Forums > Social Chat > Stereotypes of Fire Twirlers

Login/Join to Participate
audaxBRONZE Member
freelance bum
286 posts
Location: Upstairs, Australia

I was walking along the sreet behind my friend carrying a pair of staffs. I heard a lady say "but, only circus people do that?!" I turned and said "We are circus people!"
i've beeen called a feral too. The Aussies will know.
Any others?


ellieBRONZE Member
38 posts
Location: England

There's definitey a stereotype that goes with twirling - hard to describe tho, I guess it's a bit of a 'she's just a little dangerous, a little edgy' That so doesn't describe it well, but that's the best I can do.....


189 posts
Location: nevernever land

People don't realize that twirling is somthing we all do but it can't tell them what type of person we are!!!!????

ask yourself this??.......... When was the last time you dug a hole you could be proud of???
answers on a post card

167 posts
Location: leicester, england

my mum and dad think im turning into a circus person... really annoys me that people are so blinkered all the time... my friends from home are totally not interested; they think its all "tree hugging" has its benefits though, as I have two completely different sets of good friends which I share a lot of interests with, and can pick and choose depending on my mood!

the people who work in the shop at the end of my road are a little confused tho'... in the morning they get the suited and booted "professional" going in for his breakfast and a coke, and in the evening they get the paraffin soaked, jeans wearing version going in for 20-marlboro lights and 4 litres of kero! ...not sure which stereotype they would go with!...

[ 26 April 2002, 21:33: Message edited by: catboy ]

you can take the cat out of the jungle, but you cant take the jungle out of the cat

382 posts
Location: Southampton

i find it is worse at airports, you can't take your staff on the plane with you and you get some dodgy looks when you have to explain what it is getting it into the baggage system.

Whilst in the states just after the Sept 11th terrorism I nearly got taken out by American security at an airport in North Carolina just for having a fire staff in one hand and a bottle of water in the other! I could see their logic but man, they had machine guns! What was I going to do back? Singe their eyebrows!?!

A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words...

167 posts
Location: leicester, england

must be a north carolina thing!... I went there with work this March, and flew into raleigh-durham... I had a set of electro-glow poi in my luggage, and got taken off to an interrogation room and stripped down to my undies for that one!!!... they even dismantled my mini-disk player... ...putting it back together kept me ammused on the flight home tho'

you can take the cat out of the jungle, but you cant take the jungle out of the cat

TwirlyVicnorthern monkey
235 posts

thats mad!! they didnt recognise electroglo poi??? what did they think there was semtex inside "yes sir, i twirl this around my head, through my legs and in two minutes... up your arse!"


anyway, on this topic, while spinning in our back lane this old geezer came up to me and said (insert patronizing voice here)
"awwww, are you the leader of a marching band???"



vic xx

ex-hop-aholic, now inconsistent lurker...

DomBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,009 posts
Location: Bristol, UK

With a lot of glowstick spinning at raves there's a connection to the raver stereotype. With fire it does have stereotype connections to 'underground' or 'hippy' cultures

Realistically I don't think there is a 'type' of person who spins. I think it indicates somebody who shows creativity and expression in a 'hobby'. The desire to play physically is something most kids today lose completely once they're learnt how to handle a playstation control pad. We're the one's who still love to play.

SmokyDavySILVER Member
Do my poi look too small in this?
394 posts
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dexterous, agile, flexible and perhaps worldly are a few other things I think are attached...

646 posts
Location: Mpls, MN, USA

Yep, glowsticks definitly say "raver", and not just any kind of raver, kandi raver. Which is kind of annoying cause I'm happy with the title raver, but kandi raver, eh, just not me.

Fuzzy Dice.......................................

12 posts
Location: London, UK

While practising (beginner) poi outside my house the other day, a load of local kids ran up to stare shouting "look at the girl doing magic! are you doing magic??" bless 'em!

Should take the opportunity to say HI really; first post 'n all!


8 posts
Location: London

While in my back yard practising the bloke who lives downstairs came up to me and said

Wow thats cool but wouldnt it be more permisive to chemical substances and heavy bass music.

Hit the nail on the head if ya ask me


CassandraFroggie ... Ribbit !!!
4,224 posts
Location: Back in Paris... for now !

Hi and welcome Tre
Same thing happened to me . kids came up and ask me if I was a magician ... I love kids

I like the fact that the firedancers I've met have all been quite deifferent in terms of socio-cultural background, personnality etc... Different, but with a few stuff in common... usually open minded, but then again, I have not seen all of them yet...

shall make further comment after investigating at the SPIP in London on May 18th

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 !!!"

Pink...?BRONZE Member
Mistress of Pink...Multicoloured
6,140 posts
Location: Over There, United Kingdom

All my mates used to be so mad at me for going on about Poi every 5 seconds. and they didnt understand what it was, so one day i got out my poi and done a little performance and now almost all of them are addicted to poi aswell! but they are still only begginers. i usuall spin with my poi mates who are up to the same standard as me, or higher in the case of Chris.

Never pick up a duck in a dungeon...

Paddyback from the dead...sort of
884 posts
Location: 4341'N 7938'W

Word to the circus thing.

When I was first showed my this "poi" I was learning to my dad, he thought I was nuts. At the time all I could do was swing 'em around and bash myself in the face and/or testicles, all the while going on about how cool it would look if I was good. He said I had better things to do with my time. He said I should join the circus too.

Now that I'm getting to be more accomplished he's changed his tune. Now he wants to show me off family, friends, random strangers, etc. Apparently I've come a long way from the circus.

In conclusion, I think the stereotype you have has a lot to do with how good you are.

48 posts
Location: Birmingham, Ala USA

People always just assume I'm some sort of traveling street preformer, circus side-show hippie or something. This past weekend some friends of mine and I were preforming down town, and I can't tell you how many times I got asked "where are you from?" They all looked kind of dissapointed when I replied "just up the street." Maybe I should have made up some wandering minstrel story.....

Life is serious, but art is fun!

Kinudin (Soul Fyre)veteran
1,325 posts
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Or celeste, you could just say that your fuel buket is where the donations go

I haven't run into any stereotype comments yet, about fire... but with glowsticks when I twirl on my front lawn, a few people in cars stop and say "Hey, you a raver?". Doesn't insult me at all. Kinda is cool to have people watch me

master sodiummember
536 posts
Location: carson city, nevada

usually I either get the kandy raver stereotype, but alot of the rednacks around here think I'm some sort of fairy dancer or something. you'd think someone wouldn't fuck with a person swinging chains around, but they do.

you can't have a war against terrorism because war IS's not about worshipping fire. its about making the fire want to worship you.

71 posts
Location: Salem, Oregon USA

I have gotten the circus comment before. I think someone said that my group of friends and I won't have to join a circus, because pretty soon we will BE one. Other than that people either think I am absolutely crazy, or the coolest thing since sliced bread.


An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind - Mahatma Gandhi

121 posts
Location: Brisbane QLD Australia

I get alot of the circus comments as well, I also get a alot of the hippe stuff as well.
I have never spun glo gear so I couldnt tell you about the raver sterotypes.

Having said this though I would have to say that this is coming from a minority of people though. Most of the people that see me and my mates in the park or on the beach are more interested in what we are doing that harrassing us. Perhaps this is just Australia?

Simply an excuse to play with fire.

10 posts
Location: Sydney, Australia

most people in sydney love to watch the fire and don't worry about the stereotyping. they are to interested in going out to have fun, as are we. the only comments we get repeatedly are that we should do parties, etc. I think the hippy stereotype comes more from the dreadlocks and old clothes. (not us but some other fire twirling friends.)

Dance my children, light up the skies, become one with the music, Thumpatron is with you. -The Thumpatron Clan.

audaxBRONZE Member
freelance bum
286 posts
Location: Upstairs, Australia

The scene is a visit to family a little while ago
Auntie: So what are you doing these days, Matt?
Me: I'm part of a fire performance troupe. I twirl eat and breathe fire at parties and street events.
Auntie: Oh yeah, so what else are you doing?

I started telling people I'd run away and formed a circus!

Circus freak, Feral, Hippy, Raver, general underground dodgy person. All of us know we aren't really what SOME people think of us but it's fun to lead them on a bit, especially those who haven't seen it. It's fun watching the funny looks on the street when you're walking along in soot covered clothes carrying poi/staffs and a large fuel container!

Another I get in Australia from English people who ask me about it is if I've been to Thailand. Many English backpackers in Aus have been to Thailand and it's quite often the first time they've seen a lot of good twirling going on at the beach parties. Some think it's from Thailand because of that. Actually I'm surprised that not much has been mentioned about it. Any comments from Aussies/Poms??


MikeGinnyGOLD Member
HOP Mad Doctor
13,923 posts
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

There are some obvious similarities that all fire spinners have. First, none of us are afraid to stand up in front of a crowd (at least, not once we get good). Second, we're all fascinated by flaming, kerosene-soaked wicks flying through the air at high speed close to our bodies (take that for what it's worth). Third, we're all pretty active, athletic people who would rather practice than park our butts on the couch and stare at the TV. Fourth, (and this one applies only to men who spin poi) we've all hit ourselves in the nads several times and yet not given up.

Other than that, I've found few absolutes apply. Many spinners are free spirits. But then again, I met one girl who is a very conventional, ordinary person. But she took some dance classes in high school and a Hawaiian poi dancer came in and taught them how to spin poi. But it had never occurred to her that it could be done with fire.

So no, we're not all pot-smoking hippie raver circus freaks (not that that's a *bad* thing...).

I guess I hear what Catboy is saying. I'm a medical student. By day, you'll find me wearing a white coat and a tie and using a stethoscope. By night, you'll find me wearing a flashing suit of glow wire and spinning fire poi.

And like Catboy, I have my "white picket fence" friends and my "subvert the dominant paradigm" friends. It's always good to have balance in your life.

Oh yeah...and my parents think it's just a "phase," too.


Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

A buckuht n a hooze! -Valura

MikeGinnyGOLD Member
HOP Mad Doctor
13,923 posts
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Oh, the other one I get (especially when I'm playing with the staff) is people asking if I do karate or some other martial art.

No. I'm a wimp. I might look muscular and in good shape, but a solid smack across the face will floor me.


Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

A buckuht n a hooze! -Valura

Lt Furlongmember
21 posts
Location: Sydney

It really hit me the other day at my mates place when i was doing some practice spinning. One of them is getting into it as well so he was spinning too. Another friend picked up my practice set and started trying a few moves. Then my other friend gets out his juggling balls and starts practicing. THEN the neighbour comes over with her staff and does some tricks.

That's 3 people with poi, one juggler and one staff twirler. By the time the rest of our friends got there, they thought the circus was in town all right....

One thing i notice a lot of people ask straight away is how much i get paid to do it. They seem taken aback when i say that i don't charge for my performances (yet ). While they're not estranged to the concept of doing it for fun, they automatically think you should get people to pay you for it. If you ask me, it's all about having fun and entertaining people. Nuts to the cash, i'm here to enjoy myself!

cutie poi girliemember
237 posts
Location: porthtowan, truro, cornwall

the other day i was at this fair type thing on the street when i saw about 5 people twirling poi.

so i got my poi out and joined in.

i swear ther were about 200 ppl watching us. most of them were really enjoying it but then these kids about my age came and asked how old i was (13) and then sed "well are you a little young to join the circus" that cracked me up!!

and then the police came along and asked me for my buskers licence and got upset when i had to explain that i wasnt!

Luv peace 'n' chicken grease Al X x

21 posts
Location: Brisbane, Australia

what an interesting thread this is!
i've always been fascinated by stereotypes and the generalisations people/society put on different groups etc...i went to an all girls private school, and was always 'different'...but thats another tale for another time.
haha i had to go to a little renunion thing at my old school last wkend which was classic! coz it was on a sunday, and i was heading straight to the markets after that coz i share a stall with someone, i was my usual hippie self with my glopoi in my bag coz we aren't allowed to light up at the place where the markets are held.
anyway! (sorry i'm kinda off track tonight..been a long weekend)
so i rock up and straight away get the 'Oh My God look at her' stares and behind the back whispers and all that sh*t. doesn't bother me though coz they all looked the same! ha!
so i'm in there surrounded by these girls and feeling quite left out bar a few girls who i was mates with so i just took my pois out and started play with them ya know, flicking them on and off and stuff. i could feel the principal's eyes on me going 'what the f*ck is she doing now?' i thought they were gonna confiscate my pois or something lol!

i don't know how much sense that makes...please forgive my ramblings lol. its just everyone i know already thinks of me as a hippie or something to that extent....they'll see me with my fire gear and just go 'oh yeah there she is with her hippie stuff 'lol! and i'm used to people i don't know looking down their noses at what's a staff or some pois gonna do to change their opinion...i'm just a f*cken hippie to them.
but then you get the little groups of children who stop and stare at you all cute and stuff and people in general do take notice....what goes through their heads i don't know but at least they take notice. its such a pity we can't light up at southbank dammit!
i guess what i'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter what those people who shoot stereotypes at you think....its the people that sit up and take notice of what you're doing and want to get involved in fire twirling...they're the ones who recognise the light that's in each of us and want to share it with everyone...
it's magickal and special and expressive and i am glad i am a part of this community.
thats quite a long first large-ish ramble on this board lol!
have a beautiful night everyone...bless...

63 posts
Location: Victoria, BC

Ah stereotypes.
As I mentioned in the "you know you're a firetwirler when" post, my mom is pretty sure i'm going to quit the architecture thing and become a "god damned busker on E". We dont have many (any that I know of) twirlers in my area, so I tend to get alot of that.
My friends tend to roll their eyes and say something to the effect of "wow Stace, you never seem to run out wacked things to do with your time."
But the neighbours across the street quite frequently pull our chairs onto their front porch and watch me practice. At first I found it a little odd. Now I just find it amusing.
But my mom's coming around and just bought me a set of Lite Wands!!!! SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Yay colours!!!!!

"...If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowences for their doubting too..."-Kipling

Keep everything wonderful, it's better that way.

We risk sanity for moments of temporary enlightenment, each thought overcome by anticipation of the next, we take the breaks off

Kinudin (Soul Fyre)veteran
1,325 posts
Location: San Diego, California, USA

people just walk by and pay no attention to me when I'm on the front lawn... losers lol I want people to watch

33 posts
Location: Right behind you........

When I was in oz, where i first started spinning poi, the most common response was "awsome" or "that's amazing" and loads of people wanted to learn, or join in , but in england most of the time people just stare for a few minutes and then lose interest or cast you aside with "tree hugger" etc.... Why is there this difference?

It seemed to me that the ozzies have it right, as it is more recognised as an art form, and appreciated as a talent that requires practice just like every other art or sport.

Maybe i'm just doing a really bad job of spinning now I'm back over here!?

TrickySmile at a stranger!

MikeGinnyGOLD Member
HOP Mad Doctor
13,923 posts
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Yo, Space,

We seem to be having a language barrier problem here. What's a "busker?"

Can you translate British to American?


Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

A buckuht n a hooze! -Valura

HOP Newsletter
Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more...