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Did you know Marvin Ong used to glowstick?

Team Nitro’s BROOMS Retreat started off as a tongue-in-cheek joke amongst Marvin’s glowsticker friends, but that joke soon snowballed into a fully fledged event. That doesn’t mean the community took the retreat as an afore-mentioned joke, if anything they took it as an opportunity. An opportunity to show not only the world, but themselves as well, that glowsticking is a legitimate performing art, they are legitimate artists, and that they belong in the flow arts & juggling communities.

Even though the roots of the arts of stringing and freehanding lay within poi and urban dances respectively, it was in the early 2000’s that the glowstick culture seeked to separate themselves from their roots and infuse moreso with aspects of the late ’90s American rave culture. The glowsticking community in America spent years evolving ideas, developing styles, and establishing cultural beliefs. The community also fought aggressively with itself over principles and ethics about what is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and what is expected of you as a glowsticker. They created regional meetups, workshops in major cities, and would all meet up once a year to celebrate with the “Ultra Circle”. All of this was done while fighting the stereotype that a glowsticker is just ‘some raver’ or a ‘druggie’ or an ‘e-tard’.

As mainstream media flocked towards the EDM and festival culture in the late 2000’s, the glowsticking community seemed to have dimmed and died out, much like their prop itself. The self-destruction was based on regional differences in what a glowsticking community can and cannot do, should and should not be, and with the mainstream media gazing deeply into the rave culture looking for something to sacrifice for profit, they hid. As time moved forward other props even adopted LED based variations, but glowsticking still remained stubborn, still suffering from in-fighting within the community. The community still managed occasional smaller gatherings, but was nothing of its former glory. Many other flow prop communities still held strong to stereotypes towards the Glow culture in that anything rave related equated to disdain and disgust.

It wasn’t until Marvin, a former glowsticker, offered a platform to reunite the community at MOPS. The glowstick community was slowly but inevitably embraced, even becoming one of the main features of the MOPS retreat by re-introducing the ‘ultra circle’. Without that opportunity, BROOMS, the unofficial sister-retreat, would not exist. BROOMS seeks to unify and strengthen the glowsticking community by connecting the legendary contributors from the foundational years of glowsticking to the new waves of young upcoming performers. But most importantly, BROOMS seeks to craft a sense of family out of this rag-tag collection of glow artists. The Glow arts still have so much to offer and share with the other fellow prop communities. I hope this film helps to build bridges between us all so we can one day view each other as equals in the flow arts.

-Aaron Bourland

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