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Forums > Social Chat > Etiquette dealing with an unknown firetwirler

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Location: Austin TX USA
Member Since: 19th Dec 2000
Total posts: 1015
Posted:Situation: I'm at a friend's party where I've been asked to spin. I've got my gear, but haven't lit up yet. A friend introduces me to someone else who, she says, is a fellow firespinner. We get to chatting, and he seems friendly enough.

Eventually he asks if I've got my gear (I think he's seen it, in fact), and I say Yes. He asks if it would be OK if he used my gear to burn at the party.

I tell him that he's welcome to play with my gear "dry," but I don't let people I don't know burn with my stuff. He emphasizes that he's been burning longer than me, and that he'd be happy to do a dry demo for me. I don't budge, and things are left at that, with palpable tension in the air.

Later that night I did have a pretty good burn, and he got too drunk to burn safely anyhow.

Now, if I had let him burn with my gear, it's most likely that everything would have been OK. But, as I told him, "I guess I'm just more cautious."

Have any of you folks been in this situation? What did you do?

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy


Location: Dartmouth, N.S., Canada
Member Since: 31st Aug 2003
Total posts: 30
Posted:I indeed, have been in somewhat of the same situation, along with best friends Deimos. We with held our gear because, well, *gets all small childish* because it's ours and we don't want people we don't know ruining our stuff!

Just thought I'd put my thoughts in. I think what you did was for the best.

there'll be no angels

mushroom collector
Location: JHB, South Africa
Member Since: 24th Feb 2003
Total posts: 208
Posted:adamrice, i think you handeld yourself really well, i have nevr been in that situation but, i think i would do the same, for his safety i think it was good to keep him from spinning fire.

dont spin drunk its stupid and dangerous.

JinX : If it doesnt kill you it makes you stronger

The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earth worms dizzy.
It will however make cats dizzy and cats throw up twice their bodyweight when dizzy.


Liquid Cow
Location: High Wycombe, England
Member Since: 3rd Sep 2001
Total posts: 2629
Posted:I've been very wary of letting people that I don't know use my toys since a random drunk person wandered along and picked up my poi while I was spinning something else.

I didn't notice he'd got them until I'd finished but he wasn't doing too badly so I let him keep spinning.
Then he decided it'd be a great idea to spin the chains around his hands until he was holding the burning wicks.
Since my handles are synthetic but don't melt quickly, I now have beads of hardened plastic along the sides of the straps which rub my fingers quite painfully if I spin too much at one time

I'm still happy letting most people use my poi, but unless I've seen them spin non-fire wicks and they're not drunk they're not spinning my poi.

But there's no sense crying over every mistake. You just keep on trying till you run out of cake.

Location: Upland, CA., USA
Member Since: 13th Dec 2001
Total posts: 250
Posted:I have been in this situation and I have found it very awkward. Many times people want to try out my fire toys, even my breathing gear, after a show and I never let them.
Several times while practicing in the park I have lent my staff or poi to curious people who asked nicely and they ended breaking up them. (And never offered to pay.)
And I have had the problem of random fire dancers showing up at my performances, expecting to be in the show somehow just because there is firedancing going on. Very awkward.
I believe in safety first and that is the main problem when dealing with unknown firedancers. These gypsies show up and leave their gear and FUEL just sitting in the corner while they go to the ladies room. I spot it because some guy is flicking his cigarette right over it. I take it to the head safety and get it put in the fuel station. And then the stupid chick gets mad at me for touching her shit.
What are you supposed to do?

Quite confused by this issue,
Maximus Ego


Froggie ... Ribbit !!!
Location: Back in Paris... for now !
Member Since: 8th Jun 2001
Total posts: 4224
Posted:Adam ???????????
it is quite nice to see you post on home of poi again... i have a huge grin on my face. Missed you online my friend

about your post i can only support your attitude and think you did the right thing.

in any way I think your gear is your gear and noone should ever be angry even if you said plainly no sorry i do not let anyone burn with my gear FULL STOP...

as long as things are said with respect and calmly, it is not your problem if people take it the wrong way.

i am glad to hear that once drunk he did not try and spin which is usually what happens and is usuallly when tensions happen (at least that is what i experienced) ...

shine on

"I want brown bread... no, that is diesel oil..."
"So I was raised in Europe, where History comes from ..."
"NON !!! La Plume de mon oncle n est pas Bingibangibungi !!!"

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:quote:Originally posted by adamrice:

Eventually he asks if I've got my gear ......

....I don't budge, and things are left at that, with palpable tension in the air.
That's a shame, the whole idea of asking is that the person being asked is entitled to say no.

Any experienced spinner with a responsible attitude should fully understand your reluctance to let a complete stranger use your stuff for fire.

I suspect that this kind of attitude, and some of the other problems that have appeared on other threads concerning hostility with strangers, is likely to increase now that spinning has become so popular.

It's not something to get down about, but I think people should be aware of it and discuss effective ways of dealing with it.

A calm, clear explanation as to why you don't let strangers use your fire stuff, along with body language that makes clear you're not going to be persuaded otherwise, is a good way of diffusing situations like these.

"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


Location: St. John's, Newfoundland.
Member Since: 18th Aug 2003
Total posts: 233
Posted:I to was with Deimos one night when she was confronted with this same situation. She knew the guy, but he was a drunken Dirty Punk and she didn't like him, and he's never done it in his live. She handled it quite well telling him he cannot use them because she's practiced a year to get where she is today.

the othernight, however, i was spinning with expensive flashlights at my workplace and this girl i work with basically grabbed them from me as i kept yelling at her "your going to break them, you don't know how its done" along with a coworker who doesn't spin yelling basically the same thing to her (he trusts me because he knows i've been practicing so much) she didn't break them but would have if i wasn't yelling so much, she was SOO close to smashing them on a metal sign.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a trick, this is a stunt. The difference between a stunt and a trick is that a trick is something that tricks or fools the audience, a stunt is something that only an idiot would do -Ivan, Ash Circle, 10/04/03

Location: Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Member Since: 25th Aug 2002
Total posts: 103
Posted:I agree with onewheeldave on the point that if the guy was as experienced as he said he was, then he would have completely understood your reasons for not allowing him to spin. Also, it strikes me that the more experienced spinners tend to always bring their gear to parties in hopes of being able to perform, so if he was so experienced, where was his stuff? You made the right decision. Don't think twice about it.

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne
Member Since: 13th Jun 2001
Total posts: 2830
Posted:Tricky situation. I'm not a professional or anything like that, but I generally let people use my gear if they ask politely, and I haven't had any trouble. I do however, get really "pissed off" when people decide to borrow my gear without asking, grrrrrrrrrrrr.

If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

Location: Australia
Member Since: 1st Oct 2003
Total posts: 97
Posted:Hi Guys,

Adam - I am totally with you on what decision you made.

I was asked by a friend to do some fire twirling at a party and had a totally bad experience with some 17 year olds and my equipment.

I did my little show, put my fuel away and then left my equipment to cool down while I washed up a little bit (wrist wraps can be damn messy). When I came back out a group of about fire 17 year old kids had grabbed my equipment and lit it without putting any fuel on them.

Needless to say I was furious because they were ruining my equipment...they hadn't asked my permission and they didn't know what they were doing.

I screamed like a banshee and scared them away but the damage they did to my equipment...eek...

I had to replace most of my wicks, one of my chains on my poi was broken and another handle was ripped apart.

I will NEVER lend my fire equipment to anyone anymore....even if they do know what they are doing....and I certainly will not leave it even for five seconds....

I believe you did the right thing Adam!!!!


[ 01. October 2003, 16:54: Message edited by: Fitria ]


just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide
Member Since: 12th Jun 2003
Total posts: 2474
Posted:at the first performance i did there where random fire spinners there with their gear who decided they wanted to be in the show, we simply told them that it was choreographed to music but they could spin after the show.

i never leave my gear alone at a doof/rave/party mainly becos of a bad experience my girl friend had. she took her gear to a punker party and at the end of the night when she went to get the stick i made for her it had been bent, not a little bend that u get from doing to many kick starts but a bend like it had been put up against a wall on an angle and stomped repeatedly and hard

as far as letting ppl spin my gear i only let them if ive seen them spin unlit and i am there to watch with an eagle eye, i wont let them since if they are drunk, rude or on any form of substance.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

old hand
Location: In a test pit, Mackay
Member Since: 29th May 2003
Total posts: 1107
Posted:I don't like people touching my gear unless they ask. You're having a real good night, put your poi down for a second for a breather then it vanishes. I don't have a real problem with the home-made ones but last time someone took my fire poi they busted the safety link. I like to know my chains are safe to use, and aside from the checks the best way of doing that is knowing that no-one else has abused them.

There is a slight possibility that I am not actually right all of the time.


HOP Lord of the Pirate Admiralty
Location: Canterbury, UK
Member Since: 5th Nov 2002
Total posts: 1079
Posted:ive been on the other end of this, seeing as im still trying to get new fire poi. Seeing as i hav spun before aswell as working as a blacksmiths apprentice, i hav nothing but pure fear and resperct for fire. If someone says no cuz they dont no me then im cool with it, i understand.

i think peeps who get pissed off cuz u dont let them use ur stuff are a bit immature and might not have had or seen a major burn injury (ask about my leg next time we meet). Thats why id neva let anyone use my stuff until ive seen them spin before hand. If they have their own stuff they should understand this. As for "yeah, but, like, ive been spinning longer then you" see NYCs thread.

Plus its my stuff and I WANNA BURN!!!! THATS WHY I BROUGHT THEM!!!

X x X x X

Ship off the starboard! sound general quarters! noise and light discipline! man the cannons! GET ME THE RUM!

Master of the Free Hug Program

Matthew B-M
Matthew B-M

Lemon-Aware Devilstick-wielding Operative
Location: East London Wilds
Member Since: 9th Jul 2003
Total posts: 605
Posted:I have to say I'm a bit lax. I'm with Stone on this one. For anyone I know at Clapham, I'll generally let people I know borrow my wicks, unless I'm unhappy with the safety of the wicks (as I have been when trying out new stuff, sorry [Nx?]), or I'm about to pack up to head off. As for someone unknown, depends really how they've been introduced to me. If they're introduced by someone I know to be competent, and that person is around when they ask to borrow my wicks, then I'll probably be happy to let them go with it. If on the other hand they're completely unknown, then it I often feel that "they're my wicks, dammit", and I'm much more reluctant to do it. I've never had a case of anyone damaging my kit. And I know how many times I've asked other people for spins with their wicks, or other poi... (frostypaw can no doubt tell you, as he always has interesting poi)

Luv 'n' Lemons
purity :: clarity :: balance

Location: Colchester
Member Since: 9th Jul 2003
Total posts: 50
Posted:it's difficult because on one hand yuo wanna be safe and look after yuor equipment but on the other hand you want to spread the word of poi and get more people doing it.

Monkey see, Monkey do...


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Europe,Scotland,Both
Member Since: 5th Nov 2001
Total posts: 3749

Im on the other side too, cos I have never owned a set of fire poi!

this often means that I end up spinning some really intresting/dodgy poi sometimes, and every time i say "When I have the money....."

Bit vampirish I know. Obviously I rarley ave much trouble convincing peaple of my competance, but its rude to borrow a newbies poi and hyperloop them.

The worst offenders for giving the wrong peaple the lit toys are really new types, who are perfectly happy to give "Miss Tequilla" a go on thier lit poi, with no previous training.

Basically the issue for me is not "will you damage my stuff?" (wich is a consideation) but "If you injure yourself with my toys, am I liabale?"

Sometimes you just gotta say 'no'.


This is a post by tom, all spelling is deleberate
-><- Kallisti


Location: Austin TX USA
Member Since: 19th Dec 2000
Total posts: 1015
Posted:Thanks for the responses.

In this case, I had been asked in advance by the hostess to perform. The other guy obviously had not, and may have been there as a "friend of a friend." This wasn't a paid performance or anything, and I don't have a lot of ego wrapped up in being in the spotlight (maybe a small bit). As some of you know, I make and sell firedancing equipment, so I'm generally happy to have people play with my gear, as it's good advertising. And it never even occurred to me that he might break my gear.

Really, it all came down to this for me: would this guy do something irresponsible--this was a crowded backyard party, after all--and would that make me indirectly responsible? Not so much in a legal sense, more in an ethical sense. I'm not saying he would have burned drunk--he wasn't drunk when we talked about it. But there's a community of firedancers I know and trust--or more accurately, I know how much to trust--because I see them on a regular basis. This guy was just an unknown quantity to me. A one-minute dry demo wouldn't really be proof that he'd be a responsible burner, as far as I'm concerned.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

Great balls of fire
Location: Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Member Since: 28th Jul 2003
Total posts: 643
Posted:The more i've thought about this the more i think a special exception needs to be made for your actual fire equipment...

...i'm not sure i'd ever let an 'unknown' spin with mine. even if they'd shown themselves competent for a night I think i'd have to get to know them a little to trust them enough not to well... blame anything that went wrong on you - the difference between them being responsible enough for their own actions/twirling to say "i ****ed up" rather than "well it was HIS dodgy equipment"

which probably limits any lending of fire equipment to well known poi buddies!



Location: NYC, NY, USA
Member Since: 26th Aug 2001
Total posts: 9232
Posted:Here's what always gets me about things that. You'd think that a FIRESPINNER would understand.

I'd be more understanding of a kid on the street walking up and asking to try, and then being persistant because they don't understand really what they're asking. But you'd think that a fire spinner would understand why you wouldn't want someone touching their stuff.

You clearly did the right thing and would even be in your right to not let him borrow the wicks dry either. This is one of those things that I think it's 100% OK to ask and 100% OK to say no.

I'm that way with glowsticks at 'raves'... people come up to me and ask to borrow them all the time, most of the time interrupting me to do it. The number of strangers that have broken my strings or sticks has warrented me to more often say 'no'... I usually truthfully explain "Sorry man, I don't want to lend em out because people keep breaking them!" Then I direct them where they can buy their own.

Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]


Location: Ohio, USA
Member Since: 24th Mar 2003
Total posts: 674
Posted:Every time someone spins by staffs I end up redoing the tennis racket grip handle. Every time. Without fail. It seems I am the only person capable of spinning it without ripping it to shreds. Arg.

Usually when the question comes up, I clutch my toys to me and say "Ask that guy," and point to someone else whos spinning. Saves me a liability problem, and keeps my equipment from being ripped up. I have allowed a FEW people who demonstrated competancy to spin with my equipment, but as I said... it always means I have to rebuild something. As such, I've become a much more "No, its mine, back off" type of person when it comes to allowing others to use my toys.


Location: oxford
Member Since: 11th Apr 2003
Total posts: 192
Posted:hmmm.. tuff one.. i think its a mix of all the replies really. if you get someone comming up to you, asking in the manor you'd expect ("hi, i'm blah blah blah, how long have you been spinning, i've been spinning for blah blah blahm, do you spin anyu hting else, mind if i have a go?") kinda thing, your going to feel more at ease with it, whereas obviously, someone comes up "wow, thats cool, can i try".. your going to give the "not a good idea, " speach... but its all perspnal preference.. i only let people spin my stuff i know their not better then me!!!!!!

not with cactus
Location: bristol/ southern eastern devo...
Member Since: 24th Jul 2003
Total posts: 2052
Posted:when pissed up people try and use your poi i tend to get really sarcastic and tell them that if i let them use them they will melt there nylon jumpsuit (which is inevitably the clothing of choice for many pissed up types) all over there body and that they will die...

i have no problem with people that seem cool/sober/nice enough using my poi, maybe thats a little irrisponsible of me, but i know i wouldnt have got my own wicks if i hadnt used other peoples first, so im kinda repaying for all the times ive spun with other peoples poi.

Me train running low on soul coal
They push+pull tactics are driving me loco
They shouldn't do that no no no

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:quote:Originally posted by i8beefy2:
Every time someone spins by staffs I end up redoing the tennis racket grip handle. Every time. Without fail. It seems I am the only person capable of spinning it without ripping it to shreds. Arg.

That's a good point.

I make all my own fire kit and most of my electric stuff; I like to keep it simple and don't emphasise making it super strong cos I spin in such a way that it doesn't need it.

For example, split rings on fire stuff are generally considered a no-no cos of the danger of them deforming when spun fast.

But for me they're ok cos of the way I spin; so I have to be a little wary of letting people lend them.

Same with the electric stuff, I focus making them look nice and keeping the design simple; they're not particularly strong but they're fine when I use them. However, I have had them trashed by even quite experienced spinners because they're not used to them.

"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas
Member Since: 21st Aug 2001
Total posts: 3899
Posted:95% of the time I don't let people touch my fire gear. I almost always have some practice poi with me though, and will let people play with that. If they show solid compitence, respect for my equipment, are cool, and have some good reason for not having their own gear, then I'll let them play - if it is an informal setting. If it is a gig, I give them my email and say we should hang out later.

I'm with VisciousVixen on her point about having your gear. If they didn't bring their gear, they must not be that interested in spinning. There are, of course, exceptions like travel and whatnot. But hey, I even took my poi to Japan with me when I attended a conference a couple months ago.

Also, part of it is just plain judgement call, often based off not a lot more than the vibe I get off the person. Of course, someone being insistant in the face of my reluctance would pretty much convince me to say "sorry, but no".

And oh yea - Hi Adam!!!


Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!


Quantum Theorist
Location: Vansterdam
Member Since: 12th Dec 2002
Total posts: 564
Posted:I don't let people I don't know use my gear period. I've gotten to many bad vibes rubbed off on my staff. We have broom sticks and tenis ball poi for that purpose where I spin any way. If I get asked I just politly direct them to the person in charge of the practice gear.

In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird, now the world is weird and they take prozac to make it normal again.

Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:The rule is that when it's your gear, YOU and ONLY YOU get to say who gets to touch it, who gets to burn it, etc. Because if he fouls up and hurts himself, he can hold you responsible (in this litigous country).

And if any spinner has a problem with that, then they don't get to touch my toys at all.

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


All the neurotic makings of America's lesser known sweetheart
Location: body in Las Vegas, heart all a...
Member Since: 10th Jan 2003
Total posts: 9831
Posted:i think you totally did the right thing. for one, it's your stuff, your money to replace it, etc. if the guy is an "experienced" firespinner, in my opinion he should have understood why you wouldn't want a stranger using your stuff for a burn and respect it. there's no harm in asking you, but when you said no that should have been it.

additionally, you gotta think about the safety issue too. with the world being sue-happy these days, for all you knew he could have burned himself and then attempted to sue you because it was your stuff. with him being as a rude as he sounded, it wouldn't surprise me.

i don't let strangers use my stuff for burns, and sometimes i'm even wary of them borrowing it for dry spins too. i've had people f**k up my stuff a lot of times, even friends who knew what they were doing. so it just depends on the person. but i think you did the right thing and have nothing to worry about.

I was always scared with my mother's obsession with the good scissors. It made me wonder if there were evil scissors lurking in the house somewhere.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.


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