x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Planking craze shows no sign of falling flat yet

Planking - the art of lying as stiff as a board supported only at each end - is growing in popularity while splinter movements such as flamingoing are springing up.

As far as games go, lying rigidly flat and imitating a two-by-four might not be everyone's idea of fun. But addicts of the global planking craze will disagree.

Many people, including the Canadian comedian Tom Green, claim to have invented the "lying down" game (as it was originally called), as early as 1994. But it was not until this year that its popularity really took flight.

Just last week, the American actress Eliza Dushku posted online pictures of herself planking while taking a break from working on a charity project in Uganda.

As the name implies, participants stretch themselves between two points - much like an ironing board. The evidence is then photographed by a friend and uploaded to Facebook and YouTube. The more daring the positioning - roofs, vehicles and even stair banisters - the better.

More recently, even more absurd mutations have begun to emerge: "owling" - which is not to be confused with the archaic English legal term for smuggling sheep - sees random personalities perching, birdlike, in various precarious locations.

Now threatening to replace owling is "batting", which requires the player to hang upside down from poles, buildings or trees with arms folded into wing-like V-shapes.

There's no prize for being the best planker, owler or batter - defying death seems a worthy enough reward for most, particularly after the fatal plunge of a 20-year-old Australian man in May. He had been planking from a seventh storey balcony in Brisbane.

What's next? The options are endless, meaning "flamingoing", "kangarooing" and even "jellyfishing" could all soon be coming to a city near you.