Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taking A Dive: Balcony-diving

One swallow doesn't make a summer. One swallow dive doesn't make a summer of balcony-diving. We don't know for sure that it was a balcony dive, but what we do know is that there will be dives and they will make the summer. They really ought to run a sweep on what the final number will be.

Barely open a week and Alcúdia's Bellevue registered the first fall of the season. The several pints of Guinness and many a chaser Book Of Records says that this was an early-season record. It was a fairly unspectacular affair, first floor only. At the Aquasol in Palmanova at the weekend, it was a bit more like it. Third floor. Thud.

The occurrences of balcony-diving are avidly greeted by a blood-thirsty and bone-breaking media and by tut-tuttery from various quarters. The Spanish ambassador to Britain even managed to get in on the act last summer when the sport was at its seasonal height. Cheap booze was the issue, he said, thus inadvertently drawing attention to an attraction of Mallorca that many had thought was something of the past. It was good of him to have mentioned it.

So seriously is the problem of balcony-diving taken that warnings are issued. "Do not dive from this balcony as you might get hurt," or something along these lines. Hurt, and splattered over concrete. It can make a dreadful mess, and not just of the concrete.

But then, what are balconies for if not to jump off of? Admittedly though, and before balcony-diving, they used to merely be base camp for re-enacting the scaling of the north face of the Eiger, as eager, would-be mountaineers clambered from one balcony to another. Without the aid of crampons, similar results were obtained as from balcony-diving, if at slightly lower velocity. Legend are the stories of the balcony climbers, such as the one of an extremely large, not to say fat German whose descent and ultimate collision with terra firma registered on the Richter scale.

In an attempt to limit the number of dives, some hotels are offering an alternative. Bedjumping. Yes, we know you like to come on holiday and jump around, so why not try our beds. Get similarly gargantuan Germans as the ex-balcony climber and the divan on the third floor will soon be a divan on the second floor or even in reception.

Less accommodating is the idea of increasing the heights of barriers and railings. Why not go the whole hog and enclose the balcony with a sheet of perspex? Why not indeed, and wait for the new craze of wearing a crash helmet and smashing through the perspex pre-dive. At least the crash helmet might come in handy when the concrete looms into view.

Or why not just accept that people want to throw themselves off buildings and give them some real sport? Mini cannons on balconies for human cannonballs. "See the Great Gonzo lagered-up tourist take to the skies." As he is launched into the night sky over Magalluf (or wherever), you will believe that a man can fly.

Mallorca appears to have acquired a reputation as the in-place for balcony-diving. Perhaps it's something to do with the quality of the balconies; I really couldn't say. But it is a worldwide sport. In Australia, there is a now former Australian who, only from a first-floor balcony, achieved immortality by proving that he was most definitely mortal. In Florida, the climbing of balconies is now illegal and punishable with a fine. What a good idea. As me laddo prepares for a back one-and-half somersault, there would be the forces of the law writing out a ticket. "You can't move the body until the fine's been paid. That'll be a hundred euros."

Though the injuries and deaths create the headlines, balcony-diving is not supposed to be some suicidal kamikaze leap onto solid terracing. The intention is to land in water, as in a pool. But here's the real madness. Why on earth would you do this in April, in a late April such as the one Mallorca has not been enjoying? Dive into a pool right now and you'd die of hypothermia. Some people really have no sense.

Oh, and if someone does fancy starting a sweep or a book, I think I'll have, erm ... well, it won't be one or two, that's for sure.

Any comments to andrew@thealcudiaguide.com please.

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