Flame in motion

I've been remiss in posting about local events worth attending lately. It's almost certainly too late to do any good, but if any of y'all in the East Bay happen to see this anytime in the next couple hours and happen to not have any other plans tonight, I highly recommend attending the Fire Arts Festival in Oakland; tonight is the last night.

I was going to post a detailed writeup of it, but I'm low on time. So, quick summary:

Some cool performances on the stage, but several of them were extremely slow and languid dance pieces in which flame figured only peripherally. A couple of people spinning poi onstage, and one guy spinning two flaming staffs, and so on; those were nifty.

But the main attractions are the stuff being shown in the areas away from the stage, from giant metal flowers that spout flame every few minutes, to a percussion device that emitted flame in time to the drumming, to a giant bowl filled to the brim with water, that had fire all across the top surface of the water (and sheets of water falling down over the edges of the bowl; kind of like a very low-key fountain, only with the surface of the water on fire). I gather that many or most of the exhibits were pieces (or parts of pieces) that had been done at Burning Man.

But the very coolest thing was a group that was creating fire tornadoes. Imagine a man dressed head to toe in a shiny silver anti-flame safety suit, holding a 20-foot-long rod that's emitting fuel at high speed out the other end, and the fuel is catching fire. Now imagine that the tip of the rod is near the middle of a 40-foot circle of high-power fans, each pointed inward toward the center of the circle but slightly to one side. In the middle of the circle is a patch of sand that's been heavily saturated with liquid fuel earlier. The flame coming out the end of the rod lights the fuel on the sand, and the fans blow the flame into a gigantic whirling tornado of fire, dancing in the night. I'm not up to trying to give a description that could do justice to it, but it was totally magical. I could've watched for hours. By far the best part of the event, though certainly plenty of other things were well worth seeing.

Note that most of the event, unlike Burning Man, is non-participatory. There's safety tape everywhere to keep audience from getting too close to the flames, and lots of firefighters on hand just in case.

I think there are a bunch of fire-safety things and workshops and such during the day, but the spectacular fire events/performances didn't really get started last night 'til around 9 p.m. We'd been told that we had a decent chance of getting tickets at the door if we showed up by 8, but I don't think they ended up selling out; dunno if it'll be more crowded tonight.

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