Hooping 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Hooping (Part  1)

Hooping 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Hooping (Part 1)

By: Dana Liberatore


If you’ve been to a festival, an EDM show, or on social media, you’ve seen them. They come in all shapes and sizes and you never know when you’re going to spot one in a crowd. They’re bright, and fast and you can’t help but smile when you see one.

You guessed it, hula hoopers!! Flow artists are a huge part of the EDM scene. But where did this come from?

When did Hula Hoops go from being a childhood toy, to a prop capable of evoking feeling, art and expression, and learning healthy habits?

Hula Hoops date back as far as 3000 BCE!! The Egyptians were making sacred circles for their children to play with out of rattan. The Louvre holds a Greek vase from 500BCE depicting a woman running with a hoop, which the Greeks then called a “wheel” used for exercise.

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Hooping continued to grow, through Native American culture, being used not only to dance, but for target practice as well.

Hooping as it is known now, was introduced to the masses in the 1930s by a man named Tony White Cloud, a Pueblo man who demonstrated new and beautiful ways to dance with the prop.

In 1957, after a trip to Australia, someone brought a bamboo hoop to the man who owned “Whamo” toys, and after changing the material to the more readily available and affordable plastic, the hoop began to be made in mass.

These first hoops were sold for $1.98 and within 4 months, almost a quarter of a BILLION units had been sold. And so began the craze!

FUN FACT - The band The String Cheese Incident is actually credited with the rejuvenation of the hooping craze, as,back in the 1990s, they used to throw out hoops from stage and people would bring them home as souvenirs. Eventually people started bringing their own and they began to rise again in popularity! If you needed a reason attend Hulaween, there it is. String Cheese hosts this festival every year!

While all of that is interesting, where does it leave us today? Hooping has come a long way since the days of Tony White Cloud, but his spirit lives on.

Today, you would be hard pressed to go to a festival and NOT see someone throwing around a circle.

There is an entire community of hoopers and artists creating movement every day, adding new techniques and tricks, and ways to advance the art. Which can make it incredibly overwhelming after you decide you want to try it out.

Turns out, deciding you want to hoop is the easy part. Now it’s a matter of determining size, tubing size, material, color, and most importantly, where to get it.

Even after you tackle all of that, then there is the problem we all face.

The questions . . .

“How do I get this thing to work?”
“What’s an easy trick I can learn?”
“Did I get the wrong size?”
“How come it isn’t working for me?”
“Is this thing on?”

Instead of throwing your hoop in frustration, take a minute and find out what some seasoned hoopers, think you should know before you start, and certainly before you give up!

In part two of this dive into hooping, we get to chat with the owners of some small, women owned hoop shops who share their tips for purchasing and care of your next hoop!

First let’s get to know some hoopers and what they think is most important when starting your hoop journey.


Meet Our Hoopers:

Sara- AKA @Sundrop.Grooves


RBC: How long have you been hooping?

Sara: I’ve been hooping for 10 years, including performing for local venues and underground EDM shows. I got to dance for Excision as a GO-GO dancer at a glow rage, that was dope! I am currently teaching students on a one on level. I find that to be the MOST rewarding feeling. To share what I’ve learned over the years is so special to me!! Sharing with so many people is like the ULTIMATE PRIZE! 

RBC: Let’s talk about hoop size, what do you like to work with and why?

Sara: Favorite hoop size is currently a 27” with 5/8th tubing. But when I’m learning, I do like to have 3/4th tubing and 28” - just seems to help me learn with the hoop being a little bit bigger.

RBC: Ok, so what’s your favorite trick/move?

Sara: My favorite trick would have to be vertical chest hooping. I have been in love with that since my first year of hooping. When I am doing that the whole world disappears and you will probably catch the cheesiest smile on my face!

RBC: What’s a trick you had a hard time with and how did you overcome the obstacle?

Sara: Bunny ears!!! That trick took me 9 years and now that I have it down, I don’t even use it. Got to go back to that cause if you don’t use it, you lose it

RBC: What’s your advice for new Hoopers?

Sara: Don’t compare your journey to anyone else, everyone flows different and learns at their own pace! It’s all about having fun and letting your inner child dance freely without judgement. Beyond that, my DMs are always open to any new hooper with a question or concern.


Ocoee Huss AKA @Whippinwitch 23, MI

RBC: What is your favorite hoop size and why?

Ocoee: 26” diameter and 5/8 tubing – this is my favorite size due to my ability to be in tight spaces such as my apartment, in crowds, and still be able to practice/dance around with it. I did start with a 28” 3⁄4 tubing which I really enjoyed and still do enjoy! That is a good beginner size for tech hoop work (not necessarily on body work, you may want something bigger or else you could risk getting discouraged)

RBC: Favorite Hoop Shop and why?

Ocoee: I don’t have a favorite hoop shop. I have bought a lot of hoops from ‘vibrant hoops’ at festivalsbecause I love the owner. I have also purchased quite a few hoops as well as other props from Spinsterz-I am now an ambassador, which is pretty cool. I have also bought a few hoops from utopia artistry, but I
am going to start buying from little serenity shop since they are local!

RBC: Favorite Trick and why?

Ocoee: My favorite trick is the very basic isolation; it pauses my flow and lets me connect with my viewers and always boggles their mind after they’ve been watching the hoop fly around. I also love to roll the hoop across my back rather than my chest- and knee hooping! Those are some basics that I adore.

RBC: Have you ever hooped on a professional level and if so, what was that experience like for you?

Ocoee: Yes, one of the times was a cannabis community event in a garden in Detroit, that was very nonchalant and relaxed – there was music playing and I just got to play around with my hoop and amaze viewers which was fun. I have done a few other events such as this one but am looking to moving on to
performing paid gigs in the future.

RBC: If you could give new hoopers a piece of advice, what would it be?

Ocoee: You have to be bad before you can be good; embrace messing up and don’t give up! Start off with easy moves, watch tutorials and drill the moves one at a time – consistently work on that move and become comfortable with It. Practice it by putting it into your natural flow, dancing comfortably to
music you enjoy. Allow yourself to be free and present; flow with the music how you see fit.


@Hoopweavinglibra 51, New Orleans, LA

RBC: Favorite Hoop Shop and why?

HWL: @idreamofhoops has some of the most unique styles that I have not seen anywhere else, such as reflective mosaics, and she is always willing to do custom orders. @Utopiaartistryco is another great shop.

RBC: Favorite Trick and why?

HWL: Well, my forte is double hooping and what attracted me to it was the beauty of weaves (and also inspired my hooper name) so I would say any type of fountain, but the 4-beat fountain I think is most pleasing to the eye for its speed in circling the body.

RBC: What’s a trick that gave you a really hard time?

HWL: The trick that gave me the most difficulty was going from knee hooping up to waist. I realized that I wasn’t using a large enough hoop, but once I understood the body mechanics with a larger hoop, I have gradually been able to decrease the circumference, but it was a killer. Some people seem to come by it so naturally! Don’t be afraid of big hoops!

RBC: What advice would you give someone for purchasing their first hoop?

HWL: Pick a big heavy hoop with PE tubing and tape for learning on-body and a smaller lighter bare hoop for off-body tricks. Hoops are only about $30 each and there aren’t many other hobbies you can start for about $60 bucks! Buy two! Soon you will be buying one in every color anyway!

RBC: What impact has hooping had on your overall life and wellbeing?

HWL: I injured my back as a teenager. It has led to some chronic conditions like arthritis and spondylolisthesis, bulging discs. Before starting a routine of hooping and Pilates I was researching surgical procedures. Hooping is an excellent way of keeping the spine limber without causing too much stress and now I feel my back is in better condition than even 15 years ago.

It’s never too late to start hooping, I was 46. It’s an amazing hobby that is appropriate for all ages, all fitness levels and you only need some space and a hoop; you can take it anywhere!! The benefits are both physical (burns calories,
improves motor skills) and emotional (builds confidence through accomplishment)!

Hooping and flow can teach us so much, beyond the physical and into the mental, spiritual and beyond, but the lessons are different for each individual. somehow the prop always knows what you need to get from it.

As Ocoee (Whippinwitch) so beautifully put it, “One of the things hooping taught me was to not be afraid to take up space in this world”, and that is a lesson we all could use a little more of sometimes.

To Be Continued . . .

Now that you know what magic hooping can be, I’m positive questions remain.
“What is HDPE and what is Polypro?”
“What does ¾ and 5/8 th mean?”
“Where do I even get the right hoop?”
“How do I care for this hoop?”

In part two, we explore these questions and more when we explore some small, women owned hoop shops and ask the proprietors what they think the best advice is for new hoopers.


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