The staff looks like a 5ft black pole with a center portion for hand grips and the flammable sections on the ends. Like the poi, and also like yoga, it requires precise contortion without overthinking it. I’m actually getting out of my over-calculating head, starting to let go of my intense workday and my fruitless northeast LA apartment search.
For this class we’re joined by two more, a 20-something couple. They take the classes together.
The basic staff spin starts by holding arms out in front of you at shoulder height, splaying both hands out palms up, with right on top of left and the staff positioned vertically between thumb and forefinger, also known as the basic "Butterfly" position. You then turn the staff counterclockwise and start to prepare to catch with your left hand thumb-side down, then continue in the same direction to return to another Butterfly, and keep rotating. To your audience, from a distance, it looks like you are looking at them while standing in a rotating circle of fire.
I am not great at this but I know I’ll be back. I will at some point light up, and join a diverse group. The clients range from an off-the-wall 7-year-old little boy, whose hyperactivity is quelled by his lessons with Lester, to a 70-year-old woman who's just a badass and can, according to Samantha, really work the staff.
They tell me that I will get to a point where these motions feel natural, and I will flow through them. Again, not unlike yoga. But I'm not a yogi. I'm a runner. I like pounding it out, all alone, on the trail. Preferably some dense section of Griffith Park at dawn. Sometimes I can quiet my mind, and many times I can't.