7 Steps to Start a Hoop Group

Bay Area Hoopers
Bay Area Hoopers
by Lara Eastburn

Every single day, somewhere in the world, someone discovers hooping for the first time and knows they’re not going to be able to live without it. At this point, two urgent questions will begin to occupy the mental space of every single one of them. 1) How and where do I get a hoop of my own? and 2) How do I find people to hoop with?

These days, answers to the first question couldn’t be easier to find. Whether you make your own hoop or purchase one, the era of the once-elusive grownup hoop is definitively (and thankfully!) over. The new hooper can now move from hoop-discovery to beginning their hoop-journey in just a matter of days. Few will be satisfied, however, with hooping on their own, and the frantic and inevitable search for a local hoop-family quickly ensues. When something as exciting and personally transforming as hooping enters your life, you can’t help but want to share it.

From this most basic and universal desire for hooping “community,” circles large and small have emerged over the years in every state of the Union and on five separate continents. And even though local hooping groups have increased exponentially in numbers, many hoopers still feel isolated in smaller towns or have difficulty locating, creating, or maintaining active hoop groups in their area.

So, just as a fresh and bumper crop of new hoopers are coming home inspired by Summer festivals and their new-found love of circles, we at Hooping.org thought it a good time to revisit the local life-blood of our larger community. Here are 7 easy steps to forming a successful, active hoop group in your own home town.

Step 1: Get a Lay of the Land. Search through the regional forums here on hooping.org for hoopers in your area, just as new members do on Hooping.org every single day. There may or may not be a group that is close to you, but this is the place to start. If you come up empty-handed, then there is no better person to fill the need for a local hoop-group than you!

Step 2: Pick a Place and a Time, Bring Extra Hoops, and Be Consistent. Starting your own local hooping meetups can be as easy as showing up to your local park at the same time and day every week. Take a friend with you if you can, and let people know in your social networks where you’ll be. You may be alone the first time, and maybe even the second or third, but you WILL see the hooping magic happen. Don’t get discouraged. Many, if not most, established hoop jams started out in exactly this way. Your persistence will prevail.

Step 3: Embrace Your New Role as a Hooping Ambassador. Starting a hooping group will require a bit of bravery on your part. It can be hard to hoop alone in the middle of a public place. But tough it out, and you won’t be a solitary hooper for long. Remember that you’re doing what makes you happy and that your enthusiasm is infectious! Greet the curious with a smile, hand ‘em a hoop, and answer any questions they have as best you can. When you see that gleam in a newcomer’s eye that is the telltale sign they’ve caught the hoop-bug, ask for an email address or invite them to join you online for updates and reminders about your weekly hoop-gathering. Before you know it, that person tells their friends, who bring their friends, and you’ve got a full-fledged weekly hoop jam.

Step 4: Crank It Up. There’s no denying it – besides having extra hoops on-hand, MUSIC will be the second most important component of bringing the energy that will grow your hoop group and keep folks coming back for more. In the beginning, perhaps you huddle around a small battery-powered boombox. But as your group grows, you’ll feel the need for bigger sound and booty-shaking playlists. Luckily for you, Philo has some suggestions for HoopJam Sound Solutions right here.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Ask other hoopers to bring their IPods and playlists or invite a local drumming group to join you. Try planning different musical themes each week. Above all, never underestimate the importance of the Almighty Groove. Music is often the miracle Siren’s Song that makes or breaks a burgeoning hoop gathering.

Step 5: Don’t Drop the Ball. As your hoop group grows and evolves, so too will your responsibilities. You started this thing, and you will be the glue that holds it together. But don’t be afraid to ask for help in keeping it going. Make sure there is always someone there at the appointed time and place to get things started. Before weather becomes an issue, seek out alternative venues for rainy and cold days. Get creative. Churches, schools, community centers, music venues, dance and yoga studios are all places to look for indoor hooping space. Put out the call and see who answers.

Step 6: Consider Expanding the Circle. Some hoop groups find their gatherings are enriched by including other movement arts. Poi spinners, jugglers, belly dancers, and more may be overjoyed to join you in your weekly play. Cleveland Ohio calls their Thursday get-together the “Cleveland Flow Collective.” Atlanta hosts “Play in the Park” on Sundays. Welcome the creative and the playful with open arms and you will find yourself with new hoopers and new toys to explore.

Step 7: Surprise Yourself and Your Group With Something Special: When your hoop group really gets moving, sprinkle the routine with the occasional dose of amped-up fun. Dress up and have a parade down Main Street. Have a Wine and Cheese Night. Choreograph a hoop dance and make a video. Turn out the lights and turn on the LEDs. Crash a Party. Host a fundraiser for a cause you care about. Have a hoop-making or hoop-decorating party. The sky’s the limit when your new hoop-family works together to make it happen.

When you’re starting from scratch, creating an active hooping community can seem like a long road ahead. Don’t worry about that – all that is truly needed is one person dedicated to making it happen. Why shouldn’t that person be you?

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Lara Eastburn Hooping.org columnist 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 Forum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.

8 thoughts on “7 Steps to Start a Hoop Group

  1. I’ve been lucky where I’ve had at least one person show up to every hoop jam I’ve hosted (except for the one in the heat wave). My blog has helped me find new people because they google my town and hoops and get my blog. ^_^ Although I’ve yet to get regulars to my jams.

  2. One thing that I would like to add. If you have a community drum circle, join forces with them. It is a great place to find other hoopers. That is where half our group has come from. 😀

  3. I’ve organized twice-a-month hoop jams in Marietta, Georgia. The first was in July and I can say that I walked to the shady trees in Laurel Park, hoops in hand, wondering why on earth I was doing this and questioning my sanity and neediness. I was convinced that no one would show up but a friend did, a convinced a few basketballing teenagers to give another form of hooping a whirl, AND the local press arrived (see next paragraph).

    But word is getting out and slowly (surprisingly) interest and participation is growing. This weekend will be only my 4th (!) hoop jam and I’ve already had an article published here (http://marietta.patch.com/articles/hula-hoopin-jam-at-laurel-park#photo-6951225) and the local newspaper (Marietta Daily Journal) is planning to cover this weekend’s jam.

    Yesterday I hooped at my son’s school gathering (see item #3 above) at the local skating rink for a couple of hours and met several people who plan on joining the hoop jam this Sunday. I am SO excited about this because my circle of local hoop friends is growing!

  4. I’ve been showing up at FREE outdoor concerts which usually take place midweek with plenty of hoops and poi to play with. The live music is AWESOME and I’ve been pulled up onto the stage every time! Guess it depends on your location but down here near the Cape there’s great music. I’m always hooping with someone new and am a kid magnet at these concerts. Last band was “Spirit of Santana” – YAH!

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