Forums > Social Discussion > Why I decided NOT to be a professional spinner

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SILVER Member since Aug 2007


Hunting robot foxes
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, ...

Total posts: 1046
Posted:There have been quite a few posts recently about how to start spinning fire professionally. Last week I left my performance crew and thought I'd offer my reasons and try to explain why you may not want to take your art past the hobby stage.

Firstly, the amount of work and effort you have to put in is huge. You will likely be earning far under minimum wage to begin with based on the hours you put in. This means that you will have to have an alternate source of income which makes for a very busy life. I found that between a job and the performance group I didn't have time for simply playing with my toys, everything was structured practice, often with props I wasn't too bothered about, in order to be ready for the next show.

Next, the people you do shows for will treat you like *****. You are bottom of the respect pile when compared with DJs, compares, singers, bar staff and even cleaners. You will have to fight for everything you want and will be treated as though you should be paying for the privilege.

You may often be asked to do work for companies or individuals whom you have a problem with on an ethical level. Thinking about this though, it is a problem for any self employed person, but is still worth mentioning.

Its dangerous. Doing performing with fire over a long period it will be very difficult not to get too comfortable with the flame and eventually someone can get seriously hurt. I know people try to be careful, but you still have a much higher chance of injury than a mortgage salesman! The wrong injury can also instantly end your career.

I'm not trying to tell people not to take careers in fire performing, but I think people need to think very carefully if its the right profession for them. Personally, in my IT job I can make much more money consistently from month to month, I am treated each day with respect by those I work with, and I can continue to feel the joy and fun of spinning without constantly punishing myself for not practising that sequence I haven't quite got right yet.

And hereth the rant does end!

Working hard to be a wandering hippie layabout. Ten years down, five to go!

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Rouge Dragon
BRONZE Member since Jul 2003

Rouge Dragon

Insert Champagne Here
Location: without class distinction, Aus...

Total posts: 13215
Posted:I think it's good that people don't just see it as something glamorous.

I think of professional fire spinning a bit like professional sport - sure, there are nice elites out there (I know plenty out there) but the bullcrap and arse-kissing and the people who are just sheer wankers do make it unpleasant.

i would have changed ***** to phallus, and claire to petey Petey

Rougie: but that's what I'm doing here
Arnwyn: what letting me adjust myself in your room?..don't you dare quote that on HoP...


SILVER Member since Aug 2007


Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 315
Posted:Good points, but I've never had people treat me like **** when I've performed. I've had unwelcome sexual advances (yes, there is such a thing), but nobody has shown me a lack of respect.

And as for the amount of work, yeah, you will nearly definitely need to take up a second job, which will lower your time to play, but isn't that the same with not spinning professionally? All the spinning jobs I've done, while infrequent paid far better than any other work. You're going to have to study and work and limit your play time just to live most of the time, so that's not really an issue for me either.

As for injuries, never had anything beyond a few 2nd degree burns on my body, but they heal with time, and you should consider that you don't need to twirl fire to make money off of twirling, most of the paid twirling I've done has actually been with glow or tail poi.

Yes, if you want to make a living as a "professional" twirler, you'd better either get incredibly good (not necessarily at twirling, but at marketing, entertaining etc), get another job, or get used to living in poverty.

A professional white-collar job will nearly ALWAYS make you more money than being a performer.


BRONZE Member since Nov 2005


HoP mage and keeper of the fireballs
Location: Palmerston North, New Zealand

Total posts: 1965
Posted: Written by :NathanielEverist

Yes, if you want to make a living as a "professional" twirler, you'd better either get incredibly good (not necessarily at twirling, but at marketing, entertaining etc), get another job, or get used to living in poverty.


Personal I'll do a job if it fall at my feet (and it does from time to time) but other than that it's just not practical.

May my balls of fire set your balls on fire devil




Pinker than thou
Location: A little pink world all my own...

Total posts: 336
Posted:I've just retrained as a maths teacher having been a pro (circus skill) performer/entertainer/worksshop leader (and nothing else) since 1995. To add to WWFFJ's points (apart from the being treated like **** one, who have yyou been working for?), my reasons include the rigidly seasonal nature of the work (christmas/new year + school easter and summer holidays for the majority of the entertainment work, end off summer term for the majority of the school workshops) - my mortgage still needs paying for the rest of the year - and the fact that lately I had gotten to be spending more time on chasing late payments than on promoting myself.

On the other hand, entertaining never felt like work...

A wise man once said: "You have two ears and one mouth, therefore you should shut the censored up and listen" (though, to be fair, he might not've put it _quite_ like that..)


BRONZE Member since Dec 2000


the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:It's also much more than spinning and entertaining.
Promoting, marketing, etc. takes *alot* of leg work and paper-pushing.
I took business classes for it.

The other thing to keep in mind is taking something you love and turning it into "work" is often a fast way to kill your love for it. It's a sad thing that I've seen all too often.
You have to love performing, entertaining and the leg work, not just the art you are presenting.

Great thread WWFFJ! beerchug

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


SILVER Member since Apr 2005


Momma Bear
Location: Telford, Shrops, United Kingdo...

Total posts: 4525
Posted:I think once you take something you love and try to use it as a way of life, you soon find you don't love it so much and see it as an irritant.

I used to dream of being a pro-guitarist, i started a BTEC in modern music (basically music tech, band stuff). I had to play my guitar 7 hours a day, usually songs I HATED. Covering awful pop music.

I used to use my guitar as a way to chill out and to have a bit of 'me' time. I was resenting it more and more. I think the same is true of circus arts.

Suffice to say, I quit that course and did A level music tech instead, and I still love my guitar!

Hoppers are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.


SILVER Member since May 2007


Elusive and Bearded
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

Total posts: 3597
Posted:I like being more of a hobbiest because it lets me enjoy it more then I imagine i would if i were pro. Form and such takes more of a backseat and sloppiness becaomes style....does that make sence?


Owned by Mynci!


BRONZE Member since Jun 2008


Location: MN, USA

Total posts: 28
Posted:An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without formal training or pay.[1] Conversely, an expert is generally considered a person with extensive knowledge, ability, and/or training in a particular area of study, while a professional is someone who also makes a living from it. Translated from its French origin to the English "lover of", the term "amateur" reflects a voluntary motivation to work as a result of personal passion for a particular activity.

As with any construct, amateurism can be seen in both a negative and positive light. Since amateurs often do not have training, amateur work can sometimes be seen as sub-par. For example, amateur athletes in sports such as basketball or football are not regarded as having the same level of ability as professional athletes.

Alternatively, the lack of financial recompense can also be seen as a sign of commitment to an activity. For instance, until the 1970s most Olympic events required that the athletes be amateurs. Receiving payment to participate in an event disqualified an athlete from that event, as in the case of Jim Thorpe. In the olympic games, this rule remains in place for boxing and for men's football events.

Amateurs make valuable contributions in the fields of computer programming through the open source movement. Amateur Dramatics is the performance of either plays or musical theater, often to high standards but lacking the budgets of the professional West End or Broadway performances. Astronomy and ornithology have also benefited from the activity of amateurs.

Pursuing amateur activities to the same standards as professionals is sometimes referred to as professional amateurism.

An example of the word amateur used in a sentence would be, "Marcbs is an amateur because he does fire dance for the love of the art."

I will take paid gigs. I am a Morris dancer on a Side nicknamed Minnesota Mercenary Morris. I will also repair violins for mony, something I have a degree in. I will never make real mony in these fields as I do it simply becuase I enjoy it. I make my living as a Unix admin. I think that becuase I do not need this mony I can easily turn down any gigs I di not like and I never would work for someone that did not treat anyone decently. The ability to choose makes a huge difference.


PLATINUM Member since Jun 2004


Will carpal your tunnel in a minute.
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 3286
Posted: Written by :willworkforfoodjnr

Next, the people you do shows for will treat you like *****. You are bottom of the respect pile when compared with DJs, compares, singers, bar staff and even cleaners. You will have to fight for everything you want and will be treated as though you should be paying for the privilege.

100% with you on that one. The amount of events i've seen trying to recruit fire performers where their compensation is 'free entry to the event' is absurd. They make it out as if it's a privilege that you don't have to pay for the event you work at ubblol
I don't find this a problem for charity gigs or mutual friends who put on a wicked bigger-than-a-house-party events, but large corporate events do have budgets and should be deterred from trying to get something for nothing.


Owner of burningoftheclavey smile
Owned by Lost83spy




Location: Perth

Total posts: 489
Posted:I still consider myself a 'professional' firedancer, who supplements her income by saving lives every so often...


SILVER Member since Dec 2007


Unofficial Chairperson of Squirrel Defense League
Location: South Africa

Total posts: 4061
Posted:I am willing to poi if my paraffin is covered and I get to do my own thing and I judge it safe.

Although I usually just poi for the fun of it. smile

'We're all mad here. I'm mad, you're mad." [said the Cat.]
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "Or you wouldn't have come here."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland


BRONZE Member since Apr 2005


Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free..., United Kingd...

Total posts: 8738
Posted:I perform "semi-professionally" I have a day job and suppliment my income with quite a lot of gigs. I have to agree the effort required is immense I find myself using my work holiday time to do festivals in the summer which left me not having a "day off" in the whole of May.

The only time I've ever been treated badly is on our glow walkabout with very drunk preople grabbing me. but I have to say I do enjoy making kids smile in workshops and shows and that great buzz when you teach a kid something they will probably be able to do afterwards for the rest of their life. (I originally wanted to be a P.E teacher)

Entering my 3rd year of performing our group is now in the comfortable position where we can say NO to free gigs and places that don't value us and get repeat work from some really appreciative people who go out of their way to help us and make a good event. But I have to agree it took a lot of stress to get there.

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.