Friday night, the Philadelphia flow community is gathering in West Philadelphia to participate in a fire jam under the September Harvest Moon. Those who regularly attend these gatherings loosely call the event a “full moon burn” or “full moon fire jam,” while the most popular term going around is “Philly Moon Jam.” The Philly Moon Jam brings flow artists such as hoop dancers, staff manipulators, and poi spinners together to lite their props and move, dance, and spin among the flames. The event is free to attend and takes place in the “Doggy Bowl,” located in Clark Park at 43rd and Chester Avenue. Those who want to join are encouraged to bring props, instruments, friends, or just themselves.
Fire spinning involves the manipulation of fire through a prop, whether it be a hula hoop, staff, fans, or juggling clubs. Virtually, any prop can have fire attached to it and be performed. Although it may sound dangerous, spinners who attend the Philly Moon Jam have prior education and experience in fire and have someone called a “safety” who watches them during the burn. Also, there is an organized fuel station that is always attended, to ensure performers and spectators alike are safe.
This regular gathering was organized by Alex Shelmire and Clinton Graybill who got the idea from Chicago flow artist, Juan Guardiola, who told them about the Full Moon Jams in Chicago. From this, Shelmire and Graybill decided they would start a Full Moon Jam here in Philadelphia. Although spinning fire is nothing new to Clark Park, this event would bring more people together. “The fire spinning community benefits greatly from having a regular, established event with strong attendance, for networking, support, and inspiration,” says Shelmire.
For those who come to watch, be prepared to be exposed to a new art form and experience one of the sub-cultures in the city. Although the fire spinning community may seem like a tight-knit group, they are open to people from the public join them. Clark Park is accessible via car, train, and trolley.
For first time attendees, Shelmire has this to say, “talk to people, get involved! If you’ve never spun before, talk to people about how they got started. If you’d like to share your art with us, please do so. Just don’t get too close to the fire!” Click here to view the official event page.
The organizers aim to keep the event fun and safe! Fire safety is taken seriously and those participating are required to follow all safety precautions to keep themselves and other around themselves safe during the burn. To learn more about fire safety visit The Flow Arts Institute.
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