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.

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.