Last night was the first night I hooped with fire. I bought my bendy wicks a couple of months ago back home, however not having a huge hooping community on my doorstep unlike I have here I decided to wait before the first burn. The wicks came with a list of instructions, dos and don’t so long, the girls laughed ad my preparation (they had fire hooped before). I however, being English, having things in a certain order before I do something is part of my cultural make up I think so I had a turban to tie my hair out of the way, a bottle of water and a tea towel to damp and my clothes of the recommended fibres (natural, like cotton and jean).
I’d also read a couple of internet pages just to be sure, when the girls laughed at me for taking it so seriously so I seriously replied, you do it right from the beginning and you keep on doing it. These wicks were not cheap and I’d waited a long time as a hooper for this opportunity to come along, I did not want to put myself off in the first instance by hurting myself or someone else. This is fire after all, top of the list of things not to play with, and what am I about to do?
These internet pages made it important to highlight the noise and the heat like there were these demonic things sent to skew the experience, things to watch out for, well let me tell you…
The noise; a rhytmic ‘woosh, woosh, woosh’ of the flames as they rip through the air, snagging on the cold and returning me to the womb. All I need is being pumped into me without effort, I just have to receive.
The heat; It’s freezing here at the moment for a start which I think magnified the experience, but who doesn’t like being warm? I found it cosy as the fire whipped in and out around my waist, licking at my arms, my earlobes, spinning around my face as I lasso from behind my back to being the hoop up above my head.
And what they didn’t warn you about, what they couldn’t, is what I saw, what I felt. The wicks are a special fabric called keflar wrapped and screwed to a metal cable on a small bracket that is tightened around the hoop. I had five wicks so if you were to draw a five pointed star inside the hoop, where each point would touch is where I positioned the wicks. The hoop circles around my waist making the point of contact ever changing, the wicks bringing the fire in at close or closer then snapping away. The wick heads are about the size of a golf ball and the flames that ripple off them reach between 10 and 20 centimetres, the hoop is moving, so the flames are not static, they curve around lead by hoop which is the circular extension of my body. I felt brave, powerful, tribal, my first burn after so much preparation felt not like coming down from built up expectations but rather nesting into something that was far more relaxing and comfortable than I had lead myself to believe it would be.
After letting the hoop spin around my waist a few times to understand the new weight (I’ve been working with ultra light hula hoops for years now) I came to the realisation that I know this toy, and how my manipulation breathes a life into it so it can cut the air and come alive. I got bold, calculating when the fire would be further away and spun the hoop up over my head and off my body. I began investigating tricks and surprised everyone including myself with how adventurous I was being on my first burn.
After taking various videos and photos and passing the hoop around for everyone else to try it the last of the paraffin was gone. I walked home a little apart from the girls, still mesmerised by what I’d experienced, imagining myself spinning two, three, four rings of fire…