Just a fad? The hula hoop lives

The Hoopligans, Joy Watts, front, Katara Haagensen and Sam Watts, say that, as well as doing hula hooping for a living, they want to make Greeley hipper. Enlarge photo

Dan England/(Greeley) Tribune

The Hoopligans, Joy Watts, front, Katara Haagensen and Sam Watts, say that, as well as doing hula hooping for a living, they want to make Greeley hipper.

GREELEY (AP) – Ask the Greeley trio who make up the Hoopligans about their favorite part of performing, and they’ll all seem to agree.

It’s when the old ladies come up to them to talk hula hoops.

“They say to us, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s back,’” said Katara Haagensen, who goes by the name “Kataradactyl.”

Yes, hula hoops are back, but probably not in the way those ladies remember.

The Hoopligans, after all, dance choreographed routines in wild costumes, perform tricks with names such as the vortex and swish their hips to hoops that are on fire or glow in LED pink, purple or all the colors of a Christmas tree. And lest you think the group is a novelty nightclub act, you’re only partially right. You can see the Hoopligans at this year’s Greeley Blues Jam and Arts Picnic, and the group recently performed in the downtown Greeley St. Patrick’s Day bash. The three are in such demand, in fact, that they want to do it at least semi-professionally.

Two sisters, Joy “Blissful Shadow” Watts, 23, and Sam, 20, have performed with Haagensen for a couple of years. Joy and Haagensen got their start in 2007 when they spotted stoners “hooping,” as they call it, at jam band concerts such as Phish.

Turns out it’s been around a lot longer than that.

“Our mom knows of some people who performed in the 1970s,” Sam said.

The Watts started performing for Greeley’s belly-dancing tribes, and Joy remembered her hula days with Haagensen. They watched some tricks on YouTube, put together a few dances and started booking gigs. Now they’ve also performed at Denver and Fort Collins events and hope for more. They’re also looking for classes to teach, even if they are fitness classes.

“I lost 20 pounds doing this,” Haagensen said. “That wasn’t on purpose. It was just by doing this.”

They’re also reaching out. They don’t want kids, for instance, to have to attend jam band concerts to learn how to hoop. The weather’s warmer, so you might start looking for them in a random park in Greeley. They will post it on Facebook. Anyone’s invited to start hooping with them. They even provide the hoops.

“First, little kids just stare, and you can tell they are asking themselves, ‘Oh my gosh, is that really an adult doing that?’” Joy said. “Then they will inch up, and we’ll tell them to grab a hoop.”

They would like to make hooping their profession, but they also want to make Greeley a bit hipper. Maybe a bit more like Boulder or Fort Collins.

“Funner,” Haagensen said and smiled.

Twenty-year-old Sam Watts says her mother knows people who performed as hula hoopers in the 1970s. Enlarge photo

Dan England/(Greeley) Tribune

Twenty-year-old Sam Watts says her mother knows people who performed as hula hoopers in the 1970s.