Sunday, November 11, 2012

Class It Up!

Today's thought...What DOES a pole dancer look like?

"You don't look like a pole dancer."  You know, that's a loaded statement.  Years ago I was telling someone at my local haunt JJ's - if you're friends with me on Facebook you'll know of where I speak since it's the ONLY place I go - that I was a pole dance instructor.  His reply was just that I didn't look like someone who would pole dance.  Recently, someone said this about my little potato - that she didn't look like a pole dancer.  I then thought to myself - well, that's quite offensive.  What does a pole dancer look like?  What image comes to mind when I say the word pole immediately followed by the word dancer?  How does one look like a pole dancer?

In the case of the gentleman (using the term loosely) who thought I didn't look like a pole dancer - that was probably a compliment.  I think that men think pole dancers have double D breasts, wear 8 inch heels, teeny bikini's, smell like cupcakes with pink, supple, pouty lips.  Ofcourse he looked at all 5'5, 120 pounds of A cup me and thought that I didn't fit the stereotype.  I am pretty sure he was complimenting me.  Interestingly enough over time since he's a regular drunk he's built quite a respect for pole dancers, learned a few things he didn't know about women, women's sensuality and the pole.

Now, on to my little potato - this is a name of endearment, by the way, she's really not a potato.  The person who questioned MLP's look of a pole dancer was a woman.  When women say things like this there is a loaded paragraph of unspoken judgments being made.  The woman met MLP and me at the same time.  I showed her videos of MLP and of myself.  You know what is so amazing about my MLP?  Her ability to flow, dance, spin, GRIND and be especially sexy.  She oozes femininity.  But, those things seemed to be lost on the woman who couldn't wrap her head around MLP being a pole dancer.  In fact, MLP is often dismissed and ignored when she's with me, which makes me sad, because MLP  is my rock, my heart and my soul, she's the one who lifts ME up, gives me the courage to dance with my heart in front of crowds of people, believes in me when I don't, believes in my messages when I am too scared to share them.  MLP is the one who has sat tirelessly on the couch eating smart pop watching me have emotional break downs whilst attempting to channel that energy into a story, into a dance that I have to tell.  MLP is the one who taught me the Janeiro, helped me clean up my lines, taught me to be emotionally raw with my movement.  Here we are, two women different ages, different styles, differing in appearance and SHE'S the one who "doesn't look like a pole dancer?"  Um, so what are you saying I look like?  What are you saying?

I've been giving a lot of thought to what a pole dancer is, what they look like and what impression I would like to give those who know nothing about pole.  You see, as pole grows, I think the image of, specifically pole performers (not exotic dancers), is and will continue to change.  A long time ago if you said you were a pole dancer the "stripper" image came to mind, while that is one type of pole dancer, it's no longer the all encompassing world view of pole dancers.  As competitions gain more notoriety  as we push forward in Olympic goals and studios like S Factor ride the PR media wave - the world is starting to realize that pole dancing is an art and a sport.  Pole dancing is less associated with it's roots (blog for another time) and becoming known as a trendy way to get fit, a form of aerial arts and gymnastics.  As we challenge the world's view of the pole and change their perspective they are beginning to have different images and associations in their head.

The new and improved pole dancer image includes monokini's, ultra thin and lithe dancers, long legs, athletic builds...and ultimately what we know as "tricksters."  The upper echelon pole dancing athlete will soon enough become the mainstream image associated with non nude pole performing.  What does this mean?  I guess it means to look like a pole dancer you gotta be ripped.  In a nutshell.  As you are reading this, you might be thinking that this ripped image of a girl in modest sports apparel performing feats of defying gravity is a positive thing, and you know, for the most part it probably is.

So, what's the problem?  Maybe we are telling women that pole is all about looking and performing like a gymnast instead of dancing, learning and creating a better and healthier inside and out.  What if that woman thought MLP didn't look like a pole dancer because she's not 20, she's tall, she has curves and breasts, so she doesn't look like gymnast or a dancer but a woman.  It is my opinion that the image of a ripped, trained dancer is as negative as the image of a stripper.  The most amazing thing about the pole movement is that it is for everyone.  I think about the men I know who pole dance, do they not "look like pole dancers" because they are men?

Keep in mind that my agenda here isn't to talk about what people look like or make judgments in fact it's the opposite.  I want to open up dialogue about the images we have and the images the world may have, I want to show ourselves as well as the rest of the world that every single PERSON, man or woman, is beautiful!  I want to show that pole dancing is more than tricks and heels, it's the art of self expression, it's a journey for many PEOPLE that takes them down a spiritually, mentally and physically healthier path to a better them.  That the better person at the end of that path isn't better because they lost a few pounds or learned a few hard tricks but the better person is better because they can share themselves in an artistic way with others, or  maybe grind out a bad day in their living room, or maybe just find an increase in overall happiness and wellness.

This brings me to my title "Class It Up."  One of the most powerful things is being in a class full of pole dancers.  Did you know on your first day of class - you are now a pole dancer?  Even if you are a pole dancer for 20 minutes, you are one, you are surrounded by pole dancers.  What do they look like?  Does it matter?  I've had the very rare encounter with a new pole dancer who was judgmental of fellow students or her instructor, though they exist and that's what stirred this blog.  Taking a class full of people for the first time makes you realize so many things...It makes you see yourself, see others, often be stunned by others, it makes you appreciate fear and you're allowed and even have to share that fear with your classmates.  Everyone is self conscious, you learn that.  The skinny girl with red lipstick to the older lady in the back - they are ALL scared and vulnerable just like you.  The best part is, they want to share it with you, they need to know you feel the same.  You begin to dispel any preconceived notions you had about pole dancing, perhaps it easier, perhaps it harder, perhaps you thought you would do better or maybe you did better than you thought you would, you start to lose yourself in the music and the energy flowing around the room.  Experiencing this with other women is in my opinion what truth feels like if truth were an emotion or an energy.  When you are surrounded by others you begin to realize just how unforgiving pole dancing can be, how you NEED kinship to keep going.  You begin to realize that you're body is uniquely individual, that what your body craves and loves, another body may despise and find horribly awkward.  You will probably not respect the things you can do and watch others and wish to do what they do, but know there is someone watching you and wishing they could be as beautiful as you are.  All things are so equal in so many blissful ways.

I realize not everyone can afford to or is even geographically able to join in this kumbiyah of fabulous and glorious energy sharing but that doesn't mean you can't HAVE it.  Even if you are self teaching, join a WWW.STUDIOVEENA.COM! Find friends on facebook.  Friend Youtubers.  Put yourself in a place where you can somehow reach out and be heard and someplace that you can see and appreciate others...share that energy.  Right now, SV is the place I tell EVERYONE to go because it's a worldwide pole class 24/7.  Just go, spend 15 minutes reading, 15 minutes watching.  Do you know what you will see?  PEOPLE.  People from all walks of life, all over the world, sharing their successes, failures, hopes, dreams, good times, bad times and personal lives in a single place.  No, this isn't an SV advertisement, it's my honest heartfelt opinion.  SV  is a safe 24/7 pole dancing school where you can see real dancers working it out.  I grew up pole dancer in a world of video clips and perfection, no one shared their misfortunes, no one was humble, no one shared the reality of pole which lead me to believe that my lack of strength and inability to be graceful was just ME.  I wish I had SV to grow up on because I would have learned that many feel as I do, it's journey for everyone and that I am not alone.

Look around, we are surrounded by pole dancers!  What do they look like?  They look like brilliant, amazing, strong,kind, loving people of all glorious shapes, heights, sizes, colors...pole dancers are you and me, we are a rainbow of pole dancers.

And for those who I know go darkly into themselves trying to live up to one image or another of what a pole dancer should look like, STOP!  A pole dancer looks like you and for what it's worth I think you're beautiful.