Glowpois are one of the mankind's most amazing inventions, and are a technological wonder of the modern world. Twirling glowpois barefoot on a nice sandy beach under the full moon with some good music playing on my iPod shuffle is one of the most consistently enjoyable activities I've ever found. Twirling glowpois is also incredibly good exercise: cardiovascular, upper-body and stretching. Glowpois promote mental peace of mind and physical well-being. Glowpois make people smile. The art form is infinitely complex, yet accomplishing the simplest move is satisfying and enlightening to the beginner. Glowpois have provided me a lifetime of learning, exploration and enjoyment, and I have witnessed on many occasions the positive effect they have on people's lives.
SUMMARY: Glowpois rule, get yourself a set!
I suggest the glowpois made by Flowtoys. I have used these exclusively for the last 4 years, and have 2 sets (in the water & earth colors). The glowpois by Flowtoys will provide you with hundreds of hours of entertainment: well worth the money!
They are not perfect for beginners as they would hurt if you hit yourself, but if you take it slow when you start you shouldn't have a problem (plus, fear of pain sharpens the mind!). A tip for ordering: choose the single leash handle; you do not need the flowmass or dart converter; you do not need special handles. The model I like most is the Crystal Poi, and I attach a single flowmass, which adds some weight.
In full disclosure, if you order after clicking the links on this page, I make a 10% commission. I don't get paid a lot for my nonprofit work, so this small amount of additional income is very helpful. You can rest assured that I use Flowtoys myself and only recommend them because they are thoroughly amazing and worth every penny.
Thanks to Rochelle Owen for taking these two cool photos!
Me twirling behind the SMS Guest House in Kumasi, where I spent a couple weeks. I'd go out back and twirl most nights. Photos by Yordanos Gebretatios.
On a rooftop in Ghana:
Poi is a traditional art from the Maori people of New Zealand. Poi were originally used by Maori warriors for fighting. As tribal warfare became less necessary in Maori society, poi evolved into a female dance form. In the 1990's fire twirling became popular due to its inherent visual appeal, and the art form began to spread around the planet as fire-twirling backpackers travelled from the South Pacific. In the 2000's glowpois were created. Glowpois are in my view the climax of poi evolution and one of the most amazing technological creations our species has ever produced.
My first encounter with pois was watching the night-time fire shows put on my John, Pbu and Tex (my glowgurus) in Rai Lay, Thailand in late 1997. I hung out in Rai Lay a month, twirling an hour or two a day, getting a few lessons, absorbing what I saw, and occasionally joining the fire shows. The pois we used were essentially dog or cat chain leashes with a crude carabiner at the end that held a towel wrapped up in a cylindrical bright yellow cloth. That was how it looked by day; by night we would unclip the end and replace it with a piece of towel that got dipped in kerosene and lit.
I first saw glowpois at set break of a Phish festival in Coventry, Vermont in the summer of 2004. A guy without too many poi skills was selling them. Nobody seemed to be buying. I asked if I could try them and was immediately blown away by how amazing they looked and felt. A crowd gathered round. I said "I'll take them!". He said "cool, and I'll give you $5 off as you've brought me a lot of business"...several of the bystanders were now asking for sets.
Once I had glowpois I began twirling fairly regularly, usually on the beach at night in Main Beach, Gold Coast, Australia where I lived for several years. It's a big beach and completely empty at night. I could twirl, move around and sing without without fear of tripping over and without the self-consciousness of being watched or listened to. Most art forms are best practiced at least occasionally in solitude like this. Every so often I would go down to Burleigh Heads for the Sunday evening drum circles, which were great places to drum, play flute, drink, twirl and otherwise enjoy life under the stars. In America I tend to twirl at night in fields or parking lots depending on where I am living...they aren't as optimal as the beach, but a good twirl session can be had in many places.
In the summer of 2011 my friend Gregg bought a set of glowpois after reading this webpage and became thoroughly and immediately obsessed with them. Gregg's enthusiasm, interest and rapidly increasing abilities has definitely gotten me twirling more often. The more I twirl the better I get, and as with all true art forms, the better you get, the deeper you go. The deeper you go the more thoroughly you access the beauty of it all.
As I write this from Ho, Ghana in September 2011 after my first African twirl session, I can definitely say that as of late I have a brand new view of the art form's potential to improve one's life and add value to the human experience. The world is a better place with glowpois, and thus to some degree I feel it is my dharma (sacred duty) to spread the art of glowpoi. So hopefully this history of glowpois is nowhere near complete! Please order a set for yourself and/or a friend, teach yourself and them the glow basics, and follow your own glow path. Good luck, and enjoy!
A poi consists of three connected parts:
(1) a loop around your finger; followed by...
(2) a string, rope or chain; followed by...
(3) an object at the end. This could be a glowstick, a tennis ball, a sock filled with beads, a flaming ball of fire, etc.
Now take those pois and twirl them around your body in geometric motions and you have the art of twirling pois.
More details to come:
-Forwards versus backwards
-Together (in-phase) versus opposite (out of phase)
-The three planes...and everything in between
-If you can do it in front of your body, you should be able to do it in back.
While fire twirling is cool, I prefer glowpoi:
(1) Glowpois look every bit as cool as fire.
(2) Glowpois are more environmentally-friendly: the lights use rechargeable batteries, as opposed to burning kerosene. This should be reason enough to forego fire-twirling.
(3) Glowpois don't smell like burning fuel.
(4) Kerosene on your hands is not healthy.
(5) If you play with fire, you will get burned.
(6) Glowpois take a matter of seconds to turn on and off; preparing fires and cleaning up afterwards is a hassle.
(7) Who wants to carry fuel around with them, especially when they are backpacking?
SUMMARY: Fire twirling is cool, no doubt, but we are fortunate in the 21st century to have glowpois, which are healthier for the planet, for the practitioner and for the spectators. Please go glow!
One final thing: the iPod shuffle is one of the coolest devices ever made. It weighs next to nothing, clips onto your pants/shorts and pumps out awesome music while you twirl. Get one.
Fund For The Flow Arts
Please contact me if you want glowpoi lessons in Santa Cruz!
Wouldn't it be cool to go to some random third-world village, or some unhealthy, overweight American ghetto, and deliver all the kids glowpois and teach them some basic skills? I think that would make their lives a whole lot better. If you agree and want to help get something going somewhere in the world, please contact me. All it requires is some money, the rest is simple.
"Twirling that beautiful glowpois.....kind courtesy Kerry Kriger." --Darlington Joe Tsrakasu; Ho, Volta Region, Ghana
The lovely Natalia lights up the night.