This issue of The Float Tour Blog focuses on our exploration into floating in the Deep South. Louisiana’s state lines were formed, in part, by the roaring Mississippi river. We were fortunate enough to camp at its bank for an evening on our way in and got to witness its powerful deluge firsthand. The state is a melting pot of diversity, fueled by its rich and troubled history. We have two stops on the agenda: Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Floating is relatively young in Louisiana, so it’s interesting to see how they’re defining it for themselves. With a state so endowed with its own identity, it undoubtedly brings a whole different perspective to this unique industry. The float centers we’ve seen draw heavily on their owner’s personalities, some in interesting and extreme ways.
Baton Rouge, LA
Population: ~ 1.4 million in the surrounding area
Number of float centers: 1
Known for: Has its own White House (near the Capitol), plantations, swamp hikes, incredible carousels
Salt is in the Air…
Number of Tanks: 2
Years in Operation: 1
Tactical takeaways: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong – and that shouldn’t stand in your way.
Other Services: Adult and Child Halotherapy rooms
Fleauxt is the only center we’ve seen so far that has a halotherapy room specifically for kids: a giant salty sand pit where they blow an aerosol of salt into the rooms discretely.
Fleauxt has been open for less than a year, but they’re already looking to expand. Given how they started, you wouldn’t necessarily expect that to be the case. Their opening week was an excellent example of Murphy’s Law in action. Not only were their float tanks delayed, but the week they were doing their buildout, an elderly woman drove through their lobby, completely taking out a pillar and part of their building. They were undeterred and opened as planned, but not without a small crack in their wall.
If this teaches us anything about float centers, it’s that they can survive – and even thrive – despite unusual and adverse conditions.
Congratulations, guys! We can’t wait to see how expansion goes.
New Orleans, LA
Population: 1.5 million
Number of float centers: 2
Known for: Mardis Gras, average elevation of the city is between 1-2 feet below sea level, incredible cajun/creole food, Bayou voodoo magic
An Artist with a Float Tank…
Space Sanctuary wasn’t even on our radar until we were in Louisiana. The folks over at Fleauxt told us about it and recommended we try to make contact. Ryan, the owner of Cabrillo Blanco, is an artist and sculptor who has a warehouse on the edge of New Orleans. He refers to it as “his castle”, with high barricades to keep the rest of the world out. Inside, it feels like its own kingdom (if not its own world) with Star Wars memorabilia scattered throughout, this is also the home to the Church of Chewbacchus, a group dedicated to bringing the spirit of Star Wars and Mardi Gras together for the masses.
The warehouse has some incredible art installations nestled among the densely populated, leftover and discarded Mardi Gras floats that are stored here (a kind of double float center – now he just needs to get some root beer and ice cream to cover all the float bases).
Ryan has been intensely interested in floating for meditative and consciousness expanding purposes for a long time, but only floated for the first time just a few years ago. He has studied all of John C. Lilly’s work, especially those on float tanks and metaprogramming. For him, these are the most important aspects of his floats; he says it’s especially helpful for his creative process as well as working on his own metaprogramming.
He built the Space Sanctuary himself, after looking at some DIY float tank schematics online (created by Shane Stott, of Zen Tent) and making his own adjustments. It looks like something out of an 80s science fiction film: a massive human sized canister made to look like stainless steel. It was also equipped with a huge counterweight to open and close the hatch. The Sanctuary is adorned with light displays and artwork throughout, so much so that it was incredibly disorienting, even before stepping out of a float.
Ryan floats people a few times a week in his Space Sanctuary, but it’s intended more for personal use. He’s become somewhat known in the local float community for it, and is in Bali at the time of this writing, installing a float tank there and helping the owner work on his own metaprogramming.
Are you good at Mario Kart?
Number of Tanks: 2
Years in Operation: 3
Tactical takeaways: Be flexible for your clientele. Find non-obvious ways to cater to your customers and they may just appreciate it.
Other Services: Just floating, but there is an N64 in the lobby where Spencer says you can get free floats if you beat him at Mario Kart.
Nola Floats was the first center to open up in New Orleans – between the endless nightlife and tourism of the French Quarter, it offers a needed escape from the craziness that can sometimes overwhelm New Orleans. Nola Floats has two Samadhi Tanks retrofitted with a custom filtration system that is absolutely unlike anything we’ve seen in any float center before. Spencer, the owner, built it himself with cannibalized parts from aquariums and float tanks.
Spencer has been passionate about floating for many years now and it shows in the dedication with which he runs his center.
He goes above and beyond for his members, even offering to stay open any hour of day for them.
Population: ~ 5.5 million
Number of float centers: 2
Known for: Peaches, sports teams named after Hawks & Falcons, and the birthplace of the civil rights movement.
Build it Your Way…
Edward and Alex are both natives to Russia, but came to America looking for opportunity. In pursuit of this, Edward started out trying several professions: being a porsche salesman and later becoming a general contractor. This experience in construction allowed him to save significant costs upfront by doing most of the buildout himself. Alex, for his part, has always been good at much of the administrative work, complimenting Edward’s skills in creating a startup.
From there, they decided they decided they needed a massage therapist. Someone to offer another service and add some options to their clients. Enter Meagan. While not one of the owners, she’s been adopted into the Flo2s family, and she and Edward take care of most of the operations while Alex handles the business side of things, while still working his full time job.
They’ve been doing so well that they’re looking to expand. This seems to be a common thread we’ve been hearing, especially for centers that have been open for a couple of years. Ideally, they’ll be expanding into their neighboring space and creating a lounge. Keeping pre-float and post-float environments completely separate allows them to have a rotating door of happy, relaxed people.
We didn’t get to meet with the people at Flöt, and we’re not entirely sure why. There must have been some communication breakdown, but when we showed up, the center was closed for a private event and we weren’t able to do anything more than peer longingly through their windows. In any case, we wish them well, and hopefully they’ll make Float On a stop on their own Float Tour someday!
Impact isn’t a float center. They are, however, the largest manufacturer of cryotherapy tanks in the United States. Given the budding relationship between our two services, we decided to stop by to say hello. They were incredibly nice, and it was fun talking about the similarities and differences between the two industries.
Asking all kinds of questions about Cryo and its origins made us understand what it’s like encountering floating from the outside. It gave us a great perspective, and also an interesting origin story stemming from treatment of rheumatoid arthritic patients in 1978 Japan. Not too different from John C. Lilly studying sensory deprivation, Dr. Toshiba Yamaguchi had found many of the benefits of Cryotherapy by accident while using it locally to treat patients with chronic pain symptoms. Once he did, however, it quickly adapted to full body cryotherapy and has gradually become what it is today.
Issue #12 is coming up…
That’s it for the Deep South on our trip. It’s amazing to see how a vibrant culture like this will adopt floating and make it its own. It’s also absolutely true what they say about Southern Hospitality – a very special thank you to everyone we met for making us feel right at home. At this leg of the journey, we can’t really go any further East without running into the Atlantic Ocean, so we’re heading North.
In the next installment of the Float Tour Blog, you’ll see our misadventures through Tennessee and North Carolina.
Maybe you’ll even get to meet some float celebrities…
Until issue #12…