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.

Twins

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.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.