UMass Hula Hoop Collective provides a welcoming community for hoopers of all abilities

By Marie MacCune

(Courtesy of Annie Conant)
(Courtesy of Annie Conant)

Audrey D’Zmura was not necessarily looking for a community of hula-hoopers when she went to practice hula-hooping outside of her dorm her freshman year. But when someone walked by and shouted, “Hey, we have a club for that,” she found the UMass Hula Hoop Collective.

Three years later, D’Zmura is now president of the Registered Student Organization and is continuing her passion for the flow-art form.

The collective has been a presence on the University of Massachusetts campus for almost five years now, but only became an RSO this past semester. It is run by four other officers besides D’Zmura: Annie Conant, the vice president, Chloe Doe, treasurer and Hannah Helfner, who serves as secretary.

Despite these official positions, the collective is not run like a typical club.

As D’Zmura put it, “I’m the president of it, but the whole idea of it being a collective is that everybody participates.”

She explained the basics of the collective, saying, “We all just get together, listen to music and hula-hoop in a room full of mirrors (in the Recreation Center) – so it’s pretty awesome.”

“Basically it’s all about learning different tricks and how to control the hula-hoop on different places on your bodies … Or off your body with different isolations and tosses and jumps and sort of combining all of the tricks,” she continued. “Once you practice them enough and feel comfortable with it, they really flow together really nicely and that’s when it really becomes flow-art – like a dance form.”

Being a collective, D’Zmura said that there’s a lot of cooperation involved in the group.

“It’s a good community,” she said. “The hula-hoop community in general is a very welcoming and accepting community and you see a lot of people on social media, like Instagram and YouTube, posting videos of themselves doing tricks and that’s sort of the world wide community.”

Here at UMass, she added, “We all help each other out and teach each other new tricks or sometimes we’ll have a routine and do a little performance.”

The collective helps to bring hoopers together on campus and improve their skills.

“When I came to school here and found out they had a club, it made a huge difference to watch and practice with other people,” she said.

According to D’Zmura, the membership fluctuates with seniors graduating and new members joining, but there can be anywhere between three and 10 people at any given practice session. She personally first got involved in hula hooping when she saw girls using LED hula-hoops at a music festival before coming to UMass.

Since then, D’Zmura said, “Nothing’s been the same.”

In terms of where members get their hoops, D’Zmura said that while she and the officers bring multiple to their practices for everyone to use, most members have their own.

“Once you start getting into it, you want your own to practice at home,” she said. “And then there’s differences in the size of diameter of the hula-hoop, the diameter of the tubing and the material of the tubing. There’s a lot of differences that come into play there. So, sort of as you progress, you get your preferences and start collecting more of them – soon enough you have a bunch of them in the corner of your room.”

D’Zmura admits she has a least 10 of her own, some of which she made herself.

She added that her favorite thing about practicing hooping is, “When you are on campus and you can slow down and take it easy and just feel relaxed, hanging out with cool people and just having fun. Especially because you don’t necessarily get that when you’re on campus.”

“It’s very meditative if you let it be,” she added.

For students interested in joining, D’Zmura said “Anyone is welcome whenever. We bring hoops of all shapes and sizes that would be good for beginners. We’ll bring doubles so you can do tricks with two at a time. There’s basically always someone there who is experienced enough to help a beginner out and teach them some basic tricks.”

According to D’Zmura, updates on practice times and videos for hooping inspiration can be found on their Facebook page, UMass Hoop Collective.

“Everyone should come try it out, it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Marie MacCune can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MarieMacCune.