What is Hooping? My Personal Hoop Dance Journey

Vaudeville Hippie's guide to hoop dance

Hoop Dance Beginnings

I have been practising the art of hoop dance for approximately ten years now.  This video was made about a year or so into my hoop dance journey, and in fact looking back, I can certainly see progression and development of style.  This, I will discuss in more detail later.

My boyfriend was a poi spinner when we first met.  So I started out learning poi. However, I saw a girl hooping at an outdoor circus meet in Bournemouth.  She looked so graceful and fluid with the hoop, I had never seen anything like it! My partner was certainly keen for me to adopt the sexy hoop girl look and encouraged me to give it a go.  My first adult hula hooping session finally happened at the Southern Lights Festival, 2007 in Dorset.

In the early days, I was totally obsessed with hooping.  Taking every opportunity to learn new tricks. Each day when I returned home from work I would get straight onto YouTube for tutorials, inspiration and even uploading my own videos. In 2010 I took the HoopGirl teacher training course and ran local hoop classes. And of course, back then (2008 – 2011), these were the days before full-length HD videos and Instagram.

Falling Out of Love

Sadly though, as with any new obsession, the honeymoon period eventually came to end as I fell out of love with hooping.  After a few years, I conquered all the tricks, lost my indoor hoop space (due to moving house) and if I’m honest got a bit bored.  I lost interest in watching hoop videos online and my practice faded into nothing. On top of this our circus club closed and other interests, like my doll making became new priorities.

Inspiration Beckons Once More

However, I have recently experienced a desire to return to the hoop.  A new wave of hoopers has emerged on Instagram.  They move and use the hoop in totally different ways from when I was first learning.  Developments in wedgie, wrap (fold), escalator combos have become far more advanced and exciting to watch.

I should acknowledge here, that this is a newer, faster style of hooping to me, which seems very unnatural when I spin. So, I therefore, wanted to re-explore the different styles of hooping and what it means to me.

Hoop Dance Styles

Big Hoop Hooping

Hula hoops were much bigger and heavier when I started out in 2008.  Most hoops were made from the 20mm (or thinner 15mm) blue irrigation tubing.  For newbie hoopers, the diameter was determined by the height of your belly button from the ground.  It was generally considered easier to learn hooping with these heavier hoops. When compared to the smaller lighter childrens hoops, these hoops were more in proportion with the adult body and the extra weight helped to slow everything down, and therefore making it easier to master even the basics like waist hooping.

I love this video from Rayna McInturf, founder of Hoopnotica, because it demonstrations a more sensual form of hoop dance and really inspired the way I liked to hoop.  In fact, as I understand, the name Hoopnotica was inspired by Rayna’s style. She quite literally ‘hoopnitized’ her audience as she performed a lot of on body hoop tricks!  Sadly, and I may just be looking in the wrong places, this form of dancing with the hoop seems to have disappeared.  Instead, it has been replaced with a quicker, more technical form as mentioned above.

Polypro Hoops

Hooping started to evolve when the polypro hoops were introduced, which I believe happened around 2010.  This is because several of favourite hoopers on YouTube were upgrading to this new type of hoop.  Larger, heavier “adult hoops” enabled new hoopers to master the basic tricks, whereas the polypros offered experienced hoop dancers an opportunity to explore more off-body tricks such as isolation variations (iso-pops) and wedgie tricks as previously described.

Down Sizing

Polypro is a much lighter plastic, so naturally spins around the body a lot faster.  When I changed over to the polypro hoops I needed had to re-learn some of the body tricks and adapt how I hooped to compensate for the change in weight and speed of my hoop.


The smaller lighter polypro hoops also gave rise to twin hooping.    This style of hoop dance uses two hoops.  It borrows and adapts tricks from poi spinning and focuses mostly on off body tricks.  This can be a fun alternative to singular hula hooping and certainly increases the level of challenge.

Hoop Dance is Awesome

It does not really matter whether you are an experienced or newbie hoop dancer.  The fact is, this is an amazing skill to have for your physical and mental well being.  As with any creative discipline though, avoid the temptation to compare your style with others because that is when fear and stagnation occurs.  We all have something to offer.  What is your favourite style of hooping?  What frustrates you.  Comment below and share your ideas.

Handmade Spring Items – Shop With Independent Sellers on Etsy #SpringLaunch

Handmade art textile dolls by Vaudeville Hippie

Spring is Coming

As I type the birds are tweeting proudly and getting ready for the arrival of Spring.  If you are looking for fresh new items for the up and coming season, then I encourage you to support online handmade businesses this year and search Etsy using the tag #SpringLaunch.

Ostara: Spring Collection By Vaudeville Hippie

As previously blogged, I am working on a new springtime collection inspired by the myth of the Goddess Ostara and her special relationship with the hare.

In addition to this, Vaudeville Hippie is taking part in an Etsy team event to help launch these new Spring items.  A litter of leverets in fresh spring colours have already launched in my Etsy shop.

Handmade OOAK Art Textile Doll by Vaudeville Hippie
Violet, Handmade OOAK Art Textile Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

This is Violet, the strongest and most active of the baby hares.  Violet and her sisters are made out of original fabric that I have dyed, printed and batiked by hand.  Therefore, these hare dolls are truly one of a kind.


To discover these items and more, use the hashtag #SpringLaunch. Below is a summary of some of the other team members taking part.

Modern Jewellery Choker by OnTheButtonPath

Llama Envelopes For Cash Budget System by MarketsofSunshine

Planner Kit Printable PDF by PaperdelSol


Bowl Cozy by EdiesLegacy


Feed Them – Butterflies Mug by RockinRobinGifts

Feed Them - Butterflies mug
















Vaudeville Hippie’s Special Valentine’s Day Offer 10% Off Handmade Jewellery

Handmade gift ideas by Vaudeville Hippie

Valentine’s Day Special Offer

Are you still searching for that perfect valentine’s day gift? Would you like to find a present that is unique, perhaps with an alternative vibe and created with love from a craftsperson?

Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie

Then Vaudeville Hippie has just the solution for you.  We have a selection of beautiful, bohemian, unique pieces of statement jewellery.  All made by hand, using mostly up-cycled materials. So surprise someone you love this Valentine’s Day with a thoughtful gift that is one of a kind and created with sustainability in mind.

Handmade gift ideas by Vaudeville Hippie

All this week, Monday 5th of Feb to Friday 9th of February, we are running a special Valentines Day offer.  This discount applies to all our handmade jewellery items in our Etsy shop.

Handmade gift ideas by Vaudeville Hippie











Beat the Blues Winter Sale Event on Etsy

Discounted Art Doll on Etsy #TeamPromo

Beat the Blues Winter Sale: Monday 29th Jan – Friday 2nd Feb 2018

My Etsy shop is taking part in the sales event ‘Beat the Blues Winter Sale’ this week.  The Etsy team ‘A Journey to $3000 in Sales’ have organised this promotional event. Members taking part are offering a variety of different discounts or free shipping.  Simply search the hashtag #TeamPromo on Etsy to discover these items or head over to my Pinterest board to take a sneak peek.  Be quick though, because the offers are only available until Friday 2nd February.

Discounted Art Doll on Etsy #TeamPromo
Katrina the Contortionist Cat, OOAK Art Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

During this promotion, I am pleased to be offering 15% off any of my dolls that are over £100.  As a result, Katrina the Contortionist Cat is looking for her new home.   Like any cat, she is firstly looking for a place to snuggle up in comfort.  However, in true feline tradition, Katrina also requires a magical space where she can stretch out and practise her circus skills to wow her new friends.










Spinning Poi and the Different Types of Poi Styles

Fire Spinning

Spinning  Poi 

The long and warm summer evenings are upon us.  To make the most out of this weather, we have been down the beach to practise our poi spinning, hoop and slack lining skills.

Cone poi by vaudeville hippie


What is Poi?

Fire Spinning

Poi spinning is a dance based performance. The set of poi are used as a prop to create visual patterns.   They become an extension to the movements of the body and accentuate each move.  The ‘poi’ is a weight attached to a cord or tether.  The weight  is swung in a combination of circles, loops and arcs to create patterns.  These are greatly enhanced and most visible when the poi heads are on fire or made out of colourful LEDs.

Poi light trails vaudeville hippie

I first discovered spinning poi about ten years ago when I met my partner, Steve.  Since I first started spinning, it has exploded in popularity and has developed into many styles.

Poi Origins

Poi originates from Maori culture and is traditionally performed by groups of women.  This is accompanied by traditional songs and dance routines, whilst swinging the poi in unison.  The poi strings are much shorter than contemporary poi.   Simple shapes and patterns are created  and repeated throughout the dance routine.

Poi Dancing

Dancing with the poi is the most spontaneous form of spinning that I know of.  This is my favourite way to spin,  and it feels like a form of moving meditation.  No thinking is required, the spinner just goes with what feels good.  This is often referred to as ‘flow’ and hence the term ‘flow arts’ is also used to refer to poi other forms of object manipulation.

Tech Poi

Tech spinning requires less whole body movement than poi dancing.  So tech spinners tend to be more stationary.  The movement is predominantly in the upper body, especially in the arms and shoulders.  Tech spinners focus upon more intricate and complicated interactions with the poi heads and play with timing and direction, more purposefully.  This video by Russian spinner Ivan [Mel] Gorbunov, was my first introduction to tech spinning.

Contact Poi and Poi Juggling (Poi-ggling)

Contact poi is really a hybrid between poi spinning and contact juggling.  Therefore, practise contact balls, are attached to a thicker tether and weighted handles are used to act as a counter weight. This slows the poi down when thrown.  It provides the spinners with an opportunity to ‘bounce’ the poi off their body. 

Typically, other forms of poi spinning  use a pair of poi.  However, many contact spinners like to use three poi heads because this enables them to juggle with the poi as well.   Traditional poi moves have been adapted and combined.  This has created tricks that require the poi heads to interact with the body.  This includes rolling the poi across parts of the body, like contact juggling as demonstrated in this Keith Marshall poi video. 


Partner Poi

Partner poi is all about sharing the fun.  A pair or group of spinners dance and move together as their bodies and poi interact with each other.  Therefore, new moves and patterns are created in this form of spinning.  German based poi performance group Loooop are masters in creating playful and visually stunning partner poi routines.

Spinning with Fire 

The addition of fire flames certainly brings a magical element to the audience when watching fire spinning.  The trailing fire, enhances the patterns created by the poi spinner.  The moving flames roar as swing through the air. This sound emphasis the danger element of fire spinning.

LED/Glow Poi

Like fire spinning, glow poi are great for spinning with at night and outside.  The light trails momentarily capture the patterns created by the poi heads.  In recent years, LED technology has greatly advanced.  A poi performer can now programme the colours and sequences of the LEDs in their poi to correspond to a track of music.  The technology created by Apixel Toys can also create photographic images as seen in this photographic stills video by Japanese spinner Yuta.

Timing and Direction

To really make the most out of spinning a set of poi, the spinner should  understand how to change the timing and direction of the poi heads.  This knowledge helps to access advanced moves and tricks.  This video by American multi-prop manipulator Noel Yee explains the concept in more detail.

Sharing Knowledge and Expansion of Poi

The poi community has expanded  due to the rise of internet forums.   The popularity of YouTube,  has helped to rapidly grow the knowledge base. This has enabled poi spinners to share and discover new tricks and styles of poi.  It will be interesting to see where this sharing of knowledge takes poi spinning over the next couple of years.

Summer Collection

Vaudeville Hippie Summer Collection 2017

Summer Collection 2017 by Vaudeville Hippie

Vaudeville Hippie is excited and proud to introduce our summer collection for 2017.  This is because we have included a new practise poi design, lighter weight newsboy caps and a vibrant alternative to our up-cycled statement necklaces.


This collection has taken inspiration from the glorious, vibrant colours of the English country garden.    In particular, this photo was used as a starting point. As a result you can clearly see how it influenced the colour choice.  I simply love the contrast between the hot pinks against the green and yellow.

Vaudeville Hippie Summer Collection 2017

Practise Sock Poi

Introducing new practise cone poi into the Vaudeville Hippie poi range.

Cone Poi

Handmade practice poi by Vaudeville Hippie
Cone, Sock Poi

Sock Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie Sock Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie Sock Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie Sock Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie Sock Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie Sock Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie

Unique Poi with Swivel Handles

Handmade Practise Poi by Vaudeville Hippie
Practise Poi Set with Handles and Swivels

Alternative poi designs are also available.

Newsboy Caps

These newsboy caps really stand out.  The vibrant summer colour panels and inner peak lining, compliment the black beautifully.

newsboy cap by vaudeville hippie

newsboy cap by vaudeville hippie

See the full newsboy cap range here.

Original Handmade Geometric Boho Statement Necklaces

Painted Wooden Necklace Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie Painted Wooden Necklace Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie Painted Wooden Necklace Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie Painted Wooden Necklace Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie Painted Wooden Necklace Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie Painted Wooden Necklace Handmade in the UK by Vaudeville Hippie

The necklaces are also available in pastel shades.

 Tote Bags

Screen Printed Bags

Tote Bag by Vaudeville Hippie

Handmade in the UK Screen Printed Tote Bag by Vaudeville Hippie

Up-cycled Bag

Handmade bag by Vaudeville Hippie

Check out our other bag designs.


These items are now available from our Etsy shop, alongside our full range.

My Creative Journey: Hoop Dance to Rockabilly

Creative Journey from Hoop Dance to Rockabilly

My Creative Journey

Vaudeville Hippie has been a creative journey.  Initially sparked by learning the art of hoop dance, which was the gateway to discover other dance forms and styles.  This post tracks that creative journey.

Hoop Dance

Hoop dance became a massive turning point in my life. This is me in 2008 when I first discovered the joy and addiction of hula hooping.  It is also the first hoop I ever made.

From Hoop Dance to Rockabilly (The Journey of a Tangent!)
My first ever hoop

Hoop Dance Aesthetic

Like many newbie hoopers I became obsessed with all things hoop related from learning tricks, making hoops, visiting forums and the hoop dance style that seemed to be emerging. At the time I would not have known how to describe this style but now I would say that the hoopers fused styles from cyberpunk, tribal fusion belly dance and hippie faerie festival wear, amongst other influences. This is probably most notable in ‘The Good Vibe Hoop Tribe’s‘ video.  One of the first hoop dance videos to inspire me. Despite the low quality I still enjoy watching this from time to time.

Melodia Pants

I kept watching these hoop videos on YouTube, desperately trying to find information about a particular a style of trousers that many of the hoopers were wearing.

Melodia style tribal fusion belly dance pants

After a lot of searching on google images, tribes.net and even eBay using terms like ‘hoop trousers’ or ‘split flared trousers’ I discovered that this style of trouser originated from tribal fusion belly dance and they are called Melodia Pants.  This style is also worn for yoga.


Tribal Fusion Belly Dance

Belly dance performance at Play Festival 2013 wearing a more cabaret style costume

Up until this point I was only aware of Cabaret Belly Dance.  Therefore, the discovery of Tribal Fusion was really exciting. My interest with this style of belly dance, was not just for it’s aesthetic but also for new ways of moving with the hoop. There are differences in dance moves and technique too.  When compared with each other, visually they are very different.  Tribal Fusion and Gothic Belly Dance  are much darker in colour using heavier fabrics and embellishment.  Whilst reading up on the Tribal Fusion style the phrases ‘earthy’ and ‘grounded’ kept cropping up and it took me a while to fully understand what that actually meant.

Illustration inspired by the East Coast Tribal DVD cover

During my quest for comprehensive belly dance instructional DVD I came across the World Dance New York series who specialise in all genres of belly dance, as well as other forms of dance. Here I discovered Sera Solstice and her East Coast Tribal Belly Dance DVD.

For a time, I became a little bit obsessed with belly dance and felt compelled to dig a little further. This led me to the discovery of Rachel Brice and I fell in love with Rachel’s style. Brice has collected and combined a range of accessories from around the world, allowing her to achieve her unique tribal fusion costume style.  Sometime later, I discovered that Rachel also dresses and dances in a vaudeville style.


Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag
Vaudeville Hippie Tribal Fusion Belly Dance Screen Printed Tote Bag

Pin Up and Rockabilly

I loved the diverse selection that World Dance New York  had to offer, and as a subscriber to their YouTube channel I was instantly intrigued by the release of their ‘How to be a Pin Up Model’ DVD.

Although I was aware of the ‘vintage look’ it had never occurred to me to explore the style visually.  I love the elegance, but also the bright red hair and lips.  Whilst delving into the world of pin up I stumbled across rockabilly.

A modern take on Pin Up/Rockabilly shoes

Pin Up and Rockabilly are similar in style.  This is through make-up and choice of 1950s fashion.  Pin Up, however, is more glamorous and focuses on modelling.  Whereas Rockabilly grew out of the rockabilly music.  It has a bit more attitude with tattooed and pierced girls.

So there you have it, my creative journey from hoop dance to rockabilly.


My Brand Identity Vaudeville Hippie

vaudeville hippie hand stamp

Choosing a Suitable Brand Name

When I was deciding upon a brand identity I wanted to choose something that naturally reflected my passion.   I have been learning circus skills for many years, and this played an important of this decision.  Visually, the circus theme has limitless potential from the shapes, colours and patterns it provides.


I first encountered the term ‘vaudeville’ when I went to an event in Bournemouth titled ‘Vaudeville Circus and Masquerade Ball’. The night had a range of acts ranging from circus, to burlesque to belly dance and we were lucky enough to see English pin-up and burlesque dancer Anna Fur Laxis and her axe throwing act.

Masquerade ball poster

Vaudeville Hippie at the Masquerade Ball

Since then, it has been a visual and creative reference point. I have particularly enjoyed exploring and collecting images using Pinterest and incorporating these ideas into my drawing and craft work. Whilst exploring images for my Pinterest boards I came across these gorgeous costumes by London based Prangsta Costumiers. I simply adore these costumes and feel that they totally sum up everything I love about the circus and cabaret style.

History of Vaudeville

Vaudeville is a style of entertainment first popularised in America in the early twentieth century. Acts would vary widely from belly dance, circus, burlesque, freak (bearded woman etc), the strongman and comedy acts as characterised by Charlie Chaplin, all wrapped up with a strong vintage flavour.

Vaudeville Illustration

Handmade OOAK Art Textile Doll by VHippie Dolls


Hippie – A Way of Life

My Partner and I would probably describe ourselves as ‘hippies’, nothing full blown (we pay a mortgage for instance). But we are hippies in terms of outlook on life. Aspiring towards something that sits outside the established norm, of creativity and verging on the unconventional. All underpinned by a massive love of nature and appreciating the wonders of the natural world.

Vaudeville Hippie Style Circus fancy dress

We use our time to practise circus skills, Steve plays guitar and creates music, I dabble with learning to belly dance and yoga.

Circus skills poi spinning

Circus Hippie

I knew I wanted to include the word ‘hippie’ in the business name because I just felt it was a strong indication and description of our style and ethos. ‘Hippie’ was in fact the starting point because, as mentioned above, it was something I felt most in tune with.  I began with the concept of handmade hippie, unfortunately this had already been used a million times over.  So the search was on to find something that uniquely summed up what we are all about.

It was important that ‘Hippie’ remained because it also fits in with the circus theme.  Circus skills are becoming popular with people drawn to the hippie style which can be seen at festivals. There are even festivals that are specifically aimed at the circus/ hippie crowd such as Play and Southern Lights (which has sadly been postponed until further notice).

Southern Lights Circus Festival
Southern Lights Circus Festival
Play Festival Circus Festival
Play Festival

Vaudeville Hippie

Therefore Vaudeville Hippie was born.  It is actually an idea that began in 2012 when I was still working full time as an art teacher.  I have adapted this post from my original WordPress Blog.  Now in 2016, I have left teaching and have more time to develop the Vaudeville Hippie brand with new ideas and new inspirations that have evolved since starting.

I look forward to reaching out and sharing the next stage of this creative journey.