By now, you’ve no doubt seen a video of Katie Sunshine on Hooping.org or YouTube, but what you might not know is, as an individual hooper, she’s become quite possibly the biggest hooping star on the web we’ve seen to date. We look at blogs and we find Katie. We end up on in a community forum and they’re talking about Katie, and what’s most interesting about it is that while she’s been hooping online for awhile with the rest of us, this has all happened almost overnight. Her newest video, “Hoop Dance to Goldfish II”, was posted this past Sunday. It has already received over 75,000 views. Her five hooping videos have been viewed well over 600,000 times, with most of that occurring within the last few weeks. With skyrocketing interest in her videos also came the hijackers. Who is the web’s newest online hooping sensation? How has she been handling the new fame and internet thievery? Hooping.org found out and we’re here to introduce you to her.
Meet Katie Sunshine, an art teacher from Arkansas. Hooping first caught her eye three-years-ago at the Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival in Ozark, Arkansas, where she first saw girls who were hoop dancing. Katie says, “I was totally mesmerized by those hula hooping girls! That’s what made me want to start. I figured that hooping was one of those things that with the right amount of practice anybody could learn, rather than some natural born gift, so that’s what encouraged me to begin hooping. Right after that festival, I bought my first hoop! I had hooped as a kid, but it had been so long since I had hula hooped I had totally forgotten how to do it. I couldn’t even hoop around my waist anymore when I first started. Talk about starting at square one! But it came back pretty quickly, fortunately.”
In just three years, Katie has seen the presence of hoopers grow dramatically. “I’ve really noticed how popular hooping has become. My first music festival, I noticed only a handful of hoopers, I’d say five or six. And now there are hundreds of hoopers at the same music festivals! It’s crazy how it has just exploded!” She’s also seen her role change from watcher to doer. “I was walking through the crowd at Wakarusa and I had my hoop over my shoulder and I overheard someone say, ‘Hey, there’s that girl who’s kickass with a hula hoop!’ I realized then that I had become one of those hoop girls that had first mesmerized me. It felt really good. I had established myself as a hoop girl!”
So how did she go from the girl who watched the hoopers to becoming a hooper herself? Katie told Hooping.org, “I hoop as often as possible. I hoop mostly in my front yard or in my living room if it’s cold outside. If I’ve had a particularly long day at work, I like to hoop just to unwind and relieve a little stress. Sometimes when I watch someone else’s YouTube video and see a new cool trick, I’m inspired to pick up my hoop and try it out. And of course, I hula hoop at all the music festivals I go to. I’m one of those hoop girls now! Yay!” As for what moves her body when she’s hooping, Katie says, “I like techno and dance music the best because that constant beat makes it easy to hoop to. I imagine every beat equals one rotation of the hoop and that makes it fun. I also really like to hoop to disco music – kind of a guilty pleasure!”
With her rise in popularity also came some problems. Several of Katie’s YouTube videos were hijacked recently and posted on YouTube on other accounts, resulting in an explosion of hits in the thousands that aren’t even attributed to her own account. Hooping.org asked Katie how she first discovered what had happened and what effect it had on her. “Actually, someone I didn’t know at all sent me a YouTube message telling me that someone had hijacked my video and was making money off of it. I probably would have never known if they hadn’t told me! It has really been crazy though. I get some really nice messages and comments from people who tell me that watching me hoop makes them feel happier and puts a smile on their face so that of course makes me feel wonderful! I’m enjoying my 15 minutes of fame. I also get some really perverted comments, but the good comments make up for those!”
What quality does Katie admire most in a hooper? She responded, “I find that I enjoy watching hoopers who turn the hooping into a dance more than those who make it feel more like a gymnastics routine. Not that that’s not impressive, but I really admire the girls who you can tell really feel the music and are just enjoying moving their bodies.” Her advice to new hoopers: “Keep practicing! It just takes sooooooo much practice to get comfortable with the hoop, learn the tricks, and learn the control. It did for me, anyway. Just know that it takes practice so don’t get frustrated too soon.”
Katie’s favorite thing about hooping is the feeling of accomplishment she gets when she learns a new trick. “I also just love the feeling of moving my body and shaking my ass inside a hula hoop when I hear really great music.” What is currently working on? She explained, “I want to get better at using two hoops and from there I want to practice using multiple hoops on the body. It’s so difficult! Unrelated to hooping, however, I would like to learn to use chalk pastels. I paint in my free time, but I’m pretty amateur with other mediums so I’d like to practice creating artwork with other mediums.”
Katie Sunshine wrapped up our chat by saying, “I would just like to invite anyone to contact me, give me any hooping advice that you have, whatever. I will read it!” With Katie’s infectious energy, her smooth hoop style, and her addictively fun hooping videos, you can bet that her YouTube fame is going to stick with her too. You can contact Katie on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natasha “Hoopsie Daisy” Young started hooping in 2006 and serves the community as Hooping.org’s Assistant Editor. With a very impressive performance resume, you can find out more about her at HoopsieDaisy.com. She lives in Berkeley, California, USA.