So, What Exactly is Hooping Again?

Hooping in 2003 Ok, we admit it. Sometimes we’re not exactly sure what hooping is anymore either. Are you? When began in April of 2003 we defined the word as “a term for hula hooping with large customized hoops.” Hoopalicious had begun pioneering this new phenomenon only a few years earlier, taking the larger hoops that had begun appearing at String Cheese Incident shows to the streets and clubs of Los Angeles. Jason Strauss, who followed many jam bands including String Cheese, put the instructions for making your own hoop online. Others were beginning to figure things out for themselves in other cities as well, and when Jason handed me this great big hoop at a party for the first time, those of us who were hooping back then all had some things in common. Our hoops were hand made from black polyethylene irrigation tubing, and they were larger and heavier than anything the world had seen before. The extra space inside the circle gave us room to dance too. We cranked our music of choice and you could find us all hooping, mostly just on our waists, for hours on end.

Those that still had their hands on an original Wham-o style 1950’s hoop would occasionally write to complain about our definition. “Are we not hoopers too? What kind of elitists are you trying to be anyway?” From the beginning, our definition was never really meant to be exclusionary, but simply addressed our need for new language. When we told our friends and family that we’d discovered “hooping” it helped to differentiate that this was something new and different. Dropping the “hula” facilitated that – and saved a lot of us from being threatened with trademark lawsuits (I’m not joking). “Your toy store hoops will never do,” we exclaimed. And yet now, several years later, you’ve probably seen a hooper here on rocking it out with a hoop that isn’t any different in size than the ones we originally weren’t favoring at all. So what is this thing called “hooping” again exactly?

If you’ve been reading over the years, you’ve undoubtedly seen an increase in articles, videos and photos here that don’t exactly subscribe to our definition. The longer we’ve all hooped, the more we’ve all revolved, and tangents have evolved for some in a veritable litany of directions. Some have taken to using twins (two smaller hoops of the same size) or minis (really small hoops used for poi-style spinning). Circus performers, initially regarded as “the other” for using old school size hula hoops, began to inspire many in their hoop development and performance. Others began isolating their regular hoops into off body moves in such a way that their waist was rarely if ever even utilized. Burlesque dancers, many of whom used the original old-school size in keeping with their retro movement rebirth, delightfully spun their way into our circle. Hooping today is no longer defined simply by the size and weight of your hoop.

The original definition, however, still has tremendous relevance nonetheless. From it springs a plethora of cottage-industry small-businesses across North America and around the world, busily making customized hoops just for you with your body in mind. When newbie hoopers, be it online or at the local hoopjam, are simply just not getting it, we send them looking for that large customized hoop on the web, or at the park, knowing that its slower rotation will be just the thing so that they can “get it” too. The phrase “it’s not you that has the problem, it’s your hoop,” is just as relevant today as it was when began. While Wham-o may have lightened up with their threats of litigation, the fact does remain that the term “hula hoop” is still universally used as the singular definition of a fad that basically came and went. Hooping, however, isn’t going anywhere. Why? Somewhere along the way we discovered our hoops were great for our emotional health, helping many adults learn to play again. We’ve found them to be valuable as a meditation tool, bringing us back into the center of our selves and our lives. They’ve proven to be incredible for our bodies, building core strength, burning amazing calories and getting us in the best shape we’ve ever been in. The second revolution of hooping is good for your mind, your body and your soul. It’s going to be here for years and years to come.

6 thoughts on “So, What Exactly is Hooping Again?

  1. This article makes a great point. I’m fairly new to the hoop, and when people asked me what a hooper was in the beginning it was easy to define. “I dance in a really big hula hoop” I would say, and others would immediately understand. Now that my hooping has started to evolve I have a much harder time explaining. I dance under and jump over my hoop, hoop in the dark with glowing hoops, and use mini hoops to give my waist a break. The definition may be getting tougher for me, but the experience is getting better and better!

  2. all the “paraphernalia” adds to out of the box thinking (mmmm….like that: box = hard, defined edges and dead ends, circle = infinite possibilities) plus it staves off boredom. I also think a significant reason hooping is not going anywhere is because it has the ability to create an incredible sense of community (which also makes us feel good).

  3. Great article! It made me reminisce when I first discovered hoop dancing and was blown away seeing this groovy chick getting her hoop on…..String Cheese Incident at Hornings Hideout 2004. That day changed my life forever. It’s amazing to look back when it was just me hooping the old fashioned way (hips) wondering how those awesome girls pulled off those crazy maneuvers and that there was no way I would ever be that good!
    Today it’s spreading like wildfire and everything you need to teach yourself is at your fingertips–not to mention the beautiful community that was built along with these websites.
    You can find unconditional love, support, amazing talent and actually be a part of a revolution that is sweeping the world–
    Positive energy flowing- uniting us all—from the circle that life is created, is also the circle that binds us.

    and the beat goes on…..<3

  4. I recently went to the independent film screening of the Hooping Life and purchased by first hoop! I tend to get a little frustrated but will not give up. I see how much joy it gives others and I am determined to eventually be able to dance and glide effortlessly the way I see others do.

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