[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn has done it - in the nude.]
Odds are the thought of hooping naked has at least crossed your mind. Either as a passing thought at which you furrowed your brow, or as a possibility that truly piqued your curiosity. Or perhaps you’re one of the many hoopers who has tried it. The notion of hooping naked first appeared on hooping.org back in 2004, when co-founder Vera Fleischer lauded the benefits of getting full traction between the hoop and her bare skin. Then, in September 2006, a group of young hoopers in Brattleboro, Vermont, attracted worldwide media after hooping naked in a parking lot for nearly an hour. It was about that time Gabriella Redding of Hoopnotica shared her thoughts about hooping without clothes as well, heralding the “sensory experience… that is totally missed out upon when hooping clothed.” Two years later Claire French (pictured) of Dreads ‘n’ hoops attracted international attention after hoop dancing nude in the British reality TV show, Naked Office. She even became an advocate for hooping naked to lose weight.
Today, even while those who attend Burning Man continue to expect at least one naked hooper sighting, a quick Google will turn up a list of videos and photos of folks spinning “au naturel” as mere gimmick. And while these are all examples of public performance, who is hooping naked in the privacy of their own homes, and what are they getting out of it? What happens when, with shades drawn, we put our hoops on and take our clothes off?
I’ve hooped in the buff exactly twice. The first time, I chose purposely to do so with fire (’cause, y’know, I figured lighting would be important?). But why did the idea even occur to me? It’s not like I’ve ever imagined that running or playing soccer in the nude would be an awesome idea. In retrospect, I suppose my reasons were similar to those one has when skinny dipping. Initially, there’s the thrill of it all. One feels clandestine and a tiny bit naughty.
My first time hooping naked the relationship between my body and my hoop had attained that period of peacetime signaled by the fading of the first round of hoop bruises. I was enjoying the first extended hoop sessions where I felt in control of my movements, which was a monumental departure from my previous status as “biggest clutz ever.” I was learning so much about how my body moved in space that it seemed a natural extension of such newfound freedom to want to experience the hoop turn around all of my skin. Was my clothing, I wondered, like my mental resistance, yet another obstacle I could remove between my blundering movements and the hope of discovering my flow in the hoop?
That short and solitary introduction to hooping in the nude certainly suggested to me that there’s a lot more going on than a gratuitous thrill. For one, my ego was surely not participating in the equation. Concern for how I might look laid on the floor, forgotten beneath the pile of my clothes. Instead, I found myself attentive to the most minute of details of my body’s dance – the instinctive work of my muscles, the confident precision of my feet, my posture. I became aware of how I hold myself when there’s no other thought (or thread) holding me back. I hardly felt sexy – sensual, perhaps, tribal, ancient, open. For lack of a better formulation, I’d venture to say my soul was hooping. Hooping naked changed how I hoop clothed as well. That was perhaps the biggest surprise and most unanticipated reward for such bravery.
My second venture into the unclothed circle dance was more recent. And considerably more complicated. I’d brought two babies into the world since my first naked hooping hurrah. I was looking to both wrench myself out of an extended rut with my hoop and also force an overdue meeting between my dance and my now older, altered form. Given my anxiety level this last go-round, even all by myself, I was astounded to find that the experience was much the same. The hoop traced the new contours of my body with a familiar freedom. A knowing smile crept across my face in the deep darkness of my rural back yard under a blanket of approving evening stars. I may not be 26 anymore, but that didn’t seem to matter to my old friend, the hoop. And suddenly, it didn’t matter a lick to me anymore either.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. She’s also the driving force behind Circumference with online and live business and marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.