I bought a hula hoop today; it’s only quite small – actually a child’s one, but I thought it would be useful indoors while the weather is so variable. I have a larger one, but to be honest, I haven’t used it for a couple of years. The reason? While my daughter was away I used her bedroom as there was plenty of room.
I first had a hula hoop when I was quite young – maybe about seven or eight? I have photos of me and my friend twirling away ion the back garden – he was slim and sporty and much better at it than I was, but even so we both could do it hundreds of times and for hours on end. They were plastic, and I think mine was red and his was blue, or the other way round. I’m not sure if I remember the old-fashioned children’s hoops, made of wood which you bowled along, patting it with your hand and running after it… simple things for simpler times.
Exploring the history of hoops and hula hoops it seems that old hoops were made from metal (do I remember one at my grandparents home?) of some organic material. I thought mine was wood, but it seems more likely it was willow – plenty of which grew near us and throughout Cambridgeshire and the Fens. Another material was rattan – I’ve just had to look that up too! I’m familiar with rattan chairs and furniture, but thought it was something like bamboo, but no! Rattan is a woody vine which is also called malacca – rattan was a Malay word for it and Malacca was a port through which it was shipped.
Back to hula hoops… Hoops for twirling round your waist and other parts of the body have been around for thousands of years, and in fact there are very famous hoop dances from various native American peoples. The modern craze for hula hooping does however date from the 50’s and the mass production of plastic hoops. All sorts of records have been set since then for the length of time hooping, the number of hoops, the number of people doing it at the same time, and so on. I’m not trying to set any records with mine, just trying to get fitter!
I know I have a photo of me hula hooping somewhere but I can’t find it for the moment. In the meanwhile, my featured image is of my mum, two sisters and brother, taken in about 1927… they surely had hoops!!