The Way We Get By: FEELS’s Amy Allen Is Dabbling in Circus Arts

The bassist talks her adventures in hula-hooping.

I’ve been beginning to dabble a bit in circus arts. I’ve started to train myself in the hula hoop — you’d think, “What do you do with it?” But there are so many levels and techniques and tricks you can do that are all just starting to open to me. 

All of that is credited to Marawa The Amazing. I first found her on Instagram maybe last fall. I found her because she’s a roller skate performer and she was doing these roller discos, mostly in London and New York but I found out she was going to have one in LA, so I went to check that out and instantly was drawn to her — her energy, everything about her. I did a little research and found out that not only is she a roller skater, she’s also a hula hoop champion and holds 12 world records, one of which is that she’s had on 200 hula hoops at once. She’s on YouTube, she’s been on Britain’s Got Talent

She recently opened up a shop in Chinatown in LA that serves as a studio and a storefront. She’s started doing classes there, and I was lucky enough to go to one before this whole situation came about. I’ve been able to further develop the classes on Instagram live — she leads a morning stretch every Tuesday and Thursday, then there are two other Instagrams that take over after, that instruct you on hula hooping. One of the accounts is @amazihoops, who is part of a group called the Majorettes. It’s Marawa and the Majorettes, and they’re a traveling group of performers who go around and do all these hula hoop shows. It’s so incredible! Hopefully when I’m all done with this, I might be able to get my foot in the door, show up to the open auditions and see what happens. 

It’s interesting with the hula hoop, because everything you see looks so effortless, but it’s because it’s all about body control. There’s a fixed hoop trick, where basically you’re holding the hoop in front of you and you’re moving your arm around from three o’clock to nine o’clock, but the hoop looks like it’s perfectly in place. Once your arm gets to nine o’clock, you flip your wrist so that it looks like you’re moving your entire arm in a complete circle, but the hoop itself never moves. It’s pretty nuts.

One of the things we do in the virtual classroom is, you try to work the hula hoop up from your waist to your chest. So you have to go from moving your hips back-and-forth to instead moving your chest back-and-forth — if your hips are still moving while your chest is moving, the hoop won’t go anywhere, it’ll just stay in place. So learning how to turn off my lower half while keeping my upper half moving is so hard. But it’s really fun, at least! It gets frustrating, but at least I can laugh it out. 

I asked for a hula hoop for Christmas and made some goals — I wanted to roller skate and hula hoop at the same time. Learn some tricks, see where it goes. What’s interesting about Marawa too is, she started out as a musician and then decided to join the circus. She was a drummer in high school, and then got her Bachelor of Arts in circus performing. It’s nice to know that, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, you can always just change it up a little bit. 

The coronavirus has hit many people financially, and it’s been especially tough on musicians who rely on touring to support themselves. If you’re able and inclined, check out FEELS’s website and order a T-shirt, some vinyl, or whatever they’ve got on offer. Every little bit helps.

(Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez)

FEELS is a noise punk band from Los Angeles. Their second album, Post Earth, was released via Wichita Recordings in 2019.

(Photo Credit: Jeff Fribough)