At the Hula Hoop Festival
When I heard that London’s top Hula Hoop Artists were gathering at the Mile End Pavilion for their annual Hoopfest, I could not resist going along with Contributing Photographer Colin O’Brien to join the hoopla. I can think of no more exuberant expression of the joy of being alive than the art of Hula Hooping, and we were exhilarated to be surrounded by so many talented Hula Hoopers demonstrating a wider range of techniques and styles with the humble hoop than I ever imagined possible.
The festival is the inspiration of Anna the Hulagan & Rowan Bad-timing-Boy Byrne, a former boxer. “When you are boxing you don’t want your elbows to drop because that’s your guard, so I learnt to Hula Hoop to help with my defensive technique, “ Rowan, one of the lone males at the festival, admitted to me with a blush. “I was at a party in Shoreditch and Rowan asked to borrow my Hula Hoop to have a try,” explained Anna, continuing the story and revealing how she met Rowan and found love through Hula Hooping, “So then I started teaching him and we began dating, and now we are getting married.”
An intoxicating atmosphere of jubilation prevailed at the festival and many of the participants confided to me that Hula Hooping made them happy, as well as advocating the health benefits, the social possibilities and the limitless potential for fun. If you did not know it already, there is a Hula Hoop revival sweeping the globe – and it made my heart leap to encounter it here in the East End this week.
Anna the Hulagan & Rowan Bad-timing-Boy Byrne found love through the Hula Hoop.
Jennifer Farnell - “If I’m in a bad mood, I do bit of Hula Hooping and I immediately feel better.”
Helen Whitcher - “I wrote some music for a Hula Hooper and she gave me a hoop, so then I got interested. I find it really relaxing after a hard day at the office.”
Scarlett San Martin – “I always dance alone in my room, but I got a large room, so a Hula Hoop helped me to fill the space.”
Tina Johnson - “Hula Hooping has taught me patience, because if you become frustrated you get nowhere – so it makes you calm.”
Chloe Hannah Lloyd
See Ying Yip - “It’s addictive, I used to be ten stone but now I am seven stone and I just love dancing where I never used to dance before.”
Lyndsay Hooper - “Hooper by name, hooper by nature.”
Anna the Hulagan & Rowan Bad-timing-Boy Byrne
Photographs copyright © Colin O’Brien