Dangerous Sports Club
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The Dangerous Sports Club, a group of adventurers and extreme sports pioneers based in Oxford and London, were active from the late 1970s for about ten years, during which they developed modern bungee jumping and experimented with a variety of other innovative sporting activities.
The Dangerous Sports Club was founded by David Kirke, Chris Baker, Ed Hulton and Alan Weston. They first came to wide public attention by inventing modern day bungee jumping, by making the first modern jumps on 1 April 1979, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, England. They followed the Clifton Bridge effort with a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California (including the first female bungee jump by Jane Wilmot), and with a televised leap from the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado, sponsored by and televised on the popular American television program That's Incredible! Bungee jumping was treated as a novelty for a few years, then became a craze for young people, and is now an established industry for thrill seekers.
The Club also pioneered a surrealist form of skiing, holding three events at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in which competitors were required to devise a sculpture mounted on skis and ride it down a mountain. The event reached its limits when the Club arrived in St. Moritz with a London double-decker bus, wanting to send it down the ski slopes, and the Swiss resort managers refused.
Other Club activities included expedition hang gliding from active volcanoes; the launching of giant (60 ft) plastic spheres with pilots suspended in the centre (zorbing); microlight flying; and BASE jumping (in the early days of this sport).
However, it is the invention of bungee jumping for which the Club is mostly renowned.
After a heyday in the early to mid-1980s, the Club declined in numbers and activity level. However, in the early period, it was highly active, with several dozen active members and holding a wide range of events. The Club was heavily covered in the press, and made a film released in 1982 ("The History of the Dangerous Sports Club") as a supporting feature. Their activities were recorded by photographer Dafydd Jones. One memorable image is of a young Nigella Lawson playing croquet from a sedan chair during a tea party hosted by the club. The group split into various factions over the years. Monty Python star Graham Chapman was perhaps their most famous member, and he was at work in a feature movie about the club when he died in 1989. When making personal appearances in the mid-1980s, he would show films of Club activities.
The Club, although later achieving a degree of social diversity, was rooted in the English upper class and centred geographically in Oxford and, later, the West End of London. The style of dress adopted by members during their activities often included top hats and tailcoats, and the Club had a deserved champagne-swilling image.
- "World's 'first' bungee jump in Bristol captured on film". BBC. November 10, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
- Lyster, Martin (1997). The Strange Adventures of the Dangerous Sports Club. London: The Do-Not Press. ISBN 1-899344-28-4.