Monday, December 3, 2012

Durango: Fire Dancing Under a Full Moon

When Jordan and I first planned out our route, we knew that we wanted to stop by the Four Corners and the Grand Canyon. This in turn meant that we would need to stop at a town nearby, which for us turned out to be the town of Durango, Colorado.

I had secured a spot with a guy named Kelsey there a few weeks beforehand, and we were only going to stay there for one night before heading to our scenic destinations the next day. We arrived late in the afternoon and met Kelsey at his house. He had a very laid-back personality, quiet demeanor and lived with three adorable dogs and his girlfriend, Donitza. I knew from his profile that he loved the outdoors (I think this was required from anyone who lived in Durango), was a long-time fire dancer and liked eating s'mores.

Kelsey took us to the restaurant where he and Donitza worked, where we all chatted and gave us a nice break to rest after the long drive. He promised us that he would take us to a fire dancing event that night, where a whole bunch of people around town got together to practice every week. Jordan and I were ecstatic– we had never witnessed fire dancing live before and weren't even quite sure what it all entailed.

When we got back to his place, Kelsey quickly grabbed his stereo, speakers, and an assortment of fire dancing props that resembled viking weapons. He drove us to a nice little park by the town museum. There was a big open space in front where he started setting up his equipment. Meanwhile, Jordan and I laid out on the ground and stared up at the full moon that was right above us. It was so incredibly peaceful and I never felt as serene as I did at that moment, halfway across the country from home.

People began to show up with their own various props so Jordan and I got up to look on in on the action. There were a two girls who both had fire "poi," which is a pair of lightweight wicks linked to long, steel chains with handles on the end that the dancer can wrap around their wrist. The girls switched on and off dancing with each other and independently, doing a variety of tricks and moves.

It was mesmerizing and nothing like anything I had ever seen before. Both of the girls had these elaborate costumes much like a cross between belly dancers and gypsies. One of them said that she was a costume designer and liked making differently themed outfits when they did public shows. There was also one other male fire dancer besides Kelsey who also had poi, but danced in his very own style. His moves were more abrupt, aggressive, and had a lot more force behind them so that you could tell he was very strong. Some hoopers even made an appearance, bringing an assortment of hula hoops that lighted up with them.

Finally, a song came on and Kelsey went to center stage to perform. Everyone else stepped off to the sidelines to watch. He had been doing it for about five years now he said, and was a veteran amongst the group. He had what I think he called a fire "meteor." It had a much larger head than any of the poi's and came as a single rather than a pair. Seeing him dance was unbelievable. I'm not quite sure I could even lift the meteor for very long, not to mention throw it around like it was a a yo-yo. And the fire. I didn't understand how they didn't burn themselves!

When he was done, we all headed back home smelling like gasoline. We went to bed early because Kelsey had work in the morning and we wanted to get an early start to the Four Corners.

On to the next one, on to the next one.

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