When I first came into the rave scene, all I knew how to do was headbang. It was easy, it was fun, high energy and had a small learning curve. The more I dove into EDM, I discovered that ravers did, in fact, know how to dance (contrary to popular non-EDM belief). I found shuffling, hakken, and very soon after, flow arts. I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of flow arts at my disposal. I could do anything! I was intimidated by the fact that everyone seemed to be so much better at everything than I was (that may also have been because I’m a baby raver).
Whether you are new to the scene or an experienced member of the EDM community, it’s never too late to pick up a new hobby! Flow toys can be a new, fun way to experience music.
Picking a flow toy
I had been talking about getting some kind of flow toy for about 4 months before I actually got my hands on one. I considered every possibility before settling on poi. I didn’t want gloves because everyone had gloves and sometimes my fingers lock up even when just typing. Gloves were out of the picture. I didn’t want a hoop because God knows I am the worst at hula hooping. That left whips and poi sets and wands. I wasn’t very familiar with levitation wands and poi sets immediately captured my attention. They were unique and at first seemed to be the most simple. Boy, was I wrong! For months, I talked about how much I wanted a poi set without really looking into it; then, finally, at LAN my partner bought me a poi set from GlowFx. That same night, someone in the crowd saw me playing with them and asked me to give them a light show with the poi set. I didn’t know what to do and so I just shrugged and swung them around for about 30 seconds. My partner laughed at me the whole time after.
There are so many flow toys out there! Don’t do like I did, and try them out or research them before you pick one. If you’re interested in poi, the best way to start is with two long socks and tennis balls. This will give you the hang of spinning and handling poi. Not everything you buy has to be expensive! Glow Fx has some affordable options and once you’ve got it down and you’ve looked into the poi set you want, it will be easier to find an exact match.
As to gloves, whips, hoops, etc., Glow Fx also has a lot of options! There are many more places that make these, but it is a good place to start.
During LAN, there were quite some flow artists with poi and it was amazing to watch more experienced poi spinners do their thing. They had a lot of control over their poi and I was in awe because I didn’t know how I would ever get there
After returning from LAN, I watched A LOT of Youtube videos to help me get a grasp on how poi works. My favorite channels on Youtube became DrexFactor Poi and playpoi. They both have great beginner tutorials with step-by-step instructions on how to achieve certain effects. I spent a long time watching a single video over and over again to better grasp it. The best part is that if you don’t like learning from one channel, there are more channels for you to find that may help! The internet is your best friend, but so is practice and dedication. Flowing should not be a chore or homework; it’s more fun and better when you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing. The best part to remember about learning poi or any flow toy is that it will take practice and you won’t get it on the first try. Or the second or third or even the 50th try. Sometimes it takes A LOT of tries before you get the hang of one specific move but when you do get it, the satisfaction is worth it. And the EDM community is so kind and loving that they will support you at shows, whether you are a beginner or an experienced flow artist.
Currently, I still haven’t mastered poi. I am a slower learner (and that’s okay!) and for now, I’m just learning to practice at home, not to flow at a show. I’d like to get better at poi so that I can take it with me when I attend Wakaan this fall. It’s easier when you set a goal, so for example, I have set a very loose goal of practicing for ten minutes every other day. If I get to it, awesome, but if I don’t, that’s okay, we’ll try again. Documenting your progress through videos is also a great idea! That is what I struggle with the most. I have a hard time watching myself look awkward or make mistakes, but it helps you point out those mistakes and correct them and you can look back at a video from months ago and see how much progress you’ve made.
No matter what flow toy you pick, enjoy it, have fun! Don’t think too much about how good or bad you are because, in the end, that’s not what EDM is about.