If you live near Palmer Square Park, chances are you’ve seen a gaggle of 20-somethings playing with hula hoops and juggling clubs with tacos in hand. If you’re like me, you’ve always wondered what the hell is going on but have been too shy to stop by and ask. Well, I finally did, and what I found is a close-knit group of performers, artists and rascals alike gathering for Taco Tuesday Flow Jam.
Taco Tuesday is a weekly event open to seasoned flow artists or curious newcomers who happened across the Facebook event. For those of you who don’t know what “flow arts” is, here’s the definition from the organizer of the event, Austen Cloud.
“[It’s] a term that describes a wide variety of movement arts, usually but not always including the manipulation of a prop,” said Cloud.
Some flow art practices include contact juggling, the spinning of hula hoops, staffs, batons and poi (balls, often containing colorful LED lights, attached to strings), fire spinning (spinning a staff with one or both ends lit on fire), gloving (moving your fingers while wearing gloves with LED lights embedded in the fingertips), ribbon twirling, and sometimes even yoga or interpretive dance.
Most people encounter flow arts for the first time in the rave/electronic or festival scene, and although flow art has its roots in that community, the practice goes beyond parties and nightlife. Cloud explained that many people he has gotten to know appreciate flow for its therapeutic nature. Flowing earned its name because an established artist can achieve a state of flow in whatever their medium is.
Taco Tuesday was initially created by Kimchee Clownstar, a professional flow artist who had just returned to Chicago after a lengthy tour across the country. She was living off food stamps and seeking community, so she made one herself.
Three years later, Taco Tuesday has become a happening event in Chicago’s Flow scene. At the group’s most recent gathering on June 18, close to 40 people gathered on an unusually warm and sunny day. Hammocks were pitched in trees, props of all kinds were strewn across the grass and three speakers enclosed a chunk of the park with house or mellow, genre-bending “indie” music.
As I mingled, I found that most of the group were long-time attendees, many of which are friends with either Clownstar or Cloud. Some however, recently stumbled across the event and were diving into the scene.
Although Taco Tuesday is chock-full of talented artists and performers, the environment was encouraging and inviting. Groups juggled and meditated together, shared props, and taught newcomers some basic tricks. Clownstar even showed me the basics to spinning poi with a prop made with tiny stuffed deer.
The environment is probably the best part about Taco Tuesday. No matter your background, you’re welcome to join. Every person I came across was willing to show me the ropes, share their drinks and props and talk like old friends. Clownstar also reminded me that anyone who comes by has the chance to learn about flowing from the best artists in Chicago for free, an obvious perk that gets overlooked.
Taco Tuesday lives by the motto, “a celebration of flow arts, food, and community,” something that definitely upholds at their weekly event. If you’re looking to find a new passion or make new friends in the Logan Square area, stop by Palmer Park Tuesday (tonight) and make sure to leave a dollar in the taco fund jar.
Featured photo courtesy Austen Cloud