Woman Tames Fire Fear by Dancing With It
Elizabeth Marquez has turned a childhood fear into a hobby.
Elizabeth Marquez sat in the back of a truck bed along Dunedin Causeway, watching the sun set with friends on a recent evening. Marquez waited for the sun to get just low enough for the darkness to fall.
This is when she likes to light up the night.
"Everyone is so mesmerized by the fire and flames," Marquez said. "It's a lot of fun to get the reaction out of it."
She ignites both ends of a specially-designed staff and spins the flaming baton against the blackness, usually to awestruck onlookers, she said. Fire spinning, also called fire dancing, is a performance art that Marquez, 20, picked up unexpectedly.
"When I was younger, I was in a fire, so I was really scared of it for a little while," she said, "until my friend stood in front of me [fire spinning] ... and he put it in my hands, and I started playing with it."
Marquez, a microbiology student at St. Petersburg College who lives near U.S. 19 and Curlew Road, usually likes to perform in open, spacious areas like the Dunedin Causeway or Clearwater Beach, but she has also been in front of friends, at parties and even at a few area bars.
"My first time inside a bar — our stage, that was kinda scary. Not scary, it was fun, [but] I had to be more cautious than normal ... because behind me there was this fabric behind me that was highly flammable," she said. "Sometimes it's good having that kind of pressure on you. It's more adrenaline, I guess."
(Marquez does not belong to the Facebook Clearwater Beach Fire Jam and Drum Circle that meets in Clearwater on Saturdays.)
Editor's Note: A City of Dunedin ordinance requires a permit for operating live fire outdoors, in streets, bars and restaurants.