Hips will be swaying on World Hoop Day Friday
By LANA BERKOWITZ Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 6, 2008, 4:39PM
Bill Olive for the Chronicle
Fabienne Jones-Sotunde, from left, Patrick Spong and Jason Dorn practice their Hula Hooping technique at Last Concert Cafe in preperation for World Hooping Day.
Friday is World Hoop Day, and at 8 p.m. the masses will be inside a Hula Hoop swinging and swaying in solidarity around the globe. Or, maybe not.
World Hoop Day started on 7-7-07 so the word is still spreading, but founder Annie O’Keeffe of San Francisco has high hopes.
Her mission is to expand the event the next three years, on Sept. 9, Oct. 10 and Nov. 11, and have the world in sync for a moment on Dec. 12, 2012.
“Some people can be hooping. Some people can be there watching. Just to be there for that moment of peace,” O’Keeffe said. “If 6 billion people can do that — even for just one minute — it will change everybody’s entire perspective. People will really feel this moment of calm.
“That can happen,” she said, if hoopers spread the word.
O’Keeffe, 35, caught hooping fever while watching friends have silly fun in New York City.
After she attended a Burning Man event, O’Keeffe focused on making hoops to give to kids and launched World Hoop Day.
She estimates there are about 4,200 members on Tribe.net’s social network sharing info about hooping.
This is the 50th anniversary of the Hula Hoop, which became a summertime fad after Wham-O introduced the circular toy.
When Wham-O co-founder Richard Kerr died in January, the hooping world took notice. O’Keeffe was in a New York class that honored Kerr’s passing.
“Instead of hooping for a song like we normally do, we just hooped in silence in honor of him,” O’Keeffe said. “It was pretty sad. But we were also happy because his creation is still going on.”
The latest wave of hooping enthusiasm is driven by adults, who dance with hoops at concerts, parties and burlesque shows, and often share their talents through YouTube videos.
For WHD, O’Keeffe can count on support from Houston hoopers who practice Mondays at Last Concert Cafe. The group, which numbers around 20, will be at LCC at 8 p.m. Friday to celebrate.
Jenni Friend of Houston, who never tried Hula Hoops as a child, is surprised she became a hooping enthusiast. Friend, who had scoliosis, had some of her spine fused when she was in middle school.
“I never thought I could do it with my back the way it is,” said Friend, 36. “It wasn’t until someone showed me exactly how simple it was to do that I realized it was wonderful.
“It’s great exercise. It’s a whole lot of fun, and you maintain your own space. It’s good head medicine.”
Now she teaches others the technique, explaining big hoops are easiest for adults to use.
Friend and the other regulars call the weekly sessions Marsha Monday, named for 67-year-old Marsha Langlois.
“I call it practice, but it is actually Keep Marsha Moving Monday,” Langlois said, “because I’m getting along in age and I don’t move so well. It’s the old ‘use it or lose it’ thing.”
Last Concert Cafe has proved to be a good fit for the group.
Hoopers and fire spinners practice on the sandy surface while bands play during open-mic night.
“When you’re standing in front of the band with the music going and it’s got a nice beat and the hoop just kind of moves around the beat, it’s kind of neat,” Langlois said.
“It’s kind of a package there at the Concert. You get the music, the exercise and everything.”