thorthorFlaming Lesbian
181 posts
Location: Portland, Oregon

i've been swinging poi since febuary (wow that seemed like a long time until i actually wrote it), and just started staff.
before i started staff, nothing was sexier or more masculine than huge fireballs on the end of chains wrapping around various limbs and released into a tight circular explosion of flame. girls always looked great doing poi, but i always felt it was a very masculine fire art.

then i started staff. now when i look at fire poi, even difficult moves i'm still months away from learning, it seems very dainty. even when massive burly guys like myself swing poi it looks very delicate, and just dosen't seem as masculine.

why do you suppose this is? i've noticed it was alot of people's opinion when i swung poi exclusively that only girls were supposed to do it, but i always shrugged it off as ignorance.

could it be that since poi is mostly dance, and staff is quite the absurd glorification of martial arts, staff would be percieved as more masculine than poi?

Lights dancing off my skin as chains wrap round it.
Pain is in a little box and I'm so glad I found it.

MayhemBRONZE Member
stick boy!
117 posts
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

I personally dont see it as a gender thing, i see it as doing what makes you happy. tho some peoples STYLE may be a bit more masculine/feminine but thats what comes out of that person or who they learned from. im not sure what kind of style i have but i think sometimes the more feminine moves look good depending on what you are trying to do. there is something to be said for having both types of styles incorporated into your routine or style of spinning, whether it be staff, poi, sword, implement of destruction. i like seeing an artist go from one style to another or slow and finessed and then some power moves or fast moves, keeps the spinning intersting. thats my .02 cents worth.

nearly_all_gonenearly_all_goneSILVER Member
1,626 posts
Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

Happy birthday, Mayhem smile

I agree that there are different styles for both that express very different things about the gender of the spinner... but I do find myself attatching the staff more to blokes.

I only spin poi myself, and as a male I don't feel that it's more of a feminine thing the way I do it... long chains... big wicks... lots of speed and pain.. smile

What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.

colemancolemanSILVER Member
big and good and broken
7,330 posts
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay, United Kingdom

i don't see it as a gender specific thing shrug

it all comes down to style for me - i know male and female staff spinners and poi spinners alike.
some look flowy and dancy and others look more solid and 'chunky'.
if dancy and flowy suggests feminine then i guess there is a divide but i don't see that divide as being between staff and poi but more between the major types of styles people pick up.

"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood

DentrassiDentrassiGOLD Member
3,044 posts
Location: Brisbane, Australia

im not really one to think much about masculine/ feminine stereotypes in any case. if poi looks 'dainty' and involves a more fluid dance why is that feminine?
i think its alot to do with general preconceptions of stereotypes. theres enough freudien analogy of a firestaff to write a thesis on.
spin what you want, how you want, and dont generally give a [censored] what some passing idiot thinks about your testosterone levels. thats my take on it anyway.

"Here kitty kitty...." - Schroedinger.

MayhemBRONZE Member
stick boy!
117 posts
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Thanx nearly! Tho im confused, is it already thursday there or am i just missing something? my bday is thursday, the 30th and its still wednesday the 29th here confused
anyway, i guess we all tend to associate certain toys as masculine or feminine, like i thought batons/short staff as more of a feminine thing, but not necessarily "just for women" if you catch my drift. i have a short staff that i like to play with, but my fave is my 5 ft staff, im more into staff than poi, tho i love poi as well. i believe we could all benefit by using both our sides, masculine AND feminine to portray our art forms. if we could all become more aware of our masculine and feminine sides we could tap into so much more than just one style of spinning. i have seen some people, men and women, that just go balls out in their spinning and look out of control and i would call that a masculine style of spinning, tho not always as fun to watch as someone who is in control, changes speed, does more intricate work.
as with martial arts, some styles are stronger, more "manly" styles of fighting and the more "girly" styles really seem to have more control/finesse/artsy type of look tho it can be just as deadly or competitive, however you want to word it. i believe a lot of that has to do with what experiences we have had in our lives as to what we deem as masculine and feminine and how we are able to show it or not show it. hope this comes out right. there is no "right" style, just what is right for each of us.

MayhemBRONZE Member
stick boy!
117 posts
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

yeah, what dentrassi said! more eloquent than i.... beerchug

ZimZimBRONZE Member
Former Raver Invader... Not sure what i am now...
284 posts
Location: Southern California, USA

if i see a girl who can string better than me, they become the new love of my life (for a certain amount of time)... and i have one friend who just started to staff, but besides that never seen the staff done in person.

My take is it matters none at all what gender you are, neither seems more gender specific to me, lately i haven't seen any girl stringers(last one was at Nocturnal Wonderland 2004) around here whatsoever besides the few that hang out with the same group of poeple i do every weekend and we're just teaching them. On the same note i've never seen a girl staff. I guess if stringing is feminine then it just goes with making bead bracelets being feminine and i'm just really feminine... or something.....
but in my humble opinion someone who talks down to you for being the wrong gender to do stringing deserves a crotch punch. Orrrrr you can beat em up with your glowstrings and be the second person in my "i beat up some [censored] with my strings" club.

The whole you thinking you look like a dainty little girl picking flowers and prancing through meadows when you string is just your perception/opinion.

....and certainly not mine <3

-Raver Invader

Clean for 6 months and counting... ah yeah, that's nice.

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

I think I've noticed more male spinners in general...but only slightly. I do see women sticking to poi, staff, and double-staff, while I see men doing more rope darts and other weapon-related stuff. And I see women doing fans more often.

But mostly, these things are pretty minor and I've never felt as if any particular gender was being discouraged from any sort of art.


Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

A buckuht n a hooze! -Valura

Self-Flagellation Expert
3,414 posts
Location: Bogged at CG, Australia

i dont think its som much a 'youre a girl, you should spin poi, and youre a bloke, you shouldnt' sorta thing. personally, i think girls look better spinning poi than guys do, and that guys look better spinning staff than girls do.

personally, and i think i may have said this before, i reckon its something to do with the wiggle factor. while yes, you can dance with staff, and do it very, very effectively, i reckon poi is a lot more 'dancey' than staff. girls seem to have a lot more of a natural ability to dance, and thus, girls look better doing a dancey spin than a spinny spin. or something.

"beg beg grovel beg grovel"

"There was an arse there, i couldn't help myself"

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

I dunno, MiG...I've seen some HOT male poi spinners! I think the fire makes it hot, not the toy. (Well that and the skill of the performer)


Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

A buckuht n a hooze! -Valura

DominoSILVER Member
UnNatural Scientist - Currently working on a Breville-legged monkey
757 posts
Location: Bath Uni or Shrewsbury, UK

I've never done staff so I can't really comment but is it possoble that more men tend to staff because it's easier to hit yourself in the balls with poi?

Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can beat the world into submission.

IfritIfritBRONZE Member
The GF of HoP
492 posts
Location: Somerset, England

I have noticed that people look at me diffrently in the park when im spinning poi instead of my diabolo, but then i supose thats because i have a rather mascaline jagged style on diabolo were as i have no real style yet wit poi.

fire leads to creation

onewheeldaveonewheeldaveGOLD Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,252 posts
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

I remember when juggling took off that I had high hopes that here was an activity which would have a high proportion of female participants.

Years down the line it's ended up as a male dominated activity.

Similalrly with poi, which in the early days high a very high proportion of women and which, in theory, had many characteristics that made it ideal in that way, eg the dance aspects and the very fact that something about poi spinning is intrinsically more feminine.

And while there is still a fair proportion of women poi-ers, I can't help noticing that when it comes to technical stuff, posting videos on this forum, and basically being prominent faces, we seem to be getting a bit male dominated.


My take on the poi/staff thing is that, on initial appearances, staff seems more manly (hard, inflexible, weapon like, yang characteristics), and poi more feminine (soft, flexible, flowing).

But, the more you get into them the less those distinctions hold.

I do very little staff because I feel no particular affinity and, for the purely practical reason, that they are long bulky objects and I prefer the easy portability of poi and meteors.

My advice to women who want to make their mark on the world of spinning is to take up meteors; I'm convinced that they're going to get a lot more popular soon, and a good groundwork of poi skills transfer much better to meteors than staff skills do.

Plus they combine the feminine aspects of poi with the masculine aspects of staff.

"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!

LyraSILVER Member
spiny norman
314 posts
Location: Cincinnati,damn it, USA

most of these posts seem to be from guys, so: i spin poi,fans, some devilstick, and im starting staff, most of the people ive taught poi have been female, and more of the females have stuck with it

i think whether or not poi is fem/mas depends on the style, moves of spinner, but i also think that poi has a higher tendancy to flow, be graceful/dancy

staff is more weapon like, and in someways takes more strenght, it seems to lend itself more to men, masculinity, but it really comes down to individual strenght and cordination

it really comes down to personal preferance

i guess i just restated things, but...oh one more thing

poi with stremers and such looks/seems pretty, dancy, feminine

but when it comes toi fire chains, the risks goes up, much more dangerous,etc.. no longer seems simple or something to be taked lightly

anything involving fire used well takes skill, deserves respect, looks hot, dosent matter what your gender is


if you think that our kiss was all in the lips, come on you got it all wrong man, and if you think that our dance was all in the hips then, oh well, do the twist -The White Stripes

StoneGOLD Member
Stream Entrant
2,829 posts
Location: Melbourne, Australia

I think the answer to this one depends on where you live.

My experience in Oz would indicate there are roughly equal numbers of male and female poi spinners and staffers. Though until recently staff (especially doubles) was extremely popular, now many do poi, or both.

IMO, both gender are exceptionally experienced, talented and professional. Though, I guess as a generalisation, females would be appear better in some respects because many of the good ones have had some type of dance experience. While many males have martial art experience wink Also a lota girls know about poi and club swinging from their days in callisthenics.

And, Im not one to support the theory of feminine aspects of poi and masculine aspects of staff, as suggested by OWD, for example. IMO, its about the person, not the prop.

I think it is misleading to assume that because a low number of females post in the technical sections that they cant do the technical stuff; because they certainly can. Perhaps, its in the way we learn or something.

I asked a couple of Maori friends about poi recently, and they said girls do poi and men did taiaha(1) (long club/fighting staff) . Then, rather tentatively I said I do poi and they said that cool, which was a relief.

1. I cant remember what the weapon was called. They described it as some kinda of spear on a string, so I guess it could have been a taiaha (long club/fighting staff) or a mere/patu (short club).

Cheers smile

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

EveishEveishGOLD Member
*Tickles pretty strangers*
610 posts
Location: Australia

I don't think it has ever occurred to me that one gender should or looks better doing one or other type of fire toy...
I do staff, and I juggle and I play with any fire toys that I can...
Thor - you mentioned that staff is more of a martial art... I don't see any relation to martial arts when I do staff (though I know alot of people associate the two), I actually see it all as circus fun juggle I don't think I would ever have gone near it if it was introduced to me as a martial art... erk! no thanks, I just want to play in pretty circles of fire biggrin

What if I should fall right through the centre of the Earth and come out the other side where people walk upside-down?!

Wyrd SisterWyrd SisterBRONZE Member
53 posts
Location: Wellington, NZ, New Zealand

I guess it all depends on the people who are watching and how they see it. Personally I hadn't thought about it, I just want to play and dance with fire. I haven't been doing this for long, but I like the staff and I like the poi. Yes I have to practice both of them. I've got a couple of short sticks on loan until tomorrow afternoon. Lol, yeah, I want to learn it all!!

weavesmiley devil weavesmiley ubbrollsmile

What we play is life. -- Louis Armstrong
Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff. -- Frank Zappa

SterlingspiderSterlingspiderBRONZE Member
Senator by day, Sith Lord by night.
128 posts
Location: Suffolk, New York, USA

As with so many things in this life, it's not about what you got, it's all about what you do with it. devil

As far as "feminine" vs "masculine" toy choices, irregardless of the actual toy used women tend to slow it down a bit and get more sinuous and sexy with whatever they use. Guys tend to go bigger faster higher MORE with whatever they use. I personally started with poi, but picked up staff this summer and thuroughly enjoy doing both.

I suppose the ultimate test for how it "looks"... as a chick I'd be much more likely to hit on the guy who can flow well (hence is more "dancy" and according to some "feminine") then one who is up on the very latest bleeding edge moves at top speed. One feels more like performing and the other more like showcasing. The occasional guy I see putting expressive effort into any toy completely blows me away.

I'd much rather see someone enjoy what they're doing and look to making it look good to other people then someone trying to a) ignore me or b) dazzle their way into my pants with their mad ninja skillz.

And as far as whether somthing's a "girls" tool or a "boys" tool I find it kind of interesting that so far the best contact staff tutorial I've found has been MCP's yet the most compelling poi video to sit and watch over and over I've found thus far has been the "Durbs" video which is totally a laid back spin to a slow Oasis song.

"If the human brain were simple enough for us to understand, we would be too simple to understand it"
-Emerson M Pugh

nativenativeSILVER Member
sleeping with angels
508 posts
Location: anaheim CA usa

ok here is my opinion.
poi was used as a art form more tword the polnishion art. staff was used as a wepon and it was the most divers in battel
there for. sence only men are permit to be on the front line durring battle it is persived as manly


110 posts

ok well i think guys look great doing poi/staff etc...
but girls look very sexy.. i guess its the way the poi make you move?!?!

personaly i love dancing with my poi coz it makes me feel all flowy and sexy and yum!


wouacwouacGOLD Member
183 posts
Location: Iceberg 319, Canada

gender schender poi is poi fire is fire, I do poi and staff and until i got a message the other day the only fire twirlers I knew were men, So in my response to what you have to say fire arts usually look better as a dance and maybe I'm biased cuz im a guy but girls are alot hotter (pun) when dancing than guys are but hey funs fun whether its meant to be directed at one gender or not I say toss aside the gender and let the good times roll if you find this hard have a beer it makes everything easier beerchug

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potato's.

FoeHammerFoeHammerBRONZE Member
37 posts
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Maybe poi takes balls, and you are just a sissy girl?!

Anger Is A Gift

16 posts

Poi or should I say fire arts is one of those things that it all depends on the person spinning.

I have seen guys who spin poi to an extreem level that couldn't look feminen if they tried, where as I have also seen some gals that could whip a staff around and make it look very sexy indeed.

It is all about the spinner.

onewheeldaveonewheeldaveGOLD Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,252 posts
Location: sheffield, United Kingdom

Written by: insaineCRAZY

Poi or should I say fire arts is one of those things that it all depends on the person spinning.

Poi and fire arts are distinct; it's possible to spend a lifetime improving your spinning without once using fire.

"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!

eddicted2dnbBRONZE Member
43 posts
Location: Phx, Az, USA

I am a girl and I spin Poi I know a couple of other girls to

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