Fire Dance with Me
Sunny Shokrae is back with another dispatch from the lesser-seen side of Asia. This time she shows us the world of Thai fire dancing.
People call Ko Phi Phi Don “Rave Island.” Located in Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands, it’s a place to lose yourself in buckets of alcohol and wake up with bamboo-stick tattoos administered by untrustworthy Australian transplants. Shake it off, and find your way over to Phi Phi Leh, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach was filmed there). Once you come out of your splendor-induced haze, you’ll discover the insane nightly fire shows on the beach, featuring jacked Thai guys doing crazy shit with flaming torches. It’s totally memorizing. I caught up with four of them.
Narin Lamnga, 25: Moved to the island at 19, went on an army hiatus from 21-23, came back a couple years ago and started fire dancing again. Plans to move to Australia to study landscaping.
Attapon (aka Bill), 25: Came to the island via Bangkok where he was helping his dad with a business. Learned fire show techniques when he was 14 and decided to stay on the island and enjoy his independence.
Baw, 25: From southern Thailand, he came to the island because his brother lived there. He says girls call him a sexy guy because of fire dancing, and he digs that.
Milo, 19: From Bangkok, he’s been there for three years. Sixteen years ago, he saw his first fire show and decided that’s what he wanted to do. He says when he's old he might move back to Bangkok, but for now, he’s happy at Ko Phi Phi.
Sunny Shokrae is a New-York based photographer. When she was young her Iranian family always laughed about how she wanted to be a photographer, but now she can laugh at them back. Her work, according to critic Kelley Hoffman, is "nostalgic for the now, for all its complex nuances, it is made from, and for, a new global community, celebrating the lovers of beauty, the kind at heart, and the debaucherous in spirit.”
See more of Sunny's dispatches from East and South East Asia here.