Great Lolo Balls of Fire!

Of all the crazes that swept our bored little nation back in the eighties, the Lolo Ball was probably one of the most unsafe, unstable, unsteady and unbelievably fun ways to spend your time as a child. I don’t remember exactly how it started…all I know is that I wanted in. And fast. During my primary school years, I was the proud owner of two Lolo Balls. The first was a blue ring around a fat yellow ball (not the original brand, but it was all they had in Quinnsworth at the time), the second looked just like the one in the picture below. I have to admit, I got a twang of nostalgia when I saw that pop up on my screen…along with a pain in my gum but that’s for a later part of the story.

The chief source of most major dental work on eighties kids.

For those unfortunate enough to have been born after this awesomely ridiculous hobby exploded onto the scene, here’s how it worked. It was about the size of a football, and looked like the illegitimate love-child of soccer and Frisbee. Here’s how you use it:

1: Lay it on the ground, placing your foot flat on the plastic ring.

2: Then in some sort of upward jumping motion that would make a Russian gymnast gasp in admiration, leap into the air while simultaneously placing your other foot on the other side of the plastic ring.

3: While airborne, use your two feet to grip the ball tighter than Kim Kardashian clings to fame.

4: Bounce like a grinning idiot for hours to prove to your parents that this is something you are seriously committed to after breaking their balls to buy you one.

Of course, it was called something different in America – Pogo Bal. I don’t know why they left out the other ‘l’..or why we called it ‘Lolo Ball’ instead. But anyway.

This is the first time I’ve seen that ad. What blatantly false advertising. Where are the countless split lips, the missing teeth, the stitches on foreheads?? We must have been doing it wrong. However, we forgot one very important difference between us and the Yanks with regard to Lolo Ball Best Practice policies…the weather.

You know it’s a cool craze when the schools start putting an embargo on it. I’m pretty sure I was the reason St. Nessan’s N.S. in Mungret issued a blanket ban on all things Lolo Ball-related circa 1986. To be fair though, I was too young to be aware of such things as the laws of physics and how water affects smooth surfaces. If I had known, for example, that when a round, bouncing, spinning disc/sphere of plastic comes into contact with wet indoor floors on rainy school days, it becomes less of a fun hobby and more of a Flying Ball O’ Death, then I may have reconsidered my actions. However, I was blinded by ambition.

The lure of being an Ultimate Lolo Ball Stunt Girl was too much for my fragile ego. The Ball came out, and off I went, to bounce towards immortality. My plan was to hop along the corridor, up the two steps that lead us to our classroom and finish with a turn and a flourish to face my cheering classmates, who would no doubt write many lines about it in their ‘My News’ copybooks the next day. What I wanted, and what I got, however, were two very different things:

As I sat in the staffroom with a manky facecloth held to my mouth soaking up the blood from my battered front tooth, I took a moment to consider what might have gone wrong. Those steps got bigger overnight, obviously. That sideboard came out of nowhere. Maybe I wanted to kiss the floor at high speed, did you ever think of THAT, Mom?? But I digress…

After my painful run-in with the Funky Ball of Doom, my bouncing days soon ended. But the craze lasted for quite a while. It got to the point where you chose your Lolo Ball colours with the same precision of a wannabe gang member in South Central Los Angeles. Through trial and error, you learned what shoes worked best..and, in a completely unrelated move, what plasters stayed on longest. Part of me still longs for one more shot at those steps in Mungret school, so these days I keep my cravings at bay by indulging in Roller Derby. Out of the frying pan, rolling at high speed into the fire. Maybe one day I’ll arm myself in my safety gear, find a Lolo Ball lying around, and hop my way to greatness. Although this time, I’ll wear a gum shield.

I can but dream…

(by JayRow)

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5 thoughts on “Great Lolo Balls of Fire!

  1. Oliver Farry says:

    The Lolo Ball was one a string of 1980s fads that I failed miserably to master the mechanics of – the Spinner (as featured here the other day), the Rubik cube, the hacky sack (the first of which in Ireland I’m convinced I owned, having been given it as a present by my Yank cousins in summer 1984). By the time the decade was over I was convinced of my own complete lack of ambitextrousness. At least the others left you relatively unscathed. He or she who tried the Lolo Ball emerged with bruises as reminders of the ‘experience’.

  2. poxy loloballs. responsible for me slipping a disc in my back at the age of 10. getting it put back in place was horrendous and back has always had a twinge since. FaCK THEM!

  3. fústar says:

    Still reeling from the sight of that late 80s day-glo-pop horror band…on Lolo balls.

    Lolo balls (like all such things) promised to transform the tedious act of getting from A to B into a fun-stuffed bounce-a-thon. In reality it was slower than walking and harder than (unassisted) jumping. I remember being shattered just going from one end of the hall to the other. Despite countless (“fun”/futuristic) attempts to sex up the reality of being a pedestrian, people still insist on just…walking. I see them at it all the time. Add Lolo balls to a scrap-heap that contains Segways, pogo-sticks et al.

  4. Lisa Carey says:

    Bizarrely, despite (as I lamented in my Spinner article) being the Least Coordinated Child In Ireland, I was a dab hand at the ould Lolo Ball. What a useful skill that turned out to be.

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