Samoa’s iconic Fire Dance culture!

If there is anything that is iconic for Samoa, it is the culture of the fire dance. This was one of my favorite things to watch while in Samoa. I just loved to watch these guys throw around fire knifes ablazed!

It has a deep history in Samoa and they start competing in the art as early as age six. I actually met a world champion that was 10 years ago. His father was doing it professionally in Hawaii. Pretty bad ass kid, let me tell you!


The concept of the dance dates back cultures but it was not until an American Samoa living in San Francisco got an idea from an Indian “fire eater” that the fire dance was actually realized.

Here is the dance in operation. It is quite cool if you ask me.

How the Fire Dance become so popular?

The person to figure it all out was Freddie Letuli. He was a performer showcasing Polynesian culture all over the United States. He developed the art of the fire dance after some failures.

Some time later, Governor H. Rex Lee of American Samoa, talked Letuli to return to American Samoa and train the young men in the art. He would teach at a local school as well. Some time later, he would lead the Department of Tourism as he developed the concept of the fire dance internationally.


He said the following about it in his book, Flaming Sword of Samoa: The Story of the Fire Knife Dance,

I did not dream that the fire knife dance would become so widespread, nor that so many people with such diverse backgrounds would pursue the Samoan Fire Knife Dance.

Samoan fire dancer

Try and catch it in action

Today, the art is much more popular in Samoa than in American Samoa. In fact, Samoa has regular competition for it. I happen to be in the country when they have the youth trails. It is really cool to watch the youngster play with fire. Sorry, I didn’t try it myself 🙂

There is a fire dance show somewhere in Apia about every weekend. I have been to several of them at Aggie Grey’s Hotel and one at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel. Most resort have the event at least one a week.


Most of the shows include a meal included in the price. I believe the price at Aggie Grey’s was $25 USD. It featured a buffet meal of Samoan food and it was very well done. I highly recommend it.

Here is some highlights from the Championships in Hawaii.




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