013 way back when style.
ROP BBQ started about thirteen ago, when founding member of Rites of Passage Suspension Group Emrys Yetz had some friends come into his backyard at his aunt’s house where he lived in western MA and BBQ some food and do some suspensions off of the trees in the backyard.The next year we did it again, and some fellow BME freaks flew out and helped us and we had a lot of members of all of the best suspension groups at the time come and camp out and play with hooks.
Those were the early days. SO MANY people did their first suspensions in that yard, from those trees. Emrys and some of the boys (none of them active in ROP anymore) built this fucking tower that we were all so proud of. That tower has seen a lot of blood.
We continued doing ROP BBQs and campouts every year, they grew bigger and bigger, more and more people came from all over the world. They got so big eventually that we had to move them to a different location, which is how we all ended up on a state forest in berkshire county. We continued to have yearly events, which grew bigger and bigger. Lots of beautiful suspensions happened there as well. People who had been coming to our events continued to show up and for some of us, it was the only time in a year where we’d all be together. We used to bang out ALOT of suspensions in a day. It was always the same people working their asses off year after year, not eating pulling fourteen hour days, doing suspensions at night with the aid of headlamps. We had spots to hang over a beautiful pond, off in the woods very private, and a solid ground spot that we even managed to get a spinning beam rigged on.
Of course, it became a tradition, being that we’re in western MA in berkshire county in the mountains, that it would rain EVERY single year at some point. So, it became really important to Me to secure an indoor location. First it was My attic which was an AWESOME space and saw lots of great suspensions and first times too, then it was the copperworks, in Pittsfield, MA which has seen it’s share of blood and carnage and emotion and hooks, but then that got closed down.
During the years that we were at the state forest Emrys found another location close by that had a waterfall, and we started (for two years) taking a little sidetrip during the bbq to this location and everyone would swim, and we would hang people over the waterfall! The fascination to find new waterfalls to rig had begun.
A lot of shit went down over the years, people got married, people died, people had babies, Emrys moved away, the bbq was a lot of work, everyone had sort of drifted apart and one year we didn’t even have a bbq. Then Emrys moved back to western MA, we started working together again and doing suspensions and it was feeling awesome. Last year Emrys and I had Allen Falkner fly in and a small group of us went and had a very tiny mini event where we hung each other over a NEW waterfall that we had found in a completely different part of the county. I’ve had one of the best suspension experiences of My life over that waterfall, and some other people have as well! We decided to resurrect the ROP BBQ. To do it old skool style. Way back when style. We wanted those feelings back when everyone was family, when we did a few really great suspensions and everyone came from all over the world to just hang out and have a wonderful time. We were both SO excited to share this awesome waterfall location with everyone!
he techniques, equipment, knowledge has all changed so much in the last 13 years that we have the ability to rig even more advanced outdoor settings than ever before. And so : we planned the ROP BBQ 2013. We planned it NINE months in advance. I had forgotten how much work it is to plan a suspension event. Emrys and I did it all ourselves. Having him back here and working with him has been such a pleasure. Emrys, a pleasure to work with, imagine that! We get along like a well oiled machine, we can communicate without using words during suspensions and planning the BBQ went really smoothly. I wanted it to be as lax as possible for the crew so I was very intent on limiting the number of suspensions. I wanted it to be a bbq, and a campout, with some suspensions. I had invited all of My most favorite people from BBQs past and some new friends we had made in the last few years and new crews I had just begun exploring working with. Allen Falkner from TSD came in from TX, John and Dia from IWASCURED came in from Canada, Havve Fjell from Wings of Desire came in from Oslo, Jason Shaw from Ihung came in from Canada, Orb, Genne, Jeremy, and Mel from Anchors Aweigh came from NY, and of course we had ROP from just about every chapter of the suspension group represented: MA, NY, CT, RI, NJ, NY, TX we run deep!
We were under budget and ahead of schedule. I was so organized I was turning Myself on. We had been pretty vague and secretive about the exact location of the waterfall. I even made an old skool zine with ALL the information one could want about crew, food, hotels, schedule of suspensions, etc etc. I had a crew dinner planned for friday, Emrys was doing an advanced outdoor rigging class at noon, I had planned a yoga class for early saturday morning at the base of the mountain, I had crew dinner as a separate event for sunday and a day of suspensions JUST for crew, without a schedule so we could fuck around and do the crazy shit.
Really it was multiple events all rolled into about a four day period.
Of course tons of people waited til the very last minute and made My life more difficult, and I got stressed out to the absolute max and I took a lot of unpaid time off to do all the work which also stressed Me out. But the day came, we were on time, we had three locations at our new spot out in the woods rigged perfectly. People were excited to suspend, the first suspension was a girl for her first suicide for her bday and I had made cupcakes. Everyone was overjoyed!
And then a park ranger came, and asked what we were doing. We explained, I showed him a zine. He spoke to the man I had designated to be the liason if the cops came. His name is Jeff, aka BrutalMaster of www.brutalmaster.com he’s a paramedic and a rescue diver and a generally awesome amazing person to know. Let Me also add that Emrys and I had previously asked the authorities TWICE if we needed a permit to be on this land and if so what kind etc, and the general consensus was, we weren’t charging admission, it was public land and we weren’t hurting anything and had all safety bases covered and it was fine. Where we live here is a very tiny county, it’s a hilltown, everyone knows everyone. You best believe EVERYONE knows the guy with his face tattooed and the chick who makes porn and the fact that we were doing suspensions locally was not a secret, everyone has been cool with us and we have been respectful and cool to them. So anyway: the park ranger, he thinks what we are doing is cool, he just wants to check with his higher ups and make sure.
Through all of this I never had a bad feeling, no sense of impending doom no pit in My stomach. I was happy and positive. The park ranger comes back with his boss lady on the phone and she is right pissed. She’s saying we can’t be there we don’t have any insurance policy we don’t have any permit she’s sending the cops and we better leave right away. Jeff tries talking to her a bit but it was clear that she did NOT approve of what we were doing and was having no part in it.
SO: Months of planning, perfectly placed beautiful rigging, about 30 people and 20 more on their way..all of it was dissolving before our eyes. We had no choice, but to break everything down and come up with another plan……
Lucky for everyone I HAD a backup plan. Lesson Number One: always have a backup plan or worst case scenario!
We headed on over to a warehouse space that was being rented by a friend of the family, and Emrys and some other members of ROP had taken a lot of time to really clean up and get useable. But, it had 23 foot ceilings and we had had a lot of great suspension times in there as well, and it was also perfect for spinning beams. It was a crushing sadness because no one was going to be able to experience how fucking awesome that waterfall was or being able to jump off the top of it, or being able to be lowered right into the rushing water. A big part of why I stay in western MA is how beautiful it is outside, there’s mountains and waterfalls and forest all around you here. I almost never want to hang inside now, not when there’s all this nature around Me. I’m spoiled. I want to spoil other people too.
But, everyone was happy, they were just happy that they could hang from hooks and hang out with each other.
Everything was going so well. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, I’ve been on this earth long enough to know that if something CAN go wrong, it will eventually.
And so it did. We had put up a beautiful resurrection and were preparing to do a spinning beam with some old friends who hadn’t hung with ROP in many years. The lady who owned the warehouse building came in like a tornado screeching and hollering about what the fuck did we think we were doing and what if someone gets hurt and who gave us permission and wheres some money and she’s called the police and they were on their way. Apparently we had gotten permission to be there from the wrong person. So the police showed up, everyone broke down equipment in record time and retreated back to their cars and waited for Me to tell them what to do next.
At the time My head was a mess, and I tried to just stay calm, a lot of people were relying on Me to have a magical plan, which brings us to lesson number 2: Have a backup backup and backup plan. I had about three backup backup plans swirling around My brain. But, Emry’s Aunt Lisa is the one who saved the day. She agreed to let us all go in her backyard and throw the bbq. Way way way back when style. It was like looking at the yard with new eyes. Some of the trees we used to hang from had been cut down. A decade ago we weren’t doing tree to tree rigging and tension lines, we suddenly had new options, and a bunch of top notch riggers to make it happen. In the end we had three spots, two tension lines and the old
Everything had come full circle. So many of us had hung in that backyard for their first time twelve years ago, ten years ago, over a decade ago. And here we were again all together, on private property. Fuck yes. The group suddenly seemed smaller than it did before. Maybe some people got scared off by the cops, a lot of people said they were coming and then didn’t make it, and despite our best efforts at keeping everyone up to date about the location changing, some folks got lost and ended up not making it because they didn’t know where the fuck we were. But it was just perfect, a really old skool bme vibe that I loved. And even though there were enough new folks from around the world (literally) who had never been to one of our events, everyone just fit in perfect. Like family. The exact mentality that I was going for. Hugs and love and hooks and blood all around.
I think this year showed Me that in our efforts for bigger better faster more, as more and more people become involved with and have an interest in suspension, we’re losing some of the parts that made Me love it so much. The intimacy, the family, the bonds. There’s so many big huge suscon events around the world now, it’s ok to keep the ROP BBQ small and intimate. A nice relaxing vacation for the heads of some of the best teams in the entire suspension community to come and relax and try new things.
To NOT work so hard.
Speaking of working so hard, since I was the organizer of course I worked too hard and was running around like a maniac sort of stressed out and dealing with cops and food issues and locations and rides and places to stay and supplies and the list just went on and on. So I sort of had a chip on My shoulder the days after the BBQ, so much awesome stuff had happened and I didn’t get to be a part of it or even get My hands too dirty because I was doing the behind the scenes work. But then, as the photos started to emerge from the suspensions that happened over the weekend, carrying over into monday and even tuesday when crew was still hanging and there was only a few of us left…..Damn did I feel good. Even if I didn’t get to have My hand in every suspension, I still did all the hard work to pull of an event that had to run from the cops…twice. That thought gets Me almost as high as doing a suspension Myself.
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Bella Vendetta is a founding member of Rites of Passage suspension group and an active member for the last 13 years. She is also a professional Dominatrix, international fetish model, award winning adult film star, B movie starlet, burlesque performer and sex educator. Sometimes She even moonlights as a rock and metal journalist as well as interviewing tattoo artists, UFC fighters, pornstars and writers for websites and magazines. Aside from all that She is also currently the head of Rites of Passage Massachusetts chapter.