Organizations that Swish June 15, 2011

A conversation with Mykel Dicus, Chairman of The NYC Flaggers



The NYC Flaggers have lent their energy, color and spirit to the Swish float at the NYC Pride March for the past several years. I recently chatted with Mykel Dicus, the organization's chair, about the power of flagging to heal, dance-floor etiquette, and where his flags fly in his dreams. 


1) Where and how did the practice of flagging originate?


The stories vary so I will tell you how I learned it: I was introduced to it by a dancer friend who learned it from other dancers in clubs. I then took the initiative to study it from George Jagatic, who is considered the NYC Flag Daddy.  It gets passed along in the dance clubs, pride dances, etc.


2) How did the NYC Flaggers come to be?


The community of NYC Flaggers broke off from Axis Dance about 8 years ago.  There are more activities and fun available for the social flagger beyond performing.  David Gosbin started a webpage and get-togethers and then passed it on to me to lead because he moved to Palm Springs.  Now, almost 7 years later, NYC Flaggers has built an established name around performing and community flagging fun.


3) How long does it take, on average, to master the art of flagging? Are there classes you can take?


To master flagging, to really have that fabric come alive in expression, takes years and sometimes a lifetime, because it depends on what the flagger does, and how committed and willing the flagger is to break through repetition.  I see it as an instrument of expression comparable to the mastery of any art form.  I offer classes in NYC and also have given private lessons to interested people.  There are not many flaggers who teach it.


4) What does flagging symbolize for you personally?


Flagging for me symbolizes energy and when I perform with them that energy is literally seen.  Intensely magical.


5) Where do the NYC Flaggers perform?


Right now the performers of NYC Flaggers are on hiatus.  This last batch of flaggers either got burned out from America's Got Talent Season 5 or have actually gone on to create their own flagging magic in their own communities.


6) Where would your dream flagging performance take place?


My dream flagging performance would take place with a live band, a DJ, killer lighting and on the stage of Radio City Music Hall.


7) How have you observed flagging integrated into the LGBT community?


My observation with flagging and how it integrates into the LGBT community has been bittersweet.  I see the flags as a tool of healing for those who need to recover from illness, drug use and loneliness.  I also see flagging as a grand form of tribal expression at dances, in clubs and of course on parades!


8) Would it be considered inappropriate to flag using a rainbow flag or are there other aesthetic considerations?


Flags are an expression of the individual.  Many times people who need flags gravitate to colors, patterns and sizes to fit their expression. Flaggers are very protective of their cloth in social situations.  I think and feel that because they are a part of the person’s spirit, it is really invasive when a non-flagger helps themselves to a set in a dance club.  Hands off!  (Laughs.)


9) How can people learn more about the NYC Flaggers and the flagging community?


Because NYC Flaggers is going through a leadership change, and because the community at large is diverse and so dispersed I would encourage people to join the NYC FLAGGERS Facebook page.  As far as performers who want to flag, I will continue to work with flaggers who show commitment and dedication, as this caliber of flagger is a unique animal.