10 Questions with Jess Mardini

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.

With Kinetic Fire just a few weeks away, we sat down with one of their Directors, Jess Mardini, and asked her our burning questions.

1 – What brought you into the flow arts?

I was an avid raver for a few years when I went to Underground Sound in Illinois, a weekend-long camp out event. I had seen people spin glowsticks and fire before and had thought it was neat, but had never really been interested in learning. The St. Louis Fire Technicians were doing the fire shows at the event that weekend. I watched them perform and fell in love with the beautiful fire patterns. I picked up glowsticks on strings that night in 2007 and have been spinning ever since. I went to my first flow festival, Snow Flow, in 2011 and found out there was a whole community of people eager to learn and spin, which prompted me to seek out more events to attend.

2 – What props do you manipulate?

I spin a little bit of everything except for rope dart and meteor, nor do I breathe fire. But really, fans are the flow love of my life and pretty much the one thing I spend a significant amount of time on. I can easily say fans have been one of the most influential things to have ever come into my life and I’m forever grateful to have them.

3 – Why did you decide to become an organizer?

I love to lead and organize in general, so when I started attending festivals I was interested in volunteering to help out the event. The first year of So Ill was my first official “org” position and it has expanded since then. I love to see the smiles on people’s faces when they’re having a blast at an event.

4 – Take us behind the scenes. What is a typical day like in the life of an organizer during the festival?

My departments with Kinetic focus a lot on the infrastructure and grounds. On Wednesday, before the festival opens, our day is filled with setting up the infrastructure to the festival. Once the tents get placed, we mark out the fire circle and start to build around it. We erect the RIFT domes, decorate the Kinetic tunnel, run power and lights to the entire grounds, decorate the music and gala tent, place the signs for the workshop areas, and place trash and recycling bins around the grounds. My team is a group of the some of the most hardworking and dedicated individuals I’ve had the fortune to work with, and they are amazing!

5 – What is your favorite class you have ever taken at a festival and who taught it?

I would probably say Grimm’s fan class at the very first flow festival I ever went to. Although I didn’t pick up fans at that point, it was the starting point of my interest in diving into the flow community.

6 – If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Plantains! They can be sweet (platanos maduros) or salty (tostones) depending on their ripeness! They also make great chips! But really, I wish the powers that be would come out with a drink or pill I could just eat that sufficed for all nutritional needs (no, Soylent is not a full replacement). Then food would be a treat and I would save tons of time and money!

7 – What book, film, or TV show has influenced your life the most?

Book: Bridge to Terabithia in the third grade. My teacher started reading it aloud it class one chapter at a time and after the first chapter, I went straight to the library to check it out. I finished the book that night and bawled my eyes out. I realized how much I loved a good story and how invested I was in these alternate realities. It shows in my love of playing tabletop games and reading and watching fantastical stories.

Film: SLC Punk, which I first saw in high school, but which really affected me after I finished undergrad. I had always entertained the idea of going to law school, but being young and idealistic, I didn’t want to “give into the man”. I remember watching this movie and realizing what Stevo had meant when he said if you want to institute a change, “you can do a hell of a lot more damage in the system, than outside of it.” If you want to see something better, then get motivated, get involved, and make a positive impact.

TV Show: I Love Lucy, which I watched with my mom all the time as a child. I try to remember to not take myself too seriously and have a good sense of humor about myself and life.

8 – What other talents do you have outside of flow arts and organizing?

I survived law school, I can make an origami crane out of pretty much any paper (in a wide array of sizes), I can sing a rap about the first six presidents in chronological order, and I make the best banana pudding ever. (Thanks, Mom!)

9 – What is your favorite item to bring to a festival, besides props and basic necessities?

My Hello Kitty ears.

10 – What is some advice you could give to someone attending Kinetic for the first time?

Pack for every weather imaginable from Arctic cold to Sahara hot. Get some really good waterproof boots. Don’t forget to bring a towel!

See y’all at Kinetic

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