Earlier this month, I finally checked out an event I’ve been wanting to attend for awhile – the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam. As the name suggests, the event is a gathering of fire performers held held on or near the date of the full moon. It’s completely free to attend or particiapte – just show up and bring what you need! (And attend the safety training if you want to perform.) The jams are usually held near Foster Beach.
The jams are monthly celebrations, bringing together a diverse community of performers, musicians and spectators. Dozens of fire spinners perform to music provided by local percussionists, using performance tools such as poi (a set of chains with weighted ends), staff, hula hoops and fans. It’s a display that is part artistry and part athleticism, inspired by a long tradition of fire performance with roots in South Pacific cultures. Fire spinners include everyone from amateur hobbyists to professional performance artists and Chicago jam performers usually come from the city, greater Chicagoland area and neighboring Great Lakes regions.
Jams have been happening in Chicago since 2004, and have attracted quite a following. I would estimate that this month’s jam had 500 in attendance, and maybe 25 performers (I could be way off though). According to the website, the event starts at 8pm, and the gathering starts at 7:30pm. I showed up at 7:30pm and easily found parking and a decent spot to watch, and the drumming started shortly after. The actual fire portion of the fire jam started around 8:40pm, closer to sunset.
The jam marks off a large circle for performers, and spectators set up around it. The percussionists (drummers and whatever other instruments people bring) providing the music and beats generally congregate together. Maybe I should bring my flute next time?
Lots of attendees like to take pictures (and share them to the FB event post or the group). I’ll tell you right now, iPhone pictures will turn out terribly. I brought my Canon Powershot point-and-shoot and got some good pics, and there was no shortage of DSLRs. Sit on the north side of the circle if you want the full moon in your pictures.
I promise this guy was not actually on fire
If you attend, I recommend bringing camp chairs (or a blanket), a good camera, bug spray, snacks and beverages (it’s held in a Chicago park, so follow park district rules). And friends of course! Basically, bring whatever you would bring to watch fireworks. If you’re a lady, wearing a skirt will make it easier to relieve yourself in a, uh, pinch. Also, the event is open to all ages, but just an FYI that there is “stuff” some people in the crowd “enjoy.” (And it’s not just vaping that smells nice, although there was a lot of that.)
I also noticed that Moksha Yoga Chicago holds free yoga from 7-8pm before the jams, and I’d definitely like to check that out next time!
Have you attended the Full Moon Fire Jam or a similar event? Want to join me at the next one??