What Does The Hula Hoop Have To Do With Hawaii?

Hawaiian gifts

hula hoopDo you know about the history of the hula hoop?

Do you think the hula hoop was created in Hawaii?

Hula Skirts

Enjoy this article about the history of hula hooping. And make sure to check out the totally cool video shot from a GoPro camera on a hula hoop.

The hula hoop, although it wasn't originally called that, started as a circle of willow, rattan, grapevines and stiff grasses strung together. No one knows for sure exactly when it was invented, but we do know that Egyptian children played with these types of hoops and whirled them around their waist. They were used to work out and still make a great work out for anyone today.

In 14th century Great Britain, the term "hula hoop" came into existence because British sailors who had seen hula dancing in the Hawaiian Islands thought it looked similar to the movements of hooping back home. In the 1800's in England, children would roll hoops with a stick or spin the hoop around their waist.

Even the Native American Indians used hoop dancing as a kind of storytelling. Since a hula hoop is round and has no start or end, it symbolizes the continuous circle of life. Dancers would use dozens of small hoops, usually made from reeds, as symbolic representations of animals such as eagles, snakes, butterflies or coyotes. There is an annual Native American Hoop Dance competition at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

hula hoopThe hula hoop became a craze in the late 1950's, where kids in Australia twirled hoops made out of bamboo. When the production of bamboo hoops couldn't fulfill the need, Toltoys was engaged to make hoops from plastic and offered 400,000 hoops for sale in 1957.

Hula hoops from the 1950's were little colorful plastic tubes made primarily for children to play and work out. Today, hula hooping has actually come full circle (no pun intended). Kids still love them and adults have actually begun making use of more powerful, bigger, heavier hoops for fitness and fun.

By the mid 1960's, in the United States, company Whamo-O was the main manufacturer of hula hoops. Sales started lagging so they added several sphere bearings inside the tube to make noise. This helped create a second hooping fad, including a National Hula Hoop Contest that ran from 1968-1981. The 1980 World Hula Hoop Championship was held in more than 2,000 cities with almost 2 million participants. Judging was done on different moves, consisting of the Knee Knocker, Stork, Hula Hop, Wrap the Mummy, Alley Oop, as well as other freestyle dance regimens.

hula hoopInterestingly enough, Wham-O was not able to patent the hula hoop since it had been in use for thousands of years. Simply using a brand-new product did not fulfill the requirement of creativity to secure a patent. They were, however, able to trademark the name "Hula Hoop" in the United States.

In the 1960's, hoops were part of the circus world with Russian and Chinese acrobats in particular integrating multiple hoops into their acts. Australian circus entertainer and hula hoop historian Judith Lanigan carries out "The Dying Swan - a tragedy with 30 hula hoops". Cirque du Soleil also has numerous programs (Alegria, Quidam and Wintuk) showcasing contortionist hoop acts.

Started in 2003, the annual Burning Man Festival of Arts and Freedom in the northern Nevada desert has been a hotbed (literally!) of hooping, supplying an uninhibited and clothing-optional online forum for hoopers from all around the world to share tricks, techniques, and energy. Fire hooping is encouraged!

Hooping has now found its way into mainstream gyms and studios as a fun and reliable kind of workout. Courses are being taught all across the US as increasingly more individuals uncover that hooping exercise can be fun and entertaining!

GoPro With The Hula Hoop in Maui

Here's some fun facts about hooping:

  • The term "Hula Hoop" came from British sailors who had seen hula dancing in the Hawaian islands and believed the two looked rather similar
  • Japan and Indonesia prohibited the public use of hoops due to the fact that it was not culturally appropriate to shake one's hips in public - it was indecent!
  • The initial price of the hoop in 1958 was $1.98
  • At the height of their appeal, Wham-O produced 20,000 hoops a day
  • Native American hoop dancer Tony White Cloud has a cameo appearance in Valley of the Sun, starring Lucille Ball in 1942. He visited the United States and Europe with Gene Autry throughout WWII promoting war bonds and in 1952 danced in Apache Country, starring Gene Autry
  • Billy Joel referenced the sale of the 100 millionth hula hoop by Wham-O as one of the most considerable events of 1959 in his song "We Didn't Start the Fire."
  • Russia denounced the hoop as an example of the "Emptiness of American Culture."
  • Wayout Toys created an Alvin Hula Hoop Doll, that twirls his hula hoop and sings "Christmas Don't Be Late."
  • Hula Hoops are a British potato-based treat, in the shape of short, hollow cylinders initially presented in 1973
  • Michael Turvey of the University of Connecticut won the 2004 Noble Prize in Physics along with Ramesh Balasurbramaniam of the University of Ottawa for exploring and describing the dynamics of hula-hooping

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