The sixth annual Texas Flagger Weekend celebrates Old Glory with lessons in movement and tie-dying
THE HOUSE OF DYEING FLAGGERS
Flagger Weekend 6 at eXcuses, 3025 Main St., July 2 through July 5. For schedule and registration, visit FlaggerWeekend.com.
Two years ago, Britt Reat was just an onlooker. After witnessing flag dancers at area events, a seed of interest was planted in him enough to seek out just who these guys with tie-dye flags and good rhythm were.
It didn’t take him long to get hooked.
"I saw it as an interest and I found the flag community to be a very accepting environment," Reat says.
Accepting enough that eight months later, Reat was tapped to help organize his first Texas Flagger Weekend. That was last year; this week, he’s back for the sixth annual holiday event. He’ll welcome flaggers from all over the country to Dallas for a weekend of dancing, dining and dyeing. Throw in some yoga for good measure.
"It’s exciting to meet people from across the country with the same interest. We have people from California coming to teach. Other people bring new styles to the table. It’s great," he says.
Spanning four days over the July 4 weekend, organizers expect some 50 attendees this year — enough growth that they have added more classes to the schedule and more time devoted to tie-dyeing.
Beginners create their own flags from white silk. The dyeing is seen as kind of self-expression in which colors and designs correlate to the flag dancer’s style.
Event director Phillip Bryan figures the 13 hours of open dye stations throughout the weekend and the eight gallons of dye on hand should be enough for everyone.
"Dyeing is an expression of you. It’s what is inside of you," Bryan says. People lean toward colors that reflect their personality. "People want fiery colors so we have oranges and reds, they want loud colors so we have purples and blues. We had some leather guys who wanted masculine colors and so we even had some browns and blacks."
Reat mentions that every person at Flagger Weekend will design his or her own flag, almost as a rite of passage, hence the importance of the dyeing process.
In flag creation, the folding is just as important; Bryan displays a slew of flags in different tie-dye patterns. In addition to the usual Jerry Garcia-type patterns, he holds some beautifully striped designs with lush colors. He pulls out one flag that had been dyed and folded to result in a yin-yang symbol.
His notebook (guess what the cover looks like?) is filled with designs inspired by nature and sketches of architectural patterns.
Clearly, flagging isn’t just about the guy in the corner of the dance floor.
A quick demonstration shows that some flicks of the wrist followed by some fluid body movement can create a sensational image. Reat has a long reach, so flags flow so high over his body, the Navy could be envious.
Bryan’s two blue flags take on a life of their own as they flutter about, caressing him like playful butterflies. Flagging is a performance art that mixes rhythmic gymnastics with a complete awareness of body movement. Fortunately, a couple of yoga classes could come in quite handy for that.
Two sessions of gentle yoga and meditation are presented Friday and Saturday and are taught by an out-of-town friend of Bryan. Bryan says the yoga can get one in touch with their body, as they are about to take on a day of movement.
The idea that they work slowly into the day, which most likely ends with a dance at night, is a healthy physical approach for the body.
Because flagging — or "flow art" — is about movement, classes in movement are presented in the afternoon. Titled "Moving Beyond Technique," the purpose is to break habits that are holding your flagging potential back.
"Everyone plateaus at their art. There is that point where people stop," Bryan says. These classes are set to raise people away from their plateau and beat habits that are locking them into dance or movement that isn’t quite right.
Although it sounds like boot camp, both men stress it’s a fun weekend.
"You are enjoying yourself with this self-expression. People can underestimate the challenges that come with it. People want to try it and they get the flag wrapped around their neck but it’s fun," Reat says.
Everyone will have his or her Susan Boyle moment. After all the dyeing is dyed, the workshops worked and the dances danced, the event culminates into Sunday’s SpinOut Showcase where each attendee gets their time in the strobe light.
Budding flaggers pick their music, coordinate their outfits (hopefully they’ll match the flag to some point) and wave their hearts and wrists away. The Tea Dance, a seldom seen event in Dallas, will wrap up Flagger Weekend before the Monday workday. But people will likely be changed. Reat was.
He went into flagging with just some sparked interest but came out an artist.
"It’s great satisfaction. It is the self-expression of my artistic side. I see it as an artistry in motion," he says. "I feel good when I’m doing it."
"Everyone has an artist inside of them," Bryan says.