I tried pole dancing and I don’t know how girls do it
I should have remembered to cut my toe nails
Making my way into the Guild dance studio for the Pole Dancing Society’s beginners class was nerve racking enough as I was one of few men. Then I noticed the fact everyone had removed their shoes and socks and I had forgotten to clip my toe nails. I was off to a poor start, but I was quickly welcomed in by the friendly coach, Jo and two of the leaders Sarah and Harriet.
We started off doing a vigorous warm up session that would give any athlete a run for their money. It included push ups, running, star jumps and general stretches that had me on the floor before I had even got on the pole yet. The group was then split into people who had done pole before and those who were beginners. I was, obviously, in the beginner’s group. We practised several spins, moves and transitions and I wholeheartedly embarrassed myself. Some struggled, others didn’t – I was definitely in the former of that category. Everyone was very supportive of each other and there was a real atmosphere of camaraderie. The coaches were more than happy to help me combat any issues I faced.
It’s an absolute myth that pole dancing is simply ‘spinning round a pole.’ It takes incredible upper body strength, flexibility and all around fitness to climb a pole almost 10ft tall, spin and hold your whole body weight on parts of your body you didn’t even know you have – with the elegance of a swan to music. However one member, Sarah, told me that it shouldn’t put off beginners: “I didn’t have the upper body strength when I started, you can come from any background, it just takes perseverance. My lifestyle changed because of pole and it is so much more than just pole”.
Harriet, another experienced member, told me that it’s a reward every week that you manage to achieve a new move or spin and that “everyone is happy for you” when you do. When I asked Harriet what she would say to newcomers she said “go for it, you’re not losing anything – it’s all about the gainz!” She insisted it should end in a Z.
Training is also not just pole moves, but they offer complete separate classes in flexibility and strength training. Time on the pole is only as relative as the time spent training your body, both upper and lower to be able to cope with the incredible strain and strength required.
I was told by the members that there was specific prejudice for the sport by our own guild. They told me how they had done a fundraiser for a young LGBT society in February 2016 where they raised a lot of money but had to go through rigorous negotiations with the Guild in order to make sure they could showcase the art form. This came with many ridiculous regulations like no leotards, no heels and “no nipples”.
After experiencing pole, the stigma that surrounds it is unjust and unfair. The members want more males and encourage first years to come and try something different. It is open to everyone from all backgrounds, that anyone can succeed in, and is something that is a must try for anyone who still hold the prejudice against it.
Membership costs £18.60 and it is £3.50 a class. You can find out more information through their Facebook . They also have an event soon by JD Aerial Fitness Academy to raise money for Hannah Lyson who is 19 and has terminal bowel cancer. Follow her blog here.