Hula Cool Facts
All the stuff you ever wanted to know about hula hooping. And some of the stuff you didn’t..
A bit about hooping!
A hula hoop is a toy hoop that is twirled around the waist, limbs or neck. The modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. Melin and Richard Knerr, but children and adults around the world have played with hoops, twirling, rolling and throwing them throughout history.
Hula hoops for children generally measure approximately 71 centimetres (28 in) in diameter, and those for adults around 1.02 metres (40 in).
Traditional materials for hoops include willow, rattan (a flexible and strong vine), grapevines and stiff grasses. Today, they are usually made of plastic tubing.
Native American Hoop Dance is a form of storytelling dance incorporating anywhere from one to thirty hoops as props . These props are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, which represent various animals, symbols, and storytelling elements.
The dance is generally performed by a solo dancer with multiple hoops. Before it was known and recognized as the common colourful plastic toy (sometimes with water inside the actual hoop), the traditional “hula hoop” used to be made of dried up willow, rattan, grapevines, or stiff grasses.
Even though they have existed for thousands of years, they are often misunderstood as being invented in the 1950s. According to author Charles Panati, there was a “craze” of using wooden and metal hoops in 14th-century England. He reports that doctors treated patients suffering from pain and dislocated backs due to hooping − and heart failure was even attributed to it. Panati also says that the name “hula” came from the Hawaiian dance in the 18th century, due to the similar hip movements.
Recently, there has been a re-emergence of hula hooping, generally referred to as either “hoopdance” or simply “hooping” to distinguish it from the children’s playform. The jam band The String Cheese Incident is widely credited with fostering a renewed interest in hooping. Band members started throwing hoops into their audiences in the mid-1990s, encouraging their fans to hoop and dance, spreading the word and the fun.
Hoopers have organised a special day once a year, World Hoop Day, to celebrate hooping. Modern hula hooping is seen at festivals and fairs including Burning Man, Bonnaroo, Camp Bisco, The Gathering of the Vibes, All Good, Lock’n, Camp Euforia, and Coachella.
Many modern hoopers make their own hoops out of polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, high-density polypropylene, or polypropylene tubing. The polyethylene hoops, and especially the polyvinyl chloride hoops, are much larger and heavier than hoops of the 1950s. The size and the weight of the hoop affect the style of the hooper.
Heavier, larger hoops are more often used for slow hooping and body tricks, while lighter, thinner tubing is used for quick hand tricks. These hoops may be covered in a fabric or plastic tape to ease the amount of work in keeping a hoop twirling around the dancer, and can be very colourful.
Some use glow-in-the dark, patterned, or sparkling tape, and others are produced with clear tubing and filled with plastic balls, glitter, or even water to produce visual or audio effects when used.
LED technology has also been introduced in the past few years, allowing hoops to light up at the flick of a switch. Programmable ‘Smart Hoops’ are available which provide a range of special effects.
Modern hooping has created a wide range of tricks. Hooping now includes many ‘on body’ moves and many ‘off body’ moves. A few examples include breaks, isolations, leg hooping, and double hooping.
Hooping has now become popular fitness activity, with classes taking place in many towns and cities across the world.
A recent development in hooping has been fire hooping, in which spokes are set into the outside of the hoop and tipped with kevlar wicks, which are soaked in fuel and lit on fire. Some companies produce collapsible hula hoops for easy transport and versatility.
Hula Hooping Records
- The longest verified record holder is Aaron Hibbs from Columbus, Ohio who kept a hoop spinning for 74 hours and 54 minutes between October 22, through 25, 2009.
- 8-year-old Mary Jane Freeze won a hooping endurance contest on 19 August 1976, by keeping the hoop spinning for 10 hours and 47 minutes.
- The record for the most hoops twirled simultaneously is 160, set by Marawa the Amazing on April 7, 2014. The previous record was 132, set by Paul ‘dizzy hips’ Blair, on June 15, 2009.
- On 19 February 2013, 4,483 people swung hula hoops to dance music for seven minutes. They did this without interruption at Thammasat University stadium in Thailand setting a world record for the most people dancing with hula hoops simultaneously in one place. Guinness World Records was there to confirm the record.
- The largest hoop successfully twirled was 13.88 metres (45.55 ft) in circumference, by Ashrita Furman of the United States in September, 2005.
- In 2000, Roman Schedler spun a 53-pound tractor tyre for 71 seconds at the 5th Saxonia Record Festival in Bregenz, Austria.
- In April 2010, 70 hoopers on Team Hooprama hula hooped the Music City Half-Marathon (21.0975 kilometres (13.1094 mi)) to raise awareness and funds for Hooping for Hope.
- In March 2013, the largest hula hoop workout (407 participants) was achieved at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Scotland by North Lanarkshire Leisure and Powerhoop Fitness.