by Philo Hagen
While many have seen a hooped up flash mob hitting the street here before, and those of us who have been hooping awhile will surely remember when the Bay Area Hoopers spun up some amazing group choreography together flash mob Thriller style, this weekend hoopers took to the streets together again in San Francisco for their latest adventure into the wonderful world of Grease. Hitting various locations around the City by the Bay with their hoops in hand, these flash mob hoopers were automatic, systematic, hydromatic. Why, they were greased lightning!
Organized by Nicole Wong of Cherry Hoops, the Grease inspired hooping flash mobs were spotted spinning it up all over the city. Featuring Antonio Gomez, Mindy Ong, Marjorie Schwartz, Liam SpinYang, Choi Tse, Marcy Protteau, Helga Holoubek, Kara Krone, Sean Eiserne Drossel Twomey and Kelly Page, I sat down with Nicole to get the hoop scoop all about it and how it all came together to make it happen.
[At the Ferry Building (far view)]
Philo: You were spotted spinning up Greased Lightning all over San Francisco. Where were you and how did it all go?
Nicole: Yes, we performed the Greased Lightning flash mob at three locations around San Francisco’s Embarcadero: The Ferry Building, Cupid’s Span, and at the Flaming Lotus Girls’ scupture Soma. One of the most amazing and wonderful things to me about San Francisco is that it’s hard to shock anyone. Weird is normal. At each location we had wonderful, appreciative audiences, but I think, even in our colorful getups, we melded into the San Francisco landscape. Like, “Oh, there goes another group of costumed performers. That’s so San Francisco.”
Philo: And you’ve done hoop dance flash mobs before too.
Nicole: Yes, this is Cherry Hoops’ third hoop dancing flash mob, so we’re building a tradition here in the SF Bay Area. We took “Thriller” to the streets in 2012 and 2013. This year, I wanted to create a new routine for variety. I also wanted to make a routine that was a bit more accessible for hoopers of all levels. Thriller has very challenging choreography. I think “Greased Lightning” is a lot easier to learn and memorize.
[Photo by Victor Montgomery’s Tubercles]
Philo: Yay for being inclusive too. So, why Greased Lightning?
Nicole: Fashion. I had a poodle skirt in my closet from my high school’s production of Grease, and I really wanted to wear it!
Nicole Plus, since the Hula Hoop™ and the 1950s go together so well, I thought why not? I floated the idea past a few hoopers, and when they started talking excitedly about making costumes, I knew we had a winner.
[At Soma on the Embarcadero (with some close ups)]
Philo: So how does one go about putting something like this together? How did you make it happen?
Nicole: This flash mob nearly ran itself. I created a video tutorial with the choreography and hoopers practiced on their own. We also practiced the routine a few times during our weekly Bay Area Hoopers jams, but there were no formal rehearsals.
Philo: Your thriller choreography got picked up by other hoop groups too. Do you mind if this one gets shared?
Nicole: I’d love it. I put out the video tutorial not only for our Bay Area flash mob, but I also wanted to share the routine with other hoop groups. If there are any folks who want to use any part of this choreography, please feel free. I would love to see the resulting videos!
Philo: And in the end it all came together and it’s super fun to watch and it was awesome. How does it feel seeing a creative vision come to life on the street?
Nicole: It is amazing to see everything come together. I was overjoyed to see everyone show up in amazing costumes too. I can’t believe how many hoopers made poodle skirts and a T-Birds style jacket just for this event! It really tells me about the level of excitement they had for this collaborative project, and I’m so happy to play a role in bringing people together in this way.
Philo: Are we going to be seeing your hooped up version of Greased Lightning anywhere else?
Nicole: This mob has a lot of momentum. We discovered that it’s amazingly fun to hoop to music from the 50s, so we have planned a second flash mob and sock hop hoop jam on Friday, November 14th at Sweet Bar Bakery with fellow Bay Area Hooper and bakery owner, Mani Niall.
Hooping and flash mobs are not just a great way to get some buzz about hooping too, they’re great projects to help bring community together. Marjorie Schwartz, part of the Greased Lightning flash mob told me, “I love flash mobs because it gives people an opportunity to come together in an organized, choreographed fashion. They enable people to learn, practice and enjoy. We had the opportunity to create a costume, so we ventured on a creative endeavor that we might not have done before. We had a routine that was easy to follow and could be used at any level. It was fun and appealing to everyone watching because they could see we were all having a good time. I loved the participation, camaraderie and collaboration. There were no stars, we all worked together as a community and together we all got to make it successful.”
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.