A Hooping Pilgrim’s Paradise

Beach [Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn made her first visit to the City of Angels and returned home with hoop dreams. ]

by Lara Eastburn

As I sit down to write this, I’ve literally just arrived home from a whirlwind trip filled to the brim with happiness, outstanding people, and bubbling excitement for the future of hooping and this community we’ve been creating together. By car and plane, I traveled from rural Texas over 1500 miles across deserts and mountain ranges to visit Los Angeles, the Hooper’s Holy Land, birthplace of modern hoopdance and many of its living icons. If you’ve ever wondered about your place in hooping, how far it could possibly go, and how you can help, please read this article to the end.

To put it in perspective, keep in mind I’d never visited L.A., never personally met the people behind the beating pulse of the dance that brings us so much joy. And never in my nine years of hooping have I ever allowed myself to dream so big for the possibilities of our dance as I was inspired to do there. On the plane from DFW to LAX, I was reading an article in Rolling Stone by Robbie Robertson of The Band.

“Los Angeles is where people invented the idea of making dreams,” says Robertson.

Where do I begin this story, how can I best relate the magnitude of what I learned on the voyage that for this southern girl can only be described as a “Hooper’s Pilgrimage?” The word “leadership” first comes to mind, and with it of course, “vision.” But I’ll start with what I knew before I headed to the airport on Monday. We are all blessed by our times and our technology to call ourselves a community that is “connected.” We share our videos and hopes, successes and frustrations, encouragement and support across oceans. We come from as many different walks of life as there can be, but come together in literal, physical, and virtual circles to share the “movement” that links us to one another. In our respective communities, we are each of us ambassadors of the real-life magic we experience inside our hoops.

But I don’t think that before this trip I had truly explored the idea of hooping as a collective that in many ways requires and benefits from an overarching vision and an extraordinary kind of leadership. More precisely, I didn’t fully understand that there are people that actively and daily anticipate, work towards, and plan for an explosion of hoopdance on a level that I personally hadn’t allowed myself to even properly imagine.

For starters, I got face-time with Hooping.org’s own Philo Hagen this week. I imagine that when I submit this article tonight, he’ll wince at me referring to him as a leader. He might even consider deleting these paragraphs. But then everyone I met this week truly labors modestly and behind-the-scenes, privately sustaining the momentum that fuels hooping’s growth, keeping us inspired, and pushing us past the boundaries of what we thought was possible as a community.

Five days a week, for nearly eight years, Hooping.org has delivered to our virtual doorsteps hooping news from around the world. (For those of you new-ish to hooping, hooping “news” was barely even conceivable seven years ago). It takes upon itself the responsibility of monitoring and reporting everything that happens on our planet that has to do with a hoop. If you’ve viewed, 25, 50, or even 75 hooping videos over the past year, Hooping.org’s Philo Hagen watched 10,000 of them, or more. If you made and posted a video or picture, wrote or were interviewed for an article online that had anything to do with hooping, Philo watched or read it.

If there’s any one person that knows more about what each of us is doing, creating, or dreaming of in our hooping communities, it’s Philo. For some time, Hooping.org has expanded its repertoire from reporting hooping news, to making it. Philo’s “Gotta Hoop” video changed our ideas of what hooping videos can be (Have you seen last week’s epic Hooping Idol videos? If you haven’t, stop reading this and go watch them. I’ll be here when you get back). Personally, I was moved a couple months ago to make my first hooping video since 2002 because of Hooping.org’s collaboration with Lissa Angeline and encouragement of Curvy Hoopers. I could go on (and on!), but suffice it to say that the man behind the site that keeps up with what every single one of us is doing in, around, with, and for hoops in every corner of the world has unparalleled insight about where we’re going together and is prepared to take us there.

Philo Tisha and Fran
Philo Tisha and Fran
I had the honor to meet and hoop with Anah Reichenbach’s (aka Hoopalicious’) mother, Fran Reichenbach, to whom my new friends referred deservedly as “Mamalicious.” They got that right. I’m not sure how to explain how I felt upon meeting and admiring her. She beams with pride and purpose. She’s as red-hot a hooper as her daughter, if you’ve wondered. I had the honor to meet, hoop, and dine with Tisha Marina. If you’ve seen The Hooping Life (I haven’t, but more on that below), you know who she is. Tisha (Tee-sha)’s been hooping forever, has been teaching who-ever, for-ever. But many hoopers might not know it. She doesn’t have a YouTube channel. She doesn’t travel the nation promoting herself. You know what she does? She picks up a hoop and before you know it, you realize you’ve put yours down to watch her. Because she’s a body-rocket. I spent seven blissful hours at her feet and heard 14 ideas about how hooping could influence pertinent and timely social issues that had never even crossed my mind.

And … wait for it … I met and spent quality time with the creators of The Hooping Life film. I think it’s safe to say our readers have heard of the film. You may have even heard or read the names of the women behind it, Amy Goldstein and Anouchka van Riel. What you may not know is what their labor-of-love is going to do for hooping. Here’s what’s happening. The Hooping Life is coming to your town … or at least within a day’s drive of your town. (That’s not all, keep reading). It’s got momentum, drive, and a dream. And it’s going to need your help. This film, our film, is not backed by Hollywood. It’s backed by you. It depends upon you; it depends upon us completely. If you haven’t sent The Hooping Life an email telling them how you can help, do it now. Because they want to hear it about it. They may not answer you tomorrow, but they are reading your emails and taking notes. They are reading, listening, and planning to and for you.

The incredible and visionary women behind The Hooping Life that I met this week (and have spent the last 6 years working on it with many others!) want the world to know what hooping is. And they gave me an objective schooling. I was surprised to learn that the world does NOT know what hooping is. If you’re like me, your Facebook feed (and life in general) is filled with hoopers and hooping. If no one told you differently, you’d think it’s what the whole world was talking about. Turns out, it’s not.

So let me run this scenario by you. What if your mom turned on the television tomorrow and saw a made-for-TV version of The Hooping Life? What if you were able to send your dad the DVD? No, we’re not dreaming. I’m telling you about what the makers and producers of a powerful, groundroots, ground-breaking documentary about hooping want to make happen. And WILL make happen with your help. I can’t know what such a scenario would mean for you. As a hoopmaker, it’s something I’ve thought about (and can see in my dreams) on many occasions. What if I wake up tomorrow, and there’s 400 hoop orders in my email instead of 4? What if, next Saturday, there are 100 people at your hoopjam instead of 10? Are each of us as prepared for that eventuality as the visionaries I met this week? How many of us have deigned to dream that big?

Home now, in the middle-of-nowhere Texas, I can’t help but think of the moment years ago that Anah Reichenbach came home and put a hoop around her mother’s waist, and thousands after that. I can’t help but think of Philo Hagen, sitting in front of his computer, sifting through everything “hoopy” that happened yesterday and having 40 more options than he had last year about what he’s going to put on the front page of hooping.org. I can’t help but think of how much Amy Goldstein and Anouchka van Riel care about and have invested in what the rest of the world (if they know about it) thinks of as a “sub-culture.”

And I can’t help but think about how we’re not a “sub-culture.” Our hoops and the people that move them change themselves, change lives, create communities and make dance happen where dance wasn’t happening before. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but in my country, inspiring movement and creativity in any form is an enormously big deal. I invite you to think about leadership, about vision in hooping — and what those words mean — in your lives and in hooping. And I invite you to dream bigger than you’re biggest dreams. I, for one, am putting myself and my limited talents at the beck and call of these leaders and visionaries in our community. I want to see what the hoop can do. I want to see how far it can take us all … don’t you?


Lara Eastburn Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Gorum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.

15 thoughts on “A Hooping Pilgrim’s Paradise

  1. Lara, wow…to give big words to these big dreams makes me tingle with all the possibility. To grow expotentially… from 10 to 100, yes! I too can feel and see it happen. Thanks for letting us know to be ready. big things are coming! Hoop leaders stand up!

  2. Lara, this was a fantastic article and so inspiring! Hooping is still the best kept secret that needs to be shared with the world. It is impossible to be unhappy in a hoop. 🙂

  3. What a powerful experience! Your article confirms the hoop is a circle of infinite possibilities. I got chills reading this because I could feel your excitement, enthusiasm, and passion radiating through the screen. I am inspired and invigorated to know about these hooping visionaries and I will do whatever I can to further the movement and spread the hope of hooping. 🙂

  4. GREAT ARTICLE! very MOVING, if you will! I and I WILL! so I hoop everywhere I go and people come up and ask if I teach and normally I give them my friends card since she is the one who got me into it and she is the one who makes hoops and I kinda just thought it was her market. But when I was asked by the local park district if I would be interested in teaching a hoop class this summer, I didn’t want to pass the opportunity off to my friend who I knew would have a hard time taking advantage of it. I am very very passionate about hooping and making it available to EVERYONE! I believe in its healing and transforming qualities as I have experienced it, and continue to experience it, to this day. So I grabbed the bull by its balls and have thrown myself into the concept of spreading the word on hooping. When I go out I hoop where people can see- in parking lots, outside of culver’s where people have to wait for their drive thru food before they go, outside of work, ETC! I am so happy that people are paying attention and asking about it. I am really excited to reach out to the community and make new connections in a way that will physically, mentally, and emotionally, benefit all parties involved!! This article supports my decision to take leadership, so thank you!! What a wonderful movement we are a part of.

  5. I recently came back to America after living and performing in Japan. I’m trying to think of what I want to do now that I’m not in Japan anymore. I decided that I really want to start teaching hoop dance and I’ve had lots of people ask me if I officially offer classes. However, my parents keep telling me that I’m bound to fail and that I won’t make it as a hoop instructor. This was so inspiring to read because it makes me feel that our art form will continue to stretch and grow and blossom on our hooping family tree even though it’s not so well known yet.

  6. L. A. might have rocked your world, sweet Lara, but you just rocked mine and, I’d bet good money, the worlds of hoopers everywhere. I was so moved by your words. Thank you for sharing your experiences and allowing us a glimpse of what you saw.

    Sometimes it is challenging to keep the faith. Sometimes it is hard to do the thing you love because the world doesn’t yet ‘get it’. Thank you for sharing the vision, the inspiration, the hoop love that comes from the very core.

    Beautifully written and delivered straight to the heart.


  7. Hooping gave me movement. Hooping gave me music and hooping taught me how to put the whole thing together.

    Last week I asked someone I know and work with to watch one of my contest videos. He’s an older man. He did watch it, which surprised me. He then emailed me to say that he was glad he had, that it was lovely. In his words “I had no idea it would be like that”. He knew I did it but thought “it” was just spinning on the waist.

    One small step, but now another person knows the magic of hoop dance.

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