Think back to the last time you picked up a hula hoop. Probably not since you could write your age with a single digit, right?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Spin Revolution is a Charlotte-based group that promotes serious hooping for all ages. Every week, the small group meets in the back of a photography studio near uptown to practice their craft, and what may seem like a silly plastic toy, gives some hoopers a feeling of spirituality.
In order to get to Spin Revolution’s Sunday afternoon hooping sessions, you have to walk down a gravel driveway to the back of Studio 1212. It’s a gray, inconspicuous-looking warehouse on the outskirts of uptown with just the numbers "1212" printed on the front.
Walk past the discarded lumber and collapsed party tents, and into the building through the large garage door, and there you’ll find a party. Loud music, expensive looking lights, and hula hoops. Lots and lots of hula hoops.
“Yes, I have everything from 11 inches to 38 inches," says Marie Reynolds, who introduces herself as the "Hoop Hostess." She opens the doors most weeks for the hoop jam.
Anywhere between one and 20 hoopers will show up to practice and show off their tricks. The hoop jam attracts a wide range of eclectic people. Marie herself is almost as unique as her colorful collection of homemade hula hoops. She wears neon green fishnets, a gray vest over a black t-shirt showing off various tattoos, and short hair dyed a vibrant shade of purple.
“I guess it’s just a little steampunk-circusy," she says, "It’s just something that’s comfortable. You’re not dressed without a vest.”
There are regulars who come almost every week, and then there are some newbies, like mother Sandy Wade and her two daughters, Lily and Jasmine.
The family has a friend who recently crafted homemade hula hoops for them, and they promised they’d try them out with Spin Revolution.
Lily and Jasmine are mostly just hooping circles around their waist, but some of the nearby pros are spinning hoops around their knees, arms, neck, even forehead.
Serious hoopers make hula hooping into an artform, or a type of dance. Some even report feeling a spiritual connection when they hoop, says Dorne
Michaels Pentes. He started the group about five years ago.
“You’re moving this hoop around your body. It’s circling around your body, so you’re activating all your energy centers," he says, "You’re pulling in all this energy. You’re mimicking the movement of the universe. So, it just feels good.”
Hooper Ravyn King agrees. “When I get in my flow, I feel like I’m not really thinking about anything or worrying about anything," she says, "I feel like nothing really exists outside of that moment.”
Hooper Erin Greene takes it a step further. “It is one of the places I consider my church,” she says.
Hooping is considered one of a few “flow arts,” or activities that involve keeping objects in continual motion, for example juggling, or staff. Many hoopers report achieving “hoop bliss,” or a “circular awakening,” which is like a meditative, ultra-connected state that comes with hooping. It’s part of the reason Spin Revolution was formed - to give people a chance to connect with their higher self through hooping. Of course, not everyone’s here for the circular awakenings. For some, the joys of hooping can always come from simpler things.
For Jasmine Wade, that's just “doing a lot tricks that everybody else cannot do.”