Impact Arts aims to send our wonderful team of writers all over Nottingham, trying and testing the abundance of arty, crafty, and creative things this city has to offer. This week – pole dancing society! And yes, for all you sceptics out there, as a very creative form of dance it is definitely art!
It’s been a controversial month for pole dancing: A week or so ago it emerged that Swansea University banned its Pole Dance Society from running any longer, claiming that it validated a career in sex work. In banning the society the University have applied a negative connotation to pole dancing which will inevitably filter through to people’s perspectives of the art form. A more common name for the activity is “pole fitness”; designed to improve your core strength and physical well-being by using your body to make weird, wonderful, often muscle-pulling shapes. It’s like banning gymnastics.
So, on the back of this controversy, I took up the £2.50 taster and joined the merry band of woman adventurers dressed to impress in gym wear. Our sights were set on throwing epic pole shapes and oozing sexy, freedom-fighting, strong independent woman vibes.
The studio, Twisted Pole, turned out to be very well hidden about four floors up in a sort of apartment block, which, admittedly, did kind of add to the sense that it was a slightly illicit and transgressive undertaking.
I have never felt less sexy
We arrived at the studio already red faced from clambering up about 500 or so spiralling stairs, and found a hive of activity in the studio itself. For someone like me – a total stranger to dance, lacking grace and the ability to move in time to music – being in a studio in the initial quarter of an hour was a fairly alien experience. Particularly when confronted with a wall of mirrors depicting mercilessly the extent to which my bits of skin were bursting out of my skimpy pole shorts.
However, after a while, I got used to what was a pretty relaxed environment. The instructor and experienced members of the society began to demonstrate some moves. We were all astounded by how strong they all were to be able to support themselves and sustain such complex, beautiful and awe inspiring routines; all on something so insubstantial as a rod of metal. On watching them, I forgot the pole and all the connotations imposed on it by the patriarchy, and just took in the art unfolding before your eyes – not to mention the burning desire to replicate the shapes yourself.
Our sights were set on throwing epic pole shapes and oozing sexy, freedom-fighting, strong independent woman vibes.
After an hour of launching myself at a rod of metal, discovering I have no upper body strength and turning my inner thighs bright pink through vain attempts to grip, I realised pole dancing is hard. Really hard. In fact, far from the sexy, empowered, you-don’t-own-me image I was going for, I have never felt less sexy. The number of bruises I acquired is phenomenal, as was the aching I felt in various muscles the next morning. However, this did prove that pole dancing is an excellent and social way to tone; plus, when I finally mastered the ‘fireman’ and the ‘sundial’, the sense of satisfaction and achievement was basically unparalleled.
Rather than being some kind of serious, controversial, topical activity, it was just a huge laugh for all of us, and ignited a wave of determination within me to work at it until I am an impressive, amazing, watchable pole dancer. Watch this space.
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