Performers bring unique culture to Foster Ave. beach

Under the city lit sky of Foster Beach, a rhythmic group of vibe lovers gather to bask in the rays of a full moon. They share their craft with the audience. Some swing an ignited set of poi and others toss flaming hoops in the air. Drummers keep the beat and the timing of each footstep, while onlookers howl for more.

“It’s a free event. It shows a lot of talent and there’s only four or five full moons in the season,” said Chicago resident Matthew Polgerzoski.

Located at Foster Beach, the full moon fire jam gathers monthly to unite performing artists
and spectators with the visual and sensual experience of fire art. Beginning as a birthday
celebration among a group of friends in 2004, it magnified into a monthly get-together of
eclectic artists, dancers, spinners and dread locks.

The jams are run by volunteers and present a family- oriented gathering. Most importantly they adhere to the “Ten Principles of Burning Man”: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, “leave no trace,” participation and immediacy. All participants of the event are highly encouraged to stick to these standards by conducting a respectful behavior and picking up any litter.

Performers have another set of rules by which they operate. According to one regulator, none
of the oil can touch the ground. With the lack of rain and dirt stained grass, that one is self-
explanatory. Additionally, spinners must only wear their skin or cotton clothes and long hair has to be pulled back. Those delegating rules also urge spinners to only try tricks their bodies are familiar with.

“I started hooping at the beginning of the summer. At the fire jam you can really feel and find
yourself in the rhythm. Plus you can meet a ton of people,” said hoop artist Jessica Shallbetter.

In order to participate, fire artists must attend a safety class that takes place an hour before
the event. Once the moon lit ceremony commences, performers are gathered into a line where they must wait for a spot in the ring. They enter with caution and try to avoid any run-ins with any enflamed spinners.

Regardless of one’s social niche, the full moon fire jam represents an opportunity for a divide community to unite and celebrate the patterns of the moon. It can offer many things, from the enhancement of a spirit for some or a summer evening to remember for others.