For some, hanging by hooks pierced through one’s flesh, suspending the body in the air and feeling a rush of blood and adrenaline coarse through one’s veins, may not sound like an ideal way to spend a few seconds or even up to a few hours. Yet for Ashley Premer of Sioux Falls, this is more than a hobby. She’s the leader of an enthusiastic group of suspensioners known as SOL Suspension who meet up to partake in this activity at least once a month.

Premer, who owns Vibrant Salon and also bartends, considers herself a seasoned veteran of suspension, having suspended more than 100 times. She also dabbles in circus sideshow acts and “freak show” acts.

“With our shows, we like to play up the gore because we’re super seasoned,” said Premer. I’ve personally been doing sideshow acts since I was 18, and I’m 30 now. It means a lot to me. I do human pincushion, bed of nails, and ladder of machetes.”

Trying suspension for the first time? Here’s what the creators of SOL Suspension recommend:

> Bring a candy bar and some Gatorade.

> Eat a good meal beforehand.

> Get a good night’s sleep the night before.

> Stay hydrated.

> Bring a positive attitude.

> Wear or bring clothes you can feel comfortable suspending in.

> Bring friends and family.

“there’s countless benefits to suspension. The boost in self-esteem is the biggest one. A lot of people don’t realize how strong they are until after they do it.”

The cultural roots of suspension trace back to the Sun Dance ceremony in various indigenous communities, which has been appropriated by non-native people for recreational purposes in recent years.“Now, a lot of people do it for different reasons,” said Premer. “Some of us do it for fun, to see what we can put our bodies through, to overcome addictions, to get past mourning a loved one’s death, for spiritual reasons… there’s a lot of different reasons (people) do it.”

Premer sees suspension as a new hobby and an art form, and says there’s a lot of overlap with people connected to body modification.

“Most people that are into suspension are connected to body modification in some way,” she explained. “Either they’re practitioners or they’re collectors where they just like getting work done. Anybody is more than welcome to join.”

“we’ve suspended everyone from super skinny to (plus-size) and everywhere in between.”

Premer says it’s perfectly safe, and those who choose to suspend have the option to come down at any time.

“We focus a lot of cleanliness and safety,” she said. “We have all the best equipment you can have.”The group meets at Club David at least once a month, and they aim for the environment to be completely inclusive including all body types, skill levels, and people over 18.

“We always take newcomers and walk them through what’s going to happen,” said Premer. “We generally do ‘suicides’ for the first suspension just to let people get their feet wet, so to speak. Suicide is basically just hooks in the upper back. It’s absolutely safe.”

Some of the risks that come with suspension include tears and infection from the holes, but the group advises those who wish to try to be safe, to stay hydrated, to eat a good meal, and to get in a good headspace before suspending.“There’s always a level of danger that goes into something like that, but we take every precaution that we can to make it as safe as possible,” said Premer. “it’s no more risky than getting a piercing. If anything, it’s safer than getting a piercing.”

Premer says the group is inclusive of anyone who wants to try suspension.

“We’re super inclusive,” she said. “Anybody that wants to suspend can suspend, no matter what your background is. The best thing to do for anyone if you’re on the fence about it is to just come and watch.”


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