by Lara Eastburn
Kicking butt in the democracy and freedom department since the early 1990s, post-communist Poland became a full member of the European Union in 2004 and is now one of its strongest leaders in human rights. With a mere 23 years of democracy under its belt, and freedoms mounting at break-neck speed, Poland has produced a new generation quite unlike its predecessors. So it’s no surprise that with the rise of hooping throughout Europe, we’re seeing the modern hoop’s first appearances in Poland as well. One of these new hoopers is Gosia Klamann, who hosts the Polish-language hooping website Hulajdusza.eu. She contacted me recently with excitement about the growing hooping community there, and turned me on to this gorgeous video she’s just made with her Tri-City (Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot) friends and Babz Robinson – filmed in Gdansk by Grupa Obiektywni and featuring Babz, Gosia, Marta Szotyńska and Justa Wicenty. I interviewed Gosia to learn more about how the hoop came to Poland and where it’s taking them next.
(Hula Hoop in 3City – Soundtrack: “The Dynamo of Volition” by fellow hooper Jason Mraz, available on iTunes.)
The hula hoop craze of the 1950’s didn’t hit Poland until the 1980’s, Gosia told me, but she didn’t have one as a child. It was her friend Justa Wicenty who had loved hooping as a kid and first started researching adult hula hoops. It was during the Summer of 2010 that they tracked some down and spent every spare moment they could spinning on the “huge concrete wasteland” of the abandoned Gdansk airport that was once the center of their area around their flats. As their interest in hooping grew, they looked desperately for more information. “We started searching for local workshops or classes around and for better hoops. But found nothing.” After discovering Hooping.org and YouTube videos, Gosia and Justa quickly realized they were among the first modern hoopers in Poland and that to grow their community, they were going to need a Polish-language hooping resource. The seed was planted, but little did our Polish hooping heroines know that two very important visitors to Poland were going to change everything for them.
The annual FROG festival, hosted in Gdynia, features jugglers and fire artists. And in 2012, the performance roster featured North Carolina-based hooper and performer Vivian Spiral. The two attended Spiral’s hooping workshops and met a handful of other budding Polish hoopers. The feeling of community inspired Gosia to get to work on Hulajdusza.eu, a hooping site and blog in her native language. “I wanted to tell my people about my own experience with hooping, share some tips with beginners, and bring together information about workshops or other events I could find. I wanted hoopers to find each other. I made the connection with hoopers from Warsaw, Poznan and Krakow! It worked!”
Gosia’s excitement hasn’t waned, though she admits that building the hooping community in Poland is a slow process. So when Canadian hooper, performer, and Hooping Idol Judge Babz Robinson made her way to Poland this year, the community got a much-needed boost. “I was lucky to meet her and we used the opportunity to hoop with Babz and learn from her. Her visit motivated us to come together and make this beautiful video highlighting Polish hoopers.”
(Ola from Poland’s latest)
Gosia may not be the only one in Poland that’s spinning things up. Over the past two years the rather mysterious “Ola from Poland” has been making videos and tutorials. She lives in Szamotuly, full name unknown. Joda from Poznan has also been in the spin, and earlier this year RurzOWA and Waglewski spun up the message of hooping on Polish Television. Monika is spinning things up with Hulala in Krakow, and Ilona is making things happen in Parczew, while Zosia is making it happen with Hoop Dance Warsaw.
Nevertheless, as the hooping world grows smaller in some ways and larger in others, I find myself deeply inspired by Gosia’s story. It is a reminder that the hoop is far from taking over the world and that there is still much to do. Every day, the hoop is discovered by someone for whom it is completely and utterly NEW. Resources like Hooping.org and Gosia’s native-language website do much to welcome each and every new hooper to the community, get them started, connect them with other hoopers and keep them motivated. And traveling performers like Babz and Spiral do an enormous service to our community by visiting locations that are just being introduced to hooping.
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.