The Hippie Hippie Shakes

Last week at the beach I saw something that made me stop and watch for a solid 15 minutes.

No, it wasn’t a woman in a bikini.

I saw plenty of women who’d worked on their figures and their tans. And some who’d picked out really skimpy suits.

Some guys had been working hard in the gym, their sculpted arms clear evidence of time hoisting weights. They attracted their share of attention, too.



The guy who stopped me was soft around the middle. At first I stopped not out of admiration, but maybe freakish curiosity. He had long hair and a vibe that screamed hippie, more in the way he moved than the way he looked.

He twirled two hula hoops around his body with a funky rhythm that was hypnotic, the way a belly dancer entrances her audience. This guy seemed indifferent to his audience. Maybe his audience was only me and a few other people who peeked now and then, but his joy came from mastery of his body’s connection to the hoops.

I waited for them to fall and to my surprise they didn’t.

He spun one hoop around his knees. I was certain he was losing control. Then as if to prove me wrong, he hopped one foot out and spun the hoop around one knee, the other raised high and twisting in the air. The guy had control of his hoop. As long as he wanted it to orbit his body, it was going to obey.

While I was standing there I thought of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. For those of you who haven’t read it, he suggests that to truly be a master of something you need to put in 10,000 hours. As I watched trick after trick I was certain this guy had put in his 10,000 hours and was a true master of the hula hoop.


He performed several tricks, but his mastery went beyond the tricks themselves. He performed with flair. You couldn’t help but feel a funky 70’s vibe when you watched. I could almost hear The Beetles singing Strawberry Fields.

A woman, I assumed she was his girlfriend, stood up to join him. She was better than anyone I’d ever seen with a hula hoop, but she didn’t compare to him.

He twirled the hoop on either side of his head, on one elbow, and sometimes he grasped it in his hand and moved it around, not twirling it, but using it as a prop for the melody in his head.

All the people who grabbed my attention that day on the beach had worked to be who they are. The women watched their diet, worked out, chose a sexy suit, and primped their hair for the beach. The muscled guys pumped iron with dedication.

Hula Guy stood out partially because he put so much time into what he loved to do and partially because he took a risk. Twirling a Hula Hoop isn’t the most masculine endeavor and when he started I bet Hula Guy encountered plenty of resistance.

He worked hard to be an artist and he has my utmost admiration for his dedication, creativity, and artistry.

What unique outlet do you pour your creative energy into?


18 Comments on “The Hippie Hippie Shakes”

  1. This is a great post… truly great…

  2. It’s funny you posted this today. A couple of weeks ago my sister told me she bought a hula hoop. She says she’s not very good at it. I used to be pretty good. I could take it from twirling on my fingers above my head and get it down to my feet and back up, but that was years ago! But the funny part is, “I went hula hoop shopping last night!” No I didn’t buy one. They were $5 for the small and $8 for the large and I just couldn’t decide :-/ Maybe next week 🙂

    • cjwestkills says:

      I was so impressed I would have bought one if I’d been with you.

      I’ve never been any good at hula hooping. Maybe someday. For now I’ll stick to writing.

  3. I would have enjoyed watching Hula Man. I never got the hang of hula hoops myself, I always ended up looking like I was having a seizure. It’s a gift to be able to have fun doing something like that and doing it well.

    I guess my outlet is the writing and blogging. Which probably isn’t as much fun to watch as someone hula hooping.

  4. Not sure I have creative energy! We had hooping classes at my gym for a while and saw acouple of exhibitions by the instructor and her hooping troupe. They were amazing. They had hoops with lights in them, so in the dark it was very impressive. I have pictures somewhere. I’ll try to find them and post them.

  5. I shared the photos on your fb page.

  6. Hi CJ

    I read an engineering article once that quote 10,000 hours, but it also added answering a new question every day for 5 to 10 years. The number may be different, but I think writing, or any art, needs a similar rider. It’s not just the hours, it’s the hours done challenging yourself.

    Sounds a biit like Jill and Manday 🙂


  7. Have you ever seen an American Indian doing a hoop dance? Also amazing and wonderful, and worth going to a pow-wow just to see.

  8. Marcia says:

    I love that you found a fascination with this hippie ‘artist’. Hooping is tough! I am no so coordinated and would look like I was having a seizure, too! My creativity, besides writing, has been in handmade things for all ages. I used to make a giveaway for Realtors–they would give what I made as a thank you gift for their clients. I’ve made hundreds of things as gifts, mostly for the kids in the family. Now I take old chairs, usually found at the side of the road, and refurbish them, paint them and sell them as unique household chairs or as indoor/outdoor planters. I also do smaller wood items like trays, frames, and decorative items.

    I think I need to add some hooping into my life, too. 🙂

  9. Christa W. says:

    I’m a little behind everyone, but goodreads delivered blog updates this morning. Great post! Of course, I’ve now got “Hippy Hippy Shake” stuck in my head. 🙂 Cocktail had the 2nd best 80s soundtrack.

    I don’t have a unique outlet that gets it all. I have a variety of artistic “hobby-talents” that I sometimes get paid for (yay!) including music, film, photography and other areas, and I’ve put in my 10,000 hours in music (though I’m still a hack), but I have to spread myself around or I start to act like a caged animal. This week I’m working on a selection of possible soundtrack pieces for a filmmaker I know, next week I might be in the woods tracking critters and shadows with my camera. It’s how I stay sane.

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