The evening of Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023 in Burien was a glowing parade of art and lights. This year was like last year’s in terms of location. The event went from Olde Burien and over to the library. The alley of SW 153rd was also filled with pedestrians. 

I arrived right at 7 p.m., and the Sun was just setting. There was some light remaining as some activities got started. At the Highline Heritage Museum parking lot there was body painting; kids and adults were getting shapes and creatures painted on their arms and hands. I noticed there was a dragon being painted on a child’s arm as I walked by, which echoed as a theme through other parts of the event. This theme was not intentional as far as I could tell, but a happy coincidence of inspiration. 

The dragon theme was first apparent in the display window at the Highline Heritage Museum, featuring two dragons with a black tail. These dragons were used in a type of artistic ribbon dancing called “Dragon Dreaming” by Esjay. The dragons featured in the display window were dragons born of a single obsidian stone, and they shared the same tail when they flew through the purple night sky. 

As the evening grew darker, another pair of dragons emerged. They were a dressed as black and white dragons from Portland who brought their magic to Burien. I saw them dancing around the library with other luminous creatures and self-made outfits.  On my way to the library, I saw people dressed as mushrooms, radiant fauns, and even a costume from the popular game Fortnite. 

As I walked down SW 152nd and SW 153rd Streets, I noticed the amount of participation. Besides many people dressed and illuminated, there were installations like the glowing dragon fly wings, where you could pose for a selfie. There were dancers from Momentum dance studio, a parade of light-up salmon, even a sea horse bike! This made walking the sidewalk a bit crowded, and I wondered why the street wasn’t closed due to the amount of people. 

Then I noticed a small alley where there was a blacklight Chalk Wall. People were drawing and writing on the wall with reactive colors. Other artists were painting under the blacklight, inspired by the energy around them. The Chalk Wall led back to further alley exhibits. There was a night market, with street vendors selling all sorts of things. Nearby a wall was the canvas for a projection exhibit, covered in geometric shapes moving to the sounds provided by DJ Cluster. This space was far more comfortable in terms of people. The parking lot was empty of cars and the extra room let children and adults dance around, move their arms, or spread their glowing rainbow wings. 

I walked around for a while, took in the sights, and took pictures of countless costumes and outfits covered in lights and vibrant neon. I was waiting in anticipation for the 9 p.m. show, which was the Dragon Dreamer Esjay, who would be preforming at the Highline Heritage Museum parking lot on Ambaum and SW 152nd Street. 

When the time came, there were people all around her space, some crouching, and some standing on curbs to get a better look. She had four dragons which are large fabric ribbons, and each had light in their eyes, down their tails, and seemed to vibrate with Esjay’s enthusiasm. 

The music started and the dragons flew through the night sky, twisting and swirling in the shapes Esjay imagined. She jumped and twirled, guiding the dragons. Cheers bubbled up over the crowd, and their applause encouraged Esjay to dream deeper. She took turns with each dragon, sometimes dancing with 2 at the same time. Then before her first break the black and white dragons from Portland showed up at the scene. 

They approached the dreaming dance space, and Esjay improvised around them. Both costumed dragons and dreaming dragons moved to the music. Dragons danced with dragons, light and music swirled around them, and the night truly felt like the Arts were A Glow. The improvisation was magical, effortless, and when Esjay took a break, her appreciation was as bright as the lights of the dragons. 

The evening was a pleasant night of illuminated participation from artists, first timers, and visitors from distant lands. Esjay the Dragon Dreamer has also been sighted in Georgetown and will be featured during the Normandy Park Autumn Art Fest on Sept. 17 from 1-5 p.m. at the Cove, if you wish to dream more of dancing dragons. 

Here is Esjay’s Instagram: Esjay?Powell (@esjay.the.dragon.dreamer)

More info on Burien’s annual Arts-A-Glow is here:


Below are photos from the event:


Here are some video highlights from the event, as shot/edited by Scott Schaefer with an Insta360 camera:

YouTube player

These opinions come from the years Raymond Street has served as a Normandy Park Art Commissioner, a grant writer and artist for the Mural Masters Graffiti festival, a previous Burien Art Walk organizer,...

One reply on “Art Corner: Dancing with Dragons at Burien’s Arts-A-Glow 2023”

  1. Thank you for this detailed review. I was only able to see part of the event and appreciate this coverage. The photos are great! Sorry that the video was unavailable.

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