So I have taken up pole dancing. I kind of feel like some sort of… - Tactical Ninja
Jun. 12th, 2015
So I have taken up pole dancing. I kind of feel like some sort of ageing hipster over this, but bear with me. I'm told (and have some basis to believe) it will improve my chances of pressing a handstand. And everyone knows that's like the ultimate life goal, right?
Anyway, here is the kind of pole dancing I am not interested in:
And here is the kind that I am:
Let's just put aside for a minute the fact that for me even climbing up the pole is an achievement, ok?
So yeah. Gymnastic, sport-based, strength and flexibility pole rather than look-at-my-arse-waving-in-the-air pole. So off I trot to pole class, only to discover that the basic fundamental moves are all based in what's known as 'classique' style, which is the nod to pole's origin in stripping.
Witness Tats looking everywhere but in the mirror* and feeling like a knob doing body rolls and hair flicks. I have learned the Trucker Girl and the Hello Boys (aptly named because it looks like this):
I have also learned numerous ways of getting off the floor while still maintaining the illusion that my arse is made out of elastic. Dignity and grace elude me still, but it's early days.
Anyway, after 4 weeks of doing it a couple of times a week, I know four different ways of climbing the pole, can go upside down in 2 different ways, can spin about 5 different ways, and have managed to take classique style and make it unsexy.
Actually I have a huge appreciation for the skill and control it takes to do some of these so-called stripper moves and make them look good, because they are in no way as easy as you'd think. It may surprise some people, but ladies don't naturally bend like that, and squatting off one leg so you can stick your bum out while sliding the other one in is actually fucking hard. But I digress.
Something I wasn't expecting to get out of pole class is female bonding. I went into it expecting to be an outsider. I'm a 45-year-old in a class full of young ladies, and I have circus training so I'm already strong and flexible, and can do things that many beginners struggle with. Because of this, I expected bitchiness and ostracism.
WTF Tats? Why??
I grew up in a culture that set women in competition with each other, we all bought into it, and anyone who seemed to be 'winning' that competition was fair game to be taken down. I expect a negative reaction to being 'better' at something than other women, and my conditioned response is to make less of myself to avoid causing this reaction. But I want to be good at this, and I try really hard, and so I thought everyone would hate me.
They don't. Classmates and instructors are all amazingly positive and supportive and encouraging, and I really enjoy both the class and the company before and after. Importantly, I don't feel like anyone's pretending about it - it feels genuine, and not just that nicey-niceness that usually precedes being humiliated by someone who actually doesn't like you.
I guess it's hard to be anything but genuine when you're doing Hello Boys in your undies, eh? Not much to hide in that costume...
But it makes me wonder if there is something about the exposure that goes with pole - it forces body-positivity in a similar way that nudism does, and puts us all in the same boat regarding our perceived physical flaws. We can't hide them so we have to accept them or go home, and after a while they cease to matter. I personally have huge respect for anyone who's gone through that because I know how hard it is, so maybe it sets us all up for mutual support and admiration in other areas?
Or maybe I'm just not in Dargaville any more. Who knows?
I have found it quite difficult to fit in at circus, I think because circus tends to be all-consuming in the same way that shearing gangs are - it's a lifestyle not a hobby - and it tends towards close-knit groups with mega shared history that are hard to break into if you're just a part-timer. But at pole we're all part-timers (at least in beginner class), so there's a welcoming vibe that I really appreciate.
All this is, I guess, to say that this is having more benefits for me than just better abs, eh?
I have no plans to stop doing acro. I still prefer climbing on people to climbing on things, and the trust/communciation thing is really important to me. But I am very glad I've found a sport that's complementary, and in more ways than I expected.
* This is actually not difficult. The instructors are hot and I'm a perv. Sue me.