As newlyweds took wedding pictures on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Oct. 1, a group of hoopers gathered to celebrate World Hoop Day. Beginner to professional hoopers, were encouraged to dance on the iconic museum steps. The annual celebration of hoop dance began in 2007 when a girl travelling abroad missed her friends at home and started a way they could hoop together wherever they were.
The festivities in front of the art museum were hosted by the Philadelphia Spin Coalition (SPinCo). SPinCo is a group that aims to build community through cultural activities and exercise in the City and tri-state areas. Hula Hoops were donated to the event from the Fillmore Philadelphia. SPinCo Director of Finances and Temple University graduate Becca Sheng helped coordinate the Art Museum event.
“This is our third year celebrating it.” Becca Sheng said. “We usually host some sort of event, but this year we decided to just storm the steps of the art museum, and bring all these hula hoops out to donate to people.”
Hoop dancing involves body movements and hula hoops. Typically, hoopers get their start at electronic dance music festivals and raves. Hooping involves everything from swiveling of hips to tossing a hoop in the air. Dancers at the Art Museum that day elegantly twirled with their hoops on the steps while music played. Some even danced with multiple hoops at once.
“It’s a great way to kind of teach yourself [to dance],” Sheng said. “The hula hoop lets you dance in a more free way, rather than being like ‘Okay, it’s just me and my body out there. I have no idea what I’m doing.’”
Chris and Justin Donahue, a pair of hooping brothers, became involved with the dance after seeing it at music festivals and raves. Chris said the technique is different for everyone.
“You just pick it up and figure out how you can do it,” Donahue said.
About 80 people from the hooping community gathered at the museum on the rainy Saturday to perform, but according to Sheng the local community is much larger.
“Our group on Facebook has over 500 members,” Sheng said. “I would say our reach at this point is about 5,000 people between our email list, our Instagram, and Facebook.”
Hoopers have found not only a creative outlet through their dance, but also a great way to make friends.
“It’s great for your health but it’s also a great community,” Sheng said. “We go to shows together; we hang out in the park a lot. We have people that range from 14 years old all the way up through 40 n our group, so we hold events for all age groups. So it’s a great way to meet people in the City.”