So, as some of you know I'm a fire artist/performer. I started with fire poi in 2006 when I mentioned that I wanted to learn, and my friend Nicki said, "They teach that at the studio I use for bellydance lessons." And thus, my life did change forever. I started taking lessons at the studio from Trishnamurti, and within six weeks I was spinning fire balls around my body. Over the next 2 years I learned advanced fire spinning techniques, how to be a professional fire safety and some of the ins-and-outs of being a performer. I worked with a few troupes and dabbled in fire fan, fire staff spinning and very basic torch work.
Anyway, in 2008 I was spinning constantly, learning to spin 4 poi at one time! I performed at a Dresden Dolls concert and Sin Aesthesia had 3 shows lined up. However, before the first Sin show, I injured my back. Two slipped discs and crazy amounts of nerve damage threw off my ability to balance myself. Not to mention I couldn't stand up straight and I was on enough pain meds and muscle relaxers to make Lindsay Lohan jealous.
For various reasons, I didn't dive back into the fire/circus scene after I healed from my injury. But I've missed it greatly. So, at New Year's 2013, some friends brought up fire art and skills they wanted to learn and the three of us made promises to one another: we will burn in 2014.
An opportunity to put our money--and fire--where our mouths were presented itself rather quickly in the form of a "Dragon Training" workshop at The Circus Farm with local performer Madame C (Link may be NSFW as it goes to a burlesque troupe. Yup, I'm friends with circus freaks and burlesque dancers. Your point?) But I digress, the class would teach fire eating, basic "fleshing" tricks and--the big baddy--breathing a plume of fire.
So, the class was last Saturday and it. was. AMAZEBALLS. I went with my friends Inge and Michelle. There were 12 of us in the class, which is a good size for something like this.
Of course we started with fucking breathing fire. (This is the one trick that scares me beyond belief. Always has because if something goes wrong with this trick, it is probably catastrophic.) Rather than just throw us into the deep end of the flaming pool (metaphorically speaking, there was not a flaming pool), we all started with water. We stood around blowing wet raspberries for about 20 minutes, soaking ourselves in the process. Seriously, I looked like I had a drinking problem. (Also....pro tip: don't wear a white t-shirt when doing this kind of work.) After working on that for a while and blowing through about 8 ounces of water each, we refilled our bottles with lamp oil--the preferred fuel for breathing fire. Madam C demonstrated a few times and then it was our turn. One by one, we each gave it a shot.
Guys, I breathed fire. I blew a raspberry of lamp oil at a lit torch and when I opened my eyes the world was replaced with a blooming ball of fire. Sweet Jesus, it was spectacular. I did it a few times and felt like a total bad ass. All eyebrows are still in tact and I did not, in fact, die. I was a dragon! RAWR!
After everyone had a chance to expectorate flame, we sat down in a circle to begin torch work. Now, I've learned very basic torch work in the past, but I haven't done it since 2011. I have to say, it really is like riding a bike. The muscle memory is still there, as is my tolerance to having an open flame in my face. It was nice to refresh the skills of doing fuel transfers (where one torch is lit from another...by way of one's arm or tongue). And, I learned to properly extinguish fire in my mouth, so I am now a true-honest-to-goodness Fire Eater. I also learned some vapor tricks (aka "candling" -- where you hold an open flame in your mouth sans torch).
I think the most enlightening moments were when I was watching others...people who are truly new to fire play. One woman, bless her, was trying to put a torch in her mouth and her neck just kept trying to retract like a turtle. I've forgotten what it's like to be new to fire and to fear it. If I ever did, that is. (Yeah, no. I don't think I did. But that just confirms that I'm crazy.) Anyway, I forget that other people don't have that comfort with fire, even if they do have a respect and reverence for it. The body is weird and the act of putting fire in your mouth can be intense--and not just because of the heat. When playing with any fire prop, your body knows on an instinctive level that this is dangerous and wants to get away. The adrenaline pumps in and at times your body will go its own way to protect itself. (Like jerking away from a torch that you're trying to put in your mouth.)
I don't know what that's like, honestly. When the torch comes at my face, I open up and prepare to do something cool. And yet, I can't put a contact lens in my eye on the first go. Seriously... I'm weird.
It was a great class. I watched a lot of women do amazing things. I watched friends become dragons. I watched a woman in her sixties snuff out a flame in her mouth. And, I've reignited (pun intended) my love for fire play. I've missed it so much and I don't want to wait another two years before playing again. I've decided that while I'm not interested in performing again (that shit is an expensive ass hobby), I'm going to rebuild my fire kit. (After Nicki died I let my equipment rot away--literally--and disintegrate.) I'm starting from scratch. New poi and chains. New torches. New everything.
There will be another Dragon Training class next month. I may or may not go depending on funds. I will be getting together with friends on a regular basis, though, to play with fire.
I've missed this part of myself.
Dude. I breathed fire.
NOTE: We did this in a controlled environment and took all proper safety precautions. Experienced performers were on hand to supervise. NEVER DO THIS ALONE. ALWAYS LEARN FROM AN EXPERT. For information on what I was learning and how I learned it, you can watch Brian Brushwood's SCAM SCHOOL videos on the topic here. And I know you're probably wanting pics or video, but I don't have those. There was a camera crew at the workshop, but that footage hasn't been posted anywhere. Also, we were all really busy during the workshop, so there wasn't time to grab a camera or phone and snap a few. Soon, though. Sometime when I'm out at the Circus Farm or something I'll get someone to take pictures or video.