An Evening in the Life of a Fire Dancer: The Birthday Party

Performing as a fire dancer involves a lot of prep, and there’s always something interesting that happens on any given night. With this in mind, I thought it’d be fun to start documenting what it’s like to be a professional fire dancer/poi spinner. I’m not a photographer, but I hope you enjoy the images that I’ll begin sharing with you on my continuous journey.

Last night, I had a fire eating/dancing gig with other members from Dante’s Gypsy Circus (Dex, Pokes and Ladi Blaze). Although we weren’t on until 9:00, the party we were booked for was an hour north of Cincinnati. This meant organizing our travel time, with three of us coming from as far south as Williamstown, Kentucky, and stopping to meet each other and carpool along the way.

At 4:30 in the afternoon, I drove my children to my parents’ house so that they could babysit while I performed. I got back to my house at about 5:30, and commenced putting on my makeup (base, foundation, eyeliner, false lashes, eye shadow, mascara, Color Stay lipstick, and the signature Eye of Rah that we mark just next to our eyes).

Performance makeup
This is my makeup station, which I set up in my studio before a gig. I use a lighted mirror, and have a box just for performance makeup, plus a little tray that has my daily favorites. Note the boombox; I can’t get ready to perform without music.

Next I threw together my costuming; we’d already agreed to wearing our Dante’s t-shirts with cool pants, so this was an easy choice.

fire dancing costuming
I love these sexy, striped booty Capri pants! They were worth the $90 investment.

Hair, makeup and clothes finished, I grabbed my MP3 player to organize our music set for the night (yes, sometimes we really fly on this stuff) as I waited for Ladi Blaze to arrive at my house. By now it was going on 7:00. I used my Kindle Fire to make notes about what songs I chose, including the title, length and speed so that we could all refer to the list during the set and decide who would be “on” as we went. This is called “ROCO,” a term coined by Dex. It means (WARNING: PG13/R rating) Rock Out with your Cock Out. One of my favorite ways to perform, going ROCO means that we’re simply taking random turns lighting our different tools on fire and heading out to the stage.

Fire dancers from Dante's Gypsy Circus
We’re still accepting caption suggestions for this on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dantesgypsycircus), but essentially, it’s me and Dex referring to my Kindle Fire notepad, which holds the secrets of our lineup.

Just as I finished with the set list, Ladi Blaze pulled up in my driveway. With my car loaded with the PA and all of our fire gear, we met up with Dex and Pokes, and headed north.

The gentleman who hired us did so as part of a surprise birthday party for his wife, and for his brother who’d returned home from fighting in the Middle East. The hosts and party guests were incredible. As we ate fire and used our various tools, and with the music blaring through the PA (another excellent investment), we heard comments like: “This is how you throw a party!” and “Now this party’s getting started!” We ate it up, and let it pump us up with even more adrenaline.

fire breather
This is Pokes, getting ready to breathe fire during the gig.

The host asked if we “could do something cool,” and light his cigarette with one of our tools, and of course we did. The crowd went nuts; we were tickled. Afterward, we posed for pictures with some of the guests, collected our pay for the evening and loaded up the vehicles to head south again.

We stopped at the Comet on the way home around 10:00 to just spend some time reflecting about the evening, and perhaps even our years together. Over drinks and burritos, we laughed and celebrated another successful evening of entertaining others and sharing the beauty of dancing with fire.

Looking back, the only thingĀ  I’d change about the night is the fact that we’d forgotten to “circle up,” which is something we’ve done for almost every performance since our first set in 2007 for a roller derby bout. When we circle up, we come together and hold hands, and each take a turn stating our gratefulness and/or intentions for the evening. That said, I’m so grateful that last night happened; I loved the space and people who welcomed us to be a part of a special evening, and had such a great time hanging out with these dear friends of mine.

I’m not currently scheduled for another fire gig for a few weeks, but I plan to write about it when it happens. Stay tuned, to another “evening in the life…”

Peace, love and fire,
Cherie Dawn

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