Under the Night Sky- The Fascination of Fire Dancing in Boracay
Updated: Jan 15
The nightlife in Boracay is vivacious, busy, and thrilling. One of Boracay’s popular activities at bars and restaurants at the time I was vacationing in Boracay was fire dancing. When the sun set, the island transformed into a bright and glowing scenery. People were fascinated with this activity and that explains the influx of people that come to Boracay on a yearly basis. They are elated to observe a young lady or young guy skillfully twirl a ring of fire around his/her head. Some swing fire clubs, spin poi’s, (created from a kelvar wick ball) and even go so far to eat and breathe fire. Fire dancing is such a spectacular, phenomenal, and mind blowing moment. The dancers brandished a small flaming container and profoundly execute a very adept fire dance. The fire container was suspended on a metal chain while the dancer gripped the other end.
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While fire dancing is very appealing and draws many tourists, it is also dangerous, tricky, and time consuming. Fire dancing has a myriad of concerns. Performers can easily catch their face and hair on fire if they do not perform their dances in a meticulous manner. Other concerns pertain to the distance of the audience. If a customer is too close, the performer can risk injuring the customer. When I was in Boracay, I observed a lady drunk and stupor negligently stumble over to next of the fire dancers to video the show. She came very close to getting burned.
Performing unique rhythmic dances while the fire dancers repeatedly twirl fire around their bodies can be very tricky. There are two elements to fire dancing: (1) Fire itself and (2) the dance. It is essential performers learn not only the dance moves but also how to swing fire around their bodies.
Many performers invests innumerable hours in perfecting in both learning to twirl fire and in learning dance moves. Some people even energetically enroll in a fire dance course as well as sign up for a workshop that is conducted in Boracay, Cebu, and Manila. However, there is a limited number of courses offered.
For many living in Boracay, fire dancing is a way in which Filipinos/Filipinas can earn supplemental income to help support their families. Traditionally, the Filipinos/Filipinas will work to provide for their families. If they are living in another country, the sons and daughters of the family will faithfully send about 50 percent of their income to their current parents. This 50 percent is indeed a culture shock that Americans more likely experience when they come to the Philippines. This is one culture shock that I was faced with when I travelled to the Philippines. However, I respect this tradition. In the U.S., for example, typically it is the parents that usually provide for the children not vice versa. Usually by the time the teenagers reach the age at which they can move out of the house, go to college, and land a job, their parents are usually financially secure by this time and do not have to rely upon their sons and daughters to meet their needs.
Furthermore, fire dancing is not only dangerous, tricky, but very exhausting as well. From a viewer perspective, a troupe of fire dance movements crowding the area are usually very fluid, meticulous, and the performers act like the fire dancing is very simple and requires little effort. That, on the other hand, is not true. In fact, fire dancing requires much work and sweat to rotate fire around the body. If the performer fortuitously bumps himself/herself on the body with the fire, serious injuries could result.
Despite the challenges of fire dancing, it must be pointed out that from a viewer’s perspective, fire dancing allows for excellent photo taking and videoing. Therefore, bring your cameras and enjoy the show. As I was captivated by the fire dance show, my camera mode was set to recording the scenes. In between the show, I would snap pictures as well.
Prior to the President of the Philippines closing Boracay for environmental rehabilitation in 2018, fire dancing was prevalent. You can refer to the website Tourism.gov.ph/ for updates on Boracay. The president closed Boracay for several months for renovation purposes. It was currently re-opened and recent reports show that Boracay has changed dramatically from a tourism perspective.
Nevertheless, when I was vacationing in Boracay, I witnessed a variety of fire dances being performed next to restaurants and bars, especially in Station 1 and Station 2. My recommendation is that if you are very interested in observing a fire dance, check at restaurants and inquire about it. Some of the restaurants and bars that offered fire dances at the time include the following: (1) Don Vita Restaurante Italiano and Bucos Bar and Grill at Boracay Mandarin Hotel, (2) Boracay Uptown, (3) Astoria Boracay, (4) Hookah Bar, (5) Hawaiin Bar-b-que, (6) Bar Time at Paradise Garden, and (7) Sand bar.
Keep in mind though, due to the virus, many bars and restaurants may have been forced to close and fire dancing may not be in operation.