Non-hoopers often give me compliments. I’d like to begin by saying thank you! Myself as well as other hoopers really appreciate this. But…. Something has been bothering me lately. I hear non-hoopers putting down people they don’t view as talented. I’ve been told things such as “she’s copying you, but sucks.” While I’m glad that you think I’m ‘good’, I’d much rather not have you talk bad about someone else. Hoopers all have a starting point. Some can easily keep things going at their waist from the start. Others struggle. No one is able to smoothly and effortlessly move across a dance floor without loosing a beat.
I am one of those that fit into the category of awkward beginners. I was reluctant to even tell anyone about the hoop, because I was too self conscious. I was intimidated by other hoopers. After much practice I stopped being so concerned and would hoop at house parties. At the time I could somewhat keep it going on my waist, occasionally hips, and lift it over my body. It took me over six months before I could even think about taking a step without it falling to the ground. I tried to teach myself new moves, but didn’t have much luck. I even did a horrible number on my back trying to learn to shimmy the hoop up to the shoulders. I gave up on the trick and anything like it because I didn’t want to be in that much pain again. A few months later Heika was awesome enough to show me how to keep it going on my chest.
Around the same time I was making plans for my first Burning Flipside. I really wanted to try spinning fire. Memorial Day weekend 2010 saw those plans fulfilled. I know I looked awkward and my skills were very limited, yet I still had a great time. During the weekend I saw an amazing fire hooper! I watched in awe of how well he moved inside and out of the hoop. He had amazing flow. That’s when I gave myself a new goal. I wanted to be able to leave people in that same kind of awe. That’s where a distinction is very important. It’s not that I wanted to be better than him. It was about improving myself.
Over the summer my hoops never strayed far. I would hoop for hours a day. I set goals to learn new tricks. I found my flow and was able to dance with the hoop. The whole time I was searching for fellow hoopers. It seemed like they all lived so far away. I tried to talk friends into joining me, but no one was very interested. I finally started finding hoopers in Dallas/Fort Worth. I’d been improving so much over the summer that many of the other hoopers would give me compliments. This shocked me. I still viewed myself as awkward. That’s when I realized how much my practice was paying off. I also learned the valuable lesson that I could do any trick with enough practice. There are still tons of tricks I haven’t learned to do, but everything takes time. It’s taken me months to learn one trick before. Nowadays I do take my hoop to public places, but it’s not to show off. It’s because hooping makes me happy.
That’s where I feel the important lesson comes to play. An outsider might see a less experienced hooper as lacking skill. Reality is they just need time and practice. It makes me cringe whenever I’m told that a hooper isn’t as good as me. We’ve all been there. Everyone starts somewhere. There are plenty of tricks I can’t do, yet. There are lots of things I know I could do better. Every day that I grab my hoop and play, I get a little better. You never know how amazing they might be in six months or even a year. Something I feel that is very important is to compliment a person when you see them doing something well. Being told “You did such and such awesome” or a broader “You look great hooping” can really make a person’s day.
Another important thing for outsiders to know: I never worry that someone is copying me. I want more people to hoop. I enjoy having others to enjoy it with. If someone wants to learn to hoop, I will help them as much as I can along the way. Almost every hooper will agree with me on this. We have our own community that most outsiders are unaware of. It’s the friendliest group of people I’ve ever met. We encourage each other and acknowledge personal as well as group accomplishments.
In the end it isn’t a competition. Hooping is something that people do for fun. It makes us feel good about ourselves. Please keep this in mind, especially if you’re not a hooper. There is no reason to create any negativity in the activity. It’s an extremely challenging yet highly enjoyable pastime.