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What Is Glowsticking?

a man performs glowsticking next to a river
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Glowsticking is a form of dance where the performer uses glow sticks, or LED sticks to enhance their performance. Think of fire eating, ribbon dancing or poi but with glow sticks.

There are two different types of glowsticking, stringed or non-stringed.

Stringed Glowsticking

Stringed glowsticking is where the performer dances with a glow stick or glow sticks attached to strings, allowing a wider range of movement and expression. The wide range of movements, styles and concepts have a lot in common with other arts that involve stringing, such as yo-yoing, martial arts and rope darts which are all performed with an instrument at the end of a string. Some people use handles to greater increase the range of movement available.

One of the trickiest things to learn if you get into stringed glowsticking is how to tie your strings. This video tutorial goes into more depth about how to get it right.

Freehand Glowsticking

Freehand glowsticking can often be confused with things like juggling. But if someone chose to juggle with glow sticks you may be tempted to call it glowsticking – but that wouldn’t be correct. Only when glow sticks relate to dancing, is the act considered to be glow sticking. Freehand glowsticking doesn’t involve strings and there are lots of movements and concepts involved in the art. Terms you might come across in relation to freehand glowsticking are:

  • Tracing (where the person runs the glow sticks along their body)
  • Taps
  • Tossing
  • Stalls
  • Threading
  • Figure-Eight


Check out these incredible examples of glowsticking:

The History of Glowsticking

Glowsticking is said to have started out in the 80’s in New York and in the UK. In the 90’s it became more widespread and popular in the rave scene, although glow sticks were also used for glow wars many years before. Since then, it has become most common at festivals and in the electronic dance scene.

Some claim that glowsticking is the ancient cultural art of poi but with added glow sticks, suggest that glowsticking actually has roots going hundreds of years back into New Zealand history.

The truth is that glow sticking did originate from the poi art form, because those practising poi performed at raves using glow sticks and many poi moves are used. But, glow sticking purists will say there are specific movements that only come from the art form. Whilst a performer might integrate some poi techniques, glowsticking is an art form stands in its own right, with its own set of moves and rules.

The art of glow sticking continues to grow and be enjoyed by many people in many different settings and cultures. If you’re interested in learning the art yourself, you can find a lot of tips at Or simply checkout the many glowsticking videos available on Youtube, which are super fun to watch, even if you don’t fancy having a go yourself.

Buy glowsticks for glowsticking here

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