The HoopPathers in Carrboro NC gather every Saturday from 3-5 (join us if you're in town!) at the Tae Kwon Do Studio. This is where we had our very first HoopPath Retreat over 3 years ago. (We're now working on our 4th.) We were really lucky to secure this place and the fee is based on hooper, not the space itself. It's been really important to establish a sense of community, not only through classes and more public jams like at Weaver Street Market events, where it all started, but also to have a place for a real Practice, away from the public eye. In the summer months we very occasionally will go to the Carrboro Town Commons where we can hoop under a shade structure but still enjoy the weather.
I think that the thing that has made this a success is the continuity, whether there are 3 people or 20, whether the weather is beautiful or not, you can usually count on the jam happening. We also benefit from the affordability (we're lucky, like I said) and an established protocol that I think is both welcoming and respectful of the need of the individual to go deep into his or her practice. We chat in the reception area, but on the mats we work individually. Lately we have been having wonderful spontaneous Mingles, where we interact when we hoop, but don' digress into conversation. These have been spontaneous and joyful and initiated by both the oldtimers who've been hooping for years, and the newcomers who are bringing some of our HP class exercises into the Jam. I think that it really speaks to the cohesiveness of our community that our jams have evolved in this way.
I wish that I knew a secret way to secure the perfect, affordable practice space. I do think that in communities based in cities with dramatic weather and seasons, it's even more important to establish a good space and keep it. If you can use a dance or gym space during an "off time" the owner will usually appreciate the incoming money. And sticking with it is good, both for the establishment renting the space, and for the people coming to the jam. One thing that we've come to terms with is that even when the weather is really beautiful, we almost always use the Tae Kwon Do Studio as it keeps us in that rhythm and it is something everyone can count on.
This has been a continuing issue in Madison, WI too! As soon as the sun stops shining and the temperature drop, many of us get rusty. Here's what we've been doing:
1. Reserving a raquetball court at the local YMCA or gym. (+) These are usually huge space that you get for about an hour. (-) Sometimes everyone must be a member of the gym to use, and sometimes you can't get a set schedule. Better for impromptu jams or for individual practice.
2. Renting space by the hour at a yoga studio. (+) Usually a beautiful space with a sound system that rocks. Usually good wooden floors (although make sure to talk with your yoga studio about the marks that hoops leave on floors). (-) Can be limited on space, and takes advance planning to make sure you have enough people to split the cost. Good for the hardcore hoopers that are dedicated to a regular practice.
3. The last option is the one we have now, and I'm not sure if similar community centers exist in other cities. We've just started hooping this winter at a place called the Center for Conscious Living. They are a non denominational spiritual group that offers their open space to other community groups to meet (there are sessions of yoga, laughter clubs, etc that also meet at this space). The best part is that they have an amazing sound system (since they offer substance free dances on Saturdays) and lights that move with the music. They just ask each person for a $5 donation for 2 hours of hooping, but no one is turned away for financial reasons. It's been a wonderful system for us: but we are approaching a size limit. It would be great to check if there is a community center that is similar in your community... they were happy to have us because we bring so may people into the center who might not have heard about it otherwise. We usually hoop for about the first 15-30 minutes, then sit in a circle and do introductions and goals (that way if someone is hoping to learn a trick, they can find someone who knows it, etc), and then hoop for the remainder. We encourage all ages and experience levels, and try to get a different person each week to do the soundtrack (which has been REALLY fun!).
While it's great to hoop in the park as a group in the summers, I think that hooping at the center has really coalesced us as a group. It's been great to focus and grow, and I've had another huge spurt in my hooping already! I hope that we can continue at the center during the summer. I also teach beginning hoop dance classes, and my students have loved the chance to practice too. While a park is free, I love the center because it is a safe space with gung-ho hoopers who respect and love the hoop as much as I do.
Danielle, what AWESOME advice. I especially love the idea of sitting around in a circle and talking about your goals, because that is something I would have loved to have in some of my early jams. I'm thinking of starting my own hoop jam in a nearby park, and I love that idea (as well as the different soundtracks, that's a GREAT idea).
Yeah it really clicked with our group! And it doesn't have to be a 10 minute speech... just, "Hi I'm Danielle, and I'm working on shoulder angles so if anyone can help me out, that would be great!" It's been good for the new hoopers too, who are sometimes a little shy about asking how a trick is done, or who feel like they are interrupting. The group seems to naturally ebb and flow from trick practice work (which is talkative) to everyone jamming out at once (which is a zen moment :-) ).
I"m in a weird perdiciment. I have a space, but am not sure if I have the hoopers! My aunt manages the township (I live in VERY rural central Missouri) community center. I know of only 2 other local hoopers, but have met dozens of hoopers from the Columbia, Jeff-City area (about 45 min. away) who've talked about finding a space for meet ups. I know *I* would drive 45 min. into civilization for meet up, but am unsure if if others would drive to timbuk for a space to hoop together.
I'm in a very similar situation. I have a space for hooping at a local church during the winter and I have a huge backyard during the summer for outdoor practice without people watching....but there's only myself and my roommate that will attend on a regular basis. I know 4 other girls that I have made hoops for and countless other people who have expressed interest, but no one will come. It saddens me. :(
this entire community has been a wonderful wealth of knowledge to me, but this group, in particular is a blessing! i am in the beginning stages of building a hoop community in my area. we have had 2 hoopjam sessions so far, with over 20 showing up each week:) i am so pleased with the turnout, but this has thrown a kink into my plan, the space i have is at a local community center, and we have now officially outgrown our space. shouldnt be much of an issue during late spring and summer bc we have several nice parks around, but in these cold and rainy months, an indoor space is definately a necessity.. i've been searching for a new space, like a church gym or elementary school gym for about 2 weeks, unfortunately nothings worked out yet.. but i am persistent, sometimes to a fault, i know it will all work out, just getting a little stressed in the meantime.. all my new hoopers are catching the hoop fever, i cant let them down:) any suggestion would definately be appreciated! :)
i work at a doggie daycare center and they rent out their facility on sundays. if any of you have a ddc center im sure they do rentals too. mine has an outdoor and an indoor. the only problem would be if anyone is allergic to dogs. but we keep our facility really clean and if i ever do actually get a meetup, i would def vacuum really good before i had people coming. the yoga studios here are pretty small. def too small for hooping. i am thinking about talking to the alaska club and seeing if theres a space i could rent out there even though im not a member. thanks everyone for your suggestions.