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Friday, 29 March 2013

Pole-tastic Pole Dancing.


As if to add insult to injury, the day after the great goat debacle was earmarked for pole dancing. It’s not that I don’t love to dance - I do - but I had a feeling that pole dancing might not be quite my thing. I had this image of a studio full of long-legged, buxom twenty-something sex-pots with flowing hair, rippling abs, and buttocks you could crack a Brazil nut with. And then me, in my yoga shorts. It was not a pleasing vision.

However, now is not the time to go wimping out of challenges. Mum had both suggested pole dancing and taken the time to find me a class. So, with a heavy heart, and stumpy legs, off I went.

Princess Studios in Marbella is not afraid to be pink and sparkly. In fact, it rather embraces the idea. I saw it from the street and nearly turned back, conscious that this was probably going to be one of those experiences that would really make me feel my age. I’m not good with pink and sparkly. It unsettles my sense of all that is right and good with the world. Having come thus far, however...


To my instantaneous relief, the place was empty but for a very friendly lady on reception. The hordes of sex-pots were yet to arrive. I filled in my form, paid my money, and peeked into the studio. There were seven poles affixed from floor to ceiling, and an ominous hole where the eighth should have been. Evidently someone not sufficiently sparkly had tried to use it and had caused irreparable damage. Oh dear. Please don’t let me break a pole, please don’t let me break a pole, I whispered to myself.


Five minutes before the class was due to start, there was still no one in the studio except my official photographer and me. Things were looking up. Perhaps the day’s inclement weather had kept the sex-pots indoors? The lack of a teacher was slightly more concerning, but was a misfortune I felt I might be able to bear tolerably well.

My official photographer shows me how it's done...
At last my first – and as it transpired, my last – fellow student arrived. She was indeed endowed with an enviable figure and beautiful long blonde locks, but she was also quite shy, and confessed to not being very experienced on the poles. Feeling less intimidated by the second, I started to relax. Then the teacher, Victoria, arrived, flustered and five minutes late. Here was what I had been dreading: A pocket rocket with hair down to her hips and hot-pants that revealed a cheeky curve of nut-cracking buttock. And, even worse, legs covered in livid purple bruises. If a professional looked like that, what on earth was I going to do to myself in the course of an hour??

I try, not very successfully, to be pink and sparkly.
The class began with a warm-up including hip swaying, curve-caressing, bum wiggling and hair flicking. I managed everything minus the hair flicking. Naturally curly, frizzy hair like mine does not take kindly to being flicked. Instead of cascading alluringly down my shoulders, it would merely have grown in unruly volume with each flick. It stayed firmly in a bun, where it could not get up to too much mischief.

My hair without products. Thank you V05, Pantene, L'Oréal, Wella...
The first official move we learned was called the ‘Sexy Squat.’ Is it just me that thinks these two words don’t belong anywhere near each other? A squat? That is sexy? I can hereby confirm that I was unable to endow my squat with much in the way of sexiness. I managed, at most, a coquettish dip.


Next came instruction on how to walk around the pole, how to slide down the pole whilst rolling one’s head, how to grind against the pole and, finally, a basic hook and spin. Which might be better named  ‘hook off your skin’, because I certainly managed that, in several places.



Here’s something I didn’t know about pole dancing poles: They rotate. This probably seems completely obvious, but I had always assumed that the pole was static, and that the dancer did all the spinning around. Not so. The pole very helpfully spins around with you, making your main concern to ascend or descend as required. During a basic hook and spin, the job is to descend, all the way to the floor. I managed this with only intermittent success, often finding that whilst my legs were perfectly happy to slide, my hands stayed resolutely where they were. I think this was in part thanks to the liberal coating of hairspray Victoria had applied to my palms, in order “to prevent them slipping.” Alas, it is not particularly sexy when you end up with your (slightly grazed) knees on the floor, and your arms clinging to the pole three feet above you. I think it looks rather more like “I’m hanging out of a window, help me” than “I'm a sex-pot and if you pass me a Brazil nut I can show you a neat trick.”  Nonetheless, I got some fairly decent thrust on my spins, and exposed myself to significant g-force on the way around, which was a lot of fun, if somewhat nausea-inducing.


Wheeeeeeeeeee!

Victoria taught us a simple routine, which we practiced several times.  Her style was not precise, meaning that she occasionally varied which arm or leg she used at the start of a move, or where she placed her head and hands. This gave a sense of fluidity and improvisation to the dancing, which is, I suspect, part of what makes it exciting in a club setting. An appreciative audience probably prefers a style that feels spontaneous, as if feeding on the energy of the room, rather than something too obviously choreographed.


However, this style was not that easy for a brand new student to follow. Both my parents are natural teachers, and I have enormous admiration for anyone who is not only skilful at what they do, but also passionate when it come to sharing that skill. I have had a few excellent teachers during this blogging process, and a couple of not so great ones. I felt that, considering the fact that there were only two students in the class, this could have been a more intense learning experience. Victoria is clearly a captivating performer: Sinuous, sexy, springy and spinny.  But just being good at what you do doesn’t necessarily make you a great teacher… Nevertheless, I certainly had fun.

And as has been the case with all my physical challenges, I find myself full of admiration for anyone who makes pole dancing look easy. It really isn’t. Executing moves on the pole takes significant strength, particularly in the abs and arms. Executing them with grace, style and sexiness is on another level entirely. No mean feat. I can easily see how people get hooked on this as a form of fitness. Three days later, it still hurts to raise my arms above my head, and I feel like I’ve done a good dose of sit-ups. Which I haven’t. Though I really should, seeing as how it’s chocolate season.

Whilst I doubt pole dancing will become a regular thing with me, I would definitely do it again. The spinning was painful but exhilarating, and I’d be keen to learn the acrobatic elements of the discipline, with a bit less of the bum shaking. I’ve got bum shaking covered, as anyone who’s seen me dancing at a wedding can testify. So now to get practicing. Someone pass me the hair straighteners. And that bowl of nuts.


Twenty-five down, five to go…