So, How Long Could YOU Keep a Hula Hoop Up?

By Joe Darby

We homo sapiens types are really pretty funny when you think about it. We can be very serious thinkers, forming philosophies, conceiving wonderful new inventions, having insights into physics and the secrets of the universe, writing brilliant symphonies and novels. The list of our civilization’s amazing achievements goes on and on.
And then. Then, we get hooked on something like a Hula Hoop. My thoughts turned to that 1950s toy while reading a book on great photographs of the 20th century. One of the pictures showed a family playing with Hula Hoops in their backyard, with varied success in using them skillfully.

So the reason I think Hula Hoops are interesting enough for a column is the fact that us members of a very intelligent species can find time to be amused by a what, a three-foot wide plastic circle. I am definitely not knocking the fact that we were so caught up in the fad of Hula Hoops. I had one myself. The whole concept of fads can be fascinating. Remember Pet Rocks? Folks actually paid money for a rock in a cardboard box
How about Slinkies? They were a very flexible spring that could “walk” down stairs. I had one of those, too.

And, if you’re old enough, you will remember the Davy Crockett craze, when it seemed that most of America’s kids were going around wearing false coonskin hats on their heads. I did NOT have one of those.
Here, I’ve been mentioning fads of the old days, because they are the ones I remember best. But I recall the Pokémon fad of just a few years ago, another one that I didn’t participate in.

But, to get back to Hula Hoops. You will recall, of course, that the object was to place your hoop around your waist area and gyrate your middle in such a way as to keep it from falling down about your feet. It was a lot harder than it looked and, as in any human endeavor, some folks were better at it than others.

I personally could never keep the darned thing up for more than two or three twirls around my middle. It always, and I mean always, ended up on the floor or the ground before I could even get my sacro-iliac in gear.

It was far more fun to watch the girls with their Hula Hoops, particularly those who could keep it up for a while. I mean, why do you think they called them Hula Hoops. The hip movements involved in successful utilization of the hoops were very similar to the sensual dance of the Hawaiian Islands, and a sight that any red-blooded lad would enjoy watching.

The Hula Hoop fad reached its peak in the 1950s, when millions, I suppose, were sold. I’m sure 98 percent of them ended up forgotten in attics or tossed away in the trash after a few years.

But, you know they still make them. And, thanks to You-Tube, I know that they are still used in competitions and what some of today’s young people can do with a Hula Hoop is simply amazing. I discovered this phenomenon while searching for an old favorite song on You-Tube, which apparently has a video example of every piece of music ever performed, from the medieval Gregorian Chant to the latest pop hit.

Anyway, I found the song I was looking up, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and in one of the versions shown the song was used to accompany an amazingly talented Hula Hoopster named Rachel Lust, a lass who looked to be around 17 years old. She could make that hoop do everything but sing along with Charley Daniels, I tell you. The video was of her practicing in her kitchen, in training for competitions.

So, the old Hula Hoop lives. (At least it’s a lot more alive than those Pet Rocks!} And if our mentally brilliant species didn’t take time out for such nonsense, life would be a lot more duller.

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