So You Wanna Hoop at Music Festivals

Hooping Silhouettes[This week columnist Lara Eastburn gets us ready for the Music Festival season.]

by Lara Eastburn

Music Festival season is upon us, my friends. And my guess is that there will be more hoopers on-site than ever before (YES!). While it would seem to us that hooping and open-air music festivals should go together like sunshine and smiles, festival hooping can sometimes be stressful or even meet resistance. Whether you’re a festival-veteran or just learning the ropes, here are a few things to be prepared for when hitting the gate with your hoop.

Getting In: Hoopers have reported in recent years that festival officials have asked them to stop hooping or not to bring hoops into the festivals. This is a rather rare occurrence, so don’t fret. Just be prepared. In general, I like a hoop that coils down for convenience. But it will also attract less attention at the gate.

Hoop Haters: I know, the idea of folks who are not friendly to hoopers seems ludicrous, but they exist – like Jackie Briggs in Salt Lake City for example. Take a quick look at festival discussion boards and they often tell us otherwise as well. The majority of complaints though come from festival-goers who deeply resent the amount of SPACE that hoopers take up. Looking for your fellow hoopers? Look out in the field behind the crowd. No matter how much you’re feeling it, my hooping friend, in front of the stage is not the place for you and your 4-foot wide hoop.

Hoop Magnets, Hoop Hogs, and Hoop Thieves: Be prepared for a hundred people to ask to use your hoop. And be prepared for some of them to use your hoop without asking you. While I’m normally happy to share, this personally stresses me out at festivals. I don’t dig having to ask for it back when I want it, nor do I enjoy watching the borrower out of the corner of my eye to be sure they don’t run off with it. I admit that I’m the gal who is either holding my favorite hoop or standing in the middle of it at all times. My job and life are dedicated to teaching and spreading the hoop-love, but sometimes I just want to go and dance, y’know? That said, I simply CAN’T bring myself to turn down somebody who wants to hoop. I used to take a pile of hoops to shows, but that became cumbersome and tedious. So these days I just bring a spare. ONE extra hoop. One that I can bear to lose. If someone is using my spare, I tell the next person while pointing, “That’s my lender hoop. You’re welcome to ask them for it.”

I’m sure everyone who’s taken a hoop to a festival has some kind of wild story and I for one would love to hear them. So before you decide how best to handle all the attention, let’s just take a moment here to remember that MORE people are introduced to hooping at a festival than in any other situation. The music is on, the weather is perfect, and you look irresistibly awesome and happy throwin’ down in your hoop. It’s not surprising that folks are drawn to Your Hoopiness. I literally cannot count the number of stories I’ve heard about the incredible impact a festival hooper had on them. How you’re moving in your hoop will likely be remembered by someone around you as the most downright beautiful thing they’ve ever seen.

Keeping this in mind is phenomenally useful when dealing with difficult situations. Like the adorable child who just rolled your hoop down the hill when you weren’t looking. Or the guy who calls you a bitch because you won’t let his drunk girlfriend have your hoop. Or the “do something cool” folks, who I like to think of as the ones commanding me to “Dance, Monkey, Dance!” These are momentary and silly annoyances, so just HAVE A PLAN that suits your personality. We all know you never argue with a drunk. Just walk away. Children who take my hoop hostage can usually be swayed to trade it for the bubbles I keep in my bag just for that purpose. When folks demand that I perform for them impromptu, I ask them to dance for me first, which proves infinitely entertaining! And I answer all questions (Where do I get a hoop? How can I learn to do that?) with three magic words. HOOPING DOT ORG.

Specialty Hoops: One last word about LED and Fire hoops. Don’t lend your LED hoop to anyone, for any reason. You wouldn’t hand over your iPod, phone, or any other electronics, would you? “It’s a $200 hoop; I can’t,” will usually dissuade the asker. Your fire hoop is not welcome at a music festival unless you are a performer that has been approved by the festival officials. There are public safety and venue liability concerns involved with fire play. “Rogue” fire performers, as they are called by festivals, make it harder every year for fire professionals to get permits and pay their rent. Fire performance without permission is not cool, legal, or professional.

Alrighty then. Let the festival season begin! And let your hoop-freak flags fly high and proud my brothas and sistahs. I think I can hear the sound check starting now :-).

Got festival stories or tips? Share ’em here!


Lara Eastburn Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in’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.

28 thoughts on “So You Wanna Hoop at Music Festivals

  1. When I started hooping I had no idea there were so much hooping communities and resources online — I didn’t know what to do with the hoop and approached hoopers at festivals to learn anything. So I like your three word answer – “hooping dot org”! Haha! Of course it is so much easier to learn new moves with someone showing them to you in person. But I would keep a limit of asking one hooper to show me only one move, and then I would remember it. Then see another hooper and ask if they could show me one of their favorite things to do with the hoop. And I don’t think I ever got on anybody’s nerves much this way 🙂 Nowadays when I hoop at festivals people come to me and ask to learn this and that — it’s cool but my tip would be to just ask someone to teach you one thing. If they’re into it, they’ll show you more without asking! Unless they just want to dance, like we all sometimes, as Lara said. Yeah I’m curious to see the hoop-plosion this summer!

  2. Ah, such a timely article! I’m going with a friend of mine this weekend to a festival where she plans to hoop. I won’t even be hooping and I’m nervous! Your info has helped allay some of my concerns…

  3. Well said as usual, Lara! I agree with everything you’ve expressed here- including the ‘beater-lender’ hoop- just one or maybe 2! ; ) I would add to have a plan of a person or secret place to leave your hoops if you need to get away, bathroom break etc. I’ve seen folks bike lock hoops to firmly planted objects (i.e. lightpost)- which is wise with (often drunk) folks thinking hoops are freeeeeee for the taking. Thanks for writing! I love your shares~ xOx

  4. This is awesome!! So so true, it depends on the festival for me… I have seen people at The Electric Daisy Carnival with hoops and always wanted to bring one, but the amount of people made it seem like more of a hassle to bring a hoop since i already have trouble getting through the crowds just myself. I also get weirded out by people asking to use my hoop, cause a lot of the time it’s drunk people who are like “hey i think i can hoop drunk”… I usually let people use it and then feel all awkward about getting it back, so the backup hoop really is a good idea. Bubbles!! That’s genius for kid distraction from the hoop, i’m totally gonna use that! I have now grown to love hooping at festivals that are also camping events, nothing is better that breaking out the hoop for someone’s music set and then being able to take it back to my tent or car to put away when i’m done so i can switch it up and dance some more. I really really just like to hoop when there’s tons of space and positive people,I am so shy and hooping in public really helps with that , yet i’m in my own little bubble when i hoop, so this is all really helpful to get me to deal with the rest of the festival outside the hoop.

  5. so excellent! this article hit every situation i experienced a few weeks ago at coachella. i LOVE the lender hoop suggestion and asking people to dance for you (hehehe!)

    it always catches me off guard when i’m approached to “do something cool” and it does make me a little uneasy (as fun as it is to share) to pass my hoop around. and the three magic words… HOOPING DOT ORG – so clutch! so simple 🙂

    and the bubbles work every time!!

  6. I hooped at a fest for the first time last weekend, and it went well. Another hooper and I each brought about half a dozen hoops in addition to our own favorites, and we took up a spot behind the crowd where there was plenty of open space.

    A police officer working the fest came by and watched us for a few minutes, but he didn’t say anything before moving on, and other than people wandering though the space with no regard to the spinning hoops, we had no problems. There were kids and adults using our hoops, and the kids’ parents kept an eye on them. In fact, several of the parents were videoing their children’s hoopiness.

    We hooped to the jazz and blues being played, handed out a few flyers to our next hoop jam, and had a great time. We left after about 2.5 hours because it was a daytime fest on a hot, humid day with no shade, and we were flat worn out. But it was a good tired. 🙂

    And a picture of us hooping made the paper the next day, so yay for spreading the hoop love!

    Next time, we plan to take a cooler containing bottled water, cut watermelon, and damp washcloths. Staying hydrated and cool was one of our biggest challenges. The fest had vendors, and we did get water and watermelon, but it’s a lot easier on the wallet to take your own when you can.

    Oh, and folding chairs – we needed to rest after about an hour, but I was afraid if I sat on the ground I wouldn’t get back up. 😉

  7. This is an awesome article with some great ideas! I have to say about the LED hoop lending, before I had LEDs of my own (thank you Lara) I did ask to play with one a couple times at festivals. The girls that I asked were very nice and did let me play with their hoops but said, “Please be very careful, these are pricey. Two drops and I’ll have to ask for it back.” Honestly, I was kinda surprised they didn’t say no, but because of their rule, I was very very careful and handed them back after a few short minutes. True, not everyone is so honest and nice to hand back the hoop as opposed to trying to run off with it, but watching those girls whirl inside their beautiful hoops and getting to try it for myself really inspired me to spend more time with hoops. I don’t think I’ll be so willing to share though…..

  8. I really like the rule about not lending your LED, I often feel this is the hardest thing for me and where I get the most flack from people. Sometimes I feel like a b*tch saying no to people who ask to use mine (mostly because they make me feel one) so it feels good to have support and acknowledgement from the community that this is a 200+ dollar investment so I don’t want to lend it out. Sometimes though, if I’ve been watching another hooper out of the corner of my eye and they pass my mental test I will enevitably let them use her. Before my led hoop purchase I was guilty of asking but must say I always understood a no and was super careful and appreciative when a yes was granted.

  9. “DANCE, MONKEY, DANCE!!!” Ha! Brilliant! (I need that on a shirt!)

    I loves me some live music hoopjamming goodness! I DO believe in getting yourself outta the way of the stage to let the non-hoopers get their groove on safely, as well as being mindful of the little ‘Whee!’ kids who run in circles and crash into everyone when they hear live music! Most times someone from the festy will invite you to move up “Where they can see you!” Be sure to get well off to the side (if space allows) or behind the protective fence to buffer the impact of a flying hoop. Mostly I’d rather Beg Forgiveness than Ask Permission, but if I have pre-arranged it with the powers that be, I bring two ‘beater’ adult-size hoops and two “whee!” hoops.

    A word about Hoop Haters: Waaaaaah!!!!! (kidding)
    Everybody has the right to expect safe space. I am amused that often the people who dislike hooping are the ones with small kids who toss frisbees/nerf footballs/dollbabies/sippycups/etc with great abandon and limited motor skills… but I digress. We all need to respect eachothers concerns and ‘play well with others’ .. at any age.

  10. Great tips! The lender hoop is a fantastic idea. I’m working on a six piece collapsible hoop so I can just throw in in my backpack and rage when necessary. :]

  11. This didn’t happen at a festival, but it could have. Like Laura said, never argue with a drunk, just walk away.

    My bestie and I were having girls night and decided to try to rock the LEDs in a club. Thinkin about space being an issue we only took 1 waist LED and a pair of mini LEDs. The club we ended up at was perfect in that it had a sunken dance floor in front of a stage area and there was a metal bar running across the front of the stage. When we walked in, she went to get some drinks and I went to claim the space on the right side of the stage where no one was. She joined me and we danced for quite some time, taking turns with the hoops and watching other hoop/purses. The people in the club really seemed to like it, some taking pictures, some getting their friend’s attention, a few asking where we got them, etc. After at least an hour (probably more) we both paused to chat and cool down for a few. A girl walked over and asked to see a hoop, I told her no and she seemed offended I offered the “Sorry, these are $300 hoops, I can’t.”
    “Really?” She said.
    “Yeah, really. That’s all we got for Christmas last year.”
    She walked off to tell her friends what I said. Moments later she strides back over and seeing her coming I take a step to our hoops and pick them up, two on one shoulder the other in my hand. She hit the hand holding my drink, spilling it all over me and the floor. I looked at the cup and ice on the floor, looked her straight in the face and shrugged. She backed off and we picked up our purses and left.
    As we drove back to my house we came to the conclusion that she saw us having a great time reguardless of anyone and anything in the entire place and felt the need to assert her dominance for whatever reason. It’s like being in the school yard again, one kid sees another with a cooler toy or something of the like and bully’s the other to make themselves feel better.
    We had a great night reguardless of this incident. Even though she wasted my full $6 drink and got it all over me (oh the stickyness!) basically trying to start a fist fight with me I had a great night because I knew that her actions didn’t matter. I could have gotten all offended, I could have let her borrow my hoop, I could have gone ahead an punch her in her nose like I kinda wanted to, but I didn’t because a) I didn’t want broken LEDs right before my festies and b) I was not willing to let one selfish drunken girl ruin our already badass evening. So I shrugged and we left, stopping by a very chill little hole in the wall by mi casa for a drink and a laugh about the girl who tried to spoil our night. I hope she had a great night because I did despite her antics.

    So again, like Laura said; don’t argue with the drunkie, just walk away and don’t let them spoil your fun.

    Bellatrix Hoops

  12. I love you for writing this. It basically encompassed every possible senario…from having a drunk Bro snatch my led from me and start bashing it into the sand at Hangout Festival to simply telling people Google it! when asked how/where…but the best part of this is the reminder that most of us did experience hooping from a festival, or a friend who went to a fest and came back with a crazy new circular habit that he couldn’t help but share with EVERYONE (literally, he’s now the Hoop Daddy and has GIVEN away over 30 hoops)!!
    Side note on lending LEDs….I think there are obvious ways to tell if someone is drunk and shifty vs. a fellow hooper who simply can not afford a LED hoop. Usually, drunk people yell-ask and have a slightly confused look, where as fellow hoopers say, “I understand if this is your baby and you say no, but I am jonesin’ for some pretty lights SOOO bad…MAY I PLEASE USE YOUR HOOP.” I personally lend my hoop out and while I have to play body guard for 5 minutes, just in case my judgement is lacking, I find that it pays off with making good people into good hoop friends.
    on that note:
    Hope everyone has a safe and most amazing festival season…hope to see ya out there!!

  13. Ha.. so true. I always feel bad when I don’t want to give my hoop away… and end up baby-sitting it for half an hour when I really really wanna hoop.

    Another thing I find difficult is drunk guys making “sexy” comments… trying to work out how to deal with it… normally just brush off or thanks depending on what they seem like.

  14. Thanks for posting this… especially the bit about the rogue fire performers. I butted heads with a friend of mine this year at Electric Forest because he was sneaking fuel past the main gate and spinning fire within the main staged area. I didn’t think it was right… glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks rogue fire performers are a no-no.

  15. I once had a drunk guy pick up my LED hoop and start playing with it when I wasn’t looking. Unfortunately, it was an older one that only lit up when the hoop was connected at the ends, and the rest of the time I left it slightly open, so as soon as he started spinning it, it of course popped open, and the battery flew out to who knows where.

    He started laughing, until I was like, “Thanks for asking first, you just lost the battery.” And he said, “It’s cool, I’ll get you a new one, what kind of battery does it take?” And I said, “I have no idea, it’s some kind of battery from Japan or something.” So he was like, “Well, I can get you a new hoop, how much is it?” “$200.” That’s when he enlisted his friends to help me find the battery. And apologized profusely. 🙂

  16. Wow even though this article is almost a year old its fantastic! I just saw it in passing and was intruiged. Love the LED rule, and extra hoops idea. this summer will be my first festival with a hoop… not first festival but I was soooo inspired at Electric Forest last year I started hooping. So this is great adivce!

  17. I’m preparing to go to my first festival (Sonic Bloom) and I didn’t even consider that “Hoop Thieves” exist… I can’t help but think of my hoops as my children, and I would surely recognize my hoop, especially if it had been stolen. I feel so naive, I would hope festivals attracted better people.

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