When Jo Mondy started Live Love Hoop, her hooping business, more than five years ago, her focus was more on the living and hooping parts of the equation, but little did she know then that love would be coming along for the ride anyway. Two years ago, as a result of signing on to teach a bunch of kids how to hoop at a small festival in the English countryside, Andy Broughton would suddenly spin into her life. “We were introduced by friends and I’d never really seen anyone hoop dance before,” Andy explained, adding, “I remember being transfixed by Jo as she hooped in the sunshine to the music. She was a vision of elegant flow and beauty.”
“I was there to teach hoop workshops in the kids area,” Jo told us, “and I ended up camping with some of my lovely hoop student friends. Andy was camped with them too and so we got talking. He was intrigued by my hooping, so I taught him his first hooping trick – The Escalator, and he picked it up instantly.” Love began to escalate for them almost immediately as well. “We ended up spending the whole sunny afternoon wrapped up in conversation with each other. Sparks were flying,” Jo explained. Andy laughed, “Yep, we spent the rest of the day hanging out, flirting and being mischievous.”
Ever since Jo taught Andy his first hooping moves, both she and hooping became passions in his life. And hooping has continued to be part of their relationship ever since. Jo said, “When Andy started really getting into hooping, for his own sake, not just to impress me, I was amazed at how naturally he took to it. He’s got a beautiful flow, an original style and natural rhythm that is totally him. I can’t quite believe how incredible a hooper he has become in such a short space of time! Bloody annoying, if you ask me!” And despite her laughing frustrations at how much faster hoopers are picking things up these days, Andy has helped keep her love of the hoop alive. She explained, “His creativity inspires me every single day. I think the way we both approach the hoop – with joy, playfulness, adventure and a free spirit – is the same way we approach our relationship.”
Their approach proved to be successful, so much so that Andy began thinking about marriage, and when it came to figuring out how to ask her to marry him, things began to spin into an incredible idea. Andy told us, “I was daydreaming out of the train window on my commute home and I could visualise this big choreographed hoop routine to the song I was listening to. It involved many of our close friends and family. The idea was to show off in magnificent fashion, like a bower bird enticing its mate, to say ‘look how much I love you Jo!’” It wasn’t long before he started making his vision come to life. Andy informed us, “I first told Jo’s best friend Mel about the idea and her delighted response gave me the courage to set the wheels in motion. I phoned everyone individually to tell them about the grand vision and soon we had set a date for a secret practice session. The fun and loving energy that was there in the first gathering was truly inspiring and within two hours we had choreographed the whole thing and agreed the date of the proposal flash mob. Everyone managed to keep tight lipped for the week and on the day, Jo arrived for a ‘picnic in the park’, completely unaware of the magic that was about to happen.”
Andy told us, “When Jo said ‘Yes’, my heart soared. And everyone’s been crying tears of joy ever since! Before I met Jo, I didn’t know what hooping was, and I didn’t know true love.” What was Jo thinking when she saw him and realized what was happening? She told us, “As I was walking into the pavilion gardens, I spied a few of my mates sitting down and went to go say hi. My best friend Mel grabbed my hand and told me to sit down on a purple blanket that was laid out. I was really confused and then the music started. I had absolutely no idea what was happening. Since it was the day after World Hoop Day I thought, have all my students come up with this flash mob to surprise me? Why are they all in my favourite colours – purple and gold, and why is Andy at the front?” It took about thirty seconds for her to realize what was actually going on. She said, “When I started to hear the lyrics of the song, the penny dropped. I started shaking like a leaf! When he came through the hoop archway, the first thing I said to him was ‘What are you doing?’ – I was totally in shock! But I’ve never been so sure in my life that this is the man who I want to be with forever.”
What has hooping taught Jo about love? She explained, “It’s taught me to follow my joy, to surrender to the uncertainty of life and to love fully and completely, without fear or resistance. I’m so unbelievably happy and I continue to thank my lucky stars every day for this amazing life that hula hooping has helped me create!” Their good friend Sharna Rose, mother of the UK hoop scene, created the engagement ring with Andy. It’s made of 18 carat gold wire and set with two amethyst stones. And with the ring came the man of her dreams. Jo giggled, “I mean, gold leggings, purple high tops and a glitter chest? YES!”
On a beautiful sunny day, Jo arrived in the Brighton Pavilion Gardens for a picnic with her friends. And then something magical happened. The hoop love that has come into their lives isn’t just about the two of them though, it’s about a local community of hoopers in Brighton, hooping friends throughout the UK, and hoop pals around the world. “The support Andy gives me is just incredible. In the uncertain profession of hoop teaching and performing, Andy has always been my biggest fan, my most ardent supporter and a great sounding board for my ideas, hopes and fears. Plus it’s great to have a partner who is equally excited about a new move or an awesome video or taking an inspiring hoop workshop as I am! Hooping has connected us with a community of incredible friends that continue to nurture us as a couple and as individuals. Just look at what they did for us – Brighton hoopers, you are amazing!”
Congratulations Andy and Jo! Everyone at Hooping.org wishes you both the absolute very best!
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.