[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn reports back from Hottie Hoop Camp.]
I can’t say I’ve ever been to a hoop gathering where the hoopers seem happier than they are here at Hottie Hoop Camp, the annual event organized on the beach of Surfside, Texas, USA, by Rowan and Blythe TwoSisters, the sibling brains behind Dallas- and Houston-based Punk Rock Hoops. Now in its fourth year and with double the participants of last year, this unique body-friendly gathering for women-only isn’t just growing bigger, it’s growing stronger. And it’s something more than the deliciously catered three meals a day, cozy beach house accommodations, and long lineup of out-of-the-box classes. There’s something different and truly magical happening at this hooping event where the goal is not learning or perfecting more “tricks”, but gathering hooping ladies together in a celebration of how fabulous we are. Hottie Hoop Camp’s whole-body approach to the weekend is a formula that highlights self-acceptance and self-love and wraps it all up within the warm embrace of true community and the joy of hooping. They say everything’s bigger in Texas and that was certainly the case at this year’s gathering.
The beach house was double the size and delectably modern – a plush indulgence for those accustomed to camping at hoop events. Luckily, a bigger house meant a bigger kitchen and an extra fridge – because the food was beyond impressive. The phenomenal Ruby Teets, owner ofA Day Away Retreat in Boyd, Texas, and Pat Greer of Pat Greer’s Kitchen in Houston, teamed up to treat Hottie Hoopcampers with a surprising spread of goodness. You’d think it would be a challenge for this bacon-lover to warm up to the mostly-vegan menus we were served. Au contraire! Eating was my favorite part of the weekend. No surprise there, perhaps – as I gobbled down collard wraps that tasted like heaven and kale-wrapped organic Pink Lady apple slices bathed in cashew butter. Ah-mazing.
The Altered Couture class that was such a big hit in 2012 was transformed this year into a whole series. Guiding participants through making their own no-sew, body-friendly hoop gear from T-Shirts, teacher Lisa Sacaris kicked off the weekend with one of three couture classes – “Get Your Look Down”. Lisa is a riot when you get her started on being creative with your clothing. So she quickly had the whole house feeling comfortable and doubling over in belly laughs with lines like, “There is something to be said for high granny panties as, like, clothing,” and “Your skirt is not just a skirt. It deserves to have a life.” She had so many ideas to share that the T-Shirt fun had to be divided into two days and five hours filled with busy scissors and re-invented cotton. Everyone left with a brand new custom-designed-for-them outfit from top to bottom. And Gayle French put the cherry on top of everyone’s new “look” with an in-depth how-to for making and sporting the most complicated braided hairdos.
A surprising class came fromKaren Bunch-Stirling, who shared how to take killer LED and fire photos with nothing more than your Smart Phone. It turns out that there are a number of built-in settings and apps in your pocket that will nearly outperform the best professional camera when it comes to capturing those tricky nighttime shots. What? I know you’re dying of curiosity, so don’t worry, y’all. I’m encouraging her to write it up for hooping.org readers and we’ve got our fingers crossed. Another clear hit from the weekend came from Trey Johnson, who led us through a course designed to empower those intimidated by creating hooping photos and videos. We explored what holds us back and how to inject serious fun into expressing the individual creativity of hooping through imagery. A few of us were so inspired we headed straight out to the beach for the most fun I’ve ever had taking photos.
You may be wondering if there was time for any hooping at all at Hottie Hoop Camp. Oh, there was! We had a boot-camp class in Hoop Choreography from Rowan, Bellydance-infused Hooping from Hoop Cubed’s Heather Mia-Says, and Hoop Yoga from YE Torres, who started every day off right at Hottie Hoop Camp with Yoga just after sunrise on the beach. I got my mind blown in Suzi SassyRaffe’s “Up! Tossing Bonanza” class where she expertly threw down some tosses I’ve never seen before. For real. At one point, we were kicking the hoop up from the sand over our heads and catching it on our bodies. Smiles all around, beats pumping, hoops flying – this class was a clear favorite. Jennette Hoops’ Jennette Ginsburg even pulled out a fun move she called “Polypro Belly Boing” that I was lucky enough to catch on video. I expect we’ll be seeing the Belly Boing everywhere this summer.
Each evening, the beach lit up with rainbows of LED hoops. And Friday night, Blythe initiated ten new fire hoopers after a fire-safety class that would make any fire official tear up with pride. When the winds proved too high for the planned Saturday night bonfire and fire-hooping, the TwoSisters improvised by announcing a talent show that turned out to be a highlight of the weekend. What a perfect way for all these Hottie Hoopers to showcase the confidence and individuality they’d been cultivating all weekend.
So what’s next for Hottie Hoop Camp? There’s no denying that it offers an experience that departs from the norm for hoop gatherings. As the word continues to spread about this laid-back, body-loving, women-only hoop-love fest, the TwoSister’s brainchild attracts more and more newcomers every year, eager for something different. Blythe has got her eye on adding the beach house next to the one that hosted us this year. Maybe even another. If Hottie Hoop Camp sounds like your kind of party, be sure to find them on Facebook and sign up for their newsletter. No matter how big they get, they still sell out within a few weeks of opening registration every year. And by all means, don’t forget your scissors!
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. She’s also the driving force behind Circumference with online and live business and marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.