Playing with fire
A fascination with fire can be healthy. It helped get our prehistoric ancestors through the last Ice Age, right? In the case of one Sacramento-based couple, this fascination turned into a business. Zenergy and her husband, Squ33 (pronounced “squee”), who own and perform in the fire-dancing squad The Brotherhood of Firebenders, have been booked at everything from anniversary parties to Second Saturday events. Check them out on www.myspace.com/brotherhoodoffirebenders; here’s what fuels Zenergy’s flame.
Is fire dancing something even I could learn?
I think so, if you have dedication to practice and you’re not afraid, then, yeah, totally. If you’re not afraid to get burned or lose your hair.
Your hair gets burned? Often?
Oh yeah, all this right here (points to scar on left arm) is from the fire dancing, and I’ve lost an eyebrow, half [of] my eyelashes. I’ve lost chunks of hair.
My husband’s lit his entire face on fire from fire breathing from using the wrong kind of fuel, but I put it out, and there’s no damage or anything; everything’s totally fine. So it is dangerous. It’s a dangerous thing.
Is this part of why people come see you perform?
Well, not a lot of people can see [this kind of art]. Fire dancing is mostly a Hawaiian or Polynesian type of thing. And so a lot of people can’t afford to travel or go to different places where that is a frequent thing. So that is one of the goals of my group: We bring it to communities and places where there are a lot of people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to see something that’s that cool. … We love the crowds, the kids love us, and it’s just something different you don’t get to see every day.
How did you get started fire dancing?
We have a friend who was into it first, and now she’s in my troupe. She did performance hula-hooping and kinda brought that back with her from Burning Man. And then I went to Burning Man myself and just fell in love with the art of it.
We just really, really loved it, so we started doing it … so we’ve been doing it now for about three years, and I’ve been running it as a business for about a year and a half.
Does it take long to get “good”?
It’s varying degrees of good. … Some people will do a lot of tricks, and I’m a dancer—I dance with it a lot—so for me, it took about two years to get really good to where I felt confident in what I was doing. [I first] spun with fire probably two or three months after we very first started doing it.
What do you want people to get out of your shows?
I want people to have fun. I want people to have a really amazing experience. I want them to get blown away. I want to be like, “Oh my God, that’s really awesome!” You know?
I really like the showiness, and I really want people to be able to feel that we have good energy, and that we really enjoy talking to people. … The kids always come up and want to know how to do it, and we like to do little lessons and it’s so cute.
What’s the most elaborate dance or trick you’ve ever done?
[I] was learning how to do flowers, which is basically like spinning the poi around in a motion but having your arms straight out and then spinning your arms at the same time, so you’re doing kinda like the pat your tummy, rub your head type of thing.
Describe your most memorable time dancing.
The mixture events we do on the Second Saturdays are really fun. They have really good music, it’s poolside, there’s a fashion show, there’s an art walk—it’s like a whole big event. Those are really fun, and those are on Second Saturdays. We did it in June, but I’m not sure if we’re booked yet for the rest of the summer. Although last summer, we did it every month, so that’s a really fun event.
Has fire dancing helped you and your husband’s sex life?
(Laughs.) Well, I’ve lost about 40 pounds, so that’s helped.
Honestly, it’s that: We got into shape together, and we do a lot of partner things. We do some really intense partner things, that are, like, on fire, and we’re doing it around each other, so that takes a lot of trust and communication and stuff like that. And patience and things like that. So, I mean, we generally have a really awesome relationship anyway, but doing the poi together has just been really awesome, to experience that together.
Don’t try it at home. ’Cause it is dangerous, and the different types of fuels we use are very specialized fuels and things like that, so definitely [keep] on the fire-safety side.