Lights bring people together, motivate movement, and inspire others. They also provide purpose and are a great learning tool.
We could just spin socks or broomsticks, and juggle oranges (and we do). You might already have some plastic juggling clubs, so why glow? Why spin and juggle glow toys?
There is something so compelling about light. The promise of a new day. The feeling of safety. The opportunity for clarity and understanding. We could go on about all the good things that “light” brings to life and the human experience, but we’ll focus on flowtoys ;)
When flowtoys founder Sean first discovered firedancing, he had an immediate aha moment of “That’s it. That’s the activity I’ve been looking for.” The moving light of the fire was what first drew Sean and many of us in. The constant joy and challenge of the artform is why we stayed.
We are hardwired to immediately spot and respond to moving light. Built into our most primal neural coding, our brains react on a deep level to high contrast movement in our visual field. In the past, this was a survival mechanism to spot our next lunch, or avoid being something else’s dinner. Now we still can’t help but turn our heads whenever we see moving light.
Dancing with light :: motivating & spreads joy
Many of us were first drawn to firedancing because it was motivating and gave us a license to play with, explore and manipulate props. If you’re spinning a broomstick around, people think you’re weird. If it’s on fire, nobody questions why you’re doing it.
Aside from the various dangers, fire is impractical in many ways. You can’t typically do it indoors, burning fossil fuels constantly for play is irresponsible, and fire props last only a few minutes. As soon as you start getting into a groove, the fire goes out, breaking your flow and learning process.
Sean realized that fire was not the solution to the activity, and made his first LED props shortly after discovering firedancing. This was the late 90s when LEDs were not really a thing yet. But the first set of LED poi he made were very popular, and he realized he was not alone in wanting LED props for play, practice and learning.
Dancing with light is very fun and motivating. Couple that with your favorite music and we find ourselves immersed in the zone, able to tune out the rest of the world. Some people find peace and respite from a hectic day in this space. Others find it motivates them to move, be creative and get their yayas out. It’s important to get our yayas out.
Dancing with light also brings joy to others - bust out your flowtoys at a bbq or family gathering, and you’ll soon see the light of joy shining in everyone’s eyes from grandkids to grandparents. With safe and soft toys like podpoi, they can all take a turn and share in the fun.
Light trails :: a great learning tool
Those light trails you see when someone’s spinning LED props are caused by "persistence of vision". POV is not only a beautiful side effect of how our eyes work, but also a powerful teaching tool.
Light trails enable us to see the path of travel of our props, making it much easier to explain and understand complex patterns. Teachers often use different colors to demonstrate what each poi head or staff end is supposed to do, and how it should move through space.
They also bring to light (pun intended) how precise our planes and timing are, and give us immediate feedback on what we need to work on to improve our technique.
Dancing with light :: creative expression & movement meditation
Light toys are a wondrous medium to express ourselves with. Moving light has a powerful and mystical nature because the trails are ephemeral - there one moment and gone the next, always shifting and changing as we flow between patterns.
Whether you are spinning by yourself, or for an audience, you are weaving an ever-changing light tapestry.
If you are artistic, you might find great joy in playing with the colors and patterns, changing your tempo, moves or light modes to create a constantly evolving work of art.
If you’re stressed or burned out from work, there’s nothing quite like turning off the lights, turning on your flowtoys, playing your favorite music and losing yourself in a sphere of rainbows. Sometimes 5 minutes is all it takes to get back to solving problems and fixing bugs with more clarity and oxygen in your brain, and little joy in your heart.
Connection & community :: light brings people together
Us humans can't see in the dark, so like moths to the flame, we tend to congregate around light.
This has resulted in jugglers and flow artists being stuck in smelly gyms under fluorescent lights at night, when all the fun and vibe is outside and dimly lit. Light toys enable us to join in the party on the dancefloor, or be by our friends at the campfire.
When you’re at an event with little or no lighting and you turn on your flowtoys, people start gathering around you. From campfires to parades of light, humans have always clustered around light, to find connection, community, warmth and safety, and to play, dance, and celebrate our togetherness. Nothing is quite like cresting a hill late at night at a music festival, and being able to find your friends making pretty shapes on the horizon.
Flowtoys and prop culture are rooted in a culture of sharing, communicating, and expressing ourselves through movement. LED props allow us to continue collaborating and teaching well after sunset. The beauty of being able to share the new thing you learned, and to explore its nuances and intricacies with friends, can turn spinning from a hobby into a full blown passion with other people who share the same interest in learning and skillshare.
Light photography :: expanding the creative space
Light props have made an incredible impact in the world of light photography. By adjusting your camera settings, you can combine the arts of photography and flow in striking fluid geometric beauty, capturing a moment in time and creating a whole visual expression to share with the world.
Illuminated props engage other artists. Photographers are often very motivated to shoot moving light as it’s challenging and beautiful. Having photographers further motivates flow artists and jugglers, bringing more people together to collaborate on creating beauty. Many flow and fire festivals include a photography set-up, where both flow artists and photographers get to improve their craft and create assets for their respective portfolios. A win-win.
Welcome to the future
When the incandescent light bulb was first invented, not only did it enable productivity after sundown, but it paved the way for the night to become our playground, for us to continue learning, growing and essentially increasing the number of engaging hours in our day.
Our houses light up as soon as the sun sets. Street lamps illuminate our walk home providing safety. Traffic signals and brake lights help organize and communicate our intent as we drive. We wonder at the beauty of laser light shows.
With the advent of Li-ion batteries and intelligent LEDs, electric lights have become small and durable enough to find a home in the palm of our hand, and since the early 2000s, we have continuously pushed the boundaries of what an LED prop can do, how great it can feel to handle, and how beautiful it can look.
With a fresh charge on our batteries, we can take to the night and shine our light out across the darkness. With light toys in hand, we can practice, play, party, and perform anywhere.
flowOS 2.0 & flowtoys designs: We have spent the last 15 years developing and refining our lights to be as durable, expressive and beautiful as possible, and now with the addition of our vision and creators light engines, the possibilities are endless.
Access to a full spectrum of colors and settings give you the power to match your environment, to be dynamic, to subtly shift to match a mood or a theme. Nature-inspired designs and fine accelerometer response make your flowtoys come alive.
With many flowtoys props, you can also wirelessly connect all your friends’ lights together at the press of a button, enabling you and your friends to create a spontaneous jam, or change each other’s modes while spinning - it’s like live-VJing a lightshow.
So why glow? Because when you shine a light on something, the possibilities for growth, learning, creativity and beauty are endless.