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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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?
HELP WRITE THE HAPPY ENDING TO THIS LOVE STORY
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: email@example.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
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!)
I love this article, I love Kay + Dustin, so happy for them, and their wedding was seriously the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!
If you’re a US hooper and you can make one of the workshops, you definitely should, they’re both amazing hoopers and teachers, and you’d be suppporting a wonderful couple in wuvvvv!
Great story! I really want to make it to the Kansas City workshop!
So awesome that I had to reblog. If anyone of my children did that, I would walk behind them w a boombox blaring any song they wanted.
I posted this story a couple of years ago, but there is a LOST TORTOISE sign on my block again today, so it bears revisiting.
So here are some things that happened this afternoon that I am not lying about:
Ben came in from getting the mail and said, “There’s a giant tortoise loose outside.”
“Oh. Okay. What?”
“There’s a giant tortoise loose outside. Come look.”
I went and looked. There was a giant tortoise loose outside. He was walking through the yard across the street, and going pretty fast. There were four other neighbors standing around watching, two of whom had been following him since he walked through their their own yard three blocks away. Nobody knew what to do. So we all stood and watched for a while longer.
“Is he a pet?” “Do we call animal control?” “Can we pick him up, or will he bite?” There were a lot of questions, and nobody had answers.
People started to slow down as they drove past, and a few took pictures. We asked everyone, “Is this your giant tortoise?” After the third one, when they said no, I started adding, “Would you like a giant tortoise?” No takers.
A woman in a housecoat walked over. We asked: “Is this your tortoise?” She said: “No. Mine’s in the backyard. But it might be my son’s.” She walked over to him, checked his shell for markings, and said: “No. He don’t look like Torty.”
At around this time, the giant tortoise was starting to walk into the street, which we tried to discourage him from doing, because people drive fast on our street. Eric, who apparently is a personal trainer and my neighbor, picked him up and turned him back toward grass. He strained to do so, and estimated the giant tortoise’s weight at about 60 pounds.
Just then, another neighbor came from around the corner. He asked: “Is that Steve’s giant tortoise?” To which we responded: “Maybe?” He got a good look at the giant tortoise and said, “I’ll put him in my truck and bring him to Steve’s. If it’s not his, then at least he’ll be safe there. If you start seeing signs for a lost tortoise, call the number and tell them he’s at Steve’s.”
We agreed to do just that. As he drove off, our next-door neighbor leaned in to me and whispered: “Do you know who Steve is?”
“I do not,” I whispered. “But do you know that at least three of our neighbors own giant tortoises?”
Damn. Best story. Reminds me of my dad’s Blue Pig story.