"I’m part of a group called Fire Dance Victoria. We have over 400 people on our Facebook group and have had as many as 45 down here all at once. We meet here under the Bay Street Bridge every Wednesday night in spring, summer and fall, and then we usually cut it out over the cold winters. It’s an opportunity to provide people with a safe place to do this, because fire dancing has always been considered very guerilla, underground, and we get kicked out of all the best parks and off all the best beaches. But we have permission to be here; the fire department knows we’re here. Though, we’re the Wednesday night crew, we’re not associated with any of those other yahoos. There’s a Saturday bunch that comes down here that are to be avoided. Their idea is to get drunk and crunk and play with fire - they’re about everything that we’re against. We’re not about getting drunk and stupid - we just want a safe place to practice. You can practice the movements anytime, but to practice with fire is an entirely different kettle of fish. We have safety mechanisms in place, we have fire extinguishers, water, towels, things like that, and we have people who are dedicated safeties - we have someone watching your back so you don’t light yourself on fire. And we’ve all done that [rolling up his sleeve], we’ve all got burns, because if you play with fire you get burned. It’s a nice opportunity for people, especially new people coming on - say they’re picking up poi for the first time - well we won’t let them swing with fire, but they’ll learn from people that have. Or even if you have been spinning for a while, you’re always going to learn something new by watching different styles and different techniques. It’s really exciting, the networking, watching people play.
We’re in this spot because it’s out of sight out of mind. Over the years there haven’t been many people down here to bother; it’s only recently with these dwellings here that we’re starting to get a little concerned, maybe we’re going to have to start looking for Plan B again. But over the years this place has become very special to me, because this is where our fire community has grown and blossomed quite nicely. It just has a lot of sentimentality to it now.
I was born and raised here; both my grandmothers were born here on the Island. I’ve been a scuba instructor for years - I gave that up a couple years ago ‘cause I’m gettin’ kinda old, the joints don’t work as well as they used to. I’ve moved away a few times, but always come back because of the ocean, it’s just so much nicer. I don’t want to say that it’s the people per se, but it’s the attitude. As in, for Victoria, it’s not Vancouver, it’s not intense, it’s not road rage. I mean, people are still fairly chill, fairly relaxed, in general. But I consider that part of that is the water. We’re surrounded 360-degrees by water - we’re on an island - and so that changes our attitude, changes our lifestyle. That’s why they refer to things like “island time” - it’s a Jamaican theme, but it applies to Vancouver Island as well. I think it’s because it takes us longer to go anywhere - if you want to get off the Island, you’re looking at BC Ferries, you’re looking at the Coho, you’re looking at flying, so everything takes longer, so we spend more time on the Island. We become more invested in the Island. We really have to want to leave, for something important, to actually get off the Island. It’s the spirit, it’s the attitude.
The rave culture here is wonderful, the late night culture. I’m deep in the local Burning Man culture and we have a very large regional group of Burners here in Victoria, which makes it really interesting. Probably two thirds of my members are Burners - it works well together.
I’ll put on my Fire Hat of Doom. All the tools I make are called the *Somthing* of Doom - it’s sort of a trademark thing."