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The art of flagging dance, often called flag spinning, flag dancing, or rag spinning, but more commonly referred to as flagging, is the undulation, spinning and waving of flags in a rhythmic fashion to music. Practitioners of this form of performance art and dance are usually referred to as "flaggers" and "flag dancers", though until the 1990s this mostly referred to those waving flags to aid transportation professions (flag semaphore).
The added weights to the otherwise loose fabric made it possible for the new flaggers to spin and move the fabric through the air in ways similar to fan dancing, but with the added maneuverability of a very flexible material. Flags used by these new flaggers can be of almost any fabric, but silk, organza and lamé are preponderant, with silk being the most favored. Silk flags are usually dyed in vibrant, ultraviolet fluorescent colors, creating an almost hypnotic spectacle when waved rhythmically to music.
Flagger groups formed in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the late 1990s, and were often part of the backdrop of the circuit party events mostly attended by gay men. These were soon followed by the formation of troupes in Minneapolis, Seattle, and Houston in the United States, and in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Of these, two operate today as choreographed performance troupes, similar to dance troupes: Axis Danz, founded in New York in 1998 by George Jagatic, and in Texas, the Flyboys of Flag Troupe Houston, founded in 2002.
Performances and conferences have begun forming in various cities, including New York, San Francisco and Dallas. Conferences and workshops happened in 2 or 3 full day events, and taught various techniques from beginner to advanced. A short list of leaders in the community often traveled to most or all of the events, becoming known internationally as contemporary instructors in Flag Dancing.
The annual SpinOut event in San Franscisco includes a series of flagger performances.
The annual Texas Flagger Weekend ran from 2003 - 2009. The event consisted of growing number of flaggers from around the world, peaking in 2008 with 80+ participants. The event had various tracks, from beginners to advanced. In later years, the Weekend expanded to include multiple tracks, a circuit party and a SpinOut performance of their own, inspired by the San Francisco events. The Texas Flagger Weekend was founded by Patric Nast and Phillip Bryan in Dallas in 2003.
In San Francisco, a monthly event called Flagging In The Park is held one Saturday or Sunday during the months between May-Oct. at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. A live DJ spins tunes and money is raised for charity during the event. Flaggers, Fanner, Poi, Pole and Hoop dancers are all invited to the event.
- Genre Magazine, June 2004
- New York Blade, February 6, 2004
- Edge Magazine, review of Flow Affair documentary by Jim Hauk, August 3, 2011.
- Flow Affair; Flagging, Fanning, Poi and Floguing Dance documentary