As my spring running season dies down, I’m preparing for my first ever pole competition. It’s just a little local competition in my hometown, but it’s certainly out of my comfort zone. I signed up in the fall and began preparing my routine in January. Some people can come up with choreography overnight – me, I need months. I’m NOT a dancer. While I can do some pretty fun tricks on a pole, putting them together to music is a whole different story.
I began pole dancing last year in June, after ending my running season with a disappointing finish at Grandma’s Marathon. It wasn’t the time on the clock that bothered me, it was how terrible I felt while running it. I felt weak, and I needed to figure out how to build strength. When I returned home from that race, I was off for the summer since I’m a high school teacher. My sister-in-laws knew I had time in my schedule and that I wasn’t training for anything. They dragged me to my first pole class, even though I had no interest in it. After a few classes (they were free to try for a whole week), I thought it might turn into something I do on Wednesday nights with them until marathon training intensified. What I didn’t realize was that I would quickly begin to love it as much as I love to run, and that I would make amazing friends in the process.
When I used to hear about pole dancing classes, I used to laugh at the concept and think about the stigma associated it. Some studios do offer classes that are a bit racier and cater to the “sexy” side of pole dancing. While I’d never judge someone if that’s their style, it doesn’t appeal to me. When I started taking classes at Airflex, I realized quickly that the studio is geared more towards those who are interested in aerial arts without feeling like you had to act like a stripper. I have no problem with any style of pole dancing and think it’s all beautiful. I’ve developed a true appreciation for the floor work, dancing, and sultry side of the sport, however, that’s not the side that interests me.
I signed up for the competition, and my original song choice was by Justin Bieber. I liked his “Where Are U Now” remix with Skrillex and thought it would be a great song for a routine. As I worked on it, the tempo was a little too fast for me, and I felt no real connection to the song. I liked the beat and enjoyed trying to choreograph pole moves to it, but anything I came up with just never really seemed to fit. One day, I was running and heard “Unsteady” and thought how awesome it would be for a pole routine. I didn’t give it too much thought. A few days later, I was in pole class working on my Bieber routine and “Unsteady” came on in the background. I started doing the routine I’d choreographed for the Bieber song just to see how it all worked out. It was like it just fit, and I felt much more connected to some of the lyrics. I changed my song, and the rest of the routine quickly came together.
This past weekend, we did a “demo” at Airflex on Saturday night. Anyone could come and watch all of us do our routines, and they get a pretty big turnout for these events. At the dress rehearsal the night before, I fell out of every single trick and felt awful. I actually stopped halfway through my routine and walked out of the room because I was so frustrated. It reminded me a lot of how you feel during a marathon taper, actually. I often feel heavy, sluggish, and like crap in general in the days leading up to a race – and that’s how I felt on the pole. Everything I’d become so comfortable with felt so hard. Needless to say, I was a hot mess all day leading up to the demo and really didn’t want to go.
Somehow, it all worked out and I did my routine for the first time in front of an audience! I felt amazing, and almost everything went perfectly. There was one trick I was super nervous for (it happens after I climb the pole the first time, it’s called a “drop”) and it had been a huge shit show the past few days. When I nailed that part, I got so excited that I abandoned the pretty little floorwork transition I’d been working on. One of the moves in my first part of the song wasn’t exactly as perfect as I wanted it to be, but it wasn’t noticeable to the audience (it was just the way it felt to me). But if I can repeat Saturday’s performance on 5/21, I would be pretty damn excited. I have zero expectations about winning anything but I’m really proud of what I have. So, here it is – I think it’s as good as it’s going to get!
Side note: the X-Ambassadors are coming to a huge music festival, called Musikfest, in my town in August. I wonder if they need a pole dancer…