DeAnn DeLuna: Inside The Hoop

deluna DeAnn DeLuna recently entered her 50th year of living and for more than three decades of these years she’s spent her life hooping. From television appearances at the age of 18 to live performances all over the map, DeAnn DeLuna is truly a hooping icon. Winner of the World Hula Hoop Championships in 1974, this hula hooping pacifist’s background also includes teaching literature and history to college undergrads at Johns Hopkins University and The New School in Manhattan. A day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t take time out to spend some quality time inside the hoop, or in her case, inside quite a few. What is her story and what has it been like to have spent so many years in the spin? It’s time to find out as we interview DeAnn DeLuna, our Hooper of the Week!

deluna We asked DeAnn how it feels to be hooping at 50. She told, “Let me put it this way. I am a Sagittarian who truly feels positive about my mature age on one hand. On the other I feel nostalgic in longing ways at times. That is, I want to turn the clock back. I grew up and started hooping when the ferment from the high Sixties had not yet retreated so much. What I like about that era are two wonderful legacies that I think it left, and which are of paramount importance these days. One is the drive and determination to secure world peace, and the other is the concern with appreciating, which implies conserving, the environment. These two agendas were conflated in the rallying cry ‘Flower Power!’, I think.”

DeLuna spent those formative years growing up in Los Angeles, California. We asked her about her life growing up hooping. She said, “We lived very close to the airport then and it was noisy being right by LAX, but I could watch the planes take off, and this worked on my imagination in that it I believe it inspired me to have a sense of transcendent possibility, that we can venture beyond our confines in life. I think being near the Pacific Ocean had the same effect as well. In grade school I was almost on my way to hooping, it seems, because I found that I liked sports and activities that involved fun props and instruments: baton, roller-skating, flag cheerleading, volleyball, gymnastics at the balance-beam. I got into hooping when I was around 10 years old. At first it was a loner sport, in my case. My mother bought me a hoop for my birthday. And then there I was, consuming my days out in the front-yard trying to exploit its possibilities.”

deluna What was her first hooping experience like? DeAnn explained, “My childhood home was also on a busy street and I can remember that first day struggling to keep my birthday hoop going around my hips in my frontyard while rush-hour traffic whooshed by. But in time I made progress. One of the stimulus’ to my life in hooping was the enthusiastic car-honks I received. And in more time I had proceeded to hoop-tricks, and had acquired more hoops and could spin those simultaneously.”

Currently living in London, England, we asked her about the past several months she has spent living abroad. She responded, “It has been a pleasure. I like the internationality of the city, more than anything else. One consistent thread in my existence has been a fascination with communication and its means. In London I enjoy listening to the sounds of a myriad of languages. Hooping is all about communicating too, I would add here. And while I keep on hooping in my new environment, I would also like to learn new spoken languages, ancient as well as modern. I am doing research here in political history, aiming to produce a book. This venture goes back to my pacifist concern. My topic is how in England in the seventeenth century, chronic blood-feuds in the provinces were put down through the formation of centralized government. My idea is that, if we can learn how this was done, then we can see a way to eradicating armed conflict between nation-states through the formation of a larger entity for de-legitimizing that violence.”

What has it been like hooping for more than three decades? Deann said, “It has been fun and uplifting the whole way through. And I look forward to more decades to come. The other day I noticed that at a park-square I live near there was a crowd out enjoying the green oasis, but no hoops in sight. There were roller-bladers, lovers reading side by side, and kids with soccer-balls. I went out and spiked the setting with a hoop from my flat, leaving it for whoever to retrieve. Back in my unit looking out, I was surprised to watch a teenage girl take it up and spin it on her knees, then pass it to her friends to see what they could do. Hooping brings people together and I say that as a veteran!”

deluna How often does DeAnn hoop? She explained, “I hoop daily and fanatically. No one has ever accused me of being a moderate in most things. I tend to go to extremes. With hooping this does not necessarily mean monotony, though. It can, as when I will not quit trying to work up a new trick. But overall, the variety of hooping moves to be enjoyed daily is astounding. I almost always hoop inside, but I have stopped worrying about knocking over lamps, scuffing walls, knocking over cups of tea. It is all worth it. In the future I would like to experiment with hooping outdoors every day.”

We asked DeAnn to share with a couple of her favorite hooping memories. She told us, “I can remember flying to Toronto at age 18 to perform with my hoops on a popular children’s TV show. I had my stash of some forty hoops on this occasion, and as a result almost never got out of Customs at the airport. I was quizzed not only as to why I would bring so many hoops, but also on the genre of my performance. What was it exactly I was going to do with them? The officials would not let go of this question. I explained that I had a hoop routine of over a couple of minutes, performed to music, and consisting of tricks and, finally, controlling some 30 hoops on my body simultaneously. Now, what I secretly knew after some while was that a number of the officials had simply become intrigued with the hoop performance I was describing. They did not ask for a demonstration, however. For this would have been out-of-bounds for them. I liked this Canadian trip because I was able to connect as a hooper in a major way both on the children’s TV show and among these airport officials.”

deluna She continued, “Another memory I have has to do with performing with my hoops in Las Vegas. The gig was at the MGM and I was dead-set on doing a trick that in practice I bungled almost every time. It was passing the hoop from my neck to my foot. There was no reason that I needed to include this trick in the routine, other than that I stubbornly wanted to. Of course when it came down to it I mis-executed the trick. But in practice I had started to minimize the disaster by vogueing just when the hoop flew out from my control. And so I posed during the performance that counted, and went on to finish the routine in good form. Just afterwards, it happened that a few different people in the audience, who had received complimentary hoops, started vogueing with their hoops as they were leaving. I had started a phenomenon, really, and so unintentionally. You never know!”

Does she have a favorite hoop? She said, “I do. I have a hoop decorated with lady-bug stickers, which is really cute. The hoop is a pink Barbie-doll one from the old days. It is my favorite hoop because for me its theme is springtime. It is a small-size hoop. I use it as a trick-hoop. Spring is a glorious season with everyone’s juices flowing and all the good energy and in this case the ladybugs, my motions, and the pink colors all fit right in.” And what music is her favorite to hoop to? “I enjoy hooping to campy music from way back, and on the off-beat side: “Tequila”, “The Purple-People Eater”, “The Twist” as well as more contemporary songs.”

What quality does DeAnn most admire in a hooper? She said, “The quality I most admire in a hooper is the determination to assert one’s own style and creativity. I think this individualistic approach is attractive and even nicely contagious. It means following your own instincts and models. Expressing uniqueness really. Hooping is an art, after all. Let it go, be yourself. Or rather fashion yourself as you please. Please realize that hooping styles differ enormously, and that it is always best to consult your own tastes, talents, and inclinations as you develop in the art.” So what does she see as being her most marked hooping characteristic? “It would have to be the slow and controlled style in which I perform my moves. I have sought a style that seems almost as though I am performing in slow-motion. My maneuvers are at each moment as if laid out for inspection. I try to make it all look easy.”

In closing, we asked if DeAnn has any advice for hoopers. She revealed, “Please know that time is on your side when it comes to mastering difficult moves. It can be frustrating if you cannot learn difficult maneuvers as fast as you would like. Some setbacks come from proceeding by mindless repetition. It is visualization and thinking through the move which can be most beneficial. And a good time for this is when you are most relaxed, say before going to sleep or when you are just awaking in the morning. That is, when you are not in motion with the hoops, in creative downtime, as it were.”


5 comments for “DeAnn DeLuna: Inside The Hoop

  1. 1977 National Hula Hoop Champion
    June 16, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    DeAnn it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you or heard of hula hooping. This is Carl Cook from 1977 I was trained by Beva Lawrence along with Joann Barnes send me a e.mail

    • January 11, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Hey, Carl and DeAnn – great to see you both online. Hope you (and the others we know) are still out there, still doing well. (Mat Plendl (1975 World Champion) pointed me at this article, by the way.) Best wishes, Melody

  2. Matt
    July 18, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Hi DeAnn,
    I first saw you on Let’s Make a Deal in 1974. I was 9 years old then. After seeing your talent, and quite frankly how cute you were, I had a huge crush on you that year. I still remembered your performance when I saw it a couple months ago for the second time on the Game Show Network. Geesh, 35 years later! I’m amazed you are still hooping even now. Talk about commitment!!…. Yay for you for doing so well through the years.
    Sincerely, Matt

  3. Ted Blumberg
    April 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Seeing you hooping brings back memories of “Tijuana Taxi!” You look great!

  4. Michael E. Dunn
    August 21, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Trying to help your mom and Rosalie. Someday we should speak. Your mom &/or Rosalie have my contact information. Be well.

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