Flame Games

Complacent Nation stages "One Night of Fire"

Of course, the police are waiting for us at Coney Island. The stiltwalkers—there are two now—duck under the gates and wave to little kids. The crowd skips out into the seaside air. Once gathered on the boardwalk, the marching band leads us past the parachute jump, which is lit an appropriate pomegranate red. Our destination: the long-abandoned Child's Restaurant. An incendiary video montage, created by Big Noise Films, is projected from the rooftop of DJ Chrome's biodiesel bus. The effect is breathtaking: flames enlivening a ghostly building at the derelict end of an amusement park with a marching band and over 1,000 people dancing under the stars. It's like a carnival in a dream.

Then the real fire begins.

Fire twirlers, fire blowers, fire jugglers, fire dancers of every style and skill. Even when the display is slightly maladroit, the crowd is enraptured because this is what we've waited for. Yet when the police chief finally enters the circle and brings the show to a halt with an almost staged look of sternness, the crowd erupts into cheers and applause as much for him as for the show.

Fire walk with me: a stilt-walking Complacent Nationalist
photo: Cary Conover
Fire walk with me: a stilt-walking Complacent Nationalist

"It's not really about the fire," says a nymph in an orange hoop skirt. "It's about everything."

Roman candles and sparklers emerge from bags and folds of clothes, filling the night air with the smell of sulfur and the twinkle of fireworks. On the beach, the wing of a huge phoenix suddenly ignites. The police chief quickly squashes the plan but TheDanger skylarks are undaunted. They dance, wrestle, and play. Eventually, someone runs into the water bare-assed and laughing, and before long, there are more than 50 people splashing in the surf, their skin reflecting in the moonlight.

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