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Dancing with Death – The Train Surfers of Soweto

There’s no sea in Johannesburg so the poor young men from the inner city of Soweto get their kicks by surfing high-speed commuter trains. This dangerous pastime has claimed many lives throughout the years, but despite several initiatives to put a stop to it, train surfing remains pretty popular.

South Africa is considered the birth place of train surfing, with reports of people performing stunts on top of moving train cars dating back to the early 1980s. From here, the extreme hobby spread all around the world, from Brazil, to Germany and Russia, but Johannesburg remains unique through its variety of styles. The most common and least dangerous form of train surfing involves climbing on top of a car, jumping off as it starts moving and climbing back on again while it’s in motion. Then there is side surfing, with the wannabe stuntmen running alongside the train on the passenger platform as his friends keep the door open, or swinging out the door when the train passes through a tunnel and running on the walls. Another one has daredevils get under the train while it’s moving and kicking the gravel with their legs. But the most lethal of all is surfing on top of the train while trying to dodge power cables and bridges. All the different moves have names like Matrix, 2020, Gravul or Svandals.

train-surfing

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Metro Surfing – Russia’s Deadly Extreme Sport

Moscow’s metro system has recently become the scene of a new and deadly extreme sport – metro surfing. Teenagers jump on the back of trains and try to cling on for their lives as they video-tape the whole experience.

Believe it or not, metro surfing began as a desperate way of catching a ride during rush hour. The Moscow subway system is very crowded at this time and it’s close to impossible to get into the train, so young people started clinging to the back of it to reach their destination in time. Unfortunately, this desperate way of traveling somehow turned into a popular pass-time for teenagers looking for cheap thrills and internet fame. Metro surfers have now become such a common site that normal commuters hardly notice the crazy kids hanging on for their lives at the back of the train.

Wearing distinctive gloves, and sometimes clothes the same color as the metro to blend-in better, surfers wait on the platform the same as everyone else. Then, as the train leaves the station, they jump on the back of it and ride into the narrow tunnels, trying not to fall off. Most of them have cameras attached to their headgear to record the entire thing. They then post them on popular social media sites like Youtube or vkontakte (Russian version of Facebook), and brag among their friends. Even more alarming is that there are now groups of up to 2,000 members posting and commenting their metro surfing adventures online, and their numbers seems to be ever growing.

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