From grass reeds to industrial-grade plastic, hula hoops have evolved in every way but their shape! Hula Hoops trace their history to woven willow, rattan, grass, or grapevine reeds to 500 BCE Egypt. Children rolled them with sticks and twirled them around their hips. Though used for exercise, there is little to no evidence supporting the idea that hooping was an early Olympic event. In the 15th century, Europeans documented Native Americans dancing with small reed hoops in symbolic dances, representing natural totems like eagles, snakes, butterflies, and coyotes. 15th century Englishmen hooped for recreational and religious purposes as well.
The 15th century marked the first hula hoop craze, as European sailors brought them back from the New World, comparing them to the hula dances they’d seen in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. They made three more comebacks: in 19th century England, which was centered around the stick rolling and waist twirling for children; 1940’s Australia and 1950’s-1960’s America, where hoops were made from cheap plastic; and the modern renaissance, fueled by cirque-trained dancers in elite Chinese, Russian, and American circuses.
When did Hula Hooping originate?
Hooping dates back to 500 BCE Egyp, Native Americans, and all the way up to the 15th century and today.
When did Hooping peak?
It was in the 1958 when Richard Knerr’s company, WHAM-O, manufactured over 100 million units.
In this modern renaissance, hooping enthusiasts have been united through online channels, including social media networks, video sharing services, and e-commerce, which has funded research and advancements in hooping technology. No longer made of cheap, low grade plastic, high quality hoops are now crafted with special designs made for dancers, exercisers, and recreational players. It’s now easier than ever to get started with hooping, and add to its proud history of play, dance, fitness, and ritual.