Above is a very a recent photo of me at »Feeling Woman » studio in Barcelona. My pole dance journey itself goes back to 2016.
October 2016, Paris:
It was a very beautiful day and we were meeting for an Italian wine tasting event.
By the end of it we have already shared so many things about our worlds and our lives in France and at some point, I asked y friend what was her favorite sport.
She said she was into pole dance. Now let’s stop here for a while as for a moment, I didn’t really know how to react… Let me explain myself.
A very beautiful tall, refined and elegant girl. She was in love with life and had a very subtil character, just like me. And just as me, she was living in her wonderland while staying in touch with reality and keeping her iron Lady attitude. Most of my Japanese friends I got close with in France had these things in common: standing steady on their feet without loosing an inch of their femininity, deepness and curiosity for life and the present moment. For the record, my first university best friend in France was also Japanese. That was just a small parenthesis 🙂
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that for some of you it is not a secret that the pole bar has had for a long time a quite sensual and in most cases dirty connotation. And I happened to realize when I heard the word ‘’pole dance’’ that unconsciously I had the same image without even realizing it. And when you come from a conservative society just the word »pole » automatically roots the person’s mind to dodgy places, ill fantasmes and a whole bunch of dark and negative images about the person, precisely girl. You are automatically labelled a bitch, on the top of that within a sexual context.
This negative image just didn’t match with this girl and what her country represented to me, and myself coming from a country where lots of things are still built on prejudice I asked her: ‘’ why pole dance’’. The answer surprised me even more.
‘’ My arms were a bit weak and thanks to pole dance I now have better grips and stronger arms. It is great exercise to build core muscles and I meet other cool girls.
An unexpectedly simple and convincing answer. Yet I wanted to see it and feel it by myself.
I asked her for the address. I wanted to check by myself what it is. I wanted this girl to be right for some reason.
You see, the problem with people who have prejudices or that discover that they actually have a certain image about something is that they don’t actually know why they have it before adopting it. They don’t bother asking themselves why they have a prejudice towards this or that topic. Because in most cases the answer is »I don’t know » or »Just because it is the way it is ». What a brilliant answer I must say …
Anyway let’s flight back in time to my first discovery pole dance training.
I have done ballet from 6 till 18 years old, have taken ballroom dance, modern Jazz, break dance and hiphop classes in between, and have been to so many floorwork , zumba, gym and other group dances or fitness classes since I landed to the city of love. I genuinely thought it wouldn’t cost me much to get on the bar by the end of the class.
Needless to say how … wrong I turned out to be. Not only I could not do the V figure but my feet could barely leave the floor, as if … I just couldn’t lift my own weight and I was quite fit. Yet I felt like an elephant. And on the top of that I was much more undressed than usual so I was feeling awkward. I didn’t feel ashamed as I would be expected to be feeling according to the standards of my country. Yet I wasn’t really getting it:
Ok for the upper part bu why couldn’t we train in long leggings ? I have to say the crop top didn’t bother me much you see it quite often in gyms but I was a bit hesitant at the idea of wearing such mini-shorts and doing warm-ups and splits in it. But then what am I say miss Logic it’s quite the same for ballet in terms of dress code isn’t it? If you take ballet you are also technically in a ‘’swimming suit’’ mode, only that in pole dance it is an equivalent of a ‘’two-pieces’’ swim suit. It is crazy how just replacing a pair of ballet shoes with a pole drastically switches the image in people’s head.
Anyway back to our onions…I asked the question. Why do we need to dress in such way?
And here’s the explanation:
Pole figures requires a constant contact of the skin with the bar in order to insure the grip that will allow to transit from one figure to another and will protect you from falling on the floor and, yes, break your bones. Makes senses right ? So wearing clothes for a pole dance training is like asking gymnast to wear baggy long sweater during saltos. Not practical and on the top of that quite dangerous.
Now let’s move to body image. Here I was a bit puzzled too.
I was surrounded with all sorts of girls: skinny, plumpy, fit, extra skinny, chubby, toned, flexible, stiff, strong, weak. They all had one thing in common. They were all supportive and non-judgemental, all enjoying the class. Surprisingly for me, those who were doing some marvelous tricks on the bar and lifting themselves didn’t necessarily have the physique of a ballerina, weren’t necessarily skinny and weren’t necessarily models.
I got it: It is not about how you look in terms of shape, it is about what shapes your body can do and perform. It was an awesome revelation and yet a heavy one to digest for someone with a history of eating disorders like me. I didn’t have to weight 50 kgs wow. Physically all I needed is to be healthy and strong. Mentally I had to rebuild myself with everything I absorbed from life until now. And this is where the real challenge started.
To me pole dance was the beginning of my healing journey from one side and a reconstruction operation from the other. I discovered it at the right timing. At a time when I was mature enough to become aware of the necessity to engage in my own healing and reconstruction process while also remain engaged in where I am and to bloom there and while accepting to be assisted and helped.
Through this all-in-one discipline you have to:
-Train yourself and work on your own figures and flows
-Help the others and let be helped
-Ask if someone needs help and ask yourself for assistance
-Observe your physical AND emotional AND mental state.
-Remain composed and coordinated
In one word, you have to be PRESENT. How many of us are actually present for themselves and for those they should be present for in their lives?
PS: Just to reassure you it took me a couple of months before I was actually more or less able to do my first V, a bit more before it actually started to look like a proper V hehe.