So You Wanna Hoop at Music Festivals

Hooping Silhouettes [ columnist Lara Eastburn reminds us what hooping at music festivals is all about.]

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.

5 thoughts on “So You Wanna Hoop at Music Festivals

  1. I’ve not been to a music festival since Woodstock (yes, i was there, lol) but I attend outdoor concerts, battle of the bands and DJ nights. Since I started hooping, about 3 years, I’ve been bringing my hoop. I’m usually with a group of hoopers and I just want to say that from what I’ve seen I can understand and almost sympathize with the “no hoop” policies that are becoming more common.

    In most cases people attend these functions to see their favorite entertainers and listen to their favorite music. In some cases they have paid to attend. There’s a large group of hoopers that attend these functions to perform. and can’t enjoy themselves unless they are the center of attention. I’m not talking about “invited to perform” , I’m talking about taking up a huge amount of space by the stage with no thought for anyone else.

    If you bring your hoop to hoop to some great music why do you need to be center stage and have an audience to have fun? I can understand why others get annoyed, why we’re hearing more and more that no hoops are allowed and how a few people are ruining it for everyone else. Obviously I’m not talking about the people who were invited to hoop on stage or in front but I’m referring to the ones who were not invited to be part of the performance.

    I’m sorry if this is an unpopular opinion but at the last event I went to the hoopers by the stage were focused on the group watching them and not the people forced to stand back who were angry and complaining to the promoters. I’m sure they will have a “no hoop, no flow toys” rule next year.

    Some of us hooped further back and were asked several times to “go get your friends” and “why are you guys so rude”. What do you say to that? It’s none of my business where you want to hoop but it becomes an issue for all of us when we’re turned away because we were rude and insensitive to others.

    IMO this is a community issue that needs to be addressed as more people pick up hoops.

    Thanks, Lara.

  2. Just want to add that I tried bringing this up in another hoop community a couple of years ago and the comments that followed were all:
    “Well, maybe you don’t hoop so well….”
    “Maybe you’re too old and have nothing to show off….”
    Yes, that was a real comment removed by one of the administrators.
    “Maybe you should not worry about what other people do…”

    What emerged was a really bad hooper attitude. It was scary.

    1. These rude comments are most likely from the hoopers who aren’t being considerate of others and thier space and thier right to enjoy a show up close and personal without being hit with someones hoop. No matter your age or skill level you have the right to hoop just as much as anyone else. And i’m sorry you recieved such negative comments. We should all be free to express ourselves while being considerate of others and thier space as well. I hope your next festival is a better experience for you. I still haven’t been to one yet, but I appreciate all of the things you’ve shared about your experiences. Thank you and happy hooping:)

  3. Thanks for the great run-down, Lara!

    I recently performed at a very hoop friendly beer festival (our 3rd year as entertainers there) and encountered many of the situations you mentioned.

    The main issue this time around was a safety one, when seriously inebriated folks used very large loaner hoops and attempted off the body moves in a packed crowd, it resulted in cups being knocked out of hands and collisions with passerby.

    But the incident that got to me personally was right after we got off stage at the end of the night. The event had officially shut down and a gal & her friend wanted to borrow our LEDs to “rage.” I apologized profusely saying no and told them we had just completed a 12 hour day at the event, the fest was closing and we had to pack up (never mind that the hoops were LED). She got irate and yelled at me about community and lack of hoop love. It broke my heart a little. Who wants to say no? And as you said, you can’t argue with someone who’s drunk.

  4. I won’t be heading to any festivals this year because I’m dedicated on the weekends, however I have in the past. When I brought my hoops to coachella I had no issues. However I couldn’t really get to the front of the stage which I adore doing.
    I had a few teenagers ask me if I would hide their drugs in my collapsible, that was pretty funny, but I said no.
    Its definitely good to make sure you have a lot of space and/or practice in a forest or something densely populated like a dancefloor. I can dance on a busy floor and not hit a single person, but that comes with loads of practice of being aware of my surroundings.
    I like your point about finding other hoopers. Flow party!

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