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Flagging, Fanning, and Spinning Etiquette

By May 27, 2003September 16th, 2012Articles

Originally posted to the SpinTribe forum, and reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Hi Guys,

We compiled this list a year and a half ago for the website. Feel free to copy and distribute freely. If you have any additonal items to add to this list please forward them to me and I’ll be happy to add them. Hope that this is helpful.


1. Know your performance space.

Are you going to knock people’s drinks down or hit others? If in doubt, don’t flag, fan or spin.

Is there room enough to perform? You really need several feet on every side of you to flag and spin with grace. Give yourself an adequate perimeter.

Look above you for speakers or lighting equipment. Not only can you knock things down with your flags or poi swings, but you can easily damage your equipment by hitting them against these sorts of objects.

2. Remember that you represent the flagging/fanning/spinning community.

Remember that you’re sharing space with other club patrons. If you hit somebody, apologize. And if you are in a fixed area meant for flagging or dancing, ask the person nicely if they can move so you don’t hurt them with your equipment. It is better to stop and restart than to hit somebody with your flags or poi swings. The sting of the lead weights or the whip of the tail on some poi can leave people with a bad impression of flaggers and spinners as a whole.

Sometimes people not familiar with flags particularly, will want to dance with you. You can politely remind them that the flags have lead weights in them that will hurt when they hit somebody. If somebody walks into your flags or poi swings, YOU are responsible. Be aware of the people around you at all times.

If you leave somebody with a bad taste in their mouth for flaggers, fanners and spinners, they will remember and will tell others. You are NOT the only person practicing your art. Respect your art and community by representing it with dignity.

If you leave somebody with a great memory of your beautiful performance, they will tell others.

If a disrespectful club-goer (intoxicated or just unreasonable) is giving you problems, don’t go off on them. Contact your point person or politely tell your contacts at the club about the problem.

Flagging and spinning can take up a lot of space, enough for several dancers (fanners have a bit more control over the space they take up). Take your place in the limelight for a bit but yield gracefully to others so that everybody has a chance to use the space.

If your club is without a designated flagging, fanning, or spinning space, seek out a space in the venue with the least amount of people to express your art. It can be frustrating in popular crowded clubs where space is unavailable, be patient and wait until the crowd thins out. Trying to flag, fan, or spin in a crowded venue will create a negative experience for you and the club-goers around you. Talk to the management or owner(s) of the club and express your desire for a performance space. Designated performance spaces benefit both the performer and the club. It provides a space free of obstacles and provides a platform for you to express a beautiful art for all to see.

3. Remember you’re sharing space with other performers.

Share the space willingly. Oftentimes there is only one or two places where people can perform. If people are waiting for the space, flag for song, for example (or the remainder of the song when you start and the next song), then let others use the space.

Sharing the space well benefit everybody involved. There is enough of the limelight for everybody!

4. Respect other people’s flags, fans, and poi swings.

Always ask before using other people’s equipment. Don’t assume that just because you’re a flagger/fanner/spinner that others are obligated to let you use their equipment.

If you use other people’s equipment, treat them with care and respect. Don’t bang their flags or swings against the wall and as a courtesy, fold them and put them neatly in a safe place when you’re done, preferably off the (always dirty) floor.

Don’t ever lend somebody else’s equipment out without their permission.

It is NOT appropriate to grab, take, examine, or otherwise mess with another’s equipment or fans without express permission! Do not be insulted if they decline allowing you access to their stuff.

People are proud of the equipment they’ve put so much time, energy, and creativity into. Share your ideas but don’t disrespect other people’s things.

5. Feel free to say “no” if others ask to use your equipment.

You’ve spent a lot of time and/or money on your equipment. They are an extension of your art.

Try to bring out an old set of whatever you’re performing with so that you can share without worrying about damaging your new equipment.

6. Keep your flag area organized and uncluttered.

You are a visitor to the space. It’s not cool to dirty or clutter it up so that it’s unpleasant for others.

Staying organized, especially when under the influence, will help you to keep better track of your things and prevent you from accidentally taking other people’s equipment.

7. Respect and contribute to flagging, fanning, and poi culture.

Remember that what you do is an art form passed down from one person to another.

Educate others about your art. Be proud and be willing to pass down what you’ve learned just as it was passed down to you.

Accept criticism and praise from your elders.

Respect the local flagging, fanning, and poi culture. Flaggers, fanners, and spinners in each city often go to great lengths to establish themselves with clubs and with the local club culture.

Introduce yourself and find out more about your fellow flaggers, fanners, and spinners. You are part of a community. We all have things to learn and things to teach.

Flagging, fanning, and spinning is an individual experience and expression. Some people do it primarily as an extension of their dance. Some use it for spiritual or meditative purposes. Some people love the challenge of learning new moves or transitions or mastering a technique. Everybody flags, fans, and spins for different reasons. When out in a club, respect everybody’s version of their art. What may look awkward or “bad” to you may be the height of somebody’s experience that night.

If you are interested in learning different techniques, find the respected elders in your community and open yourself up to learning something new. You’ll benefit from the teacher/student relationship more than you’ll ever know.

To flag, fan, or spin “well” and to advance your art can take a lot of time. Take that time so that you have something unique to offer to the club environment or to the culture as a whole.

Remember the things you valued when others were teaching you and use that passion to teach others.

To be able to perform is NOT a right. You represent the flagging and fanning communities when you get up to perform in front of an audience. If you are very much a beginner, don’t get up and thrash around. This will leave a bad taste in the mouth of those who are watching. The platforms are not for practice. They are for performance. Offer something beautiful and special to those watching.

Honor those who introduced you to the art of fanning, flagging, and spinning. They are passing the art down to you as taught to them. Don’t degrade the art. Take the art that they passed down to you and improve upon it.

8. Have a good time!

If people see you having fun, they will value the presence of flaggers, fanners, and spinners like you that much more.

If you’re having a bad time or are in a bad mood, don’t perform. IT SHOWS. Nobody wants to watch you work out your anger or frustration on the box.

Smile. Make eye contact. Be engaging. You’ll have more fun and those watching will appreciate it, too.

Phillip Bryan

Author Phillip Bryan

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