I picked up spinning poi about a year ago, right when I began grad school. My friend Blake is a talented spinner and he has been my mentor this year, teaching me when I can squeeze it into my schedule. It’s been a nice hobby to casually maintain throughout school. When I come home from classes at ten at night and I need to let out my energy, I put some music on in the living room and spin while Michael and I chat about our days.
I’ve been practicing all this year with sock poi, which are basically long socks with tennis balls in the end. Here I am practicing with my nifty black and white sock poi in the park over the summer.
I’ve managed to learn of a whopping total of five moves in the entire year (I’m a busy lady!), but it’s been so much fun learning. I’ve been gearing up with the sock poi to eventually spin with fire poi, but I needed to make sure I hit my head while practicing a minimal amount of times before I got fire anywhere near me.
Once I reached a point where I only hit myself in the face-region with my poi about once a month, I figured it meant I was ready for the fire poi and I could cross this life-list item off my list.
After class yesterday, I got all dressed up in non-flammable(ish) clothing, brought my gear down to Golden Gate Park, and lit up my poi for the first time ever. Here are my virgin fire-heads, giving them their first-ever drench in kerosene.
And then I lit them on fire.
It was really scary at first– there was fire not two feet from my hands! You have to really fight your instincts to GET AWAY FROM FIRE. But once your human intelligence kicks in and you realize you are in fact wielding the fire, you can start to dance with it.
The sound and feeling of fireballs whooshing past your face is INTENSE. It’s the sound of being near an airplane as it takes off, and it’s so hot (duh) too. The feeling of that, coupled with listening to your favorite song and dancing to it with fire, is exhilarating. I can see why people get really into this. It taps into some sort of primal part of the body and mind, and I loved it.
Below is a crappy video of my first thirty seconds of spinning with fire. I’m not really “dancing” yet– just doing one move, trying to get a feel for the weight and the movement of it.
Not the best video you’ll ever see of poi. Seriously, some of these people are amazing. But I’m starting! Eventually I’ll make a better one with music and stuff. I’d like to say that I’m going to really dive into the craft and make a real practice of it and become an expert…. but I know I won’t commit to it like that while I’m in school. I’ll probably continue to do this as my weekly cool-down from classes and as a fun thing to do at parties on the weekends, and be super happy with that. Having hobbies that are both creative and physical are probably the best ones for me- so this one’s sticking around.
Many thanks to Blake for being patient enough to be my mentor. It’s been fun being your protegé!
Here’s a video of Blake doing real fire spinning if you want to see what it can look like:
Many thanks to the rest of my friends and husband for being my audience along the way.