Day 4: Hoopers wanted in Dubai

7 Jan
Jumeirah women's only beach.

Jumeirah women’s only beach.




Day 4 started with some much needed sunbathing at Jumeirah beach. The water was a familiar turquoise and the sand a golden brown, similar to the beaches in Miami. But, one thing stuck out to me: there were only women at the beach. This shouldn’t have surprised me given the conservative nature of Dubai. I should have expected it since the taxi driver said he didn’t want to take us to the open beach. “It is too crowded and there are men there,”  he said.

Instead, he took us to the park which cost about 5 dirhams to get in ($1.36). But, they had showers, which we needed since we had to go straight to work after. Although the beach looked similar to South Beach, it was very different. No house music or drinks from Wet Willies were in sight (maybe it has to do with the fact alcohol is illegal here.) Instead people were quietly sunbathing with the occasional background sound of the traditional prayer over loud speakers. It was soothing in a sense and was the kind of beach I prefer.

After the beach we went outside to flag a cab and a guy with a white Lexus asked us where we needed to go.

We were warned that unmarked cabs were significantly more expensive.

“No thank you,” we said. “We’ll take the one over there, yours is more expensive.”

“No, it is the same, starts at 3.50 dirhams,” he replied.

Reluctantly we got in. But we were right. After complaining to him at our arrival to the mall, he knocked off a measly 3 dirhams and admitted that his cab did cost more.

Work started off slowly with a small influx of toddlers again, but picked up with more older kids as the night progressed. Tonight was probably the most I used my teaching skills, particularly to a girl around the age of 13. She was a natural and picked up tricks that took me a week to learn. We even made a routine and showed it to her parents. At the end of the night, between Gabbi and I, quite a few children and parents were asking where they could take further lessons.

But, we didn’t have an answer. These children were so enthusiastic about learning more, but there is no hooping community in Dubai or anyone who teaches lessons. After countless searches on Facebook, and Hoopcity after work, I still found nothing. It saddens me that these children won’t have fellow hula hoopers to help them progress. I suggested free tutorials on YouTube, which is how I learned.

But, the good thing is that this festival is planting the seed of interest, so much that about a dozen kids have come back more than once to learn more. The 13-year-old even took a video of me doing a trick so she could replay it to learn at home. She told me she will come back on Friday.

So, on a closing note, any hoopers who are not currently tied down in their current place of residence and want to inspire a new generation, Dubai is one of the places in desperate need of some expertise. So if you’re feeling adventurous, head over to the desert and spread the hoopspiration.

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