‘I love dropping it into conversation’: We spoke to Newcastle’s only male pole dancer

He has the thighs of a God

Newcastle University’s Pole Dance Society, like many other of its kind, suffers from a gender imbalance. 

Occasionally a guy will go to a try-out session, but they rarely come back.

Sebastian Mellor is the exception to this. Starting his second year of pole dancing at the uni, he’s now good enough to be teaching beginner classes. We managed to sit down with him and Joint events rep Rosie McCallum  to find out what it’s really like to be Newcastle’s only male Pole Dancer.

What are your names, courses, and where are you from?

S: Sebastian Mellor, PhD Computer Science, third year, all over the north east of England.

R: Rosie McCallum, fourth year Dentist, Chelmsford in Essex and I’m Joint Events Rep.

Seb and Rosie

Sebastian, what made you get involved with Pole Dancing?

S: My house mate was already in the society. I love creative sports and trying new things. She told me to try this, maybe as a joke, but I took her up, went along and loved it right from the start. I had already missed the tasters, so had to jump right in.  I’d done Dance before, so thought I might enjoy it, but it was scary going down to first session.

Did you have any previous experience?

S: None whatsoever, apart from drunken antics in Flares! I had to do a few beginner sessions to find the best level for me.

Did you know any other guys that were into it at the time?

S: There were three other guys initially, but two disappeared quite quickly and the only other serious dancer has a left now.

Seb on the left

So how long have you been doing Pole Dancing?

S: This is my second year. I started last September.

(To Rosie) What’s it like for the rest of the society having Sebastian join?

R: All the girls get excited when a guy comes along. They all think he’s really brave. It’s such a female dominated sport. We like it when guys join in. We work hard to make guys feel comfortable. He was a natural!

S: They were all great. I had a new group of friends immediately. It was everything I could have hoped for.

What has the general response been like? From friends and family?

S: There was a whole mix of responses, but they were all good. Alot of people thought I was joking! They’d be sitting there quietly trying to figure out if I was taking the piss! It was quite unexpected for some.

Have there been any bad / difficult reactions from people?

S: No one’s been difficult, but when they see a show they love it. Everyone has different expectations.

Rosie supporting Sebastien

What is it you enjoy about Pole Dancing?

S: There are just so many moves. I always come out of a session with something new, whether it’s trying a move for the very first time or finally achieving one I’ve been struggling with. There’s really no shortness of moves to try. It was suggested I start intermediate, so I joined that quiet early on. This year I’m trying out advanced and it’s seriously hard.

R: Certain moves are easier for guys. But we suggest beginners, so that there skin can get used to it, but they usually move to intermediate quite quickly. There’s friction burn and bruising to get used to.

What’s the social side of the society like for you?

S: It’s great, there are so many activities we do. There’s Bowling, Karaoke and more. It’s a great way to  get to know people. Oh and there’s also afternoon tea coming up which which I’m gutted I’m missing.

Has this made you more open to try other new things?

S: I think I was open to things to begin with, but any doubt that was there before has definitely gone now. Everyone should give new things a try. Everyone here was so pleased when I joined. They were really encouraging and telling me I should stay. You might not get that everywhere.

Do you encourage other males to join?

S: They’ve gotta just try it. I try and persuade people to try it out all the time! “You gonna come today?! We’ve got a show, got a taster session etc!” I managed to get a few of my friends to try out on my pole at home. I’m pleased when they do but not everyone’s into it. They’re patient with me. I always encourage people to try anything they want to.

Were you surprised at how physically demanding Pole Dancing was?

S: It did surprise me how active it is. I’d never watched any pole stuff, I didn’t know what it actually was. It’s going to be hard to stay on a pole. Even harder than I thought. There were new aches and pains I’d never had before. I’ve got a pole at home now. Mum got me that for Christmas. Straight up in the front room on Christmas day in front granny.

R: People get into it. First term they go home and get a pole for Christmas. It’s an investment for time and energy. Most of the time they’re not spinning poles either

S: When they go round three times, that’s all friction and I don’t know how they do it. We don’t do much on spinning poles. It is an option. It’s £150 for a static pole.

Werk it Sebastian

How much do you practice, Seb?

S: (Laughing) Not enough! I teach an hour or two on Wednesdays to beginners. I’m really keen to help others. I then go to some classes on Thursday, and another class on Friday. There are extra sessions too. Right now  there’s a lot of pole. It’s needed though, you’ve got to build it back after summer. There are shows twice a year. I went to both last year. I brought friends too. I was really pleased to surprise them with what it is. My first show is happening soon.

R: We’re a self taught society. We’ve also got an upcoming private showcase with other societies in the north east.

Do you enjoy surprising people with your new skills?

S: Yeah I do. Especially dropping it in conversation. In Flares and Sinners too. Before Pole I had no skill – now I’ll drunkenly jump on and show my moves!

R: Everyone loves it! It’s impressive.

What’s your favourite move?

S: That I can do? Butterfly. That I can’t do? Back catch

Sebastian and Rosie then showcased some of their moves

They then persuaded me to hop on the Pole to see if I was a natural.

I was not.

Pole Dancing Society’s next show is on November 29th in The Venue at NUSU.

You can see their event on Facebook here.

Tickets are available from the Students’ Union reception for £5. All proceeds go to the British Heart Foundation.