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When The Show Must Go On: Performing Aerials When You’re Sick

In Portugal - we thought our costumes were funny....


My aerial partner Angela and I were going straight from India to Portugal, where we were to begin a two month contract at the Casino Estoril. FABULOUS! We were so careful while in India – only ate steaming cooked foods, drank bottled water, etc. Our flight to Portugal was fine, and the next morning we hung our trapeze and settled in up there for about 10 minutes while they focused our lights. It was then that disaster struck. Let’s just say that it was the longest 10 minutes of our lives, and the rest of the day wasn’t pretty. So, what if this had been a show day? When are you too sick to go on? Grab your Pepto and read on.


How Sick is Too Sick?

Now, let’s be clear. When I say “illness”, I don’t mean ebola. If the phrase “do you want me to hold your hair” is in play, hanging upside down is probably not in your immediate future. Generally speaking, if you are sick enough to know yourself to be unsafe, there is no question – you cannot perform.

How To Get Through That Show

A cold or mild flu is another story. Now, I can’t tell you what YOU should do, but I can tell you what has worked for us in the past.

  • If we were battling congestion, aches, etc., we used an over the counter fever reducer like Tylenol & a decongestant spray like Afrin (avoid system-wide cold meds like the plague when you’re performing – they dry you out and really do a number on you). This generally kept our heads from exploding when we went upside down, and got us through a number of shows.
  • Saline nasal sprays have been helpful too for light congestion
  • Day of the show, rest as much as you can and hydrate like mad
  • We found that the adrenaline of performing often made us feel better! For about 15 minutes anyway….


How To Cancel That Show

 My general rule is this: if you’re so sick that you would give up concert tickets you stayed up for four days to get, you’re too sick to perform. Give the people who hired you as much of a heads up as you can. If you can line up a replacement for yourself, so much the better!  You should have an injury or illness clause in your contract that essentially says that if you are very ill or injured at the time of the show, you are released from your contract (they also have no obligation to pay you).


Take two and call me in the morning, lovelies! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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2 comments on “When The Show Must Go On: Performing Aerials When You’re Sick”

  1. Jonny Grundy Reply

    I am reading this while on a train to a gig tonight, absolutely full of flu! The prospect of hanging upside down is a scary one right now, but I’m as medicated as possible! Thanks for posting, your blog regularly both helps and keeps me entertained…


  2. Jordan Reply

    I just wanted to share a story. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to perform at a great festival in Colorado called Sonic Bloom a few months ago and I was super jazzed up about it. I knew I would need plenty of rest and I woke up on a Wednesday and was not feeling well at all. I felt really achy and tired, so I went back to sleep. I didn’t want to flake out of the gig, so I decided to head out and I drove all the way from Houston, Tx to Colorado, feeling worse and worse along the way. By the time I got to the event after 14 hrs of driving, I wanted to rest. I never got the opportunity to rest since we had rehearsals to prepare for the show that started at midnight. During the trip, I loaded up on all kinds of health supplements, healthy greens, lots of water. I was doing everything I could to defeat it.
    I was running over 100 degree fever and by showtime, I drank a pre-workout drink and it pumped me up enough to do my straps routine. After I was finished, I was totally exhausted not only from being ill, but from the altitude.
    A few hours later, I went to bed and I was quite surprised that when I woke up the next day, I felt good as new. I had no idea how or why! I ended up experiencing a great rest of the weekend. That was my first and hopefully last time to ever perform while sick like that!!

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