The US carnival spinning bar scam, I mean hang bar business has come to SA.

A new business as popped up around Cape Town in the last few months. Some guys with a hanging bar says that if you can dead hang on the bar for a certain amount of time you can “win” R500 to R1000. The “entry” fee is usually 10% of that (R50 to win R500, R100 to win R1000). Money is made from people unable to claim the prize.

This business has been around in malls in Cape Town northern suburbs for the last year or two. The mall one has a R50 entry to win R500. But today, I saw some dotted along the Sea Point promenade masquerading as some “Save the planet” competition, it appears these guys handlers (I VERY much doubt the people there are the operators) has put them up to this chicanery (I have my suspicions who it is but I don’t want to end up like Kanye West). Pay R100 to enter the “competition” if you can hang for 1 minute and 50 seconds you win R1000. Now what caught my eye was 1. the vague branding, 2. the guys operating it. And 3. the City of Cape Town is allowing this dubious operations along the promenade. I know that Meneer them the DA is greedy for money but by permit-ting this is like allowing shell games on the boardwalk. As we are making Sea Point great again, the foreigners who rent out those annoying orange bikes must be deported as well and the lazy local fucks working the toilets must also be fired, next we will tackle the George Soros Open Society Foundations sponsored homeless people but that is another story for another day.

Are shell games coming to the Sea Point Promenade next?

The branding
The banner stands contains what looks like a fiverr designed Captain Planet (lots of blue and green in the design) with “win R1000.00” (yes two zeros after the decimal point I found a bit peculiar to write it like that, either foreigners use that convention or it is meant to deceive by making it look more at a glance and could infer something else – like it is part of a bigger competition) and “Save the Planet” written on giving the illusion that it is some kind of NGO or social business that is raising funds for an environmental cause. It is just vague enough to survive the cursory glance.


The workers
The workers are disposables, not very sophisticated, Cape Flats in origin, operating in pairs, the type of guys you hire to sell photos to white people with cardboard cutouts of Nelson Mandela cos you know the Nelson Mandela Foundation is going to demand their pound of flesh the same way Disney would for Mickey Mouse or Nintendo for Super Mario.

The business model
What is symbolic about, one minute and 50 seconds. Ironically 9 years ago when asked “How long can you dead hang from a bar?” on reddit someone answered “I can usually last around 1 minute and 40 seconds doing a dead hang. Others in the gym seem to be able to do 2 and a half minutes upwards” but that is not  substantial enough to build a business around.

What is a dead hang
Dead hand is the act of hanging from a bar with the arms fully extended, often used as a grip strength exercise and to do pullups. Under normal circumstances, using a secure overhead bar, how long can the average person hand for? That is irrelevant as some trickery is used (the bar rotates) see below. Both in how you grip and apparently how the device is constructed. So even if you are dead hanging for that time, and even if you are able to underhand grip for that time. You still won’t make it on this machine.


The hang challenge is a feat of strength that requires strong hands and forearms as well as mental toughness. It sounds easy to achieve but it is anything but. The standard version of the dead arm hang is one that I’ve used many times before in my programs and workouts. It requires that you simply hang from a pull-up bar with your arms straight for as long as possible.

No releasing of your hands is allowed at any point while on the bar.

The time that Jesse and I recorded in this type of challenge are 2 minutes 21 seconds and 2 minutes and 51 seconds respectively.

There is a catch however.

In the street version of the game, the bar that is used rotates. This makes a huge difference in your ability to win 100 dollars doing it. As you start to lose grip on the bar and the bar starts to spin, it is only going to accelerate the pace at which the bar slips out of your hand.

In order to simulate this, we took a standard Olympic barbell and suspended it on the top of a squat rack. We were careful to not rest it in such a way that would hinder or slow down the rotation of the bar on the portion that you will hold onto.

The key is to see if you can make 100 seconds or one minute and forty seconds. This is much harder than it seems. It is the reason that many people on the street wind up getting scammed since they think that they’ll be able to hang on much longer. Once they get up there and the burn in the forearms starts, their grip strength quickly fades and their hands become unable to hold up their body for even a second longer.

In the carnival version of the game they up the hold time to a full 2 minutes. This is obviously even harder, and gauging by my performance in this video, I wouldn’t have won the carnival prize as I drop at the one minute and 54 second mark – 6 seconds shy of the prize. Had I known that I was working towards that then maybe I could have gutted it out a few extra seconds but I’m not sure. The forearms and hands were certainly burning like crazy by that point. – ATHLEAN-X


See below:


How does this “business” work?

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