Being on short rest and typing away at the laptop, I received a text message from a friend telling me that there was a full moon fire jam at Foster Beach from sunset to 10:30pm.
“What’s a fire jam?” I texted.
“Google it,” my friend fired back.
Googling it directed me to the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam website with a full calendar of fire jams for the remainder of the year. Pretty cool stuff, I remember the first time I witnessed fire spinners at a fundraiser organized by the Leftist Lounge where there were amazing bellydancers, capoeira performers, and fire spinners. I still remember that fundraiser since it was the best entertainment I’d seen in years and I think if you live in Chicago long enough, you’re going to run into fire spinners. Even with the precautionary safety measures taken by the fire spinners, from the outsider’s perspective, it always looks like someone’s going to loose grip and throw fire at you.
Given the spectacle and the fact that I hadn’t seen a friend since he packed for LA, I jumped at the opportunity despite severely short sleep and hopped on the bus. On the bus, there were people talking about the fire jam, but I found them to be a bit off kilter since they were missing a few teeth. They decided that they would wait ten minutes for the bus to round about from Foster and Broadway to Foster and Sheridan. I got off the bus and beat them to the lake, but didn’t see any fire jam. Another friend decided to meet me down at Foster Beach and we started walking down the astroturfed soccer field. The flickering through the trees and the sound of drums was enough to let us know we were in the right place. Conveniently, someone had already put in the fire jam as a foursquare location and I checked in for an ungodly amount of points after my marathon day.
We walked into a crowd, and people were dancing to the beat of Djembes and trombone and trumpet. The fire constantly flickered from afar, but as we approached the flames transformed to giant arcs of instant combustion. Some people sat, others leaned closely to snap pictures and many a flash went off trying to capture every moment. Unlike most crowded venues and concerts, I had no hard time getting to the caution tape line that surrounded the fire spinners and was happy to not find stiff elbows as my reward. Some people brought their kids while others were in wheelchairs and the diversity of Chicago shined at the fire jam. In the distance, aspiring fire spinners took turns spinning hula hoops while still dancing.
Spinner after spinner lit their poles, bolos, and hoops and as quickly as the fire jam appeared, it was gone. Chants of, “Leave no trace!” filled the air and people picked up their garbage, bags, chairs, and started dispersing. The moon finally made its appearance over the treeline and the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam made a new fan. Next round about, I will make sure to bring others to indulge in the spectacle of highly skilled fire spinners.