There is a group of very entertaining and courageous individuals that gather during the summer on the full moon to dance, play music and share their talents with others. Oh, did I mention the pyrotechnics?
Nearing dusk, families, friends, photographers and such make their way to a grassy location near the Foster street beach in Chicago. Some bring their grills for a full on BBQ, others just sandwiches and other accoutrements to snack on while positioning themselves on spread blankets so as not to miss a single, spectacular moment.
By the time dusk has given way to its darkest glow, the drum circle begins beating their drums. Tum, tum, tum… each drummer plays together, alone, but creating excitement and preparing the spectators for what’s to come.
A bit more time passes and then, show time! Various men and women confidently stride to their designated locations while carrying balls of fire. They twist and turn the fire balls this way and that, dancing and twirling along with the beat of the drums… tum, tum, tum… Some juggle, some rotate their hips spinning hula hoops of fire. There are the fire breathers and those extinguishing flames upon their tongues.
The night progresses and the acts become more urgent and intricate. The dancers shift places and change props, but the fire remains throughout. The drumming continues… tum, tum, tum… beating to the heartbeats of spectators, holding our breath, watching in awe.
As the performance (or performances) come to their peak before being snuffed out for the evening and thus for another 28 days or so, the dancers come together turning the single performers, dancers into one. One winged fire breathing dragon!
At the close of the dance and as the drums are placed onto the backs of the musicians, the families and friends collect their remnants and castoffs from the evening making sure not to leave a trace of this quite fabulous event. The blankets are folded; the meal arrangements are neatly placed into their sacks and small sleepy-eyed children are carried on the backs of gentle men with their others in tow.
I make my own way back to the car and notice the full moon hanging its reflection across the ink colored waters and wonder if it appreciated the evening as much as the others.