Hooping Mad plays a tune on her ukulele while foot hooping at the UK Hoop Gathering’s Spanish Hoop Holiday 2014, held May 31st – June 7th in Bañolas, Catalonia, Spain. She lives in Bristol, England, UK. Photo by See Ying HoopSpirit.
This year I made my way to a UK hoop gathering for the very first time and it was a truly amazing experience! The event runs over the course of two weekends at a magical location in rural Shropshire called Wild Ways on the Borle, a centre for creativity, inspiration, celebration and transformation. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the first weekend of the event and you know it is going to be a special, hoopy few days when you are shown to your bed and it happens to be in a yurt with a stone circle just next door!
UKHG began back in 2009 after Gems Goddard visited HoopCamp in the USA for the first time. On her return she realised we had no retreats or gatherings for hoopers in Europe, so despite not having any experience of organising an event of this scale, Gems decided to set up the UK Hoop Gathering Project! With the first event selling out in 4 hours, it’s continued to be a massive success ever since and something Gems is passionate about continuing.
With delicious meals and a packed timetable of events, while the focus is, of course, on hooping and the sharing of ideas and moves, the event turned out to be the source of something much greater – a way of connecting with other hoopers from all around the UK! Although we are not spread quite as far apart as hoopers in the states, there are not that many events where we can all get together. Add the beauty of the area away from the city and the hooping energy was spinning up something enchanting!
Over the weekend we were treated to workshops with the legendary Sharna Rose, who taught me how to use my mistakes and explore them to create something new, there were also classes taught by Nick Broyd, Jo Mondy, Andy Broughton and Reni Hardmeier. They shared some hoopy goodness with us, each with a different focus, some looking at specific tricks and combining moves to create something unique, some looking at more flow based aspects of our hooping and the effect of music on our hoop dance.
As well as hooping workshops, we were also given the opportunity to take part in morning yoga, as well as a Bollywood dance class. The weekend was about creating the experience we wanted, giving us time to go along to the workshops of our choosing or taking the time for walking in the nearby wood or practising what we had learnt.
Two workshops that really stood out for me were Burlesque Hooping and 5 Rhythms Movement. Sexy hooping is not something I have ever explored, in fact I can honestly say I have avoided it entirely! But Zoe Pither’s burlesque hoop workshop really opened my eyes to embracing that aspect and laughing at myself rather than being self conscious! I don’t think you will be seeing any burlesque videos from Violet Sparkles (my new burlesque name!) any time soon though.
5 Rhythms Movement was a non-hooping based workshop focused on our own personal movement, dancing in an almost meditative way, exploring ourselves before we ‘put on’ our hoop. This workshop was something truly special, allowing us to explore our own energy while engaging with the energy of others at the same time. Picking up the hoop afterwards I realised how much the workshop had effected me. I was getting closer to being able to touch my own true movement and form of expression.
The evenings were also action packed! The customary Renegade show took place on the second night, a fantastic showcase of the talented European hoopers that were there, my personal highlight was the performance by Jo and her partner that spun up history through hoop dance! This was all followed by fire hooping, a hoop quiz (which my team won, just sayin’), and time to gather round the fire and talk to other like minded hoopers!
My first experience of a hoop gathering was one of the best experiences of my life, seriously! Before I went I was feeling a bit shy about myself, if I’m honest, but the event has reignited my passion for hooping very deeply. If you ever get a chance to come attend a UK Hoop Gathering, please do. Never will you meet such a welcoming, weird and wonderful group of people! But if you don’t see it in your future, maybe consider going to a gathering near you! It’s surprising how much a shared love of something, especially something like hooping, can create such a harmonious and productive environment, igniting something magical in us all.
(Photos by See Ying Hoopspirit)
Columnist Sophie Febrey of Fairy Face Hoops believes the world would be a better place if we all shared the hoopy love! She has been hooping for 2 years, and teaches/performs under the name HoopPixie in the UK. You can also find her on Facebook. She lives in Bristol, UK.
Sharna Rose of Inner Spin returns with a practice session inspired from her experience at the recent UK Hoop Gathering, held in Shropshire, England, UK. With her increasingly innovative moves she never fails to blow us out of the water, taking the hoop and making it something of her own. Just watch! It’s almost a guarantee you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. Her intrinsically unique flow is full of such beauty, reeling us in from start to finish. She lives in Maidstone, England, UK, and the soundtrack to her video is “Moonlight Tango” by Kaminanda, which you can easily call your very own on iTunes.
[This week Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn gets into the Hooposophy of our hoop dreams.]
“This bowl is the community. This rock is you. When you feel supported by the community, put the rock in the bowl.”
These were the instructions I heard on a public radio spot the other day. They were given to a journalist visiting the spiritual retreat where her parents had met years ago. Now, the purpose of this exercise at an isolated hermetic retreat is lost on me, but I’d say that as a metaphor it’s got bigger problems than that. For one, how are you supposed to feel supported by a community before putting yourself in it? And yet, I wonder how many of us think this way, safely pocketing our “rocks” until we get an embossed invite from “community?”
As far as the hooping community goes – local, regional, global, online and in-person – we appear to have an abundance! Our community is made up of almost as many kind of folk as there are in the world. We find ourselves in more and more places every day. We watch and encourage one another through our online forums and videos across cultures and oceans. But each year, with increasing options and locations, we have the added opportunity to convene, collaborate, and commune at a major event tailored exactly to our interests and needs. It’s one of the fastest routes into head-on community involvement we have. Whether you’ve never been to one, have trouble justifying the expense, or are a bit intimidated by the whole idea, here are my top five reasons for attending a hoop gathering (or starting to plan one in your community!) this year.