In the craziness of my last job, I turned to POI DANCING for detox.
It’s a form of dance originating from Maori tribes. Women did it to keep their wrists and arms limber for weaving, while the men did it for coordination needed for battle.
To my surprise, this beautiful dance form provided me so much more than detox!
Poi Dancing, apart from being my main stress therapy, helped me develop coordination, provided intense hours of “me time”, and integrated my love for electronica, house music and creativity into one super fun activity.
I wasn’t born to do anything athletic. I know this by now. Instead, I was born to swing small objects from strings attached to my fingers in a mesmerizing series of fluid rhythmic motion, to whatever music’s on my favorite playlist!
I discovered Poi Dancing in Boracay, three years ago. How can anyone not notice people going around the island, mostly at night, whirling fire at the end of metal strings? So breathtaking, exotic, sensual. A friend introduced me to a guy who was lounging by the beachfront, holding what looked like balls on a string. He started swinging them casually while we were chatting and enjoying our cocktails. Then my friend tried it and quickly got the hang of it. My turn was frustrating. There was no way I could control where those balls would go. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t that easy at all. It’s quite technical, apparently. How I love a challenge!
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a small shop in Eastwood that sold Planetzip‘s fabric Poi that I started practicing the moves. I would have wanted to take a class but work left me with no free time to commit to classes. So, I googled it, and found PlayPoi and videos on YouTube.
After a few months of just following the basic instructions on the Planetzips Poi bag and going through YouTube videos, I wanted to learn more advanced moves. I also wanted to try heavier Poi.
I got my first set of LED Poi and Poi socks from Home of Poi – For all your Poi, Fire and Juggling needs..
Then I got DVDs for basic and advanced moves to continue training at home, usually at night after work. Glowing LED Poi is best used in the dark!
On and off, my training went for months… And before I knew it, I wasn’t just counting in my head or copying the videos. I learned to Poi dance instinctively, fluidly transitioning from one move or one direction to the next, just letting the music lead me. That was when it really became fun! No thinking, just moving with the flow.
Photography by Renjie Santos
My first set of Poi from Planetzips. This one’s with tails attached.
I always bring my Poi sets whenever I go on a beach trip. It’s just so much fun to do in a wide open space! During the day, I do Poi with tails if it isn’t windy.
I enjoyed my first LED Poi so much but they were too fragile. I needed professional grade one’s with several blinking modes to dial up the fun even more. I found everything I was looking for at Flowtoys. I graduated from balls to modular sections that I can use in singles or doubles in a long wand. I wanted heavier Poi and that’s exactly what I got!
Now that it’s been raining a lot, I miss Poi Dancing.
It’s much more fun, not to mention SAFE, outdoors. But, if it doesn’t stop raining anytime soon, I might just do it in the rain!
The most memorable time I ever had Poi dancing was in the pouring rain, on the roofless bar of Le Soleil Resort in Boracay. Enveloped in rain drops, house music was pumping, with laser lights blurring everything around me. That night, I felt like I was alone on the dance floor (it helped that the rain got into my eyes!). I didn’t care if most of the people in the bar didn’t know me. Everyone was having fun, all drenched in the rain!
So I really didn’t get any formal training for this but what the hey… It’s all for fun!
I don’t know if I’ll ever try Fire Poi though. Hubby says I can’t try it until he’s sure that I won’t burn myself. Fire Poi is also heavier because aside from the fuel, the Poi have to hang from metal ball chains. The feel is different. I have the ball chains and tried it with my wands. My arms hurt after a few minutes of spinning!
For now, LED Poi is my thing. I can’t wait for our poolside to get done in the new house! That will be my Poi dancing stage! 🙂
Word of Warning: While Poi spinning is fun and marketed to children in other countries, I worry that kids might hit themselves or get burned by the string while spinning. They also tend to spin fast, probably thinking that faster makes them look better at it. A faster Poi is a heavier Poi hitting your face, shin, head… Not a good idea for kids. It is not a toy. The best LED Poi is also not cheap and made to be used by those who can control them enough not to hit objects. With a child’s less developed depth perception, it’s easy to knock off expensive breakable objects from nearby furniture too. If you really want a child to try this, please make sure to watch them and have them spin slowly in an open space away from anything breakable. Have ice cubes ready for hits… And a treat to distract them when they start to get too adventurous!