Extreme ironing

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Extreme Ironing (or EI) is an extreme sport and a performance art in which people take an ironing board to a remote location and iron items of clothing. According to the official website, extreme ironing is "the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt."

Part of the attraction and interest the media has towards extreme ironing seems to centre on the issue of whether it is really a sport or not. It is widely considered to be tongue-in-cheek.[1]

Some locations where such performances have taken place include a mountainside of a difficult climb; a forest; in a canoe; while skiing or snowboarding; on top of large bronze statues; in the middle of a street; underwater; whilst parachuting;[2] and under the ice cover of a lake. The performances have been conducted solo or by groups.

The Guardian said of extreme ironing that it carries on a tradition of British eccentricity.[citation needed]

Starch Extreme Ironing on Rivelin Needle.
Rivelin Rocks, United Kingdom


[edit] History

Before heading into the mainstream, extreme ironing was used by the band Monster Magnet in the video for their song "Negasonic Teenage Warhead" from their album Dopes to Infinity (1995) (this usage was most likely unintentional, as the video features the band members performing perfectly ordinary activities on asteroids). However, purists of the sport will claim that it was started in 1997 in Leicester, East Midlands, England by resident Hans Meimban in his back garden. Meimban came home from what he recalls as a hard day in a Leicester knitwear factory.[3] Preferring the idea of an evening out rock climbing, he decided to combine the two activities into a new extreme sport. In June 1999, Meimban, who uses the nickname "Steam", embarked on an international tour to promote the activity. The stops included the United States of America, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. An encounter with German tourists in New Zealand led to the formation of a group called "Extreme Ironing International", and the German Extreme Ironing Section or GEIS.

As extreme ironing has branched off, the conditions can gain in extreme activity. For example a branch of ironing has been developed that includes both bungee jumping and well-pressed clothing. Bungee ironing is, what some would call, the ultimate in the thrill of extreme ironing.

The 'sport' gained international attention after a documentary entitled Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory, was produced for Britain's Channel 4 by Wag TV. The programme followed the British team's efforts and eventual Bronze and Gold placings in the first international extreme ironing contest in Germany. A side-story looked at the rivalry between the EIB (Extreme Ironing Bureau) and a breakaway group called Urban Housework who were trying to establish their own extreme sport based around vacuum-cleaning. The film later aired on the National Geographic Channel.[2]

In 2003 the Rowenta Trophy was won by a group from South Africa by ironing across a gorge at the Wolfberg Cracks.

In 2004, the EIB traveled to the US on the Rowenta Tour to recruit additional ironists and ironed at Mount Rushmore, New York, Boston and Devils Tower.

In March 2008, a team of 72 divers simultaneously ironing underwater set a new world's record for number of people ironing underwater at once.[4]

On 10 January 2009, 128 divers including 6 freedivers, attempted to break the previous world record, managing to confirm 86 divers ironing within a 10 minute period. The event took place at the National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC) near Chepstow, Gloucestershire, UK and was organised by members of the Yorkshire Divers internet forum. In addition to breaking the world record, the event raised over £15000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.[5] [6]

Extreme Ironing has inspired other forms of unusual extreme activity, such as Extreme Cello Playing.[7]

[edit] References in popular culture

On the August 2, 2004 episode of EastEnders, EI was referenced. According to the EIB, the characters made reference to the current altitude record holders. As the party loving Kat and Zoe Slater are preparing to go out, they are invited to the launch party at Angie's Den by a couple of "media types". The pair say that there'd be celebrities in the shape of the Hot Plate Brothers there.[8]

Extreme Ironing has been featured in news stories on CBS Sunday Morning, in The New York Times, The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Calcutta Telegraph,[9] The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Toronto Star, TIME Magazine, ESPN.com, The Financial Times, MTVu[10], and CNN.com[11].

It is said to have inspired "urban housework", in which people vacuum the outdoors, and Extreme Cello playing.[12]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ "Jazz, giants and ironing boards". The Guardian. 2003-12-14. http://travel.guardian.co.uk/article/2003/dec/14/bookreviews.travelbooks.bestbooksof2003. Retrieved on 2006-02-16. "The idea, which combines the thrills of an extreme sport with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt, is thoroughly explained in this tongue-in-cheek manual..." 
  2. ^ a b Wollaston, Sam (2005-06-06). "O brother, where art thou". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv_and_radio/story/0,,1499886,00.html. Retrieved on 2006-02-16. "That's because Phil is a star of Extreme Ironing (National Geographic, Saturday)." 
  3. ^ "Worldwide extreme ironing competition launched". Extreme Ironing Bureau. 2003-02-18. http://www.extremeironing.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=43. 
  4. ^ St Leonards' divers set underwater ironing record, Michaela Farrington, Geelong Advertiser, March 31, 2008.
  5. ^ UK regains 'extreme' ironing record, BBC News (2009-01-21)
  6. ^ Get your wetsuit, Trixie, it’s ironing day!, Reuters Blogs (2009-01-22)
  7. ^ "Extreme Cello playing". BBC. 2006-08-01. http://www.bbc.co.uk/lincolnshire/content/articles/2006/07/27/extreme_cellists_feature.shtml. 
  8. ^ Shaw, Phil (2004-08-03). "Extreme Ironing on Eastenders". Extreme Ironing Bureau. http://www.extremeironing.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=117. 
  9. ^ Datta-Savage, Shormila (2004-01-03). "A pressing habit". Calcutta Telegraph (ABP Pvt. Limited). http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040103/asp/atleisure/story_2736938.asp. Retrieved on 2006-02-16. 
  10. ^ Sucks Less With Kevin Smith episode 3.
  11. ^ Daniels, Alison (2006-12-06). "Shortcuts: How to iron a shirt". CNN.com (Time Warner). http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/12/05/shortcuts/index.html. Retrieved on 2006-02-16. "If it's thrills you're after how about joining the (minority) sport of Extreme Ironing." 
  12. ^ Carter, Helen (2005-06-09). "Hit and Miss". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/northerner/idx/0,,1502868,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-02-16. "A group of musicians from Yorkshire were so inspired by the craze for "extreme ironing" that they have invented Extreme Cello Playing." 

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