Far and away the most commonly asked question among new fan spinners is “What kind of grip should I get?”
While fans have been used in dance ceremonies for thousands of years (dating back to at least 3100 B.C. in China, Egypt & Japan), today the prospective fan spinner is positively spoiled regarding grip choice… which begs the real question: “Which grip is right for me?”
Selecting your grip is a process that requires some careful consideration and thought about what you want out of your fan spinning. In a world full of exciting props, fans can add a level of sass and sophistication to the grimiest back-alley street performance just as easily as they can shock and titillate a crowd of refined theater-goers with a dramatic flick of the wrist. Just how you plan on accessing that dramatic flair is about asking yourself a few questions .
A) How familiar am I with fans?
If you are just starting out and have no fan vocabulary or experience, you’re going to want to stick to even rounded grips, meaning a grip with a smooth curve on a fan where the weight is evenly distributed throughout the blade. While transitioning from a curved grip to a different grip may seem challenging, building a core understanding of fundamentals is more important at the beginning, and it’s the smooth, radial design that helps supplement a lack of training with even lines and clean planes.
B) What do I like about fans?
What spoke to you about this prop? Who are your favorite fan spinners and why? This lets you know how you want to look when spinning, which gives you a great first step in selecting your grips.
The Grip Breakdown
The Russian grip is a simple ring designed for use of the entire hand. The chief benefits here are fluidity and consistency right out of the gate. No matter your skill level, these grips allow for the most seamlessly smooth grip changes and plane transitions at every level of play. While the advent of typing and texting has given the average spinner a lot more digital dexterity than our forebears, spinning from the wrists, elbows, and shoulders is crucial, and this is highlighted by perfect simplicity of this grip. If you seek the romantic, dance-oriented playfulness and fluidity of movement that fans offer, the buck stops here.
This is the gold-standard for American tech fan spinning today. Many potential fans spinners fail to connect with big-ring or flat-handle grips due to any number of reasons. The Doodle grip approaches the smooth, radial design of grip differently by giving you many different options for finger placement. Regardless of which part of your hand you are most comfortable with, you will be able to find a comfortable, reliable grip, which allows for extremely dynamic grip changing on the fly. This rapid-fire accessibility to all styles of fan-play at a moment’s notice is what puts the Doodle grip above other American tech grips in terms of accessibility.
This grip allows for someone who wants the most immediate control and direct1ion over their fan possible. While the other grips require a strong intuition towards momentum, plane control, or both, these grips allow the user to lock the fan in place by creating ample space for the hand and braking the momentum using a handle. These grips help you focus on positioning and footwork, because your fans are not going anywhere when you have your hands locked in.
The Pistol Grip is the high-end, luxury sedan of technical-fan spinning. Whether you are a seasoned prop manipulator and performer or the hybrid intricacies of the fan have opened your mind to the endless possibilities, this grip is key for ultimate technical precision. The pistol grip functions like a cog in the machine of your hand, its large counterweight ring resting in your palm while your hand fills in the nooks and crannies. Once you learn to compensate for the non-radial design, the precision in grip it offers is truly second to none. While the Doodle or Flat-Bar grips allow for strong grips, the minimalistic design of the Pistol provides more coverage over the grip by your hand, which allows for maximum control.
Taking the hybrid nature of fans to the next level, the folding fan offers the most dynamic possibilities available to a fan spinner. By changing the shape and dimension of your prop on the fly, you are capable of moving between fan and club movements and patterns, as well as adding the organic visual effect of opening and closing the fans. If you want to add a truly dramatic flair to your tech chops or you want to wow the theatre patrons with an emotional display that looks almost alive, folding fans are waiting for you.
Maybe you want to go for a grip I haven’t mentioned, and to you I wish the best of luck! Finding the grip that can be right for you is crucial to understanding your prop, and no-one can make the choice for you. The grips I’ve mentioned here work for many people, perhaps even most, but ultimately the best advice is to go out and experiment with as many types of fans as you can before making your choice.