The hula hoops exact origins are unknown. Many hold the mistaken belief that it was invented in the 1950’s, as mass marketing gained it international popularity at that time. It is a popular toy, typically measuring 71 cm or 28 inches in diameter for children and 1.02m or 40 inch for the adult sizes that is twirled around the waist, neck or limbs.
Hula hooping has actually been in use as a form of exercise going back as far as 5th century Greece. Back then the traditional materials used for the construction of hoops included: willow, grapevines, stiff grasses, flexible rattan and strong vines. Hoops in the present day, however, are usually constructed of plastic tubing and often filled with rocks or materials that serve as weights to carry the hoop around the body. In 13th Century in Scotland hoops were in use by adults as a popular recreation or in religious ceremonies. According to their medical records, the doctors back than utilized this as recuperative treatment for patients with dislocated backs and those that had suffered heart attacks. Then in the 19th Century, the term “hula” was added to the toy name, drawing upon the similarities of the movement of the hips in the traditional dances of the Hawaiian Islands and those of the hooping enthusiast.
In recent years there has been a re-emergence of hula hooping, hoop dance or simply hooping. An international Holiday of World Hoop Day has become the celebrated event worldwide. On World Hoop Day, when the year, month and day all share the same number (2007-07-07 to 2012-12-12) hoopers dance in every city and country to raise money and donate hoops to others who can’t afford them. 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 that hoops of the 1950’s. The size and the weight of the hoop are specific for the individual use. 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 are usually covered in a fabric or plastic tape to increase traction and ease the amount of work in keeping a hoop twirling around the dancer. To make it colourful some use glow-in-the dark, patterned, or sparkling tape, or have the clear tubing filled with plastic balls, glitter, water and such to produce delightful visual and audio effects. LED technology now allows hoops to light up at the flick of a switch, delighting audiences worldwide.
Here are some interesting facts from Wikipedia: “The record for the most hoops twirled simultaneously is 132, set by Paul "Dizzy Hips" Blair on November 11, 2009.”
“The longest verified record holder is Aaron Hibbs from Columbus, Ohio who broke the record at 74 hours and 54 minutes between October 22, through 25, 2009”
Click to see a video of The Yate Dance and Acrobatic Team from Shenzhen, China performed at the International Stage at the CNE on Aug 21, 2012, Toronto:
Enjoy the Summer.