Have you ever wondered how your favorite FAI event comes together and who exactly makes it all happen? This series aims to answer that and more, 10 questions at a time.
This time around, we talk with Nick Garcia, General Manager for FLAME Festival.
1 – What brought you into the flow arts?
When I first saw fire spinning at an event on New Years 2011, I was already practicing with nunchakus for a few months. I didn’t know about the fire side of things yet. After seeing some amazing fire spinning for the first time at that event I was hooked. I’d mostly seen fire poi that night and wound up asking some people to show me the basics. Once I had a couple of simple movements down I couldn’t stop playing with them. I made a practice set out of socks and rice in a bag for weight and used similar forms of sock poi for the next few years.
2 – What props do you manipulate?
Mostly poi, but I dabble in contact and dragon staff, and juggling.
3 – Why did you decide to become an organizer?
While driving home from my first FLAME in 2012, I felt this thrilling spark of motivational energy. I’d seen an amazing experience take shape around me. It was an unforgettable experience, and the idea of helping create experiences like that for other people filled me up in a lot of ways. I felt like I had to get involved. Not getting involved just didn’t make sense.
4 – Take us behind the scenes. What is a typical day like in the life of an organizer during the festival?
The flow of each day is a little different depending on the department, but generally, it starts with breakfast from Hospitality. Or if you’re Hospitality, it starts a bit earlier to create fuel for the team and teachers. After checking in with the Director on call, I’ll typically focus on time-sensitive tasks first. If a department isn’t up and running, that’s top priority. Did anything happen on the previous day or night that created problems which aren’t resolved yet? What parts of the event are happening today that aren’t ready to do their thing? Is anyone not here yet, especially if they have tasks to do today? Each next thing typically starts with questions like that. It’s like that until everything feels like it’s flowing along well, which can sometimes start to show up by the time we open the front gates to the public. More questions and problems are inevitable, though. At night, we switch modes to focus on the other side of the event. Night time also typically involves more dangerous problems, but by that point, we have systems and experienced people to manage everything while keeping an eye out for risks along the way.
5 – What is your favorite class you have ever taken at a festival and who taught it?
Cyrille’s tracing workshop. I’ve seen his videos and go back to them often, but meeting him and taking his class in person was such a fun experience.
6 – If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sushi. No contest.
7 – What book, film, or TV show has influenced your life the most?
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. This is a book I know I need to read every decade, and it’s the book I recommend to others the most.
8 – What other talents do you have outside of flow arts and organizing?
Rubik’s cubes and similar types of puzzles, cooking, reading and writing fantasy and science fiction, a little bit of coding, yoga, pickling, and chocolate.
9 – What is your favorite item to bring to a festival, besides props and basic necessities?
Interesting food, a journal for writing, and a thought-provoking book.
10 – What is some advice you could give to someone attending FLAME for the first time?
Focus on showing up with everything you need. Finding the balance between underpacking and overpacking might take a while, but showing up with plenty of supplies, food, water, clothes, and props will let you relax and focus on enjoying the event. Also, get involved! Seeing the event from the attendee side is great, and volunteering allows you to see what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a great way to meet people while learning about how events come together. Plus, you help create an awesome weekend for people just like you!