What to know before you start pole dancing: Six unexpected things that happen

A couple of weeks back I was having a little reflective chatter with my pole sisters about how our pole journeys have gone so far and all that jazz. Personally, looking back at when I first began my pole quest, I realised that pretty much the entirety of my journey has involved a lot of unexpected shit going down. Awesome, confidence building, life changing sparkly shit, but still unexpected shit none the less. Therefore, I thought it might be a good idea to whip up a blog for those who are about to embark upon their pole journey, listing six things that are pretty much guaranteed to take place during it.

Please note that the list below consists of things that I genuinely did not expect to happen when taking up pole. Yes you have my permission to laugh at me for some of these!

Pole fucking hurts, deal with it.

Pole Faces

Back in 2015 when my knocking knees first set foot in a pole studio I honest to god did not expect it to hurt. What a tit. Like how on earth did I not expect gripping onto a metal pole with my thighs would not hurt? Had I abandoned science for the day? Anyway I digress.

For those of you who, like me, had not a clue what you were letting yourself in for yes, pole hurts. And not just the classic, satisfying case of the post exercise DOMS. You will feel intense, sharp pinching as your skin grips ground the pole which, if you don’t let out a yelp or at least a mild wince, you’re one hard motherfucker. You’ll be bruised like peach that’s been booted full pelt round the green grocer’s floor after a good practice session and those bruises will be all colours of the rainbow and come in a variety of shapes. As you practice a move repeatedly, I promise you that your body will condition itself to stop hurting (sooner than you think actually) but at first, new moves hurt like a cunt. Just gotta suck it up I’m afraid.

You won’t get moves straight away, but you will get them

shoulder mount

Christ almighty just look at all the professional polers out there and the mad shit they’re doing. Even moves that are not next level crazy (I still can’t do these however, just throwing that out there) such as Ayesha’s and Jade Splits, require pretty solid levels of strength and flexibility in order to execute them well. When starting pole completely from scratch, unless you have a strong gymnastics, dance or sporting background then you ain’t going to be able to bust out higher intermediate/advanced level moves in a couple of months. Let’s not live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. I was no gymnast before I started pole, so there was no way I was going to be able to execute moves which require great dexterity and skill after three weeks of classes.

However, after nearly three and a half years of pole dance, I can safely say that there has been some form of progress. I may not be able to bust out the pro tricks yet, but I can manage Extended Butterflies, Shoulder Mounts, Bow and Arrows and laybacks all in my heels (booya!). As much as your first few weeks, months or even year of classes will feel intimidating, I promise that with consistency and hard work you will progress from those first few pesky sits and fireman spins.

Situations will appear that will encourage you to leap out of your comfort zone, you must take them

IMG_5647

Well fuck me that sounds like something out of a fortune cookie. If you ignore the pure, Instagram quote cheese of that sentence, I assure you its accurate! At some point along the path of your pole journey, situations will present themselves that will up your pole game tenfold, but fuck me they will seem terrifying! It may be the opportunity to perform in a show case or even enter a competition. Getting a routine together for a show or competition is a stressful experience that involves a shit ton of hard work, sacrificing both your finances and spare time and will involve you popping your performance cherry, which is a whole new barrel of nerves in itself. What’s the point to all this stress I hear you ask? Well, not only will your pole skills exponentially improve due to all the extra hard work you’re putting in, you will also get a massive sense of pride and a huge self-esteem boost once you have faced your fear and performed/entered your competition. You’ll feel immensely proud and be ready to face the next challenge in your pole adventure, or even your life come to think of it. I’m convinced I passed my driving test on my third attempt because I kept telling myself “Foxen, if you can perform in a pole show in front of a sold out audience, you can do this!”

You may very well end up discovering your feminine side…

Make up face

I was categorically NOT a very girly girl before starting pole dancing. My life pre-pole consisted of running around in leggings and Nike’s, my makeup style was somewhere between a Panda and a racoon and my free time was spent necking pints at local death metal gigs and festivals. I’m not going to lie there’s 10/10 nothing wrong with that existence, but now I drink much less than I used to in order to make Sunday practice sessions at my studio, I have learned way more about make up (I’ve even branched into the realms of false eyelashes) and I spend an equal amount of time in my Bad Kitty sets and eight inch pleasers as a I do in my leggings and Nikes.

And your sexy side

Halloween topless

Learning stripper style pole dance for me was a gigantic jump into the deep end. As previously mentioned, I was a wee bit of a tomboy before pole, and the thought of doing some sensual floor and flow in my heels at the end of my first six weeks of lessons filled me with utter dread as I honestly felt about as sexy as a poo. Now it’s one of my favourite parts to pole dance! I don’t (yet) class floor work and flow as one of my personal strong points, but it’s something I love to both watch and perform and am determined to progress in. I can feel a summer of floorwork workshops coming on!

Finally, you’ll magically find a whole new bunch of besties

Pole Theatre

Those folk in your class now, who you have only known for the past week or two and you attempt to make awkward small talk with will in a few years time feel like fucking family to you. You’ll be taping each other into costumes, communicating via a series of sounds instead of sentences, having various pole related in jokes and be an inseparable gang before you know it. I’ll keep this last point short and sweet, as I’m pretty certain I’ve already written a blog about how awesome pole friends are, but yeah, they’re badass.

Well, those are the six things that happened to me on my pole adventures that I legit did not expect to. If any others happened to you, please drop them in the comments below!

PS- The eagle eyed readers among you would have noticed that I have recycled some old pictures for this post. This for one of the following reasons; They’re significant moments from my pole journey so far documented in photographic format and are thus relevant to the blog, or I am simply too lazy/down right terrified of the mammoth task that is sorting through three and a half years worth of pole photos to find relevant ones for blogging.

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Chrome Chronicles meets Laqadaze Clothing!

Laqadaze hair flick

I don’t think I have met anyone in the pole realm who doesn’t lose their shit over pole wear. Even those of us who are not the most fashion conscious folk in real life can’t get enough of sexy, sassy pole gear. Which is exactly what Bristol based fashion brand Laqadaze whip up. Chrome Chronicles caught up with the one woman extraordinaire Laqadaze founder and creator Luci to discuss her pole journey so far, the latest Laqadaze collection and her savvy business tips.

1-How did your pole journey get started?
I came to Bristol for uni and wanted to get involved in a society, it was a toss-up between horse-riding and Pole and well, I already know how to horse-ride so I thought I’d give it a go!
My friend and I went to a taster class at Spin City, we managed (just about) to make it through a couple front hooks and fireman spins without giggling ourselves silly and I’ve loved it ever since.

2- Also please tell us all about the Laqadaze story! How did the brand get started?
Well, one night I was visited by the all-powerful unicorn of Lycra…just kidding, I wish it was that exciting!
I was in my third year of uni and officially hooked on wearing any so-called “crazy print” leggings, I should have really been focusing on my final project but I got side-tracked by some gorgeous printed Lycra and decided to make leggings to go on Etsy instead. Oops!
Everyone asks me how I came up with the name, but it’s really only as simple as wanting something very unique (if you google Laqadaze, nothing else will come up) and wanting a name that didn’t take itself too seriously – like me I guess. I loved the word “lackadaisical” and after a few combinations, Laqadaze was born.
If you’re wondering, I pronounce it “Lack-ah-days.”

3-How long have you been sewing for?
I remember enjoying hand-sewing a little felt Christmas tree decoration when I was in primary school and when I was about 10 we made slippers as a project – mine were fleecy with little ducks.
Projects got bigger and I learned how to use a sewing machine in my teens. My aunt had grown up making a lot of her own clothes we did a few projects together – learning how to sew from a ready-made pattern. I think sewing, clothes particularly, runs in the gene pool of my family. I had a great aunt who I used to love to visit because she made these beautiful outfits for dolls (like Barbies) and she had a whole room full of them. I found out a few years back that she’d made a couple of special occasion outfits for Prince William and Harry when they were very young. Sewing is always something I’ve enjoyed but it was surprisingly never something I “knew” I wanted to do as a career…funny how things pan out.

4-Do you have any favourite Laqadaze items?
Hmm, that’s a tough one because most of the prints and styles I make, I’ve chosen because I really like them and they suit me haha! I suppose I probably wear my highwaisted Peacock shorts and Opulence top the most and I’m permanently in leggings so I’m in a different pair everyday. I think my pink Shattered Glass Leggings are my favourite, mainly because I actually don’t own any pink clothing (I’m not really a fan of pink) so it surprised me that I liked them so much.
Saying that, obviously I’m enamored with my upcoming pieces and potentially have a new favourite in leggings for sure…

Laqadaze trio

5-What made you want to combine both your passions of pole and textiles?
Originally I had planned for the brand to be more “everyday” than pole-wear as I was obsessed, at the time, by Black Milk Clothing and I really wanted my brand to follow that trend. At the time I’d be doing pole for a couple years and made a few “Racer front” style crop tops to see what the girls from my studio thought. They loved them so I decided to make more and the focus on pole-wear snowballed from that.
Kate Edwards was still doing a lot with the Bristol Spin City at the time, I got to know her and met Bendy Kate as a result. I woke up one day to Bendy having posted on social media with photos of her new Shattered Glass outfit and next thing I know I’ve gained hundreds of new followers and orders started pouring in! It was crazy, I definitely have those two to thank for helping me take off and still now. Bendy with supporting my brand with her back warmers and Kate is a fountain of business knowledge – who very kindly puts up with me messaging her for advice haha.

6-Tell us all about the new Laqadaze collection. What is even more awesome about the new pieces and most importantly, when can we get our hands on it?
Oh my god, how do I even start? I am SO excited to get going with these new pieces, it’s small compared to the last collection of new things but I really hope it shows quality over quantity.
I really wanted something new and a bit different, things that were really focused on design. Obviously, everything I make is drafted from my own patterns, I don’t buy in ready-made designs, but it’s hard (from a non-seamstress) point of view to see that originality sometimes. These new pieces, I hope, will really show the time and effort I’ve put into designing and creating. I’ve made a bigger distinction as well between pieces that are definitely sporty-looking (I’d really love to bring in some more circus/gymnastic-type customers) and those that make you look in the mirror and go “dayuumm I look sexy in this.”
I’m hoping to have all the pieces up on the website in the last week of March. It’s a bit difficult balancing sewing

It’s a bit difficult balancing sewing pieces and admin, being a one-woman-band, but I’ll definitely be releasing a couple photos to get people excited about what’s coming.

7- What are your future plans for Laqadaze? Where do you want to take the brand?

I’m not too strict about making rigid plans for the future. I find most of the great things that happen to the business (and myself) tend to come to me by accident or chance so I like to leave the direction relatively open to steer itself. If any business owners are reading this now, they’ll probably be thinking they’d want to come shake me and yell “THAT’S NOT HOW GOOD BUSINESS WORKS” in my face haha! It works for me though, obviously I’m not completely complacent (otherwise I’d never make any money) I know I want to do more events (maybe a little pop-up tour could be in the cards) get a bigger studio, employ people to help out, collaborate more and get to know more people in the industry. I just don’t want to force the business too much into something that might not suit it (my initial idea of the brand being more everyday-wear is a great example) I’ll take it where my experiences and opportunities lead it – for now.

Laqadaze-Product-315.jpg

8- Similarly, what are your pole aspirations, both long and short term?

At the moment, pole has taken a bit of a backseat. Time and money is a massive factor obviously and at the moment I don’t have much of either to spare as I’m so focused on improving the business and my personal life. I suppose at the minute my short term goal would be to get back into training again! I’m really motivated by music and dance, I practice ideas in my head a lot and I really want to consistently be exploring movement – musicality makes my heart melt. If I get the chance to be practicing weekly and creating some choreography, then I’d love to take up some opportunities to perform…maybe.

9- What items of clothing do you like making the most?

At the moment, I’m a fan of making my highwaisted shorts. When you have to make so much, it becomes manufacturing, so favourites tend to be focused around what’s the “least faff” haha. I tend to find the highwaisted shorts the most consistently easy to make. Sewing machines can be extremely temperamental and sometimes even one small thing that’s not quite right with it can mean half an hour of unpicking, rethreading, testing and re-sewing. It’s genuinely a relief when you power through a batch with no hiccups.

10- Finally, what advice do you have for anyone wanting to branch out and set up their own pole related business?

I definitely won’t claim to be any guru for business knowledge but I think first and foremost, you need to REALLY ask yourself whether you’re willing to commit to working more hours than most other employed jobs. It’s not just the practical hours spent, it’s the admin as well, answering emails, planning, taxes etc. Sometimes I go weeks without having a full day off – I might work up to 80hrs in one week. Consider having a business partner to share the burden, so it’s not all on you if you’re unable to work. It doesn’t get talked about too much I suppose, but, while financial stability isn’t a total necessity, it will make your life a hell of a lot easier if you have something to fall back on. Not to mention, a certain degree of mental stability and tenacity, I say that because you bear the burdens of the business and also deal with customers who might not always be happy and full of praise. You have to remember to keep professional and not take everything to heart – which is super hard when the business is your baby! RESEARCH YOUR MARKET! What can you bring that’s new/different/filling a gap in the market? I’ve heard businesses say they don’t pay attention to other brands but it won’t work in your favour in the long run. It’s tempting to see what’s already selling well and create the same or similar variations but being creative and original will keep your brand exciting and people invested in your products.

Lucci Laqadaze.jpg

*Top three photographs by Suzi Bird Photography. Final one of Luci in heels is by Andre Pattenden.

Fuck off trying to defend Blackface

When I set up Chrome Chronicles just over a year ago, I fully intended for the blog to be on the whole a positive and happy corner of the internet for all members of the pole community. One where we can compare our pole struggles, where I can fully employ my self-deprecating humour and just generally build a funny, chill little place on the web. However, last week in the pole community, some fucking disgraceful events took place. Events which have caused friends of mine to feel hurt, upset and generally isolated from the pole community thanks to the thoughtless and ignorant actions of others. This is not a subject I’m prepared to sit in silence upon, so if you were hoping for a jolly little post, you’re shit out of luck.

ICYMI a competitor at POSA Italy World Pole Art Championship performed a routine in blackface. I wish I didn’t have to write that sentence in twenty fucking eighteen but unfortunately it happened. A photograph of this performer was then shared on Instagram and various other fellow pole dancers and bloggers such as Toni ‘Misty’ Mansell and Peach Lee Ray were absolutely not here for that kind of bullshit and rightly wrote blogs, contacted the POSA and demanded answers and apologies for this disgrace. What then followed were, in my opinion a series of half-arsed, insincere, crappy “apologies” which were actually attempts to defend the performance.

Shit like “I believe the racism is just in your eyes”, “well the organisers said it was okay so it went ahead”, “no one was offended on the night” and “it’s no different to applying fake tan” are genuine statements I have seen floating around on various social media platforms about this incident. My response to all of the statements mentioned above and anyone defending the performance is simply WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

First off, someone’s skin colour is not to be used as a fucking costume. End of. I’m not even going in to why that’s wrong. Secondly, the vile practice of blackface has been used for hundreds of years to exacerbate and enforce abhorrent, racist stereotypes within society. I am not a great social historian, so for further information on just how hurtful and damaging blackface is, please see this website. Putting on blackface make up and performing on stage is participating in the enforcement of these stereotypes and is harmful, vicious and spiteful.

What makes this whole situation even more fucked in my opinion is the way some arseholes have the damn nerve to defend what happened. A blog was even written in response to Toni’s defending the whole performance, which I will categorically not be linking to, as I am not giving any racist fucking views a platform here! The performance has rightly caused huge upset, offence and outrage amongst the right minded thinkers in the pole community, which is enough to signify that it is wrong. No defence is even required. You’re just trying to justify your hateful opinion, so stop it immediately.

What’s also infuriated me about this situation is the performers and POSA’s attempts to pass the buck on the whole thing. The performer used the excuse of checking with POSA in advance and they gave the green light for the piece to go ahead and the POSA consequently attempted to justify their actions by saying that nobody on the night was offended. Are you both not capable of thinking for yourselves? If the POSA told you it was okay to punch an old lady square in the face as part of your routine would you do it? Or if a routine in a competition or showcase that you were putting on involved the destruction of a holy text or book would you let it go ahead because no one appeared to be offended? We should not rely on the validation or approval of others for anything, nor should we use their opinions to justify our actions. Just because someone else doesn’t find something wrong or offensive doesn’t mean it isn’t. It is vital that we educate ourselves personally and not rely blindly on what others think, especially on an issue as important as racial equality (or any kind of equality for that matter) in the pole community.

I would like to finish this post, as Toni began hers, with an apology to all Black and POC pole dancers and performers. What was allowed to take place at POSA is categorically NOT the views shared by the majority of our pole community and I sure as hell am not going to let such divisive behaviour destroy it. I urge all pole dancers to unite against the POSA and work together to stamp out this racist bullshit once and for all.

I will leave you with the wise words of one of my pole sisters. Please save the images below. Read and re-read them to ensure you are a hundred percent crystal fucking clear as to why blackface never fucking okay to use. It is of paramount importance that we right all the wrongs that have been done here and make sure that it never happens again.

Dree's responseDree's second response

Oh fuck its competition time!

Corpse on EverestIf there’s one thing I love about the world of pole dancing it’s the competitions. As a spectator, seeing what fabulous routines have been created, the fancy schmancy costumes and just generally the whole excitement and glamour behind a well-run competition is one of my favourite elements to the whole pole community.

However, as badass as pole competitions and competitors are, they’re also successful tools for sufficiently shitting me up good and proper. I have decided this year to take another leap of faith in my pole adventure and enter my city’s awesome competition the Bristol Pole Championships. Now, I have entered this competition twice before and deservedly hadn’t made the cut for the live final. I say deservedly because I am not afraid to hold my hands up and admit that in my past two attempts, I had hugely underestimated the sheer volume of work and commitment that goes in to creating a killer competition routine. In fact I was a right lazy cunt. I skipped my weekly practices due to being hungover, or because I generally just couldn’t be arsed. I didn’t put a great deal of thought into my song choice, costume and theme, and overall didn’t bust my ass like I should have. And then I watched the finalists in the category I entered (Intermediate) perform in both Bristol Pole Championships 2017 and Pole Theatre Amateur UK 2017 and 2018…

HOLY FUCK. These queens were on fire! Their costumes were sparkling and sassy AF, their routines were masterfully crafted and their stage presence was electric. No wonder they made the final! Watching their badass performances made me realise just how hard I need to work if I want to stand a chance of getting up on that stage.

This time around I am determined to pull my finger out and work my ass off (and there’s quite a bit off ass to work off, trust me!) to create my personal best routine yet! Since submitting my Bristol Pole Championships entry form, I have been upping my practices to twice a week, thought up a stronger, more defined theme and got my song sorted. However there’s still more fingers to pull out (giggity). I will be filming my video entry on 14th April, and finance permitting I will be practicing three times a week in order to really nail this bad boy.

Off the pole, I’m pretty busy in my muggle life too at the moment, as I’m writing the final essays for my Business Administration NVQ. So now until 14th April is going to be a pretty chaotic time in the life of Eilish, but fuck it, bring it on. If I end up sat in a pile of my own excrement on April 15th, crying uncontrollably then so be it, at least I can whole heartedly say I gave my competition entry a fucking good college try, no matter what the outcome is.

Pole Theatre smashed it (again)!

Pole Theatre logo

The time came once again for my pole siblings and me to make the annual pilgrimage along the M4 to Hatfield, to watch some of the finest, most creative pole dancers in the UK and beyond strut their stuff on stage at one of my favourite and most inspiring competitions, Pole Theatre!

For those of you who are unsure what the exactly the wonder of Pole Theatre is, it is a competition that is comprised of four categories; Pole Art (whereby another style of dance is incorporated into the routine such as Ballet or Tango, fucking fancy right?), Pole drama (the routine has to tell a clear story), pole comedy (I’m not explaining that to you) and Pole Classique (stripper style floor fuckery). These categories alone are one of the reasons why Pole Theatre is fucking banging as there’s something for everyone. No matter what style of pole you prefer, you’ll be able to compete in Pole Theatre. Or if competing isn’t your thing, there are will obviously be a performance guaranteed to rev your engine. As someone who considers themselves to be a moderately creative lass, I bloody LOVE watching how inventive the competitors are and how they use props, backing dancers, photographs and videos to bring their vision to life.

This year the competitors had really upped the ante, with every category packing a powerful punch. I was giggling my ass off during the comedy category (I honestly never thought I could have so much fun watching a Donald Trump themed pole routine!), getting my groove on during pole art, welling up during drama and getting a rather wet seat during my favourite category Classique.

This year, our pilgrimage was in honour of our favourite filth monger Emma, who was competing in Classique. Anyone who has seen Emma dance knows just how fucking badass her performances are, as she’s a bonafide expert in all things filthy, sexy and encompasses everything to me that Classique is about. Emma my girl you and your glamorous human prop Jana did us all proud on Saturday night and our seats were more than just a little bit moist by the end of your performance!

Anyway (before I turn this blog into an 800 word love fest for Emma) I guess I had better say that what inspires me the most about Pole Theatre Amateur 2018 is that it is exactly that, an amateur competition. I’m the first person to admit that I’m guilty of stalking the pros busting out fucking staggering tricks and flow on Instagram literally every time I use my phone, so to witness fellow amateur pole dancers’ creative, innovative and amazing routines is really inspiring to see! It actually got me thinking that if I pulled my finger out and worked harder, I may even have a stab at Pole Theatre 2019 (emphasis on the word may there!)

Overall can we please have three cheers for all the competitors, judges and team who put Pole Theatre UK Amateur 2018 together, because they fucking deserve it!

A fucking big love letter to my pole idol Beth Finlay

Beth Finlay splitsWe all have those dancers who make our jaws drop that bit lower than they usually do when we’re ogling away on Instagram/YouTube/ any other method of social media. The ones who really make you sit bolt upright and pull that “fuck me blind that’s some badass shit going on there” face. For me, that dancer is the Australian, tattooed, utter fucking pole wizard that is Bethany Finlay. This amazing dancer is so damn good that I’m going to have to dedicate an entire blog to her brilliance.

If you’re already following Beth on Insta or Facebook (if you’re not I strongly recommend that you do, and bloody sharpish too. Seriously open up a new tab and do it immediately) then you’ll know exactly what I’m on about. Christ al-bloody mighty the woman’s a fucking goddess. I may be a little biased, as the Aussie, classique show girl style of pole dance is my favourite style, but honestly the shit Beth does is so awe inspiring it’s insane. In her flow video the other week the girl did a spectacular worm into a drop split?! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE YOU QUEEN?! She’s also a kipping wonder too. As someone who looks like that famous whale from the nineties Free Willy flopping into the ocean when I “attempt” any sort of kip, to see Beth execute one flawlessly never fails to amaze me.

It’s not just her kipping and flow prowess which has earned Beth the accolade of “Eilish’s Pole Idol”, the woman has some mad flexibility and strength skills going on too! Fucking hell she can bust out Rainbow Marchenkos, Scorpion handstands, I swear I’ve seen her do a one handed handstand push up too at some point. Her crazy Ayesha’s with clock legs in massive heels too are absolute goals. In fact everything Beth does is absolute goals. I may just print off a picture of her doing some insanely awesome trick and stick it to my pole notebook to motivate my lazy ass to practice! Honestly, if at any point in my pole dance adventure I was even a fraction of as good a dancer as Beth, I would be chuffed to bits and would probably be a gushing emotional wreck, wondering what miraculous feats I had achieved in a past life to deserve such talent.

Seriously though Beth, if you’re reading this, how you do it? How are you such a phenomenal dancer? Did you sell your soul to Satan and if so can I please have the precise instructions to said soul selling ritual to enable me to get on that shit too? Because I swear your skills are so fucking epic that they must have been attained by some sort of other worldly witchcraft.

All hail the Finlay!

(For copyright purposes I am stating that I do not own the photograph used in this blog post. I found it via a public Google image search.)

Chrome Chronicles meets Sara Catino!

Sara Butterfly handstandSara extended butterfly

Social Media drives me up the fucking wall the majority of the time, however it does  sometimes have it’s good uses in society. Probably my favourite thing that social media is good for in 2018 is for introducing members of the pole community to one another from all corners of the globe!

After posting in the Handstand February group last week, I was introduced to the lovely Sara Catino and her wonderful website Learn Pole Dancing. Sara sounded like an awesome lady (which she most definitely is) so I thought I would interview her for this little blog. I hope you all enjoy reading!

First off, what made you discover pole dance and want to take up the awesomeness that is pole?

Oh my God, I love telling this naughty story hehe! I was in a Borders Bookstore (no longer a round apparently?) and on a display table at the entrance to the store screamed Sheila Kelley. That chick screamed to my inner stripper at me from that black-and-white cover! To say the least, the room disappeared from around me and all I could do was stare at the pages of Sheila crawling, grinding on a chair and upside down on a – what? A POLE!

I was a single, young, religious (WTF?) mommy trying to raise a little girl to love Jesus and sing “Amazing Grace” – but I really all of a sudden wanted to be naked in vinyl thigh-high stiletto boots and fishnet crawling across a floor, so I bought the book quickly and hid it in my diaper bag until I was in the privacy of my bedroom in my religious parent’s house. It was then that I fell in freaking love with sensual, slutty, stripper-style floor and pole dance. The story continues a few years later (mind you I still hadn’t touched a pole – I went on to marry a man from church and try to be a nice wife) that I went to Las Vegas with my religious mom and not-religious sister for my 30th birthday. We did no partying, just some shopping and eating, but I found Stripper 101 in the ‘things to do in Vegas’. I paid the $40, snuck away to the class when Mom was napping, took some heels and booty shorts with me and effin fell in love with that chrome pole. I think I hogged it from my partner I was supposed to be sharing it with.

I think I actually became addicted that day. No joke.

How long have you been pole dancing for?

That Stripper 101 class-episode was in 2007, so this is my 11th year now! I have not always been consistent but I have always loved pole. I just bought my own house and created a dedicated pole room that no one is allowed in – maybe pole friends and my cat – but it is my sanctuary. So I intend on going further in pole dance than I ever have.

Your website, Learn Pole Dancing, is a fantastic and very informative site, what made you set it up?

I first had the idea when I had been in a car accident and in a neck brace on painkillers at home. My late husband was supporting us as I was recovering at home with two little girls. I was used to working full-time but all of a sudden we were missing my income and I wanted to look into making an income at home. I found Site Sell, a company that helped you to create a website and start earning money from advertising and such. I decided to try it out and chose a topic that I felt passionate about although I hadn’t been poling in some time then. I started building the website and just fell more and more in love with pole dance and the community.

I left it alone for a long time – several years in fact until recently I took it up again as soon as I had some free time from working – and have been reviving the content and trying to add more and more information and resources for beginning pole dancers in particular.

What do you love about running your own pole website?

I love that I have a place to express myself and the sport/dance/hobby that I love. I like being able to connect with all of those in the world of pole dance as well – I get to connect with the pole stars, pole dance product manufacturers/creators and people like you that offer such a special gift to this fab world of pole dance! I love getting emails every day from beginner pole dancers globally that are looking for a place to start taking classes or maybe just need someone to encourage them to start at home if they don’t have a local studio. I get inquiries from instructors who have new certification programs that want help getting the word out to women from countries who still have laws against dancing that want to know how they can discreetly start to learn to pole dance.

What are your short and long term pole dance goals? Do you have any specific competitions you want to enter or goals you want to reach?

My short term goals at this point is to pole dance and train at least twice a week now that I have an available pole space and I live closer to a pole studio. I want to get a strong straddle invert and a clean, pretty shoulder mount this year! I know that I can. My long term goals would be to be able to do a routine that lasts more than 2 minutes – to have that endurance and to do a series of pretty pole tricks along with it. I would be really, really happy to be able to do that. And I will!

I’ve never had any dreams or plans to enter a competition although I would do more showcases. I don’t even feel like I am at a level to compete and I don’t know if the pressure I would place on myself would make it enjoyable for me or not. I am not closed off to the idea and if I ever do get that urge, I will give it 100%!

What is your favourite pole trick?

I really love spin pole and probably any climb, spin, pose or invert on spin is just so beautiful and graceful for me to watch that I have just fallen in love with doing tricks/moves on spin.

What is your nemesis pole trick?

I consider myself to be about an intermediate level – but I am still having trouble accepting the pain of the Superman – which is one of the reasons I identified so much with your post about it. I feel like it’s like the pole sit when I first learned it – I will just get used to the pain and my inner thighs will embrace the pain of the pole there!

How would you describe your own dance style? Are you more of a gymnastic trickster or a floor-working filth monger?

Definitely a floor-working filth monger. Definitely. If I were 20 years younger (I’m 41 now) and my knees could take it, I would strip for a living. I love strip club, strippers and the whole dance style around it. I actually feel a little envious when I tuck dollar bills into their thongs.

Who is your pole inspiration?

I think one of my biggest pole inspirations has been Fawnia Mondey. I love that she has fearlessly been a pioneer in the industry and started events like Pole Expo in Las Vegas (that is super amazing btw). She is so disciplined in her approach to fitness, yet she has the whole sexy, stripper side to pole dance. I have followed her for the past decade and am just amazed by what she has accomplished and how she continues to help and contribute to the growth of the pole community.

As far as dancers/performers, I really, really love Leigh Ann Reilly, Carmine Black, Eva Bembo and Lara Joh. I have playlists created on YouTube of their videos and just love to watch them like a favourite movie, over and over. No, I’m not obsessed or anything…sure!

What motivates you and keeps you going when you’re having a bad practice session? How do you pick yourself up and carry on?

Sometimes I have to stop – I know now to take a break if I am hurting in any way; and if I am frustrated with a particular move, I normally will work on something else for a bit or maybe for the rest of the session and come back to it the next day or the next week. I find giving myself a break from something – a move, a new trick – I am really not “getting” helps me when I revisit learning it.

My other way of dealing with this is to turn on the pretty lights, close the door, put on some music that I love moving to, put on something that I feel hot in and buckle on my Pleasers – and just start moving. Get into the music and get out of my head. This always helps and I still get a beautiful workout and I feel just plain lovely.

Where did you learn to pole dance?

Besides that one-hour class at Stripper 101 where I first was able to learn anything on a pole, I took a six-week beginner course from Diane Flores at Venus Pole Dance Fitness in Central California. The studio was the backroom of a hair salon but it might as well been the Taj Mahal to me! It was a magical time in my life going there. I learned how to push myself to new limits in fitness; I learned how to spin, to climb, and to slink my way around the floor. Suddenly all of the moves I had to learn from photos and worded descriptions in Sheila Kelley’s book came to life there! I will never forget that studio. Diane is still going strong in her studio in Modesto, California and is still creating super-magical pole-dancing experiences for women.

If you could give any advice to people wanting to start pole? What would it be?

My advice would be to take it slow and build up your strength – don’t go into your first class trying to invert or do crazy spins. Learn all of the basics until you can’t get them wrong. Don’t be afraid to keep practicing those simple climbs, simple spins and floorwork moves over and over until you can do them in your sleep. They will be the foundation to so many things you learn later on as you progress in your pole journey. And your pole journey is YOUR pole journey – no one else’s. It will be unique to you. You may or may not learn all of the things you see other people doing. Love your body and take care of it – learn to listen to it and stop sometimes. You can save yourself from injuries and frustration. Sometimes you have to walk away from the pole for a minute, for a day, a week, a month, sometimes several months. It’s okay. I’ve learned that my time away has helped me in many ways in relation to my pole journey.

 

Handstand February is off to a cracking start

Handstand Feb

Now, I know that I only posted about my handstand phobia three weeks ago, but with Handstand February in full swing (and my lecturers at uni always telling us to keep our journalism timely and relevant), it seems only fitting that I treat you lovely folk to an update on how the  month of horrifying handstands is going.

First off, it is currently day four as I type this and I have managed to do a handstand everyday so far (not just cheat and recycle old photos like I did last year), the most recent three are in the dinky collage above. As explained before I am not a natural hand standing Harriet, in fact I used to fucking hate them, so do not expect any crazy, one handed hand stand push ups or even any free standing bad boys from me this month. Instead, you’ll see a very nervous and cautious Eilish attempt to slowly but surely develop her handstand technique enough to maybe execute a good dismount and kick up into a solid wall handstand at best.

Well, it’s safe to say that after just four days (apologies for sounding like an MLM salesperson here) I do actually feel a lot more confident predominantly balancing on my hands. Yes I have used poles, walls and even banisters to steady me so far, but it’s legit doing the trick! By using various, dependable leaning spots, I can focus fully on creating a sturdy as fuck base, with shrugged shoulders, locked out arms and an engaged core. I’m definitely feeling less wobbly in the bastards now that’s for sure!

This is a bit of a “no shit Sherlock” moment, but I’m honestly quite amazed at how just doing a handstand a day for four days is already boosting my confidence in them. As someone who used to suffer badly with anxiety, I learnt all about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and its principles of facing your fears in small, frequent doses, which can be applied directly to Handstand February. I never ever thought I would say this but I’m half tempted to turn Handstand February in Handstand 2018, and bust one out every day to see how much I improve!

Basically, to all of you out there who, like me, are not massive handstand fanatics, JUMP ON BOARD WITH HANDSTAND FEB! It will do wonders for your confidence and basic technique and help turn your immense fear and hatred into just mild fear and general indifference to handstands.

Finally, yes I will be posting a very original and definitely hasn’t been done before ‘end of challenge’ blog post too. So brace yourselves in advance!

We ALL deserve supportive partners- especially when it comes to pole!

Lee and I PoleThis jolly cunt in the photo above with me is my partner Lee. When I told him I was starting pole dance classes three years ago I don’t think the poor fucker knew what he was letting himself in for. In my time as an amateur pole dancer, I have had Lee editing songs, helping me pick costumes, joining in with handstand February, helping me decide what moves to put in routines and heck, he even filmed our last studio showcase for us!

The ironic thing about all this is that Lee fucking hates dancing. He admires the strength, determination and general discipline that it takes to become a badass pole dancer, but he’s not someone who enjoys the art of dancing himself. Fucking hell, it’s a battle of wills trying to get him to do a social two minutes of dancing at a wedding. Still, the boy has gone above and beyond in his attempts to support me throughout my adventures and challenges in the pole world.

Now, I ain’t going to bang on too much about Lee, as he is big headed enough as it is, but what I am trying to say here is that if you’re in a relationship (ain’t nothing wrong with being single either, you fierce, independent kings and queens) you deserve a partner who is going to whole heartedly support you in your pole endeavours.

I have sadly seen many comments over the years from polers, who have had arguments with their boyfriends/girlfriends over pole. “Oh my boyfriend won’t let me post pictures like that on Instagram”, “my girlfriend gets annoyed because there are other girls in my class,” “they don’t like Sunday bumday pictures” etc. Man fuck those dickheads. Jealousy is an ugly thing and partners who only try to stifle their own partner’s growth and happiness make me want to throw them in a bin and set it on fire. Your partner exists to enrich your life and not control it. Apologies if I seem bossy here, just controlling boyfriends and girlfriends really grind my gears.

Having experienced a fair few controlling relationships in the past (hey, haven’t we all at some point?), the one thing I have learnt is that you partner has no right to control you and dictate what you do with your body. If you wish to perform in pole shows in some skimpy, sparkly pole wear, you have every right to. None of my exes would ever have been happy about me pole dancing, especially not posting Sunday bumdays, but fuck it, they’re exes for a reason.

What I’m trying to say here (I’m a tad delirious on cold medicine right now, so I’m sorry if this post sounds like a balls drunk acquaintance spouting some solid life advice at a party) is that you deserve a partner who will support you wholeheartedly in your pole quests. Don’t settle for dickheads who tell you what you can/can’t do or can/can’t post.

Fucking Handstands

handstand

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that we all have certain pole moves that we find harder/easier than others. Be they lay backs, twisty, pretzel-esque shoulder rotatory bastards or splitty moves, there’s always something we find horrendous and fills our body with instant dread when our instructors say “okay we are working on XXX this week.” Gulp. Well, mine are the utter, nauseating, petrifying bastards that are handstands.

Be they handstands against a wall or against the pole, handstand dismounts, Scorpio and/or Butterfly handstands, I just do not fucking like them. They scare the crap out of me. I don’t know what it is but whenever I bust out a handstand (well, when I disastrously attempt to) my already noodlely arms morph into wet spaghetti and fail to hold me up. I don’t know why or how, but I just can’t get my head around the art of locking out your elbows and pushing through the floor.

As much as the bastarding things and I do not get along, I desperately wish that we did. I see so many fantastic dancers on good old Instagram making handstands their bitch and, as someone who finds a solid handstand about as mysterious and unattainable as having a pet unicorn, they bloody amaze me. I see so many freestanding (seriously, how?!) handstands, drops from handstands into splits, wavy leg handstands and even some mental, back bending scorpion madness!

I know full well that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that especially when it comes to pole, consistency is key. I’m the first to admit that due to me fucking hating handstands, I haven’t practiced them in at least a year. Well, if I want to be even half as badass as the hand standing queens I see on Instagram, then one is going to have to strap on their big girl pants and get practicing. Starting today! It’s just under four hours until my 5pm practice session, so I have more than enough time to muster up the courage to get practicing the buggers. Also it’s the infamous Handstand February next month, and I’m determined to this time do a new handstand every day to get my confidence and strength up instead of recycling old pics like last year.

So off I go to conquer the quest for a solid hand stand. If anyone has any tips on how to master the bastards, please drop them in the comments!