Wham-O has the trademark on Hula-Hoop, named after the Hawaiian hula dance.
Today, cities worldwide will celebrate World Hoop Day — on which hoopers spread their love of hooping by distributing free Hula-Hoops.
The latest hoops hardly resemble the ones bought ages ago and stashed against the garage wall.
Modern hoops are heavy, oversize, handmade and customized with neon-bright electrical tape in patterns.
“There certainly are people who are literally living the hoop life,” said Max Reid, 39, of Washington, among the latest converts.
After first trying a hoop two months ago, he is attending weekly classes to learn how to use it.
The students learn how to do dance steps and figure eights with a hoop. They learn how to spin it on their arms, thighs and neck; and how to move it between their right and left hands.
In short, they become performers.
Then, at the end, instructor Noelle Powers puts on Mozart and teaches them to stretch with their hoops.
This new wave of hooping was born out West. During the 1990s, the Colorado jam rock band the String Cheese Incident would fling Hula-Hoops into the crowd at concerts. Soon people started dancing with hoops at countercultural parties and burlesque shows.
Powers, 31, was living
in Seattle a few years ago when a friend got her hooked.
“I got a hoop right away, and I started making them, bringing them to parties and performing impromptu, improv kind of things,” Powers said. “I just totally fell in love with it.”
Powers builds her own hoops, of various weights and sizes. She makes them out of irrigation tubing from a hardware store and a connector piece, then decorates them.
On the Internet, hoopers have virtual identities: There’s Hoopadelic, Catwoman and Bunny. And Hoopin’ Annie, Hoopnotiq and Hoola Monster. Those who perform professionally have stage names — such as Talia Melcer of Silver Spring, Md., who goes by “Miss Joule.”
It’s not just 20- and 30-somethings drawn to the activity. Rhonda Lindenbaum is a 62-year-old hooping nurse in Martinsburg, W.Va.
For years, Lindenbaum struggled with her weight, and when she lost 65 pounds three years ago, she had a hard time keeping it off.
“Sometimes I hoop to very fast music, reggae music, soul, sometimes even Andrea Bocelli or Indian chants,” Lindenbaum said. “If I don’t get to hoop one day, I feel like I’m missing something.”
• For more information about World Hoop Day, visit www. worldhoopday.com.