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The most beautiful part about living in San Francisco is being surrounded by all its diversity. It doesn’t matter what you’re into: BDSM, polyamory, coding, coffee or avocados. You name it, and you’ll find a community that digs it too. Open-mindedness and unconditional acceptance are essential ingredients in this city’s melting pot. Thanks to those two components, many famous, sometimes even religious, subcultures have emerged here.
When you hear the words “hula hoop,” you probably don’t think about bloodthirsty British barbarians, sexually charged creation myths or artistic statements full of barbed wire and nudity. But guess what? There’s much more to the hula-hoop than a mere 1950s toy craze.
Why does this group exist and what is its history?
The Bay Area Hoopers was founded in 2003 at a party, where a couple of friends were hooping, and they decided to do that every weekend, since then they’ve been hooping every weekend at different locations, they send an email to the members of the group with the location of their jams, and their members bring their friends and the group keeps growing, in a cultural relativism environment.
The hoop has been around practically since the dawn of history. The tomb of Kheti, built approximately four thousand years ago, displays two men holding sticks with hooked ends battling to control a hoop displayed between them. The hoop game helped Ancient Egyptian men to establish agility and dexterity. Children also played with larger hoops created out of dried grapevines. These hoops were rolled on the ground and guided by the children with sticks (hooping.org).
Hooping first started its comeback in the mid-’90s among fans of the String Cheese Incident. The jam band began tossing hoops into the audience during shows, and it wasn’t long before hoops were spotted at underground dance community events and Burning Man.
Twenty-first century hooping is actually more fun than it was 50 years ago, primarily because the hoops have gotten bigger — the larger and heavier the hoop, the slower it rotates around your body.
While the ’50s hula-hoop had its birth in California, its roots lay elsewhere. Makeshift and wooden hoops were used for playful purposes in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and 14th century England. In the 1950s, Japan banned hooping and the Soviet Union cited hula-hoops as an example of the “emptiness of American culture.” Today, you’ll find hula-hoops spinning around the waists of tribal shamans, video game assassins and fire dancers. They’re at once items of nostalgic whimsy, childhood innocence, sexual magnetism and physical fitness. It only takes a modicum of physical ability to use one correctly, yet hula masters refine hooping to an athletic art form.
How does this group give meaning to the lives of individual members?
Most of the informants’ experiences are practically similar, they used to be really shy or introverted people, but when they discovered hooping, they created a social consensus. That realization took them to a place where they found a center of a circle, which is ironic, but its something that they called the flow. It’s like loosing yourself, but discovering different dimensions, that enhance your emotions, they said.
How does this particular location (field site) play a role for the members of this group?
One of the informants told me that they don’t have a particularly location to practice, what they usually do is inform their members the next location.