Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Harbin Hoop Jam October 08
This year’s inaugural Harbin Hoop Jam was a life changing, even cell-shifting, experience. Located in the lush forests of Northern California, just beyond the Napa Valley, it was held at one of the most beautiful natural hot springs retreats in America. After Hoop Camp I was craving Harbin for a variety of reasons. Mostly I was looking for a decent amount of time and space to practice all that I had learnt at Hoop Camp, all that I was working on personally and to go beyond anything that I had experienced or expected in a blank canvas environment. Naturally I wanted to get Intergalactic in oh so many ways.
The beauty of this land exceeded all expectations. As Miss Rosie drove Deanne and I up to the retreat there were several moments where my breath was literally taken away… and then promptly returned with absolute wonder and awe. The land that the retreat sits on, and the retreat itself, is like a magical hideaway from the rest of the world. Add to that completely natural and extremely hot and cold spring pools to soak in, some warm water in between, a steam room or two, healing treatments such as Watsu, massage, yoga in the temple and sleep (!) … well, let’s just say it was hard to leave. We arrived on the Monday directly after Hoop Camp weekend and I left on the following Sunday so a week all up – long enough to get lost / found in the paradise that is Harbin, short enough to eject to complete the rest of the journey.
The Jam was held at the conference centre which had very little left to be desired for a hoop space / home base / disco dance land. Our training area was decked out with a split of floorboards and carpet, cushions everywhere, a DJ booth, ceiling to floor mirror, incredible skylight that bathed us in the sun's beams, hoop shrine, tea and water on tap, snacks, three delicious and healthy (predominantly vegetarian :)) meals a day, magic... hoops of all weights and sizes not to mention lights thanks to psi guru Merlin. I set my bedroom up on the outside decks allowing me to fall asleep to the sound of the flowing stream and dream under the stars in absolute comfort. With all those cushions that deck was like a palace. I woke up to the Harbin “peacocks” (funny looking bush turkeys) and deer wandering around, like everyone else, in an ultra relaxed fashion - a gait that was aptly coined by Lady Hoop Love as the Harbin Slide.
In such a setting it’s amazing that we managed to get anything done other than bask and eat grapes. But we had the vision of our hosts Merlin, Nayeli and Ourobous to fulfil, not to mention missions of our own, which involved a whole lot of hooping, some serious soaking and, an exploration into collective creativity and connectivity. It was the perfect mix – a blissful combination of good sleep, delish food, yogic warm-ups, group directed exercises, freestyle hooping, power dips in the pools, chillout space and party time at night. In a word, it was ideal.
As the first Harbin Hoop Jam the collective vibe was brimming with excitement, anticipation, ideas, a whole lot of energy, the desire to connect and a united and dominant intent to have as much fun as hoopily possible. We dove into the unknown co-creating spontaneously and continuously for the better part of five days. We numbered 18 so the group was large enough to encompass a broad diversity in perspective and style and yet small enough to hold an intimate energy in which we all got to know and enjoy each other’s company.
Having left Australia in super frectic rat mode, landed in San Francisco on a Summer of Love pre-Hoop Camp bling mission then Hoop Camped my little heart out while trying to shake the jetlag, something I really craved from Harbin was the time and space to majorly chillax. As in timeout! I feel like that didn’t fully arrive until the weekend after the Jam was officially over and most of my fellow hoopies had left, leaving a small crew of us to hang out, hoop super casually and play. This need was more a personal requirement than anything I sought from the Jam itself. And how fortunate I was because I can't think of a more chillaxed vibe or venue to watch it appear. It really was a most unique experience of fitting in as much hoop training and play as possible with a lot of space as well to jump onto one's own personal bandwagon if so desired. The chill zone was well and truly under way as the week progressed and the chance to hang at Harbin for a little longer was Divine!
I should not neglect to mention the blissful musical contribution of DJ Sophia. She kept the tunes rokn all the while with lots of eclectic, electric and gypsy style hoopdance tunes that kept our soul train well and truly fuelled. Sophia's beauitful presence as a ball of light human energy and DJ was the cherry on the pie. Much love, adoration and gratitude to Lady Sophia who I could dance to and with infinitely.
The highlights of Harbin for me are numerous. On a hooping level, just being given the opportunity to participate in such a space is an absolute gift. The benefits of working together with a group of like-minded hoopies within an aligned, elongated and intended process is immense. As worked out as I was by the end of the week, I could have happily continued the training for several more weeks. Do not underestimate the regenerating qualities of those hot and cold pools! It's like they reset your energy each and every time.
I also high five the process of blindfolded hooping. WOW! This was one area that I was fully able to access and go beyond the beyond. Like meditation, it frees the mind to just be, intuit, flow, know. The inspiration, and really specific details, for my New York show came from this practice. A story appeared as a standup and spin, using the voice and hoop with Love as the theme. Dee-Lite's Power of Love triggered and shaped then shifted it accordingly. More on that show later, but for now ... can't recommend blindfolded hooping enough and intend on introducing to the hoopies at home.
Tuesday and Thursday nights were Harbin party nights at the conference centre. Local Harbonites poured in and we turned it on hoopstar style. Deanne and I made light work of the Bling Machine and had a wild old time that's for sure :)
My life changed for so many reasons and in so many ways at Harbin. One of the main seeds of change was in giving myself the chance to play without work in my chosen field of work which is about play - an ongoing (if not THE ongoing) conundrum for every professional hoopi I'm sure. The development of my work and personal life requires this free time and space to allow me to grow. It was a major bonus that I was able to share this with fellow hoopies as it amplified the experience.
My cells shifted many times - in the pools, on the dance floor, behind the blindfold, walking the path... Harbin Hoop Jam was an affirmation of the need and desire for hoopies to gather in such a way - i.e for an extended length of time in a magickal paradise - to connect with and inspire our selves and each other. Hoop Camp ignited a flame that was fanned at Harbin. I look forward to the next Harbin Hoop Jam with much hoop love, respect and admiration for those who help create it. Bring it ON!
More pix here