With this ring: A hula hoop love story

Two hoop performers recently met and fell in love. With around zero odds in their favor, they crossed oceans, emptied their pockets, turned night into day (how else can one skype between time zones?) and made their relationship work. Because their dedication is inspiring, and also because I see a way for the hoop community to give them the best wedding gift ever, here is their story.

Kay Dent and Dustin Hubel exchange rings.

* * *

Most newlyweds don’t work during their honeymoon. Then again, most newlyweds don’t hula hoop for a living, or require a trans-Atlantic plane ride to be together. Meet Kay Dent, of Bristol, UK, and Dustin Hubel, of Omaha, NB, two international hoop stars whose chance meeting eight months ago has turned into an unlikely fusion of lives – a wedding overseen by Elvis (and watched by hoopers on multiple continents) – and a six-week journey dedicated to breaking through a wall of immigration red tape.

Say what?

If you’re confused, that’s because sometimes love defies all logic. But let’s rewind through the details of this epic union. Although Kay and Dustin didn’t know each other until August of 2011, hoopers in the online community may have known these two quite well, via youtube. Last year, Kay whirled her way into the finals of hooping.org’s Hooping Idol contest, with videos such as this gem:

That same year, longtime master mini hooper Dustin posted a new demo video that currently has over 127,000 views.

So how did these two finally cross paths? “We were both at Burning Man this past summer, where we were introduced by our mutual friend Gail O’Brien (2011 ‘Female Hooper of the Year‘),” Kay explains. “I think I was just drooling over Dustin, watching him hoop for ages. I cleverly asked him to teach me some moves, so I could hang out with him.”

“I thought Kay was adorable, friendly,” says Dustin. “We couldn’t stop talking.”

Mere hours after they met, in the desert, blinded by love.

After Burning Man, the two traveled to the Lake Tahoe Flow Festival – before Kay had to hop her flight back to Bristol. Sad? Sure. Fortunately, professional hula hoopers are born without the gene that causes one to believe in conventional obstacles.

“We liked each other a lot, and we didn’t know what would happen, with us being from two different countries. Then, Dustin just went home and booked a flight to Bristol,” Kay laughs. “That sorted it out.”

Bristol was voted 2011 Hoop Community of the Year by the international hoop community. So Dustin fit right in, and it wasn’t long before he realized he didn’t want to leave Kay. As Christmas approached, and his flight home loomed, they made a plan: He’d go back to the U.S., wrap up loose ends, and return to Bristol by Valentine’s Day, for good.

A classic film plot? Nope. Just two hoopers in love.

Unfortunately, while love defies all logic, immigration laws are more strident. With Dustin unable to secure an entertainer’s visa on a timetable that matched their desire to be together, they had a serious talk about the future. Cue … Elvis?

“We managed to shock most of our friends and families, who never thought we’d get married,” Kay says. “But we love each other, so we flew to Las Vegas and just made it official on April 18. The chapel we found was perfect. It streamed our wedding live, so all of our friends in various countries could watch it as it was happening.”


Emma "Kenna Hoops" of Bristol cheers while the Bristol hoopers watch the live stream of Kay and Dustin's wedding on April 18. (Note Kay and Dustin on the screen.)

“Before we met, both of us thought that we’d be doing all of our teaching and performing alone, even if we met a life partner. It’s been a really nice surprise to have someone to do that with. I’m looking forward to sharing that part of my life, forever,” Kay says. This would lead us to the final happy ending, if not for one thing.

“We’re married,” Dustin explains. “But we still have to save up the money for my visa – about $1200 – on top of the wedding and all the flights we’ve had to make. So our honeymoon is my workshop tour.” Doesn’t teaching put a damper on the honeymoon part?

“It’s work, but it’s also a means to an end – and we think it’s going to be really fun,” Dustin says. “What do normal people get, a week-long honeymoon in Florida? We’re doing six weeks in six cities. Plus, we get to meet a lot of cool people along the way. Beat that, regular couples!”

“We’d be hooping on a honeymoon anyway,” Kay points out. And although she won’t be teaching, due to work restrictions for non-U.S. citizens, she will be at each workshop, hooping it up, bringing balance to Dustin’s skills with her own style. What better way to set the tone for a happy future?

Newlyweds in Vegas.


If you live in San Francisco, Oakland, L.A., Seattle, Portland, Kansas City or St. Louis, you can take Dustin’s (highly recommended) workshops – and pour champagne on Kay – in person. It’s a great opportunity to learn from a ninja, host a post-class wedding reception, or otherwise support the extreme lengths this couple has gone through to be together. If you don’t live on the tour route, I asked Dustin for his paypal info. As someone who has been blown away to see two people take such a chance on their feelings, I have one question for the hoopers of planet earth: Can we help this couple stick it to immigration, in the name of true love? Wedding gifts (to offset visa fees) can be sent to: dustin.hubel@gmail.com

I was at Burning Man the night Kay and Dustin met. On April 18, I was laughing through tears watching them get married. Life is amazing. Let’s celebrate how inspiring it is when people don’t follow societal convention, and instead, follow their hearts. Hoopers unite: Let’s get this man a visa!

HUBEL HONEYMOON TOUR 2012: Come spin with the newlyweds

April 29 – San Francisco – Alonzo King Lines Ballet, 2-5p

May 5 – Oakland, CA – Prop Box Studio, 2-5p

May 6 – Los Angeles, CA – Groove Spot, 5-8p

May 12/13 – Seattle – Dance Underground, 2-5p both days

May 19/20 – Portland – The Lotus Seed, 2-5p both days

May 26/27 – St. Louis – 2720 Cherokee, 2-5p both days

May 28 – Kansas City – Info soon


Congratulations and a happy, happy future to Kay Dent and Dustin Hubel.


“THAT WAS INCREDIBLE! Just watched the wedding this morning … completely bonkers!” — Gems Goddard, Hooper, Brighton, England

“Finally managed to watch. BEST WEDDING EVER!” – Zoe Horisontaltightropewalker, Hooper, Bristol, UK

“That was great! Congratulations!!!” — Paola Berton, Hooper, Italy

“OH my god this wedding is AMAZING!” – Gail O’Brien, Hooper, Belfast, Ireland

“Ahh, you two look so cute. Love that this is being broadcast live! Congratulations!” – Tracey Chin, Hooper, London, England

(“With this ring, I thee wed” just got a whole lot cooler!)


8 responses to “With this ring: A hula hoop love story

  1. Sarah Washington

    Had the pleasure of meeting Dustin at his mini’s workshop here in Philly! He was amazing! Best wishes to you both!

  2. I remember when Dustin first got into hoops – he’d practice in our apartment for ceaseless hours. Who woulda thought that road would have led to where it has?
    Hell… I should have gotten into it, too.

  3. Jason, that’s so cool that you knew Dustin before he was Mr. Kay Dent. He’s a great guy – and those years of practice have certainly paid off. In terms of getting into hooping yourself, you know, there’s *still* time. Fyi, the ratio of female to male hoopers is about 100 to 1. The top comments I’m seeing about this blog, around Facebook, are “Me next!” and “I want a hoop man!” In fact, I think it’s pretty advisable for ALL men to start hooping, immediately. I’m just sayin.’ 😉

    • Hahah. If I was able to move to the UK, I’d totally have him teach me.
      Yeah, me ‘n Dustin were buddies back when we were teenagers. Never figured he’d end up abroad.

  4. Kendra Allison

    I’m so happy for my brother! He’s an amazing talented person and Kay is as equally awesome and I truly believe that he has met his match! I never thought I’d see my brother get married (by Elvis of all people) but life has a funny way of changing everything. We are lucky to have Kay in the family! Seeing them together is great!

    • Congrats on having such a cool family, Kendra! Yes, they’re both quite talented, and in a strange twist (because I thought it took married couples *a while* to start looking like each other), they even have the same hair! Obviously, it was meant to be. 🙂

  5. Chris Rosengren

    Congradulations man I’m happy too see you found your nich In life and somebody to share it with get ahold of me if you in Omaha before you go oversea it be awesome to see you and meet your beautiful bride. This man was always doing some trick with anything he had in his hands in highs hook haha sweet.

  6. Wow that is amazing… when Kenna said hoop jam is closing early to watch a wedding i had no idea it was Kay’s wedding !!!! Congratulations to the both of you!!! may you hoop happily ever after 🙂

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