When a fellow travel blogger recently wrote about fire spinning in Thailand, I realized in reading it that I have been amiss with you, dear readers.
You see, I have blatantly (and unintentionally) kept you in the dark about a new part of my own life; a hobby that is both relaxing and actively playful….Fire Spinning!
This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
It all started with friends of mine who spin. When I first saw them spinning balls of fire on chains (called poi) and twirling staffs with the ends ablaze, I thought it looked neat, but didn’t have much interest in it myself.
It wasn’t until I picked up a staff one day to try and imitate a move I had seen that I began to think of fire spinning as something I could get into. The staff felt smooth, was a perfect weight, and I realized with a few tips that it wasn’t as difficult as it initially appeared. Learning new moves felt great, and perfecting the art of making spinning look good tapped into my love of dance and performance in general.
Months and months after I first picked up a poi or staff, I was at an outdoor music festival where some friends were “having a burn,” as they say. There were 200 people gathered around a stage about 50metres away, and on this little patch of grass to the side, about half a dozen people were fire spinning.
“Here, have a go,” said a mate as they relatively unceremoniously tossed me a half lit staff. “The other side didn’t get fueled up by accident, so you’re stuck with one,” he said.
Ah well, “one’s better than none” I thought, and started spinning the staff, surprised at the heat and size of the one fireball up close. My friends had been careful to teach me about fire spinning safety, our credo being “learn before you burn”. So I felt prepared for this, my first time spinning fire.
And man, was I on fire (pardon the blatant pun). I had that staff spinning like it had never been spun it before.
That is, until I smacked myself in the eye with the unlit end of the staff.
Convinced that I would be toting a black eye for the next week, I glanced up to see who saw my blunder. As luck would have it, if anybody had actually seen my spinning debacle, they had the good grace to pretend not to have.
So I kept spinning, and got back to having fun. Mere minutes later when I was handed a fully lit staff to play with instead, I became confident that nobody saw my eye-poking antics!
“Yikes,” I thought to myself. “It would hurt a lot more if I poked myself in the eye with fire,” I pondered as I swallowed hard and attempted to track the whereabouts of not one but two balls of fire revolving around my body.
Turns out it’s much easier to spin staffs with both ends lit than one…they’re easier to see!
Since then, I’ve had a few chances to have fun with fire spinning, and to watch those who are much better than me have a go at it too. Fire spinning is a beautiful rhythmic dance that requires skill, courage, and practice. I’m so glad I’ve had a chance to try my own hands at it.
All the pictures above are of me, just in case you were wondering. Here are some pictures of various friends of mine fire spinning: