Category Archives: Skill Toys

Boston Spin Jams

Poi spinning. Poi artist: Nick Woolsey

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever found yourself in a place and thought “Yeah… I like it here” ? I never had, until last night. Usually I simply feel like a fish out of water no matter where I go. When I’m in a group of people, I feel as if there is something fundamentally different about me that prevents me from fitting in with others. Something that other people can clearly see and constantly judge me for.

That feeling went away at Spin Jam. Read the rest of this entry

The Amazing Baz

The Amazing Baz is a fire performer and music producer from the lovely city of Boston, Massachusetts. He is also responsible for the second most amazing thing that ever happened to me.

Breathing Circles

Spinning at the Commons

Last night, I went to the Loew’s theater with a few friends to see The Expendables (great movie if you enjoy watching Stalone blow things up, which I do). Afterward, we went across the street to the Commons for a bit. One of my friends is a photographer who loves long-shutter shots, so I was spinning my new crystal poi while chatting with everyone, letting him take some pictures. One of which is to the left.

As I was spinning, I of course got some strange looks from people walking by, but this one specific person and his girl actually stopped and stared at me. I thought he was really interested in watching me so I started doing some weaves and fountains. Those really are not complicated moves, I’m still a beginner mind you, but they look terrific to someone who doesn’t know much about poi. Well after a few seconds, this guy steps a little closer and I realize he wants to say something. I give him my attention, and my heart just about stopped after he told me:

“I can’t remember the last time I saw someone spinning flowpoi in downtown Boston in the middle of the night.” Read the rest of this entry

Starting from Scratch

Remember how I said ‘don’t start with fire poi?’ Well, don’t start with flag poi, either.

This past Monday, my Crystal Poi came in from Flowtoys. I’ll write a formal review of them at a later date, but what I can now is I absolutely love them. The weight is nice, the colors are beautiful, and with the brief but informative documentation that came with them, I have no apprehensions about using them. However, they are very different from flag poi. Wait, let me rephrase that…

Crystal poi are very different from flag poi.

Okay, I think that will do. Let me try to break this down as simply as possible:

Flag Poi: Requires a good amount of force to spin do to the air resistance
Crystal Poi: Not much air resistance, making them very easy to spin (AKA requires much less force).
Result: Being accustomed to flag poi, transitioning to crystal poi meant I applied too much force to get them to spin, thus spinning them far too fast. This is bad for many reasons, which I will explain below. Adjusting for this isn’t difficult, but takes a bit of training.

Flag Poi: Roughly equal weight along the leash.
Crystal Poi: All weight is concentrated at the end of the leash.
Result: The first time using crystal poi, I felt slightly off-balance. They felt great to spin, and spun very easily (see above), but with such a big weight difference, it felt rather awkward despite the ease. Which in turn meant I didn’t feel (and wasn’t) in control of the poi. Combine that with my previous point and you have an easy explanation on the plethora of bruises covering my body.

Flag Poi: Don’t hurt all that much when you hit yourself.
Crystal Poi: Hurts. Results in bruises, red spots, and that indescribable itchy feeling after something slaps your skin.
Result: Bruises. Lots of them. But at least getting hurt whenever I do something wrong is a great encouragement to do it right.

Flag Poi: While they occasionally tangle on themselves, they do not (and I think cannot) tangle on each other.
Crystal Poi: These can and will tangle very easily. Of course the number and severity of tangles will decrease as your experience goes up, they are mostly inevitable, and look messy.
Result: Not much more to add, except that the tangles can catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it to happen. They can be kind of a pain to fix, and I mean pain literally.

Flag Poi: Make noise.
Crystal Poi: Mostly silent.
Result: I needed to adjust my sense of ‘same time’ vs ‘split time’ from what it sounds like to what it feels like. Not difficult to do, but is a bit strange at first when you’re used to hearing the beat and have to switch to feeling it.

Flag Poi: Solid albeit vibrant color.
Crystal Poi: They light up, and have different mods to allow for blinking/flashing/fading effects.
Result: Well to be honest, I haven’t played with the lights very much yet. Though the flowlights are designed to withstand a fair amount of impact, they are electronic, and they will break if you hit them one too many times. So as I adjust to the new feel of the crystal poi, I’ve taken the lights out and I am spinning with just the crystal case and a single flowmass. The weight is roughly the same as the crystal case + flowlights, and while it still hurts to hit myself, I don’t have to worry about damaging those perty lights. However, I am prepared to have to adjust to having shining lights spinning around my body. Some people have said the lights help them with their spinning, others say it was distracting when they first starting using LED poi. We’ll see where I fit in that.


Conclusion: I pretty much have to re-learn all the basics, from simple spinning, to the butterfly, to the weave and fountain. I’m not complaining, though. This is a great way for me to solidify what I already know, fine-tune my planes, and reacquaint myself with cross points. I’ve already noticed weak points in my technique, which I have since strengthened, and have improved on things that I couldn’t do with my flags (such as the behind-the-back butterfly). Whereas flag poi are great for slow, expressive movements, they are severely limited and have greatly different needs compared to any other kind of poi. Overall, I’m having a great time with them, and look forward to practicing with the lights in another week or two.

Final Note: Most of what I’ve said here about crystal poi can be generalized to nearly any other ‘ball at the end of a string’ kind of poi. If you wish to learn poi, do yourself a favor and start with something soft. Like fluffy poi.

Flag Poi: In-Depth Review

On May 25, 2010, I bought my first pair of poi. More specifically, I bought a pair of dual color flag poi from Home of Poi. They arrived June 6 and I’ve been using them to learn poi since. Here I’ll explain what they are, how they work, as well as detail the pros and cons of using them.

Home of Poi Read the rest of this entry