Dancing up on the pole, with the pole, away from the pole. Bringing out that inner sex kitten. I went to a pole class with my best friend and pole diva.
My interest in dancing off of the ground has been satisfied by my aerial classes, where I climb up silks and hang unsteadily on the trapeze. Dancing on a steady, unmoving object like a pole seemed easier.
Of course, pole dancing is not without its connotations.
The studio is in a discreet location with no identifying markers on the outside as to what actually goes on within its walls. The establishment obviously wants its clientele to feel comfortable.
The inside is dimly lit, with small white glowing lamps in the corners of the classroom, which had a post in the almost center, and which had seven (I think) poles in an almost circle. It was a smaller room than I’m used to dancing in, but I suppose you’re not really traveling a lot here.
After introductions, we all sat in a circle and did an almost modern-ish warm up. Our eyes were closed, and we rolled our necks and our shoulders and did some cat cow situations. The instructor had us do some glute raises and hip circles, and she encouraged us to touch our bodies as we did this.
Perhaps thanks to modern dance, or perhaps I’ve always just been a terrible heathen, I don’t really have a problem with this and was like, aiight.
The actual technique part of class started with sexy crawls. She gave a short demonstration and explanation, and she told us to imagine we were crawling toward something we wanted, like Captain America or a glass of lemonade. I felt like my modern training came in handy for this. I like to move from an instinctual place as it is, and I just let my natural lordosis and open ribs come out a bit more and tossed in some hair flips. The only really challenging part was keeping my toes pointed – I’m pretty used to either yoga toes or flexed feet a la bear crawl style. Flexed feet are not sexy.
We then practiced sexy walking. As someone who naturally leads with their hips, this wasn’t all that difficult. Maybe I didn’t look sexy when I was walking, but I was hella poppin. She told us to really cross our ankles and to drag the tops of our feet, like a sloppy ballerina, maybe. When the instructor sexy walked, she really looked almost like a drunk zombie, which I’m sure some men think is sexy, but as a mover, it just made me uncomfortable in a safety sort of way.
She taught us a fireman spin on the pole, which was really very fun. It starts with one leg in front attitude, connected to the pole at the inner ankle, and then you lean away from the pole with your arms and fall. Suddenly you’re spinning uncontrollably, and you’re on the ground. Abs are definitely involved, as is the same sort of shoulder engagement they always talk about in my aerial classes.
Then came the combo: sexy walk to the walk, hip pumps against the wall with the booty away, push off the wall, fireman spin on the pole, get up with the butt leading, hip kisses (shake your ass) and then some more sexy stuff.
It was fun. There was room for your own timing and improvisation, and the instructor turned the lights down so we felt like we were dancing alone.
I like to dance with people watching, though, but the lighting did create some fun silhouette shapes to watch as we went in groups.
Though it wasn’t a bad class, I didn’t find the same sort of enjoyment that I get out of my usual dance classes. I love to dance because I love the physicality of it, and the danger, and the risk, and the sweat. It was the same sort of feeling as I usually get when doing musical theater type of stuff. I’m not dancing to be a character, and I’m not dancing to be sexy. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy, and I’m no prude, but I don’t want to do sexy dance. I have no problem doing it when I go out with my friends, or doing risque or inappropriate movements in hip hop or jazz (look at Tricia Miranda’s choreography for “Anaconda” and tell me that’s not bad ass).
That being said, I was intrigued by the pole tricks. Some of the students did a little show at the end where they were doing inversions and crazy tricks on the pole. Those feats of athleticism are amazing, and these people are athletes. Dem abs, yo. They had to take off their shirts/pants for these, because the skin sticks you to the pole, and I appreciate the beauty of the body here. I am in full support of less clothing in dance classes.
All that said, I’m personally just not happy celebrating my sexuality through dance. I feel like I’m pretty open with myself and how I feel, and I just don’t enjoy using dance as an outlet for it. Those parts of my life are separate, and I’m happy with it being that way.
After my ballet class last night and my modern class this morning, it just reaffirms my feelings. I feel such ecstatic joy doing that type of movement (moreso modern than ballet, definitely). I enjoy gaga and other types of esoteric movement where you aren’t caring about what you look like, only what you feel like. I don’t want to have to be sexy, I just want to be me.
I’ve heard from my friend about herself and others who have really wonderful time taking these classes. They are good for helping people discover those parts of themselves. Some people (*cough cough looking at you, southern Idaho cough*) grew up in places that shame sexuality and the body to the point that people are afraid to put their hands on themselves. Classes like this are great for people who want to explore themselves and be in a positive atmosphere full of supportive women.
But not liking pole or boudoir dance does not mean that you are sex negative or ashamed of your body or anything. I would encourage dancers to at least try this type of movement, though, if for no other reason that it will expand your perspective.