About a month ago or so, I saw a post by another blogger (I believe Chwennyland) inviting pole blogger enthusiasts to join an online blog-hop.
Blog-hop? Do we get together once a month and have Skype dance parties? Are balloons involved?
Turns out a blog hop is when a group of bloggers decide on one topic per month (or more, or less) and link back to each other in their post. This way readers are able to see topics from a wide range of perspectives, and are able to discover new blogs in the process.
This will be the first post I write specifically for the hop, and this month’s topic is…A Year In Review.
Well, what a year it was! This was my first year in pole dancing. In January of 2010 I took an intro class at a community center (2 poles, 12 girls. Yikes) and fell in love with the sexy side of it. I bought a pole, set it up in the bedroom, and a week later shoved it in a corner when I found out I was pregnant (Yippee!). The pole served as a decorative piece, standing slightly hidden by houseplants in the corner of our office for the next two years.
Now, I’m not going to go into details, but the months leading up to my first pole class at the new studio were stressful. Like, really stressful. Like, going to several different doctors asking for help sort of stressful. I told them my situation and they all said the same thing,
“Yep, that does sound like an extremely stressful situation you are in. No, you’re not crazy, you are understandably stressed. But since you are breastfeeding we can’t give you anxiety medicine to cope. Have you considered exercising?”
No. No, I haven’t.
“Well, it really is the best cure for anxiety.” (I bet this would be said more often if exercise could be bottled with a profit.)
I went home and gave it some thought. I knew I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to regularly go to the gym, let alone follow an aerobic exercise DVD faithfully at home. I needed something fun!
And out of the corner of my eye I saw something sparkle. My former mistress! Although covered in dust, the chrome still shone. Beckoning.
“Pat!! Can I take pole dancing classes again?”
“Gimme your credit card! Consider it a Valentine’s day gift.”
And the day after Valentine’s day was the day everything changed.
Not knowing if I would remember anything I signed up for a level 1 class. I wanted to make sure I was using proper technique to prevent forming bad habits, and at the same time I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything essential before skipping ahead.
It turns out muscle memory is a very powerful thing and I was bored out of my god damn skull for the entire length of level 1. Plus, I had to keep saying, “It’s ok!! I’ve done this before!!” whenever we tried anything for the first time and the other girls would be scoffing at me.
As luck would have it I was contacted by the owner letting me know the level 2 class I had signed up for was canceled, but would it be ok for me to attend a Level 2/3 class instead?
Thank god! I wanted a challenge, and being worried I may have already known some level 2 moves I gladly signed up for the class.
And it was during the first class that I did the seemingly impossible. I hung upside down!!! With no hands!
I still remember being upside down, clinging for dear life and feeling like my face was swelling like a balloon from the rushing blood. My instructor was holding my legs and squeezing them together at the knees with force comparable to that of a commercial vice .
“Um…are you sure this is right?!” I cried, “This hurts!! Is it supposed to hurt like this?”
My teacher just laughed and said, “Ok, now I’m letting go.”
“NONONOONONONO DON’T. LET. GO!! WHATAREYOUDOINGAREYOUCRAZY?!?!?!”
And then I opened my eyes and saw her standing in front of me waving her hands for effect. No, pole dancers don’t sprinkle themselves with magic fairy dust to stick to the pole. It requires strength. And a lot of pain.
Maybe I’m a bit of a masochist, but I was more in love than ever. Something about inflicting pain in the name of “art” or “sport” made me feel invincible.
Come at me, brah! No, I didn’t just say that.
My “Coming Out” Photo
Little did I know, the love was turning into a full blown obsession. I posted my first photo to Facebook in April and received a welcoming response. Spare time, when not on the pole, was spent watching YouTube tutorials. My thoughts were on pole combos instead of hypothetical situations that feed anxiety. So, in short, my anxiety was gone but I was too focused on pole to even notice. The rush you get from learning something new was so addictive I was not satisfied with simply practicing the moves from class. I gobbled up moves faster than I could swallow and sometimes forgot to breathe. Looking back, I sort of wish I had spent more time perfecting the moves once learning them. Instead of spending a week doing nothing but dropping into a Layback I would spend a week learning the Layback, the Superman, the Butterfly, the Scorpio, the Bow and Arrow, etc. etc.
To show just how insane I was during the honeymoon phase of pole dancing, here is my very first video. I had completely forgotten about it until I stumbled upon it last week in an unmarked folder. At this point I had been pole dancing for three months and it shows. I’m pretty sure my toes are never pointed and if they are it’s probably an accident. My arms and hands look like those of a disabled Tyrannosaurus Rex and the whole time I’m trying really, really hard to look sexy. Oh and you think I’m not flexible now? Imagine what I was like then! Sigh.
I don’t even care. I’m posting it because I like seeing how far I’ve come, even if it’s just that I now point my toes some of the time instead of none of the time.
I remember watching the video afterwards. “Oh man, I did so many crazy moves, it’s gotta look good!…..uh…..yikes….why don’t I look like Jenyne Butterfly?”
Recording my practices was another big milestone for me, and if you don’t do it now, I recommend you start. Seeing one video of yourself with flexed feet and bent legs will kick your ass into engaging your muscles at all time. At least it should.
In June I decided to start this blog. I wanted a way to document my progress and also as a way to meet other pole dancers. All I wanted to talk about and write about was pole. I didn’t have any friends who were interested and it was hard forming friendships at the studio since I could never make it to practice time and I was always saying “See ya!” to a new group of girls every six weeks. It didn’t take long before finding other pole bloggers and the grand daddy of pole dancing social media, Studio Veena. Seriously, it was more addictive than Facebook. A community of pole enthusiasts who can all attest that Pole Dancing is a way of life.
Around July was the time I realized I had all the “easy” moves under my belt and everything left to learn was insane. Knee hold? Split Grip Ayesha? Not only were the moves difficult, a lot of them were very dangerous. At the very least I wanted to have an instructor go over proper grip and leg placement before attempting anything new. I mean, that’s what I’m paying them for, right? Why pay for classes if I’m teaching myself via YouTube?
And I was starting to struggle, anyways. Once it started getting harder I started getting frustrated. The frustration led to disappointment and doubt which just fed my negative thoughts. I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I once was, and looking back now I see it as a good thing. How about now we just, y’know, work really hard at one move until successful?
When it comes to the Split Grip Ayesha you don’t have a choice. NO ONE does. I don’t think I’ve ever worked at anything so hard in my life. I had never devoted an entire practice session to one move, let alone several sessions with no improvement. I knew I had the strength, it was the balance that was throwing me (literally).
And then one day it happens, a high higher than previous highs, let me tell you!
Getting the SG Ayesha was a turning point for me. I was no longer addicted to getting moves right away, I was addicted to working really fucking hard at something that initially seemed impossible. I discovered the importance of setting goals to help motivate me.
So, I fell into a bit of a slump and didn’t quit or hide away like I normally do. That, in and of itself was more important than anything else I had accomplished all year.
Here is a link to the blog hop for further reading!