A Postcard from The Hoop Dream Retreat in Bali
Staff Writer Sammi Lim Swings Her Hips at a Hula Hoop Retreat
Striding past baggage claim and into the arrivals hall, I am instantly swarmed by a throng of taxi drivers. The Hoop Dream Retreat's official chauffeur, whom I was told would be holding up a banner, is nowhere to be seen. My anxiety peaks as the minutes crawl by and the hopeful cries of “Taxi, miss?” get louder. When I eventually spot Gusti, a cankerous character slouched against a railing, I wave at him excitedly. There is a collective sigh of disappointment from the other taxi drivers.
As Gusti (whose name is to Bali as Mike is to New York) leads the way to his vehicle, I finally have time to drink in my surroundings. Ngurah Rai (DPS) is the most beautiful airport I’ve ever beheld, what with its Balinese stone arches and temple-like foundations in brown and cream. Lost in reverie, it takes me a moment to realize that Gusti is trying to engage in conversation. Albeit some initial miscommunication, I finally grasp his question: “How long is the workshop?” At this point, his exclamation of surprise no longer takes me by surprise; my own family and friends were equally incredulous when I told them that I’d be hula hooping for six days straight...
Su Shah shoulder hooping.
The Hoop Dream Retreat
My induction into hula hooping took place late last year, at a workshop taught by The Fiery Pixies. Shaheen and Shouniez, a South African husband-and-wife team who travel the world teaching circus acts and the flow arts, pointed me in the direction of The Hula Hoop Institute when I expressed anguish at the lack of a hooping community in Asia.
Months later, it’s somewhat surreal to find myself surrounded by the very community I longed to connect with. Young women such as myself had flown to Bali from twelve different countries to unleash the potential behind a circular piece of plastic. While striking up chats with the other girls, I was intrigued and moved by their reasons for being at the retreat. For instance, Hajung, a fitness instructor from Seoul, Korea aimed to merge hooping with her tribal belly dancing classes, while Su from South Africa aspired to teach better hoop classes to kids back home.
The Hoop Dream Retreat’s main instructors: Mishie Hoops, Morgan Jenkins, Emma Kenna and Deanne Love.
As a novice hooper, I wasn’t as star struck as some of my fellow participants, but soon learned that our instructors are giants in the hoop industry. If you love hooping, you might recognize the following names: Mishie Hoops (Asian Hooper of the Year 2016), Morgan Jenkins aka Miss MoJangles (Co-founder of Hooptown Hotties), Emma Kenna aka Hooping Mad (Fire Hooper of the Year 2016), Deanne Love (Founder of Hooplovers.tv and nothing short of a YouTube celebrity) and Alexis Collier aka Dizzy Dynamic (Female Hooper of the Year 2016).
It was a pure pleasure to take classes from such diverse instructors with their own strengths and specialties. ‘Hoopography’ – a portmanteau of the words ‘hooping’ and ‘choreography,’ was one of the first classes to kick off the Hoop Dream Retreat. Taught by the very sexy and suave Morgan, the class incorporated hula hoops as props in a fast-paced dance. Unsurprisingly, I thought I did the best in Emma’s classes; the goofball of the group, she naturally put everyone at ease, and hooping is no breeze when you're tensed up! Emma's expertise lies in body rolls, which is essentially rolling a hula hoop over any part of your body – and I mean any part. However, it was Mishie’s class titled ‘Hooping With The Senses’ that unlocked something inside of me. Her analogy for ‘floating in a water tube’ hit close to home and activated my flow.
The Dream Hoop Retreat wasn't just about hooping from dawn till dusk; our workshops were interspersed with yoga classes, hiking excursions, spa sessions, dips in the pool, nights out on the town, and lots and lots of laughter. So when it was time to pack up, tears were shed, newfound friends hugged, and Facebook contacts exchanged.
One of my major takeaways from the retreat concerns the WWW's pivotal role in creating and feeding the hooping hype and other branches of the flow arts. I've always said a silent thank you to the internet gods when Skype connects me to a friend whom I haven't seen in ages, marvelled at Instagram for connecting users obsessed with the same hashtags, and given credit to Youtubers and bloggers who make a good living from the comfort of home, but hardly imagined that an event primarily pitched through social media could connect hoop lovers from Perth to Paris, Cape Town to California and more!
I've already bought my ticket to next year's retreat in Malaysia! Will I be seeing you there?