by Eve Vawter
When we were younger, I think we all spent money on stupid shit our parents just didn't understand. A new record album. An expensive pair of Doc Martens. Going to see The Cure in concert. My own 20-year-old millennial decided to carry on this time-honored tradition of wasting his summer job money on something I just couldn't understand: blowing 60 bucks on spending an hour-and-a-half floating in a room-temperature vat of salt water. All because it sounded "dope."
I was familiar with sensory deprivation tanks from the 1980's movie Altered States, but because I live in my own little old lady world I wasn't aware that this was something the kids these days do — visit a place where you can float like you were visiting a tanning bed. But a lot of people are doing it, and the benefits are supposed to range from total relaxation to tripping balls without taking actual drugs. I offered to make him a DIY floatation vat by dumping a thousand pounds of epsom salts in a kiddie pool like they did in Stranger Things, but no dice.
I know that we are all constantly tuned in to things in this world — our computers, our cell phones, the never-ending barrage of media and information and noise — so I can see where someone would want to completely unplug from the world and just chill in a dark room while they floated in a tank of salt water. Actually, no I can't , because I think it sounds creepy as hell and like a claustrophobia-induced panic attack waiting to happen — but that's just me. Plus, my millennial is known to call me from campus when he is between paychecks and request that I send him things like pizzas and socks, so I agreed that he could do this as long as he didn't bitch at me when his Starbux gift card was depleted. Here's how he described his experience:
Umm, ok so, they had a nice shower in there and I showered beforehand. That was nice. They offered me ear plugs and Vaseline to put on any cuts I had. I got naked and I got showered and I got in. You know there's saltwater in there. It isn't very deep — it's pretty shallow and you lie flat. I was floating on it. Then I pulled the hatch closed. They had like a rag and a spray bottle filled with water on a shelf in case you got saltwater in your eyes which I thought was pretty nice. When I pulled the hatch closed it wasn't sealed off completely, it still let a little bit of light come in. It was really relaxing you just kinda float all weightless. Occasionally I would drift over to the side of the tank and bump into it. You couldn't really feel anything because the water is the same temperature as your body. It was a pretty interesting sensation not to know which parts of my body were in the water and out of the water. I don't know... it was kinda just this peaceful dozing halfway between sleep and awake. I could hear my heartbeat — that was weird and annoying. I could hear myself breathe. It was kinda stuffy so my nose got stuffed up. It was nice because not only was it a sensory deprivation, I was also able to deprive myself of getting made fun of by you for doing this. It kinda felt like I was an iPhone before I got out of case due to the futuristic design of the case. It had a white, modern, plastic look. When I got out I had to shower again and I used every beauty product they had. I conditioned my hair and used this cream/oil in my hair which was pretty nice — free beauty products. It went by a lot faster than I thought it would. It's better than sitting around here. I would do it again but maybe not for that much money. As it stands now I would only do it once every few years. I didn't like astral project or anything. It felt kinda like how I imagined the people in the Matrix felt when they were being used as human batteries, but like they didn't have to pay $60 to be used as a battery.
Well, it still doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me. Even with free hair oil.