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Fun With Fire

Updated on May 27, 2015

I want to state in the very beginning that I do not recommend preforming any of the acts I will be going over. Serious injury and death can and does occur. Even with training, there is no guarantee of safety. If you still want to learn, find a qualified professional to set up an apprenticeship. DO NOT attempt without receiving training and guidance.

Fire, arguably the greatest tool ever utilized by human beings, has been in continuous use for thousands of years. In fact, evidence of the widespread use of fire dates back about 125,000 years. Some claim the earliest evidence for the control of fire by a member of the genus Homo dates back 1.7 million years. Needless to say, fire has played a major role in human activities for an extremely long time, and without it we would not be where we are today.

My focus however, is not the use of fire throughout human history, instead I want to focus on the use of fire in entertainment. No one can deny the power of fire in a performance, emotions tend to run high. It's not uncommon for those watching to feel a bit of fear for the performer, and sometimes those fears are justified. It's not a safe way to make a living, but as long as people ignore their mothers and play with fire, many will still turn up to watch.


Fire Eating

When it comes to acts involving fire, fire eating is considered an entry level position. This is where the basics are learned and perfected. The overall goal is simple, put a small fire out with your mouth. Actually achieving this without getting hurt is a little more complicated. Breathing, timing and technique all play an important role in reducing risks. Those just starting out will burn themselves, but if they listen to their instructors they stand a better chance of not causing permanent damage.

Once a performer has mastered the basics, they will begin to learn and incorporate other skills into their acts. Things like using their extremities to transfer flames, creating trails of fire in various places along their bodies and putting out multiple torches simultaneously. The performances can become quite intricate, the result being an amazing show of skill.

Even though this is considered to be a starting point, it is still impressive to watch. To willingly put a lit torch in your mouth is unthinkable to most of us. Let alone attempting any of the other parts that make up a fire eaters demonstration. Nevertheless, it won't stop us watching from the audience, cheering those brave or stupid enough to try.

Fire Breathing


This is the most dangerous thing I will be going over. In fact, it is the most dangerous part of an experienced fire eaters performance. People train for years to learn the proper techniques and to reduce the risks to themselves and those around them. Even without the obvious danger of having fire close to someones face, many of the fuels used are toxic. Though this is by no means a full list, as each fuel carries a whole list different dangers, some of the risks to these type of performers include:

  • Death
  • Sever Burns
  • Chemical Pneumonia
  • Cancer
  • Stomach and Tissue Ulcers
  • Fuel Poisoning
  • Catching Fire

That being said, watching someone preform fire breathing is an awe inspiring experience. The danger is not only very real, the practitioner uses it to his or her advantage. They want the heart of everyone in the audience to race. They want you and the edge of your seat cringing when they begin and cheering when their through. To their way of thinking, if onlookers are not emotionally transported back to their childhood watching something wondrous for the first time, they are not doing their job.

Fire Dancing

Preforming with Fire

Would you ever consider doing a performance with fire?

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Fire dancing has it's roots in ancient cultures around the world. Originally it was used in ritualistic ceremonies for various reasons ranging from showing battle prowess to warding off negative individuals or spirits. Traditional fire dances are still performed, though mainly for tourists. Those who practice fire dancing as a performance art employ a multitude of items and techniques to create visually stunning feat. Whether accompanied by music or performed to a silent crowd the effect is the same, it's mesmerizing. There is beauty to the dances that isn't found in anything else. I highly recommend everyone see at least one of these displays in their lifetime. Fire festivals are a good place to start for anyone wanting to watch one of these spectacular displays.

Fire Walking


Fire walking has been practiced in one form or another for over 3000 years. It too was used in ritualistic ceremonies for a variety of reasons, though mainly as a rite of passage of test of faith. Brought to wide spread attention by Tolly Burkan, this event has become a very popular form of entertainment. It is also used for company retreats for team-building and as a way to improve self confidence. Many fire performers utilize fire walking to add variety and an extra element of risk to their shows. I have to say, watching someone juggle flaming objects while walking on a bed of hot coals is amazing.

Playing With Fire

For most of us fire is a tool, something that aids us in our everyday life. For others it is how they sustain themselves, a way to generate an income doing something they love. When several performers come together to form a troupe, the showcase of skills can be rather remarkable. Especially when more than one individuals take to the performance area at once. Fire festivals and other such gatherings provide a platform for numerous artists to attract a larger audience. Along with the added benefit of meeting those who can introduce them to news techniques and to those seeking to learn. It doesn't matter which side of the line you fall on performer or onlooker, all are welcome. For those who are just looking for a good show, you will not be disappointed.

© 2014 Katrina


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    • Katrina Speights profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Texas

      I agree, it is very dangerous, that's why I told everyone who wants to learn to find a professional to train them. Most of the injuries and deaths associated with this kind of thing involve people who are trying to teach themselves.

    • word55 profile image

      Al Wordlaw 

      4 years ago from Chicago

      Well Katrina, my brother and I have fought fires for over 20 years together. Fire is nothing to play or deal with except by trained experts like fire fighters and like the ones you've featured here. Michael Jackson suffered when he tried a stunt with fire, I've lost colleagues over the years because of it. I've been to burn camps and saw some just glad to be alive victims of it. I just hope that people dealing with it will take extra precautions. However, this was a very good hub :-)

    • Katrina Speights profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Texas

      It really is, I think I'd like to try out the fire dancing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I think I'll pass on the experience, but it fascinating to watch.


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