Forums > Help! > age discrimination

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13 posts

In my last post I scratched the surface of why I am here. I am not a spinner of fire performer. My daughter is. She is 10 years old and has a real skill and grace for it. She totally respects the fire and loves the art, I wouldn’t let her do it otherwise. She understands safety and is fully aware of her own limits. Everytime she spins we make sure we have water and a spotter, all her equipment is tested and we go through our safety checklist of everything from her clothes and hair to space and emergency precautions. She will also be the 1st one to say, nope this is a bad night, too windy, or I’m just not on my game, I don’t think I can focus. Now I admit at 1st she was a bit of a show-off, but that has a lot to do with all the attention she gets for being so young and so good. Now she acts like a professional and it’s all about the art and she doesn’t so much care for the attention.

We went to a Pagan Family Retreat Center a few weeks ago. There were a lot of spinners, about a third of them were being careless and spinning without spotters and wearing sarongs and loose flowing nylon scarves…… Now this being said and I being her mother and supporting her. and she has 2 spotters, she was told she could not spin because of her age. Am I right for feeling unfairly discriminated against?

Neon_ShaolinGOLD Member
hehe, 'Member' huhuh
6,120 posts
Location: Behind you. With Jam

Did you allow her to show 'them' what she could do sans fire and point out that at such a young age she has more care and attention and safety than thought you mentioned earlier?

To be honest I've never thought about the legal age for firespinning like there is the legal age of consent and for buying cigarettes and alcohol. Is there one? I know there's an age limit for buying firetoys.

Thinking about it I think they refused to allow your daughter to spin fire as if anything goes wrong and a child is injured it'll be on their heads as you COULD have the right to sue them. I know you won't but they're just covering themselves.

"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

AsenaGOLD Member
What a Bummer
3,224 posts
Location: Shatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

I spose its all to do with responsibility, and the fact that the said retreat centre didnt want to get it in the neck if something went wrong.

For example... a child who doesnt wear a seat belt under the age of 14... its your fault, your fine... if the child is above 14... its their fault, their problem.... their fine...

I spose because your daughter is only 10, they may feel it is there responsibility / problem if something happens to her, but if she was older she would "know better" (despite knowing how much she does) so then she's her own responsibility. I dunno, if that lot makes sense.

O so kinda what neon said... ha, didnt read the last bit of your post Dave... redface

13 posts

I acctually have a waiver that is notarized that i carry in my vehicel and have photocopies of. I offer a copy to anyone who requests one. No questions asked. While it is not legally binding, it shows my intent and would prevent a judge from allowing me to sue anyone. It says I take all insurance, legal and financial liability for injury to my daughter during an act of fire performance...blah blah blah. I acctually had a friend of mine write it up that is a corporate attorney. I guess that's why i find it so frusterating.

And yes i pointed out the idiots vs. my daughter and her checkilst....

fNiGOLD Member
master of disaster
3,354 posts
Location: New York, USA

where are you located? I know at Wildfire last, there was a child who it was thought had the skill and understanding to burn, so the organizers let him burn.

kyrian: I've felt your finger connect with me many times
lou kitten: sneaky little meatball..
ezz: please corrupt me more

BirgitBRONZE Member
had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
4,145 posts
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

SapphireChicken, if I were an events organiser I might do the same, sorry to say that. Even if you've got a non-legally binding document in your car.

I mean, imagine something happens to your 10-y-old. Even if you take all the blame, it'll cast a very bad light on the event and may make it harder to run as successfully the next year. Whereas when a stoned hippy's nylon scarf melts on him/her people will shrug it off.

I mean, imagine you had a bit of paper with you saying if your daughter gets cancer from smoking you take the blame - would you expect people to let her smoke in their house? Firespinning IS dangerous, paraffin IS unhealthy, and if it's the organiser's choice to protect your daughter/their event then there's not much you can do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you shouldn't let her spin, that's been discussed in quite a few threads on here, but I can understand why an organiser would choose not to.

"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half

614 posts

dont let this grind you down,im 30 with five years experience
people still tell me i cant burn evern with full insurance and full safety kit.
no win no fee laweys and the where theres blame theres a claim culture to blame i geuss
no-one will stop her at a juggling convention i have taught kids fire a many conventions and as long there is a parent there im happy to do so,

dont give in but also dont get disheartened,an excellant 13 year old student of mine has been allowed to do a warm up show for me infront of 700 hundred people solo.he was awesome and dropped less than me(little sh*****T)

DuncGOLD Member
playing the days away
7,263 posts
Location: The Middle lands, United Kingdom

I can see both sides of the argument, at my festival I'd be very aprehensive but purely because of the "blame/claim" situation and not being fully savvy on the technical legalities of your waiver.

I don't think there's anything wrong with it tho, and I'd probably allow it. Being such a unique situation it's very hard for folks to make a decision on the spot. To pre-empt it hapenning again try to contact the organisers before hand and demonstrate her skills with out fire first when you arrive smile

Let's relight this forum ubblove

13 posts

Thank you. I guess you are all right. I do need to prepare in advance for these events. I do sometimes have problems looking at both sides of the coin.... thus the reason i put the question out there smile

GnorBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
5,814 posts
Location: Perth, Australia

If one the the careless ones around her harms your child that would be awful. Its out of your control what they are doing.

Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Im in a lonely battle with the world with a fish to match the chip on my shoulder. Gnu in Binnu in a cnu

SebPenguin of Mass Destruction and Tricky Bugger to the court of Claire the Askew
643 posts
Location: Check behind you.

And indeed the control of your young one.
Age discrimination is certainly comming into it though, if only from the legal system the organisers used asa jumping off point. frown

Chucks nuns
Property of mynci and blu_valley, and proud of it.

Kathain_BowenGood Ol' Yarn For Hair
422 posts
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

Always bear in mind, just as other people have said, the appearance of the event. Should a minor to be injured, whether he or she was performing the dangerous activity with a waiver or not, it will always cast a poor light upon the event. No matter what the circumstances, it is bad publicity.

Now, I'm not familiar with what your area is like as per discrimination or appearances of a pagan community, but many pagan events I have been to are all overly cautious about their appearance and publicity to maintain the public image that pagans are not bad people. It keeps their events from being treated unfairly, especially when it comes to things like permits and other legalities.

You did not mention whether the disclaimer had been signed by her or not.

When I started horseback riding, my instructor would not let me ride unless I was ten years old at a minimum. In addition to that, for insurance reasons, I had to read, understand, and sign a disclaimer stating that, baring an equipment malfunction, any accidents were my fault and that we could not hold my instructor or the farm responsible. Then, my "parent or guardian" had to sign and release the farm from any responsibility. It was the only way I could go riding.

So, check your disclaimer.

In addition to that, bear in mind that different events have different rules. Generally speaking, most of the events I have seen will either not allow burning at all, or will only allow those over a certain age to burn. It is generally felt that only people over a certain age are in their right mind when it comes to understanding all the risks involved, and understanding their responsibility in regards to these risks (drinking ages are coming to mind).

In your position, I cannot say I would allow my child to burn, but that would be rather pot to kettle of me. My mum let me ride. I say, as long as you are comfortable and your daughter is knowledgable and performing in a safe manner, more power to you. I knew a teenager who could jump fences on her little pony better than any of the seasoned riders, run courses faster, and just generally be a balls-ier, better rider than many of the others at the farm.

Just burn safe and be aware that age limits are always going to be a part of life. Your drivers license, drinking age, voting age. Somewhere along the line, you will notice it. Always try to see it from the point of view of event organizers and promoters.

But good luck in your cause, and always be safe!

"So long and thanks for all the fish."

GeezaGOLD Member
694 posts
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom

She could have spun either glow poi, glowsticks or unlit fire. That way they wouldnt be responsibe and they could see what skills she has. Personally i think spinning glow sometimes looks better than fire anyway

zamiriiBRONZE Member
44 posts
Location: South Florida, USA

 Written by: Geeza

She could have spun either glow poi, glowsticks or unlit fire. That way they wouldnt be responsibe and they could see what skills she has. Personally i think spinning glow sometimes looks better than fire anyway

i agree with Geeza that she prob still could have spun there w/o lighting up.

but with the age bit? it's not like she was there on her own, I think she should have been allowed since she obviously had parental consent AND supervision. if they judged her skill level unlit to not be good enough for them, then they might have a case, but they catagorically denied her which i think is wrong.

if i was an event co-ordinator and a 10 yr old came up to me saying he/she wanted to spin fire though i'd say H*** no too. but if the PARENT(S) came up to me and and told me that she spins and has spun fire before and was 1) willing to sign a waiver, 2) allow me to judge her skill unlit 3) accept my decision if i determine it to be insufficent for fire. if i decide against it - then still sign the waiver and spin - but no fire.

that's not unreasonable is it? last comment is dont give up, somebody out there has to have a brain! wink

Every Day I add another name to the list of people who piss me off

Helen_of_PoiSILVER Member
lapsed spinner
412 posts
Location: Dublin, Ireland

I have to say, if this had happened at the EJC, as one of the organisers I have no idea if i'd have let her burn or not. At previous events, I have seen some responsible, talented kids, with responsible vigilant parents. I have also seen some parents proudly watch while their child (around 11 years old at a guess) spins with long hair not tied back, and not even glancing behind her before spinning (and thus nearly hitting 3 bystanders in the process.)

By the sound of it, you and your daughter fit in to the former category, not the latter. But the question is, where does an event organiser draw the line? Do you decide on a case by case basis, which is probably the fairest, but will probably lead to offending some people. Or do you just make a rule, and stick to it? At the EJC, we didn't have a set age, we just asked that people follow the direction of the fire marshall on duty.

It took a lot of paperwork, negotiating, compromise and a whole lot of common sense for us to be able to host the EJC in the first place (here in Ireland we have one of the worst litigation cultures in the world - people sue over EVERYTHING). Any perceived violation of any part of our health and safety statement could have led to us being shut down instantly. As far as i know, almost every evening we had a police presence on site, both uniformed and plain clothed. If they had seen a child spinning fire, i don't think that either the organisers or the child's parents explaining that "no it's ok, because she's really good at it, and very careful" would have gone down too well. We as spinners know that fire arts can be practised safely and responsibly, but to the authorities, playing with fire is strictly not for kids.

Or what if a local ten year old, whose parents don't even know what poi are, decides to set their skipping rope on fire and swing it around, because they saw someone their own age do it at that weird festival down the road. Whose fault is that?

So, to get back to the point, would i have let a child spin fire at the EJC? Probably not.


EJC Ireland 2006 Organisational Team

NOnactivist for HoPper liberation.
1,643 posts
Location: ffidrac

i would imagine to some extent, even with a waiver, that if there were an accident and it somehow came to be known that a child was encouraged to spin fire (however safe the circumstances may be) it could, probably still affect the insurance of the event organisers? This could be a factor, but like others have said, regardless of safety measures, your permission, great skill etc, not all event are juggling events, and quite a lot of people would have a minor heart attack at the thought of allowing a child to swing balls of fire around their head, and probably will say 'no' straight out or at least be sceptical about it... smile

Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

PeleBRONZE Member
the henna lady
6,193 posts
Location: WNY, USA

Setting all personal feelings about the topic aside and looking at is as someone who produces events, I wouldn't have allowed her at all. In fact, I require that my performers be over the age of 18.

Photocopied waivers like that are not legally binding, and organizers know this. You can say through your teeth that you won't hold me liable and if your daughter gets hurt, you could then turn around and sue me anyway. How am I supposed to know who to trust? I can't possibly take everyone who comes to me at their word. You might be telling the truth and so was the guy who promised to pay me last time but never did. You are a stranger, no different than any other, and we have to protect our businesses.

I have seen hundreds of spinners tell me they are excellent and super skilled, safe and all that. Several of them then turned around to light themselves up, lose their chains, etc. You can do your check list ten times over and something can still go wrong. Just because you have it doesn't make you infallible. I've seen underpracticed safeties freeze up...hell, I've seen practiced safeties freeze up when push came to shove. It helps, but isn't the end all to everything.

What if she is hurt? What if she hurts someone? Whenever *any* accident involves a child it hits the news faster and carries more weight than most any other.

It would make national news.
There goes the event insurance.
There goes the venue insurance.

It would reflect on every other spinner not only at that event but all around. I know, I have felt the backlash from adult accidents involving fire (and they weren't even spinning accidents). I can't imagine if it involved a child.
It happened just last year with a performers accident where a child was *very* mildly burned and now fire is banned at several events that heard of it.

I think you are looking at this from a selfish point of view to tell you the truth.
Your daughter may present herself professionally but the fact of the matter is that she is not. She is a child and as such comes with liability beyond that of what you see as a parent.

Next time, I agree, hand her glowsticks or led sets. Many, MANY people find them more appealing (as fire is now becoming quite cliche). They are longer lasting and in the end viewed as safer for everyone.

Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

Kathain_BowenGood Ol' Yarn For Hair
422 posts
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

 Written by: Pele

What if she is hurt? What if she hurts someone? Whenever *any* accident involves a child it hits the news faster and carries more weight than most any other.

It would make national news.
There goes the event insurance.
There goes the venue insurance.

Completely agree. And couldn't have put it better myself. (And, in most places in America- there goes any lisences or permits you may have had!)

I completely agree with the attractive nuisance, although I had forgotten to think about it. Back when I was riding, I heard of a woman who had to basically shut down her home facilities and move to essential a riding academy because of a lawsuit. A child ignored the signs of warning, crossed her perimeter fence and a pasture fence, and approached a skittish thoroughbred cross. The child was struck when he spooked the horse; his parents sued- and one, despite the fact that the child was trepassing.

It's a sue happy world. Better to be safe than sorry.

"So long and thanks for all the fish."

13 posts

I appreciate all you advice, and I take it all to heart. I know there will always be people that can't see a 10 year old as a professional. She has been spinning for about 4 years and is better, and safer than most of the adults. She was ready for fire and respects it more than most.

I agree that my original outlook on this was selfish and I hadn't taken a few things into consideration. We sat down and talked about these things together to figure out how best to deal with these situations. While the 3 larger events we attend do test all spinners, and we happily test through and are able to have a great time.

At events that are not as accomidating or have the legal concerns then we will find other activities to do. With her supurb rythem she also is awesome with a djembe so she doesn't mind being the music as well.

This entire conversation once again proved to me what a spectaculiar child I have and how mature and reasonable she is at her age. Her willingness to compromise and her ability to be happy with whatever her role for that evening will be weather performer or musician just proves to me that she is a true professional.

Once again thank you all so very much for your advise and wisdom. Any other advise will always be appreciated and accepted. Thanks

BasstonesGOLD Member
Do you do the poiz?
530 posts
Location: Brisbane, Australia

I read this topic yesterday and had a good think about it but didnt reply.


I was at a gathering last night and saw a perfect example of why this happens. A woman was obviously trying to teach her daughter to twirl. The girl obviously hadnt picked up a staff before and was given a fairly large wicked staff. She was wearing a very loose jumper and had fairly long hair untied. Yet her mother had no qualms encouraging her to light it up.

It was when the mother then lit up that i realised perhaps the parents are the main factor. It was only when the mother lit up that i realised both mother and daughter were twirling over their fuel container. In fact the mother lit one end and twirled it then put the other end in to the fuel tin to fuel WHILE THE OTHER END WAS LIT! Loose jumper cords everywhere, apparently my friend actually saw her wrists get wrapped up in the cords whilst twirling.

Now I have nothing against children twirling with appropriate supervision, but the problem in this situation is that the mother would have said her daughter was safe. I appreciate that in your case, thats true. She is experienced and by the sounds of it, smarter with fire than 99% of most twirlers.

If it were a friendly gathering where they wanted to light up, i would want to see them twirl unlit and then perhaps make a decision. I wouldnt feel comfortable letting them be supervised by their parents i didnt know. There are other twirlers who i would trust to supervise, but certainly not someone who i didnt personally know. If it was a show, i definitely wouldnt want them twirling, too much liability.

It may be frustrating at times, but perhaps investing in a good set of glow poi for the next few years is a good idea for public performances.

Best of luck with it
EDITED_BY: Basstones (1155181873)

"In the end there is only fire and a waterfall"

kashGOLD Member
Dangerous cynic
166 posts
Location: United Kingdom

I first read this thread a while ago, but was reminded of it when reading the local paper yesterday.

In Lyme Regis, a town near me, they have an annual torchlight procession, a tradition that has gone on for years where people parade through the town with lit torches. This has always been perfectly safe, there has never been an accident. This year they were refused insurance, and had to carry tea lights in enclosed lanterns.

This is just one of a few events I have heard of recently, who have had to cancel or downsize because noone will insure them.

The people that calculate insurance try to take in all eventualities. If they believed that children could be spinning balls of fire around their heads, they would either throw a very expensive party to celebrate their most ridiculously high quote yet, or they would just say no.

No insurance = no event. Is it really that important that she gets to spin fire in company - knowing that it puts the whole culture of spinning events at risk? She's got years ahead of her to spin to her hearts content.
EDITED_BY: kash (1155205032)

LaihiaSILVER Member
162 posts
Location: Groningen, Netherlands

I can understand that you were sad they didn't allow your daughter to spin.
But as you're saying, the other people didn't took care of safety. Your daughter can be spinning save, but when others are not she will also have a big chance to get injured.
When I spin with friends, we all have to check safety. Not only one of us.
Maybe you should be glad they didn't allow your daughter to spin. Bad things could have happened.

Sunshine or rain, it's not anymore the same...

ValuraSILVER Member
Mumma Hen
6,391 posts
Location: Brisbane, Australia

 Written by: SapphireChicken

This entire conversation once again proved to me what a spectaculiar child I have and how mature and reasonable she is at her age. Her willingness to compromise and her ability to be happy with whatever her role for that evening will be weather performer or musician just proves to me that she is a true professional.

Jane is that you? And are you talking about Chinta?

If so, I love you and miss you....
If not its nice to meet you.

TAJ "boat mummy." VALURA "yes sweetie you went on a boat, was daddy there with you?" TAJ "no, but monkey on boat" VALURA "well then sweetie, Daddy WAS there with you"

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