Starting Down the Road of Flow

Starting Down the Road of Flow

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Hello and welcome to the new Festivals and Events page for F.I.R.E. Magazine!  I’m your host, Spades.  On the first Thursday of every month I’ll be letting you know about the best gatherings for fire and flow artists to meet, learn, teach, perform and play.

I had a hard time deciding on what to call my monthly article.  Ideas were tossed around like “Eventflow”, “Web and Flow”, “Flow on the Go”, “Spade’s Spin on Spin”, “The Flow Chart” and even “The Monthly Flow”…  Some were immediately discarded due to obvious reasons, but I eventually settled for “On the Road of Flow”.  And with that, welcome to our first installment!

As fire and flow performances are becoming more prolific in festival culture we are seeing an increasing amount of gatherings catering to the flow community.  Many festivals are sprouting up across the US and beyond following the example of ground breaking events like Fire Drums in California to host weekends filled with workshops, performances, and open fire spinning circles.  Music festivals such as Lighting in a Bottle and Lucidity are cultivating a larger workshop presence including all types of flow arts and featuring talented fire and LED performers on their stages.  Traditional juggling and prop manipulation festivals such as the Portland Juggling Festival and Madskillz are embracing the new generation of flow artists by incorporating a more diverse spectrum of classes and even hosting fire gala shows.  Conclusion? The fire and flow community is growing and I’m here to help you get connected!

Flow Sign

Flow Festival Directions, Photo by Kukki Kut Images

My name is Tyler Macklin but the flow community knows me better by Spades.  I’ve spun fire since 2007 and have performed and taught workshops avidly throughout the festival circuit and beyond.  I live in Portland, Oregon so the majority of the festivals I attend are on the West Coast.  I usually perform or teach at more than 12 festivals a year keeping busy most weekends during the summer months.  I’ve also been to Costa Rica to perform and teach at Envision Festival, toured on the Thai/Burma border with Spark Circus and recently taught my first workshop east of the Mississippi River at Kinetic Fire Gathering in Ohio last summer.

Like many people, I discovered my passion for flow arts in relative isolation.  I first saw fire spinning at the Oregon Country Fair and was entranced.  When I got home I researched how to make my own fire staff online, but I didn’t know anyone else who spun fire and longed for a community to learn from.  It wasn’t until I moved to Portland and started attending dozens of festivals years later that I sought out and became part of the flow arts community I dreamed of when I first began.  My skills increased exponentially after being inspired by others first hand, which also increased my passion for flow.  Gathering and playing with friends was invigorating and I soon developed a sense of belonging I had never experienced before.

The simple action of spinning a stick around in circles has completely changed my life and my perspective of my roles within it.  Flow arts have become my primary source of exercise as well as meditation and are an invaluable resource for me to connect with others, the universe, and myself.  It is extremely powerful to watch the ripple effect in consciousness that comes from such simple actions and I strive to share this experience with everyone I meet.

Spades of Spark Circus working with children living in Nu Poe Refugee Camp. Photo by April Ananda Bliss

Spades of Spark Circus working with children living in Nu Poe Refugee Camp. Photo by April Ananda Bliss

Festivals are incubators for artistic expression.  They provide a judgment-free space for participants to become inspired, try new ideas, and explore their own creative limits.  Unlike stage shows where the audience is separated from the performer, at festivals you are immersed in engaging interaction where participants of all skill levels share and gain knowledge openly.  Demonstrations of skill and rehearsed beauty are always appreciated, but not the focus of the event.  While mingling and co-creating the community with master artists and novice flow enthusiasts alike, it is easy to see that we all have a common passion.  Ultimately we are all just people wanting to grow and thrive together through shared experience.  With each new member experiencing and sharing flow, the possibility for inspiration and communal joy grows exponentially.

Kinetic Workshop

Spades’ contact staff workshop at Kinetic Fire, Photo by Kukki Kut Images

It is my goal to be your liaison through this world of flow and fire gatherings.  I’ll be conducting interviews with organizers, writing personal reviews, and letting you know about upcoming amazing events.   Be sure to check out our event calendar often, as I’ll be adding lots of gatherings to it regularly.  I can honestly say the best possible way to upgrade your technical skills and performance ability is to attend a flow festival.

FireDrums 2011, Photo by Tony of Adoration Marketing and Design

FireDrums 2011, Photo by Tony of Adoration Marketing and Design

You can find out more about me on my website or connect with me on Facebook at Spinning Spades.  If you have suggestions for festivals featuring fire and flow arts please send me a Facebook message or contact me at

Spades performing at Pacific Fire Gathering, Photo by Tony of Adoration Marketing and Design

Spades performing at Pacific Fire Gathering, Photo by Tony of Adoration Marketing and Design

See you on the road of flow.

♠ Spades

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Spades is a fire ninja based out of Portland, Oregon who performs and teaches workshops around the world. He keeps a personal blog about his travels and lots of videos and photos on his website at Spinning Spades (.com)
Spades is also a writer for Fire Arts Magazine and manages the "On the Road of Flow" column about flow and fire arts festivals.

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