Rock It: Music festivals mesmerize with hula hooping as part of concert

Posted on November 14, 2013

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Rock It: Music festivals mesmerize with hula hooping as part of concert

Hilary Almas demonstrates her hula hooping talent, in West Lafayette, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Hilary Almas demonstrates her hula hooping talent, in West Lafayette, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

By: Rachael Mattice

Brett Drinkut

Monica Marz, Brett Drinkut

Hula hooping gained ubiquitous popularity nationwide in the mid-90s when Colorado-based jam-band The String Cheese Incident enhanced their live shows by tossing hoops from the stage and encouraging fans to groove.

Dispersing across festivals like Burning Man, Wakarusa and Bonnaroo, other musicians like Phish also added spectacle elements that no longer made concerts solely about music, but made concerts an entire stage theatrics show filled with various eye and mind psychedelia.

Hula hooping, or “hooping,” is part of a greater spectrum of the flow arts that evoke playful and sequential movements for blissful awareness that are dynamic and flowing for the mind and body. Since the hooping movement started, it’s been molded into a modern art, dance and storytelling exercise most commonly seen at music festivals with jam-band and electronic music.

Brett Drinkut

Lauren Huffine, Brett Drinkut

For the past three years, West Lafayette residents Hilary Almas, 23, Lauren Huffine, 21, Monica Marz, 23, and Bekah Barnett, 23, have discovered the art form and connected with the hooping community.
Hooping combines technicality with freestyle tricks that is accompanied by music and takes cues from rhythmic gymnastics, twirling, poi, fire dancing and other movement forms.

“The first couple of weeks was hours of practice, and it was really hard until there was a eureka moment, “Huffine said. “All of a sudden I knew where to grab and how it moved and connected with the music.”
Cheap plastic toy hoops used for children are not adequate for festival hooping. Instead, a

Hilary Almas demonstrates her hula hooping talent, in West Lafayette, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Hilary Almas demonstrates her hula hooping talent, in West Lafayette, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

heavier hoop constructed of polypropylene or a high-density polyethylene tubing is preferred, usually wrapped with colorful tape that serves multiple purposes for decoration, grip and rotation speed.

“For an advanced hooper, a size of 33 inches in diameter is recommended,” said Barnett who is a performance fire hooper. “Anything from 38 to 42 inches in diameter is preferred for beginners depending on your height.”

Finding the right hoop for your size is pivotal for faster revolutions around the waist, but also hips, chest, neck, shoulders and other body parts.

* Need costume ideas? Watch the video for tips on what to wear for hooping

Hoops can also be made collapsible for easy transport and versatility, battery powered for light-emitting diodes or use with attachable fire spokes to take advantage of a phenomenon called “persistence of vision.” The spell-bounding effect occurs when lights move at high speed within the observer’s vision.

Bekah Barnett demonstrates her hula hooping talent by using fire, in West Lafayette, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Bekah Barnett demonstrates her hula hooping talent by using fire, in West Lafayette, on Thursday, May 9, 2013.

“There is a whole community of hooping and tons of websites and businesses that have grown from making LED and fire equipment,” Barnett said. “I market myself and send videos to festivals and bands for solo performance, and there are troops that market themselves collectively.”

At festivals that mesmerize their audience with theatrics, hoopers “help each other out and empower each other, not compete” said Almas.

The now international hooping community has expanded from music festivals to mastering instructors to teach whole-body fitness, wellness and induced meditative consciousness.

“Learning how to hoop was a beautiful experience that made me happy,” said Marz. “It becomes part of you and is a great stress relief to find peace. Anyone can do it, they just may not realize it.”

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at rmattice@jconline.com or on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

Music Festivals this Summer:
• Summer Camp – May 24-26, Chillicothe, Ill.
• Hyperion – Sept. 6-7, Stable Studios, Spencer, Ind.
• Wakarusa – May 30 – June 2, Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, Ark.
• Electric Forest – June 27-30, Rothburry, Mich.
• Root wire – August 15-18, Kaeppner’s Woods, Logan, Ohio
Music Festival Essentials suggested: Water, baby wipes, glitter, fun things/costumes to wear, camping supplies, bug spray, sunscreen, two outfits per day, camel-backs
World Hoop Day” Every year, in numerical sequence starting from 2007-07-07 and continuing through 2012-12-12 hoopers dance in every city and country to raise money and donate hoops to others who can’t afford them.

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Posted in: "Rock It" Column