Hartsell soon introduced her friend Jonathan Baxter to hooping, and he began joining them on Weaver Street.
“We weren’t that crazy about the music, but it was a chance to hoop, so we would take these stacks of hoops, drop them on the ground and everyone would pick them up,” Baxter said. “There would be 40 or 50 people sometimes hooping behind the music.”
People then began inquiring about classes, and the movement grew from there.
“Carrboro is kind of like the perfect climate for hooping,” Baxter said. “It’s kind of hippie, but not too hippie — it’s kind of perfect.”
Baxter said although they outgrew Weaver Street, he still misses the community.
In 2005, Hartsell joined with drummer Scott Crews, and together they started Hoopdrum, a hooping and music performance duet.
“We got all kinds of gigs at festivals, fairs, city events and private parties,” Crews said. “I provided the music, and she danced to it.”
Around that time, Hartsell and Crew began experimenting with making fire hoops.
“A fire hoop company sort of grew organically out of that from friends wanting a fire hoop and just word of mouth,” Crew said.
In 2010, Hartsell and Crew merged with two other fire hoop makers and created Synergy FlowArts, which makes different kinds of hoops — but their flagship product is their fire hoop.
As an online store, they sell to circus performers, dancers and others from all over the world and within the community, Crew said. One of his happiest moments, he said, was when he sold hoops to a Cirque du Soleil performer.
Hartsell said that one of her favorite things about hooping has been the relationships she has created with other hoopers.
"The interesting thing about the hoop and sharing that space with other folks is that it’s a non-verbal space," she said. "A lot of the time that we spend together may not be in conversation, and that is what opens up and deepens the relationship which I think is hard for somebody who doesn’t do that to understand — how much is built without interacting in the traditional conversational or direct communication way."
Baxter said that he loves the communal structure of hooping, and that this was one of the first communities he was ever a part of.
"I think the thing is, is that it’s kind of silly — and I don’t mean that in a disparaging way," Baxter said. "People look weird when they’re learning it, and they kind of develop this sort of communal trust with everybody, like ‘Alright, we’re gonna look weird, but this is really fun, and maybe one day it won’t look weird.’"