Ever wish you could quit your job and travel the world doing what you love? I fantasized about it for years. My name is Lemuel Sison, aka Shaman; and after a near-death-induced epiphany, I realized that life was too short not to. Around the same time, I found myself freezing in line for a Halloween warehouse rave, where I bought my first pair of glow gloves from a sketchy van in the parking lot to keep warm. Little did I know the impact it would have on my life, changing its course forever.
Years ago, I was on the path to ‘success’, as mapped out by the system. Go to school, get good grades, get a career, buy a house, etc. That works for most people, but the further I got along that path, the more I felt it wasn’t for me. Enter Gloving. The lights ignited a fire within like nothing before. It gave me an outlet for expression, boosted my self-esteem and helped me get over my social anxiety to meet people and form instant connections. Above all, it gave me the ability to make someone smile by doing something that I love, and that is a powerful thing that I wanted to share with the world.
Gloving was the spark I needed to take the leap off the proverbial cliff, out of my comfort zone and into a sea of possibilities. I had this semi-ridiculous faith that if I lost all my money and had nowhere to sleep that I would be ok as long as I had my gloves on me.
So a year and a half ago, I sold all my stuff, packed a bag that was 1/2 full of whites, batteries, and camera equipment, and set out on an epic odyssey that would take me across 3 oceans, 5 countries, 34 cities, and leave hundreds of melted faces in my wake. Here’s a quick rundown of my adventure, glovetrotting through Southeast Asia!
First stop: Manila, Philippines
I went to the Philippines with the intention of being the first Glover there and stake my claim to fame by becoming some sort of famous & mysterious light sorcerer. Little did I know that there was a small but passionate movement of light show artists already making waves in the burgeoning EDM scene!
I linked up with them when I got there and was accepted immediately. They brought me out to events (and got me in for free most of the time), put together lab sessions, and became my second family while I was out there. Although there was this small light show presence, the majority of people I came across had never even heard of Gloving before. As many of you know, there are few things in life more satisfying than giving someone their first light show and Southeast Asia is a buffet of cherries to be popped.
When traveling, you never know when you’ll have the chance to give a light show, so my bag perpetually contained a portable speaker and my gloves. I gave lightshows anywhere and everywhere, at the places I volunteered at, to mountain hill tribes, inside foreign malls, and out on the streets. I went to as many places as I could to try and unchain gloving from its association with drug use.
You don’t need drugs to enjoy a light show, just like you don’t need drugs to appreciate art. 90% sure these kids were not on drugs when I gave them their first show at the New Years Eve Celebration at Mall of Asia:
Everything was going well and Gloving was gaining traction until events and clubs suddenly began banning gloves. It was reminiscent of the Gloving ban that happened in California circa 2011, and the community was quick to rally against the ban with educational, heartfelt open letters to organizers and videos with the use of the hashtag we know too well, #GlovingIsNotACrime.
It got the attention of the right people, and soon we were being invited to glove at events again and were given a couple of opportunities to showcase Gloving on stage in front of 40 thousand people, with a custom Gloving visualizer popping off behind us on the jumbotron. We even got featured on national TV for the long-running educational show, “Matanglawin” on an episode about LED lights.
I volunteered for a while at the Department of Welfare and Development, which was something like a municipal orphanage. I taught the kids to dance twice a week and they got to practice their English with me. Little did they know, they were learning how to glove! Special shoutout to Dio Javier of Luminescence and Mark Morales of Urban Rave Gear
From The Land Of The Rising Sun
After leaving Manila, I started my trek throughout the rest of Asia. I only stayed in Japan for a week but was able to film at some cool locations such as Osaka’s Dotonbori District (famous for its street food), where the gloves drew many curious onlookers, though everyone was too polite to approach me for a show. From there I traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand where I had my first street performer experience when I was invited to perform with some locals at Tha Phae Gate, giving shows to the sounds of a live didgeridoo band jamming out in the background. I also volunteered as a teacher for refugee youth in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I taught English, Math, Music, and of course, Gloving:
To Flow Festivals in Cambodia (What can Koh Rong?)
I was then invited to represent and teach some workshops on gloving at the International Freeflow Fire & Arts Festival, on the beautiful island of Koh Rong, Cambodia. Flow artists from all over the world converged on the tiny island, most of whom were unfamiliar with gloving. I was more than happy to show them what it was about.
I gave out a multitude of lightshows and finger shows throughout the 10-day festival, and it was met with blown minds and melted faces who were eager to learn the art. A special moment was when one of the free flowers approached me after watching me give a show and told me “I came here to watch and learn how to spin fire, but if I’m being honest, I find what you do to be the most beautiful and inspiring. Your shows are so personalized and intimate, and I love that you are sharing it with as many people as you can.”
This was just further affirmation about why I glove and why I will keep gloving for as long as my hands can finger roll. This video was taken on a beach in Koh Rong in front of a magnificent sunset, fire spinners, and live guitar playing in the background:
I began writing this from a secluded beach in Cambodia and I’m currently proofreading the final edit from Toronto, Canada where I’ll continue to spread the art of gloving with the Toronto Gloving Community for at least a couple of months. Beyond that is still a mystery. Maybe I’ll do another gloving tour, Anyone wanna join? (serious question)
You don’t need to cross oceans to share gloving with the world. Take your gloves and a portable speaker with you everywhere you go and give lightshows every chance you get. This trip has convinced me that that this art is a gift meant to be shared with everyone – young and old, black and white, religious and atheists, whatever you may be. It’s a beautiful thing, and the world is made better for every light show shared.
You can follow my glovetrotting adventures in more depth on my social media:
Written by: Lem Sizzle aka [FFM][phL] Shaman