Some people might look at the EDM community and make their assumptions about the eccentric dancing, shudder at the flashy outfits, and scoff at the drug use. But like anything, there is something more than what’s seen on the surface. This community is home to some of the most accepting and positive people. It’s a place where anyone is allowed to be themselves. The music is euphoric and you have an opportunity to dive into unadulterated self expression through the music, dancing, costumes, community, and the flow arts. The EDM community formed some time around the late 1980’s in black and gay communities across Chicago. These marginalized groups found solace in music that fostered freedom of expression and acceptance. The community grew beyond those two groups and became more mainstream into what it is today. For the most part, the integrity of PLUR has managed to make its way through decades in the community. PLUR means Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect and is widely known and practiced throughout the community. It’s what makes it so positive and accepting even to this day. Everything from that mentality has trickled down the EDM spectrum. With this culture, comes the flow arts.
These two components are deeply intertwined. Flow arts enhance the EDM experience because it’s performance based. Flow arts is a point of community and acceptance. Flow arts are defined as “the intersection of a variety of movement-based disciplines including dance, juggling, fire-spinning, and object manipulation” by The Flow Arts Institute. What exactly is the object manipulation? The objects are called light toys. The vibrant lights and rapid movement compliment the music and create a spectacle for the observer. For the performer? The feeling is the same. The flow arts teach a person to let go and ride along with the beat of the music. In its own unique way, it’s a form of meditation. Flow art can be a therapeutic way of self expression. Once you begin your flow art movement, you often forget the worries and stresses of your life. Because the movements are so fluid, you then find your consciousness becoming more fluid as well. This is the art of letting go and becoming embedded into the present. It doesn’t matter if you have no clue how to participate. It doesn’t matter if you come from a different background. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are going through. You can be someone completely different while participating in flow art. Flow arts promote creativity through light and movement. There are flow art families all around the world where you can join the movement. Within the flow arts there are multiple different disciplines to learn about.
The first of which, is the art of gloving. Gloving happens when a person wears gloves with LED lights embedded into them and incorporate a mixture of fluid and rigid dance movements with their hands. At its most basic form, it is essentially dancing with your fingers. At its most advanced, it can put onlookers into a euphoric trance. In order to become skilled in the art of gloving, it requires plenty of practice and concentration with these light gloves. There are large communities of glovers for this very reason. People gather to become better and compete with and learn from one other. Light gloves came onto the scene when light technology became more pivotal to EDM festival and concert performances. It evolved once kinetic motion technology was introduced. The reason that it became so successful is because of the performance aspect attached to these events.
Next, there is orbiting. Orbiting is where a light toy is threaded through two strings and then twirled around so that it floats. A person keeps both hands on the strings and moves it around their body in various dance moves. The observer and the orbiter are both heavily focused on the floating object and how it is incorporated within the dancer’s movements. This light toy gives the user an opportunity to challenge themselves by ensuring that the object is always spinning. Thirdly, is Poi spinning. Poi spinning involves holding tethers with lights attached at the end. When the dancer moves, they often spin in circles, dragging the vibrant light through the night. The light leaves long streaks as the dancer moves so fast it almost seems as if they are dancing in slow motion. The lights can be programmed to flash different colors and patterns, further enhancing the experience.
Finally, the remaining flow arts. Did you ever stand in your driveway with a hula hoop and spin it for hours trying to keep it above your hips as a child? Hooping expands beyond your childhood driveway. It’s a way of letting music and dance determine the movement of the hula hoop on one’s body. You can spin it around with one arm, twirl it while performing cartwheels, and move it with your body in fluid motions. Ever remember wanting to be a Jedi with a double ended light saber? Flowing with a staff would be right up your alley. Every single one of these art forms focus on using the tenet of flow. It’s about embracing a child like wonder and pure joy. When we were kids we were encouraged to play with stimulating things such as lights, ropes, and hula hoops. In our adult lives, we are told to sit, to work, and to be serious. The flow arts bring us back to a childlike state.
Everyone is welcome in this community. This is because everyone has gone through something difficult and the flow arts has helped them escaped. People who are in a dark time find solace in the light and community of flow arts. Sometimes the people who have suffered the most are the nicest, because they understand. That’s what the flow family is about. Beyond the surface of what people see at festivals and raves, there is something relevant happening. There is a deeply connected community joined together through a love of art. Whether you are looking for a new hobby, searching for connection with a loving community, or want to discover a new art form, you can find joy and excitement in the flow arts family. If you’ve ever felt alone or lost in your thoughts, come join the family lights movement and flow through your emotions.
If you'd like to get more involved in spreading the love of lights, you can join our family here: http://bit.ly/FamilyLights
*If you or a someone you care for is going through a hard time. Please be there for them. We all have our low points, and for some they can be darker than others. Help be that light for them that shines brighter and more powerful than any darkness.*