This is a blog post I did a while back because so many people have asked me how to start a hoop jam. The guidelines have helped three different cities start kick-ass hoop jams. Maybe they'll help you too.
Hoop jams are an excellent way to build hoop community. They create a weekly opportunity to hoop, play, commune, get exercise, learn new things and get your dance on – almost like a festival at home.
To create a hoop jam:
- Recruit a Coordinator and Volunteers: These folks will scout out a location, coordinate volunteers and carry hoops and/or music to the jam. I recommend making this the shared responsibility of several people so that no one person is responsible for doing all the work and coming every single week. Ideally, let folks volunteer for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th jams of each month.
- Find a location: The ideal location is flat, shaded, free and far from houses where occupants might be bothered by the noise. Additional amenities to consider are access to bathrooms, water fountains and, ideally, an indoor area or covered structure for winter months or rain dates.
- Music: I recommend soliciting drummers. If you have a local drum circle, contact them. Drummers enjoy seeing their beats interpreted in dance and enjoy opportunities to drum together. Boom boxes work but don’t have the same depth of sound as a group of drummers. They also require electricity, batteries or rechargeable batteries as well as people to bring music or create playlists. These, however, are also options. An Ion Block Rocker is a good option. It has great bass, wheels, is meant for outdoors, is rechargeable and can run cd players, mp3 players and a microphone for 12-14 hours.
- Coordinate volunteers and make hoops: You’ll need people to bring hoops each week and you’ll need hoops. You can have people bring them to share but it can be hard to distinguish shared hoops from each individual’s hoops. I recommend creating hoops in a variety of sizes specifically for your jam. I also recommend making them distinct. I wrap mine in yellow gaffer's, which serves many purposes. The gaffer’s tape is grippy, the color ensures people don’t walk off with hoop jam hoops and it makes them easy to find in the grass when the sun is going down.
- Promote the Hoop Jam: I recommend posting announcements on Tribe, in local newsgroups for dancers, drummers, poi spinners, yoga and acroyoga groups and on Craigslist, which allows free community announcements. Post flyers at local yoga studios, dance studios, gyms, healthfood stores, etc. Take them to music events in your area and also to the jam every week. If you have a local radio station or newspaper that announces public events, see if you can get them to announce it. Finally, make sure you invite passers by to play.