Slackliner Andy Lewis Shares Why He Couldn’t Go on Tour With Madonna


It's unlikely that Robert Frost could have imagined such a choice when he wrote “The Road Not Taken,” but in 2012 slackliner Andy Lewis was at a crossroads. You may remember Lewis from Madonna's Super Bowl halftime show. He was dressed in a white toga adorned with a gold leaf sash, a gold necklace, a gold bracelet, and gold boots. He wore his hair in a sandy blonde afro that barely bounced as he flipped, jumped, and twisted on a slackline, a sport called tricklining. After the performance, articles rolled out proclaiming that Lewis had stolen the show. Soon after, Madonna offered him a spot on her tour, Lewis said. Lewis' Colorado and Utah friends evaluate his Super Bowl performance.

“Over months I had to mull it over,” Lewis wrote. “A chance at the big time. A chance
of maybe making music. Playing guitar LIVE with Madonna. Creating a slackline piece and choreographing. Highlining, fire, swinging from
ropes. I honestly could have probably convinced Madonna to let me do
some crazy shit. Learning to dance, and being a professional dancer. I
mean I had so many opportunities that would arise from the tour it
would be ridiculous.”

On the other hand, Lewis could return to the life he was living. He was traveling the world as a slackliner and BASE jumper.

Lewis grew up in Marin, California, and took up slacklining in 2004, the year he graduated from high school. After dislocating his shoulder during a climbing trip, he set up a loose line near his home and walked across it. In 2005, it became a hobby, and in 2006, a lifestyle. In 2008, after graduating from Humboldt State University with a degree in recreation administration, he went on to complete in slacklining competitions around the world and ramped up his highlining—crossing a slackline high above the ground. He pushed the limits, walking over higher and longer highlines that had titles such as “Shakes McGee” and “The Great Bongzilla.” He BASE jumped more and more, and earned the nickname “Sketchy Andy” after showing a lack of regard for safety. He began BASElining, walking a highline without a safety strap while wearing BASE-jumping gear so that a chute could be pulled after a fall or a jump. He earned sponsorships from Five Ten and Gibbon Slacklines. He set a world record in China for slackline surfing—wobbling back and forth on a highline—and won the Slacklining World Cup.

Those were the two roads Lewis had in front of him: touring with Madonna or traveling the world slacklining and looking for the next great BASEline. Lewis chose the one slightly less traveled, and, well…. “Thank you for everything M. I'm sorry I couldn't be on your tour. I hope you enjoy the video of the best year of my life ever.”

—Joe Spring