Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hooping . . . fever?

On my Christmas list this year I put (among other things because I am a greedy greedy person): hula hoop.

OK, not the old hula hoops you used as a kid, the flimsy striped circles with the beads inside. Nope, I wanted one of the new breed of hula hoops, made of heavier poly tubing, connectors and some colorful tape. These hula hoops fit adult bodies, are easier for starter hoopers to manage and can be easily made at home. Hoops like this come in plain, multi colored, UV reactive or light filled versions. They can be small, for kids, or large, for taller or rounder people. I wanted one!

I was introduced to hooping through my involvement with the Baltimore/DC Burning Man community, particularly at the biannual Playa Del Fuego event. It didn't really catch my eye until I watched a friend hooping - her movements were so smooth, so joyous, so much a dance and MORE that I thought, "I want to try that!". I didn't get an opportunity at that burn, though a few months later I did get some instruction while at a dance camp. All I managed to pick up at camp was the ability to keep the hoop up for about a minute, but I loved the whole process! I dropped the hoop, I shot it across the lawn, I hit myself in the head, I pulled muscles all along my sides but it was worth the satisfaction of getting that huge plastic circle spinning for just a little bit. That's when I added "hoop" to my Christmas list.

It is now a few months past Christmas, and the hoop is finally here! Make that the hoops are finally here. J read the hoop making tutorial, then went all over the area to find the proper tubing while being unable to find the proper connectors. So the hoop was partially done: a white unfinished circle, decorated with a pattern of made by laying lace over the plastic and coating it with spray paint. That's the hoop I got on Christmas. A month later, on a hunch, I went to an unvisited hardware store, and there were the connectors. Except, the size I picked up didn't work and J was leaving for tour for a month, before I could make another connector run. Finally I got back to the store, he got back from tour, and the second connector worked with a little tweaking from J. Success, a hoop!

But this hoop, this hoop was hard to use. Larger hoops spin at a slower rate, which is often easier for new hoopers. This hoop was smaller, just a little taller than my navel, which means I'd have to hoop fast for it to stay up and moving. Since I'm new at this I couldn't keep up my speed, and the hoop kept falling. So, "Larger hoop please!" I demanded, and J was happy to fill the order. Now there are two hoops; the second, when resting with one edge on the ground, comes to my chest, and it is decorated with a simple stripe of black electrical tape over the white base. It's rotation is slow and almost hypnotic, much easier for my untrained muscles to handle. J has happily found he can use it too, so for the past few days we've been grabbing the hoops and working with them in the middle of the living room.

Now, hooping is not belly dance. The hip movements that work with belly dance do not work with hoops. You can dance with hoops; I recommend looking up videos on YouTube to see what is possible. What I am looking forward to is learning a new kind of movement, one I can dance, one that that can be exercise that does not involve going to the gym, one I can take to the park or a party or a festival. One of my troupe members hoops, so I'm going to pick her brain while we're hanging out (I bet it would make a great pre class warm up!).

I admit, belly dance has a lot of my heart, and it's not going to be replaced, but it(and knitting, and sewing, and fire dancing) are going to have to scoot over a little and make some room for my hoop. I hope there's some space left when I finally learn how to play my accordion.

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