Friday, August 21, 2015

Pole Strong - How pole dance changed me

I have practiced pole dance and pole fitness off and on again for about 7 years.  Now there were several years of gap in there when I left my city life and moved to the country side and those years I was making a baby and saving every single penny to adopt our second...  But the pole and me have had a pretty long friendship at this point.

I have been involved in dance my whole life, like most girls I was dutifully enrolled in ballet class at the age of 3.  I never really managed to get good at it, not due to lack of interest or effort on my part.  Year after year, I did not progress much and stayed in the same ballet class with increasingly younger girls joining me each year.  Little nine year old me, could not have cared less, in fact I was quite pleased with the fact that I was nearly the best in the class at this point, I was really showing up those three year olds!!!  One day my old-school ballet teacher became quite exasperated with my lack of progress and she told me to just quit.  I had the wrong body for ballet, the wrong feet, I was about as graceful as Bambi on ice, it was time for me to leave pre-beginner ballet, I gave it enough of a try, but she could not teach me any longer.

That ballet class was the first time dance rejected me, but I think I really took that saying dance like no one is watching to heart, and I loved dance madly, truly, even if it did not love me back. I went on to be a professional fundraiser, priding myself on bringing in millions of dollars to support the dancers I adored. I was at every dance performance in town, I rocked the dance trivia section on Jeopardy.  Dance was my thing, but I still was no good at it, at all.

I came across pole dance sort of by accident, I think I saw a flyer someone had discarded on the ground.  It seemed like a fun thing to try, so I signed up.  It was love at first twirl.  I had always dreamed of being swirled and lifted into the air like my beloved ballerinas.  I am in fact about a head taller then most male ballet dancers and I out weigh them too, so this particular fantasy seemed improbable for me.  #tallgirlproblems.  That is until the pole came into my life.  It was really difficult, and took me weeks of trying before I got my very first spin down pat, but I immediately saw that my dance dream could finally come true.  I did not need no stinkin' man to lift me over his head, me and a brass pole were gonna get 'er done on our own!!!

I danced for about 2 years straight, I was loving it, feeling fit, having fun, no other sport or exercise had ever kept my interest.  I am a bit of a slacker, but there is no cheating in pole, if you wimp out you fall on your head.  Then I moved out of the city, and became the new girl in a tiny country hamlet.  No pole dance available.  Then the babies came.  The pink and green grew out of my hair replaced by my natural dishwater blonde.  My interests were mostly replaced with things my children were interested in.  As with most women with babies and toddlers, my world became very, very small, a universe that revolved around them.  On top of that I was living in a town so small we only had one set of lights and had to pick our mail up at the general store.  I was loving my slow and happy life but I felt like I didn't recognize my self any longer.  It had been years since my spunky self had surfaced.

Once again pole dance found me by accident, I saw a flyer stapled gunned to a telephone pole at the train station.  My head whipped around with vengeance, pole fitness was here!!!!  By this time it was a more mainstream fitness activity that many soccer moms partook in and it was now reaching the suburbs.  It was like a shining beacon to me, it represented a hope that I might find someone else from my tribe in this town that I still did not completely fit into.

I had found Brass Belles.  This was most definitely the second chapter of my pole journey.  I eagerly signed up for my first class, an intermediate one, since I was by no means a beginner.  To my great disappointment in that class I came off as less then a beginner.  In my mothering years I had lost every single ounce of strength needed to do even the simplest moves. The look of utter shame and frustration must have been written all over my face, the owner came to me to check up on me.  This is the worst, I told her, my brain knows how to do all these tricks but my body is failing me, I have lost it all.  I don't think I can do this any more, I said.  She looked at me and told me I would, just keep trying and it would come back quickly, she was not going to let me quit. In fact there are countless ways all of my Brass Belles teachers have not let me quit.  Surrounded by girls half my age and fit as little gymnasts I gritted my teeth and came back to try again, and again.  My teachers cheered me, I started making friends and the strength started to return.

After about six months I finally achieved my helicopter (upside down splits), this was a huge turning point, achieving it meant that now I was back to the level I had left off at, any thing from here forward would mean that I was performing at new personal bests.  The personal bests started coming every week, one handed spins, combos, climbing to the ceiling, sitting 15 feet in the air hands free.  Also a sisterhood was born.  Me and my Belles (our little nickname for each other) cheered each other on, gossiped about life, giggled at dirty jokes, hung out outside of class, became facebook friends, sharing status updates and photos of our progress.  Yes indeed, I had found my tribe.


I think there is something about the sexualized, bad girl stigma associated with pole fitness that automatically filters out judgemental, flippant, frenimies that women seem to constantly have to weed through.  My class was full of real, supportive, bad ass, confident women, and it was AMAZING.  One day I realized that at pole we have our own way of speaking.  No it's not just the lingo and repeated penis references... I was shocked to realize that we never criticize or complain about our bodies.  We often idolize a trick another girl can do or lovingly tell her that her ass is to die for, but we never, ever verbalize a wish to have a different body.  We never wish to be something we are not, we only ever wish to be stronger.  It is sort of an unspoken rule, that body shamming is simply forbidden inside the Brass Belles Playhouse.  You may have your own personal body image demons but they are to be left at the door, please and thank you.  Seriously, when have you ever been to a place where women of all shapes and sizes are hanging out together in their undies and no one ever says a single negative thing about themselves?  It's crazy how much we as women do this, you would not believe how often it happens until you are in the complete absence of it.

Out side of the Belles Playhouse, I live a very different life.  My mommy life.  As much as my dancing has brought me, it has in equal measure alienated me further from my other friends.  Although I know sometimes I am the butt of their jokes and gossip, it's not so much that they don't support me, more that they just don't really get it.  Am I doing this to spice up my marriage?  Is everything okay with me and my husband?  Does he love your body now? How does he feel about letting me out of the house dressed like that? I should say at this point for the curious among you, he is amazing and has the very good sense not to have any opinion about my dance what so ever, he likes that it makes me happy but that is about it, full stop.  Every time I get these questions I cringe, none of it is about him, it's only ever been about me, how can they not see.  You look beautiful, they say, I could never do that, they tell me.  All I can say is thank you, I feel so strong, and I would love for you to feel this way too, come with me sometime, you will love it.

I feel so strong.  All I want is to be stronger.  Now I have changed my language, I don't tell my daughter she is pretty, I tell her how strong she is.  I use words like powerful, fierce and determined when I praise her.  It has taken me so long to understand this, and I credit pole dance solely for bringing this phenomenal shift in my thinking. Beauty may come from strength, but I know now its just a bi-product, it's not the goal.  Achieving beauty won't bring you any satisfaction, happiness or peace, but my oh my Belles, strength most certainly will!

My photography, is a reflection of me, it is my art form, so it is only fitting that my photography represent all of me.  I am a mother, lover, wife, philanthropist, adoption advocate, photographer, friend, sister AND pole girl!  With that in mind, I am thrilled to present these images, I have been dreaming of making them for a long time.  I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as we enjoyed creating them.

Meet the Belles!!

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

Underwater Pole dance

3 comments :

  1. I see your activity its really great i am so glad to see this .
    i always take interest in this types of blogs for getting information .
    you have great image i need more ideas and videos about ballet



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