Photo by Jay Paul
I was in Philadelphia and saw hoopers hooping with fire and I just didn’t know what in the world it was. So, I came home and Googled it and I fell in love with it. I was in the corporate world doing stressful, project-management work, a single mom, and I was 39 years old. There was a huge need to do something fun.
I found someone willing to come to Richmond and do a workshop and that’s really how it all started. That was in 2007. I’d go on tribe.net and meetup.com and say, “Where are you guys? Are you into this, too? Please meet me in this park,” or “Hey, I just invited this famous hooper” – ’cause hooping was not new, it was just new to Richmond — “to come and teach us.” It was about dance. Not about hula hooping. It was about
taking a hula hoop and being able to do something more creative with it. It was adults reclaiming play, as someone I know once said. And it really is. It’s adults reclaiming a recess time and being able to shut down just a little while.
And it exploded. Every big event in Richmond, my phone was ringing to supply a tent and community hoops. People also were paying us to perform, so we incorporated in 2010 as a nonprofit called RVA HoOp HOuse. I let that lapse last May because I want to find a fresh voice to organize it. But, we’d come with 50 to 100 hoops and we make all of them so that adults can do it. You can’t do it with a child’s hoop. You need a big, giant hoop. A magic hoop, I call it, and there isn’t anything more beautiful to me than watching someone who said they couldn’t do it, do it.
I love to teach. I start by asking people, “Why are you here? Why hoop dance?” It was usually, “I just moved here to Richmond. I’m looking to meet friends. I feel like this is a thing where there will just be nice people.” And I’ve always said, “Assholes don’t hoop.”
Because they don’t. But, seriously, it became more about building of community because hooping was drawing in people who had an open heart and a willingness to do something that might make them look silly, and unfortunately, we adults are not always willing to do that.
I’m not doing what the new hoopers are doing.
It’s evolved into people doing tricks and it’s become very competitive. It’s a personal thing. But I do Sunday Funday. It’s from 3 p.m. until dark o’clock at different parks. You can find info on the RVA HoOp LOvers page on Facebook.
It’s a cool thing that you can walk some place,
any place with a hoop, and we know each other. There are hundreds and hundreds of us in Richmond, if not thousands.