In the spotlight: The Lanternsmith “Bubble Ring”
For someone like me who was instantly an addict of polypro, the idea of a better kind of plastic was considered sacrilegious. Polypropylene was rigid, light, and quick; everything I wanted out of a hoop. Hooping had become a shoe-in to the world of dance for me. Rather than tiptoe around the mold of modern dance, I could saunter in confidently, hoop drawn and dance turns well-practiced. Suffice to say, I am exceedingly picky when it comes to my hoops. They must be of a certain size, must be one solid color, must be pretty to look at, must not have sticky grip tape. I like to do a lot of on-body work with my hoop, and for that reason I need a lot of wiggle room (as I found out, woefully, after 30 inch hoops did not treat me as well as I’d have liked). That was the story: I had my pile of single color, mirror-taped polypro hoops, and I was one satisfied hooper.
Well, almost. Something about watching those old circus style hoopers from the days of yore (or still in action over in the United Kingdom) flicking hoops around their body in whatever mystery plastic their prop was made of. Their hoops dancing across their bodies in all of that wedgie glory, it really got to me. You could technically do said tricks with a polypro, yes, but there was a quality missing. That wobble. Where had all the wobbles gone? I shrugged it off and continued on with my steady polypropylene diet.
That is, until the day my deep-seeded want for flex was instantly satiated upon the testing of something totally new, totally weird, and totally wobbly. Fresh out of the Lanternsmith oven, dutifully dubbed the Bubble Ring, this polycarbonate hoop is indestructible — literally— because it is made of bullet proof plastic. That means you stand on it, drop it, or even throw it at a friend and the hoop is completely unscathed (unlike your friendship). But that’s not the coolest thing about this hoop: it’s got BOUNCE. I don’t mean any kind of slight bounce. I mean you have the hoop nicely in wall plane, one side touching the ground, pressing down on the top of the hoop, let go, and this hoop will launch several feet into the air. You can even fold the hoop all the way down into a figure eight on the ground, let go, and it shoots well over 15 feet into the air and STILL it retains its shape!
For me, the most important and ultimately the most satisfying aspect of this hoop is its feel on-body. Remember the days of the weighted hoop, how gratifying that feeling was, pushing all that weight around? The truly fascinating thing about this prop is it gives your body the feeling of a weighted hoop, but the nimble movements of a polypro. It really feels like the Cadillac of hoops: it just wants to take a cruise around your body. It felt like my body could finally dance the way it had always wanted to in a hoop. It was innovating and a game changer for how I moved.
Aesthetically speaking, it shocked me how sleek, beautiful, and slender the hoop is. It’s crystal clear, thinner than the thinnest polypro you’ve ever seen, which in the beginning you may find hard for your fingers to get used to. But there is something about the crystal-clear shine of the hoop that really gets me. When it’s a bright sunny day, lay on the ground, hoop with it around your foot, and it feels like your twirling the sky around your foot. There’s nothing between you and that blue, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Have someone film you and watch how your body’s movements are more pronounced, more apparent, because the hoop is so clear that suddenly it becomes less about tricks you are pulling off and more about the melding of you and your hoop’s movements.
The grip tape is also a beast all its own. Lining the inside of the hoop is a thin piece of silicone tape, an incredibly grippy material that doesn’t peel off even when it gets moist. It is also easily cleaned with a cloth or wet towel. You know what that means: no more dirty, sticky, gross grip tape, FINALLY! That was a big problem I had with grip tape, especially when traveling.
Lanternsmith itself is the brain child of Annie Guest and Charlie Cushing, and is based out of Vermont. Lanternsmith also creates meditative glow props, including poi, staff, and a really great glow hoop. Instead of using tape or LEDs, this hoop uses a special kind of glowing dust/sand that, when charged with one of their special devices called a Sprite, makes the inside of the hoop glow in a hauntingly beautiful way for several hours.
This a beautiful product, a beautiful company, I strongly suggest everyone check out their website and support your local flow artists!
Buy a hoop!
Here’s their Facebook page:
Bubble Ring prices:
Regular “model LS-500”: $65.00
Add $15 for silicone grip tape
Add $20 for LanternCore in blue, aqua or green + $20 for a second
LanternCore for color combinations such as a double helix