Monday, November 7, 2011
I never actually thought this behavior and mindset would make it's way into the pole community. I never thought I would see divisive commentary publicly from pole dancers, I never thought I would see women make rude comments in a pole class about their prowess, I never thought I would see women tear women down IN THE POLE COMMUNITY. When I started pole dancing there were so few of us that it didn't matter what talent anyone had - we were elated to speak with one another, excited to know there was a world beyond our own pole rooms and youtube... in fact...to know the women on youtube were REAL, was an amazing thought. 2hen I first started pole dancing I didn't know anyone who pole danced for the sake of pole dancing personally, I didn't know that pole dancing was thing that came with a community. I quickly found a community of intelligent, honest, caring women who welcomed me into their fold with love and encouragement. This was not what I expected when I googled "pole dance moves" and found the Vertical Dance website...I was also shocked to realize that most of the women involved with that board were European. (What?!?! The world doesn't revolve around America?) So, not only were there few Americans online, there were few women from my state online.
I met my first pole friend on the VD forum...I actually sent her a crazy private message because I couldn't believe my luck! Another woman from Michigan pole dances, like in her house, like for fun, like does tricks and stuff?!?!?! I am shocked to this day that "Kisentia" actually agreed to meet me - in a public place - ofcourse, I'm sure she thought I was nuts. Well, I showed up at Olga's Kitchen at the Westland Mall on like NO SLEEP (I was guest djing in on a morning show for a friend of mine who then worked in the Cayman Islands) and fell in love with "Kisentia." Immediately we made a short list of the one other person we knew who pole danced and had a pole jam! We wanted to experience the fun sharing and sisterhood we saw in the European communities so we got together with the one other person we knew and rocked the pole silly!
Since then Kisentia and our other pole friend have gone on to become Mommies so I haven't been in touch with them for awhile, but that doesn't mean I don't think about them - especially as I write this and as I begin to experience more negativity and competitiveness from the pole community. Back then, I thought, believed that we could ALL get along, that we were a sisterhood. I guess I was wrong.
Pole Dancers Are People
The reason my utopia of beautiful women of shapes, sizes and ages cannot exist is because pole dancers are people. I don't like every person I meet and quite frankly most people probably don't like me. We co-exist on this planet together and work not make waves or ripples in those lives who we've shunned, and sadly yes, I've shunned my fair share of people and pole dancers. Why? Because no matter what bond you might think you share with other people at the end of the day you have to decide if that person is a right fit for you and if they aren't - you have to cast them out. You HAVE to. You can't surround yourself with people who are unequally yoked with you whether friend, lover or pole dancer.
What troubles me is when you get beyond the whole people thing and we still cannot agree, cannot agree to disagree and cannot move forward in the promotion of a greater cause - pole dancing. Yes, I'm well aware that pole dancing won't feed the hungry, won't bring about world peace, won't cure loneliness, sadness, HIV, cancer or any of the other real problems that face our world; pole dancing can cure one thing...the female higher archy. Pole dancing should bring women together who would not likely be friends to spend precious moments together in a vulnerable setting. We may not agree with the direction of pole dancing or what it even is but we should all agree that it is a sisterhood that is in fact quite rare to find. Who else do you know at least weekly strips down to their underwear and dances around sexily for the same sex for free? Who else do you know works their ass off to nail some random upside down thing that will likely end in bruises and frustration? Who else do you know in your personal like who could possibly understand the desire to dance or hang from objects? Who else can you share your addiction with? Your secret?
Why it sucks when you steal my tricks
I've read so many amazing articles on how to become your own woman and flourish in her and her ways. I've learned to accept the dancer I am and work to make her better but also to enjoy my body and the things it can do. I've learned to be pleased with the joy of moving even if it's not beautiful because dancing is freedom - and that includes the freedom to move in an ugly way so long as it feels good. I've learned that it doesn't matter how good I am if I'm dancing with a smile on my face. I've learned that I don't care where I rank in the world of dancing much less pole dancing because this is something that feels good inside out.
What I haven't learned to accept is negative, competitive behavior. Why does it suck if someone takes your trick and claims it as their own? Because we all want affirmation that we are good. When someone takes what's yours or even is inspired by you but would rather not discuss where the inspiration came from - that feels bad, feels like maybe I suck so bad you didn't want to mention my name or be associated with me, or it just let's me know that you are so crazy insecure that you can't give credit or more importantly respect to another pole dancer unless they are famous. It tells me that you are more concerned with being *awesome* than with being a sister and a good person. It tells me that I need to be a mean girl with you and not let you sit at my lunch table, and to be honest, I'd rather have you sit with me and share in all of our knowledge together and grow with you. I'd rather you become apart of my journey and I apart of yours. I'd rather respect one another.
Why I Give Credit
I tend to name moves after the person I saw do it...why? I like for people to know the inspiration behind what I'm thinking. I am so excited to find things other dancers do that I want to work with and I want that dancer to know she inspired me. It feels good. It's kind of like putting good energy back into the sisterhood so we can continue to grow together and develop new moves, tricks and styles together. Without the sharing of ideas what would pole dancing be? How many of us have watched a youtube video - mimicked what we saw and gave our inspiration no thought at all? I know that I have and try not to do that, I think it's important to put kindness and love back into the fold, I sincerely believe that through the inspiration of others I have been able to create and inspire dancers myself and that is an amazing gift.
Is Being the BEST Worth It?
I'm not saying that pole has not turned from a sensual art into a sport - it totally has. I'm not saying that a bit of competition isn't a good thing, it keeps us on our toes! I have even had a very healthy, fulfilled, competitive relationship with another pole dancer. I miss that relationship something fierce...I miss being impressed, inspired and pushed to get as good as Pole Dancer X. I miss her cheering me on, I miss cheering her on, I miss working by myself at home thinking Pole Dancer X is so going to freak when she sees this, or "Oh yeah Ms. X got what?!? I'm going to get it in half the time!" I miss that competitive and loving relationship...but you know what? We always gave each other respect and props for all the things we taught each other. We NEVER got caught up in being better than each other, just becoming our own better dancer and we both relished in one another's success.
Winning and being the best at anything requires sacrifice. You will not be a champion pole dancer without making sacrifices somewhere. You won't be good at anything without sacrifice. I ask though, is it worth the bad attitude to be a winner? Is it worth it to be so self focused you've shut your sisters out? Is it worth watching others and not being able to see through the sometimes unpointed toes and clumsiness? Is it worth being unable to enjoy someone else's dancing for the sake of watching them dance NOT taking their stuff? Is sacrificing your friendships, potential friendships worth a win? Worth being considered the best pole dancer on the planet? A title that so subjective it's not even funny? Is being the best worth being a mean girl? Is being worshiped worth the sacrifice of a loving sisterhood?
Fact. Pole dancers of all abilities and notoriety suffer the sacrifice of our personal relationships due the amount of practice we put in. Fact. Pole dancers of all abilities and notoriety suffer the sacrifice of our bodies and our time, wouldn't it be nicer if we sacrificed together?
Sisterhood of the Pole
As I get ready to eat my mac and cheese and cheeseburger I'm left with a single thought...Let's all make an effort to produce more love, encouragement and inspiration into the sisterhood. Let's pretend for a moment we aren't people with political views, religions and whatever else makes people argue...let's just be pole dancers and celebrate whatever kind of pole dancer your sister is. Celebrate the stripper! Celebrate the athlete! Celebrate the dancer! Celebrate the choreographer! Celebrate the new and advanced alive!
I don't want to judge a dancer on her toes, movement, her heels or her bad kitty wear choices. I don't, even in a competition setting, ever discount another dancer or not appreciate her. I don't want to, even in a competition, think that another dancer is better or worse than me...I want to share the stage with her. I want to share a class room with as many pole dancers - whether better or less skilled than me and damn it! I want sisters who love and respect each other. I want sisters who accept the outcomes of performances, competitions, competition auditions, gigs....whatever! I want sisters who can look across the room and see that another pole dancer needs reassurance and give it to her! I wants sisters who can step aside for a moment and enjoy someone else and relish in someone else's success and I want sisters who will support, love, encourage and find nice things to say to all pole dancers, I want sisters who will respect...I want sisters to respect.