Tag Archives: hula hooping

Day 2: Hooping has no language barrier

5 Jan

I woke up this morning still quite jet-lagged, my body not feeling quite up to par. But, after eating some breakfast I was determined to see at least one Dubai landmark before I headed to the Marina mall to somehow gather the energy to hula hoop for 6 hours.

The girls and I headed to Dubai Mall to see the aquarium. Once you’ve seen one aquarium, you’ve seen it all, but I think the marvel of this one is that it was inside a mall, along with an ice rink. I hear there is a ski slope in one of the other malls, but I don’t think this one was it. I can’t be to sure though because the scale of the facility is so big, it would probably take days to walk around.

After walking around one percent of this thing the Emirates call a “mall” (I would maybe call it a city), I didn’t feel as if I would even have the energy to stand up, much less hoop for hours. But, when I got to work my whole attitude changed.

Within 5 minutes of getting to the promenade to start the hula play area a little girl came up to me with a letter. I recognized her from the day before.

“I love you, you are pretty. From Maitane,” read the letter written on pink Barbie stationary. She gave Gabbi one as well.

I can honestly say that if it weren’t for that letter I would have had a hard time finding the enthusiasm my job calls for. Thank you Maitane.

But, as the night progressed I learned two things that made me realize why a simple toy like a hula hoop can be so magical for mind, body, and spirit. The first is that hula hooping has no language barrier. I met children and adults from Madrid, Germany, India and various other parts of the world, some who didn’t speak English. But, what I learned is that the universal symbols of a nod and a shake of the head can go a long way in a hula hoop lesson. Since it is a sport that is easy to mimic, showing is all you need, no talking is necessary to generate a genuine smile.

The second thing I realized is that in the age of technology, where three year olds have iPads and parents are quick to let their children play video games for distraction, a hula hoop is one of the timeless toys that is still entertaining and physical.

In fact, when the hoops were taken away from the children at the end of the night, I saw the same reaction as if they had been grounded from TV for a week. Amazing. As a 90s kid who was forced to play outside, build forts and commence with neighborhood friends at playgrounds, it always saddens me when a parent tries to distract their kid with a mindless game. Hula hoops give hope to the digital generation.

Once again it is late, but I will end with some new words I have learned after hanging out with a staff from literally all over the world (Scotland, London, Australia, Sweden,  and Egypt).

1. Trainers- sneakers/tennis shoes

2. Boot- trunk of a car

3. leafeys- flyers

4. lift- elevator

That is all I can think of right now. Stay tuned for Day 3!


Dubai’s first hooping festival: Hoop-la Dubai

4 Jan

Hello loyal followers,

I know I have not posted in a while due to the chaos that is called the holidays. I have been living out of my car, people’s couches and in about 4 different cities over the past month, but I am far from complaining.

For the next twelve days I will be steering away from my normal health and science articles and sharing my experience working at Dubai’s first festival dedicated to hula hooping. That’s right, Dubai. For a girl who’s only adventure out of the country was an hour boat ride to the Bahamas, a trip to Dubai seemed almost impossible, until I saw an awesome opportunity on Facebook.

About three weeks ago, I read a post that was asking for two people who were passionate about hula hooping to travel to Dubai to help with the festival (mainly helping people who wanted to learn.) The job was unpaid, but the trip was all expenses paid. I had to go for it. After sending the email, writing a brief description about why I love hula hooping, and sending a photo, I heard back from Stuart at Dolphin Creative (the company organizing the event) saying I was chosen and I would have my flight details shortly.

Wow. That email came fast! I didn’t know whether to be excited or scared. My journalist cynicism kicked in and I worried that it was all a scam. After doing multiple google searches, I found out to the best of my knowledge that it was legitimate and decided to take a risk. I went for it, but the knots in my stomach from nervousness wouldn’t cease.

After a 22-hour day of traveling, with a layover in Germany (yay, two countries in one trip!) I landed at the Dubai airport, not knowing what to expect. Then came the passport line. I waited an hour and a half only to have my passport refused.

“It’s not going through the machine,” the man working the counter said. “Go to office number one,” he said.

I walked hesitantly to the office and handed another man my passport.

“Where are you staying?”  he asked.

Uh oh. Andy, another organizer of the event hadn’t told me the name of the hotel yet, mainly because the agency booking our flight and hotel was so last minute, what I’ve learned is a common trait in Dubai.

“Um. . . I’m not sure, someone is picking me up and taking me to my hotel,” I said.

After one more look over, he handed back my passport and let me proceed to baggage claim.

After I gathered my luggage, I went outside and started reading what seemed like a hundred name cards. None said Rebecca Burton. Once again, panic set in. But, after looking back inside I saw Andy, and recognized him vaguely from Facebook. We introduced ourselves, he handed me spending money and took Gabbi, the other hula helper and me in a cab to our hotel in Bur Dubai.

The first day of the festival was cancelled, which gave the performers (Lisa Lottie and Polly Macfarlane) and the hula helpers some time to get to know each other. We toured Dubai Marina Mall where we would be working, and then went to a bar in the middle of the water on Jumeirah Beach to watch the sunset.

Now that I have written probably way too much background info, we come to the first day of the festival. My eyes are closing as I am writing this, so my future posts will give a bit more detail.

But, the first day exceeded my expectations. Men, women and children of all nationalities and ages picked up hoops and were immediately inspired. Some, stayed for hours at a time, asking where to buy one. I know how hooping changed my life, and have always tried to show others how it can help their minds, bodies and spirits. I am truly blessed to have been able to spread the hoop love to a country  that perhaps has not had as much exposure as the  U.S.

Although my feet are aching and I am in desperate need of a shower, I am ready  to go back tomorrow and leave an impression on the Marina Mall patrons. Sorry for any typos/bad grammar/sloppy writing. It’s late, and I’m exhausted but I just had to share! Stay tuned for more stories of my journey, written more like a journalist.