I arrived in Paris a few days ago for a little workcation. Naturally the first thing I did was hunt down a float tank center and book an appointment. Surprisingly, floating seems to be almost entirely missing in France: noticeably more obscure than in Germany, Spain, the UK and almost every other European nation in every direction.
However, everyone I talk too seems genuinely excited by the idea. My conversations have consistently led to people wanting to fly out to Portland just to try it. After we discuss all the logistics and benefits of floatation, people always seem to reach the same question, “Why isn’t this more well known?”
I arrived for my float today and began to get the spiel from the woman at the front desk. Apparently the only way to book the float tank (which is delightfully enough called a “cocoon of floatation”) was to book the entire spa room, which includes a vibrating water massage bed and an acoustical therapy chair in it as well. You can book the room for up to 3 people, so all the services can be used simultaneously.
Now I suspect if you have been through the process of soundproofing your float center, this will set off the same alarm bells for you that it did for me. Vibrating water massage bed? Acoustical therapy chair?! We have enough trouble keeping out the vibrations of passing cars, and here was a giant 2-ton machine designed to fiercely shake itself sitting just feet away from the float tank.
I got into the tank, and realized that the various vibrational monstrosities were to be the least of my concerns. After I got used to the fact that a good chunk of my body was touching the bottom of the tub due to a lack of enough salt, I went to turn off the pulsating LED light that was turning the inside of the tank a variety of different colors. I hit the light button and…nothing. I tried it a few more times, and realized that what I was actually doing was turning on and off another small white light while the color LED trudged on, unwavering in its determination.
After trying the button about 100 more times, I decided to go to the front desk and ask them how to turn it off.
“The light?” Asked the woman.
“Yes, I can’t seem to get it off.”
“Turn it off?” she replied, rather surprised that I was even asking.
“Yes, turn it off. How do I turn the light off so that I can float?”
“Well, it does not turn off,” she said with a tone of condescension, as if I had asked her to turn off the rain or turn off the days of the week.
“But…how do you make it dark in there?”
“It does not become dark in there,” she answered, still perplexed as to why we were even having this conversation.
“But…you’re saying that everyone floats in there like that? With that light flashing different colors every second?”
“Yes, that is how it is.”
We had reached a point in the conversation where, clearly, each of us was as perplexed as the other, so I just said “thank you” and walked back towards my room.
I hopped back into the float tank to give it a shot. Needless to say, with the lack of support from the salt water, the jackhammer water massage table next to me, and the mini-rave going on inside of the float tank, it was certainly an interesting take on sensory deprivation.
This right here is the greatest struggle our industry has to face. Worse than a lack of education is miseducation.
To someone who doesn’t know better that isn’t a poorly setup float tank, that’s simply what floating is, and that’s simply what floating is, and that’s what they would go on to tell others. And I think it’s safe to say that if that was your first float, you wouldn’t be coming in for a second.
Keeping your tank full of salt, keeping it soundproof, keeping it lightproof: that’s where it all starts. Maintaining that quality control is paramount to giving people an experience that will make them understand what floating is truly about, and only from there can it really start to spread. Just like Maslow, we have our own hierarchy of needs. If you aren’t providing that solid float experience, no amount of ads you buy and no amount of news stories that get written about you will make any difference. It always goes back to the basics.what they would go on to tell others. And I think it’s safe to say that if that was your first float, you wouldn’t be coming in for a second.