It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, in part because I’ve been busy with life. In the last two months, I moved out of the apartment I had lived in for 9 and a half years (and in with my boyfriend), donated the car I’d had for almost 10 years (which I drove cross country during my move to LA), and I had a birthday. It’s been a big time of change, which has been great! Things are still evolving, too, so my brain has been all over the place. I haven’t had the funds to go to my home studio, so I’ve been using my stash of groupons to float around to other classes and studios. As such, I’ve gotten a chance to check out three other studios (two of which I had been to before, but it was interesting to visit again), but the change in my routine was a bit disruptive at first. However, I stumbled upon a class that I ended up loving, and since it’s the studio where I had the largest groupon, it’s been great – I’ll have my fourth class next week, and I am super excited about what we might be doing in it. I hope to get some time to write reviews of the different studios, but in the meantime, here are a couple of things I’ve worked on recently:
I saw this trick on Instagram (it’s like the secret society of pole dancers – everyone posts photos of tricks and offers advice to other polers on how to do them), popping up on the feeds of some of the people we follow through Poleitical Clothing‘s account. It’s a bold trick in terms of how it looks, but it’s not hard – just takes a little creative manipulation to get into it. I’ll include my description of how I get into it, but first, here’s the photo of me in the trick:
So, this is how I get into the Tulip:
- Invert to an outside knee hang (also sometimes called a butterfly hook) and stand up over it – this is how we describe the climb up to the position from where you could go into a superman or a jasmine, or continue to climb to do another invert of some kind. To explain the movement: from the knee hook, you’ll sit up and put your bottom hand on the pole below your knee hook, to push for leverage (I usually put it about parallel to my bottom hip) and put your top hand above the knee hook, to pull up. So, your head should then be above your upper leg, and you can use the front of the lower thigh as a lock by placing it against the pole as a grip.
- Moving on…from the sit up over your knee hook, swing your bottom leg down and place the bottom of your foot on the pole, bottom leg straight and pointing to the floor while keeping your hands and upper knee hook in place. Once this is secure, you can remove the bottom arm to pose in a Cupid (also called a Star in some circles). If you have a super duper strong knee hook, you can remove the top hand, too, and just grip with the knee/stabilize with the bottom foot while keeping your core tight – it takes a lot of strength and balance, so only do it if you’re sure you can handle it, or if you have a spotter.
- So, from the Cupid, I move into what we were calling the Devil’s Point, but I think people are calling it a Genie, too – you’ll reach back down between the legs to grab the pole again (and, if you’ve kept your upper hand on the pole, you’re all set – if not, grab the pole again above the upper knee). Once your hands are secure, and keeping that upper knee locked around the pole, you’ll remove the bottom foot and swing it in front of the pole, securing the pole in your bottom knee pit. Your knees should now be mirror images of each other, both gripping the pole, bottom hand gripping between the knees, upper hand still above the upper knee.
- From the Devil’s Point, you then reach your bottom arm between the pole and your crotch and secure an elbow grip with that arm – your arm will loop around the pole so that your hand is headed toward your face. Once that is locked, and keeping your knee grips solid, remove your upper hand and repeat the same elbow hook for the upper arm.
- Both arms should now be loop around the pole, hands pointed toward your face on the outside/front of the pole. Crossing the arms at the wrists seems to provide extra support. Now, you are ready to extend your legs to complete the trick! Press the backs of your knees against the pole while arching your back – you have to arch and stick your butt out a bit in order to get the extension to work and look pretty! Otherwise, you’ll end up with bent spider legs, especially if you aren’t super bendy.
- Once you extend the legs, you’re in it! Get a picture! To get out, simply re-grip your knees, and you can choose how to come out of it. So far, I’ve mostly been grabbing the pole and swinging the top knee off the pole and kind of just coming out of it, but it’s not pretty, so maybe try to get back into a Cupid – that’s my goal!
This left a whopper of a bruise on the inside of my lower knee, in part because I never use that knee as a grip. Even in Lyra, my right knee is my strong knee, so I do all of my single knee hangs from that side. My left knee was so upset after this trick! The bruise and the swollen bump with the bruise were no fun, so I’m leaving the trick alone for a few days, to allow it to heal.
I think this trick would be great on spinning pole, and that’s on my list of things to try with it!
I brought this trick into my new class from the groupons, and my instructor worked it out quickly from the sample photo, showing me how to get my legs straight. Next thing I knew, my side of the classroom all began trying it, which was neat to see. That’s one of the things I love about pole – the instant inspiration that can happen. In that same class, I also learned what we were calling a Shoulder Mount Bomb, which is a variation of the shoulder mount pose, but with no hands (whuuuuuuut?!). Here’s a video of me playing with it, in the class:
Now, this trick can be done from an actual shoulder mount up into it, or from a regular invert, like I did in the video. I found it to feel more secure from the invert, but that’s just me. From the invert, you push up into a caterpillar, and instead of using your hands to grip the pole as you slide down, you actually bring your chest to the pole and make contact on the front of your usual side for shoulder mounts. As you slide (your hands can still be on the pole, if you aren’t feeling secure – I kept mine on), you begin to crunch and tuck yourself into a ball while keeping your knees gripping the pole – I used my legs, too, because I wanted to control my slide better, since your entire frame slides, not just the torso. As you crunch into the ball, the pole will roll/slide up to the meaty portion on the top of your shoulder. Your grip in your knees should be tight and the pressure on your shoulder should be solid so that you can remove your hands from the pole. It sounds super scary – definitely do it with a spotter at first – but it’s surprisingly solid. If you feel comfortable, you can also extend one leg at the knee WHILE STILL KEEPING YOUR KNEES GRIPPING TOGETHER (you know, so you don’t fall), as I do in the video. Our instructor took both feet behind the pole and kept her knees gripped, but I felt better having one leg still on the pole. You can see it all in the video.
I’m really liking this new class, which is at The Choreography House. I like the instructor, Veronika (she teaches at studios all over LA) – she’s got an incredible warm up, which has me closer to my left side (good side) split than ever before, and she teaches practical combinations and tricks, breaks down instructions well, and is quick to pick up on new tricks, as well as quick to adapt a trick to work for someone who is having trouble. Once my groupon is up, I am hoping to continue in her class, if not at ChoHo, then hopefully at another studio.
I dropped into two consecutive classes at my home studio (The Pole Garage), and it was SO nice to see everyone. I miss my social circle over there, which is one of the hard parts of floating around. I’m naturally reserved/shy with new people/classes, although I usually am just open and excited to see what new thing I’ll be shown that class. Anyway, on Wednesday night’s classes at PG, I got a chance to try two things I’ve wanted to try for a while: the elbow grip ayesha and the cartwheel handspring! I’d tried the ayesha ages ago, once, and fell out of it, so I never tried it again, despite wanting to give it another shot. It’s weird, but I was never in a class where anyone taught it, and I’d always forget to ask. I finally approached one of the rock star students at PG to ask her how to do it, and she talked me through it and spotted me, plus I got a chance to try it with the instructor spotting me later on. I like it! It’s a leap of faith, to be sure, and I need to adjust something to make it less tweaky on my bottom wrist/shoulder, but it felt way more solid than my twisted grip has felt in a while. I had a backslide with that – I never feel that solid in it anymore, for some reason. Anyway, the same rock star student also showed me a cartwheel handspring mount, which I tried a few times – it’s definitely an issue of working out what is going on with my bottom hand, because it hurt my wrist more than a twisted grip handspring. But, I had the right momentum, and I think it’ll be something I could keep trying to work on!
What about all of you? Any fun new tricks you’ve been working on?
Good luck, everyone! <3
Last fall, I had the pleasure of stopping by Tiger Lily Vertical Fitness & Dance while on a trip to the Chicago area, for a friend’s wedding. I had run some searches for pole studios in the area, looking for something that was reasonably close to my mom’s house, both for my own convenience AND in case she wanted to finally sign up for classes.
Co-owned by Head Instructors Caroline and Sarah, Tiger Lily Vertical Fitness & Dance is located in Geneva, Illinois, which is a western suburb of Chicago. It’s a great location for anyone in the western suburbs – my mom lives about 40 minutes north, but it was an easy trip down one of the main thoroughfares that runs north/south in that area (Randall Road, which is also the road that the studio happens to be on). The studio is set in a storefront in a an upper-middle class area of the suburbs, and as soon as I walked in, I was impressed with the beauty of the set up. The lobby is splashed with color in a way that is both inviting and girlish without being overpowering, which I loved. There’s also a small boutique area, allowing students to conveniently purchase any supplies they might need!
Behind the privacy wall and curtains, you’ll find large studio area, painted in a deep grey with pink accents (same as the lobby). The space is beautiful, with an intimate feel to it. Mirrors line one wall, with a ballet bar for stretching, and you’ll find 9 permanent 50 mm Platinum Stages poles on which to flip and fly! A door at the back of the studio leads to a small dressing area for changing and storing your items, as well as a kitchenette (snacks and water are available for purchase) and bathroom. All in all, it is a great set up!
The studio offers pole classes of varying levels in session courses, as well as package deals available if you find yourself addicted and wanting to come to class more than once a week! I was lucky enough to get special permission ahead of time to sit in on a mixed level class, which allowed me to get an idea of how the teaching works at the studio. Sarah, the instructor, gave a great warm up that combined some strength and stretching exercises with a healthy dose of dance-inspired movement to raise our heart rates – she added in some fun, flirty accents, too! Sarah was careful to teach for everyone’s level, and when she saw I was more advanced than some of the other students, she gave me more advanced conditioning to do – one of the first things she had me do was start to work inverts on my bad side, as she correctly deduced that it was something I never did (and totally need to work on!). The spins and transitions she taught to all of us were pretty and very useful, no matter what your level. Each of the students was kind and welcoming to me, especially for me being an outsider – I was so impressed by their attitudes! Class wrapped up with a free style dance, allowing us to dance as a group and test out some of the things we’d all been working on. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and I felt like I got a great work out!
Tiger Lily also offers various workshops throughout the year, like a striptease class, as well as specialty classes! The specialty classes include stretching and yoga based classes, including Fly Gym classes! I wish I’d had time to take one while I was there – dying to try it! In addition to their class schedule, Tiger Lily also offers party packages for gals looking to throw the perfect bachelorette or birthday party (or more!). They are also hosting and managing The Windy City Pole Dance Competition on April 13th, 2013, at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, IL!
With affordable pricing and a lovely set up, Tiger Lily Vertical Fitness & Dance makes a great addition to the Chicago pole studio scene!
You can find Tiger Lily Vertical Fitness at 1749 S. Randall Rd. ~Suite G, Geneva, IL 60134 (located next to Mario Tricoci Salon and Day Spa), and online at http://www.tigerlilyverticalfit.com and on Facebook!
We will be giving away some of our new merchandise: one Keep Calm and Pole Dance Off-The-Shoulder sweatshirt in pink and one pair of our Keep Calm and Pole Dance Perfect Pole Shorts in red! Open to US and International entries! Sizes small through extra large for the sweatshirts, and sizes extra small through extra large for the shorts (all US Standard). Contest ends 2/18/2013! Multiple ways to enter! You could win $60 worth of free merchandise! Full details, including terms and conditions, are over on the PDA blog. Enter today by going here:
Best of luck, and Happy Poling!
We will be giving away some of our new merchandise: one Keep Calm and Pole Dance Off-The-Shoulder sweatshirt in pink and one pair of our Keep Calm and Pole Dance Perfect Pole Shorts in red! Open to US and International entries! Sizes small through extra large for the sweatshirts, and sizes extra small through extra large for the shorts (all US Standard). Contest ends 2/18/2013! Multiple ways to enter! You could win $60 worth of free merchandise! Full details, including terms and conditions, are over on the PDA blog. Enter today by going here:
Best of luck, and Happy Poling!
Pole Show LA was last weekend, and while I promise a post of links soon, I wanted to take a beat to talk about my experience as a vendor at the event!
Poleitical Clothing debuted three new items at the show: our Keep Calm off-the-shoulder sweatshirts in pink and dark grey, and our Keep Calm perfect pole shorts in red! We met so many nice people, and we had some great sales – the sweatshirts in particular were a big hit!
I have included detail photos below of all of our new items. (You can see us modeling the sweatshirts in the header pic.) If you’d like to make a purchase, check us out online at http://www.etsy.com/shop/poleiticalclothing! Worldwide shipping is available!
Also: if you are a studio or store owner interested in carrying our apparel, contact us for Wholesale Opportunities!!
Please note that our BLACK Perfect Pole Shorts are now *very* limited in availability! Once they are sold, we will not have this color in until at least March! So, get your pair today!! Our red shorts are the same style, by the way.
Like most pole dancers, I’m always looking for a way to be stronger and better conditioned. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to go to class every day, my budget doesn’t always allow for it. I’ve been looking for ways to work out at home, but it all gets old after a while. When I saw an opportunity to try out the new MostFit Suspension Strap, I thought it might be a great solution!
As their website states, the strap, “created by fitness guru and personal trainer Andrew Gavigan, the MostFit™ resistance trainer was designed to be easy-to-use for anyone, anytime, anywhere.” This is totally true! To use it indoors, you simply need a door/door frame to close around the strap as an anchor (ideally a door that locks), and some room to move behind it. The strap has a handy moveable plastic section (the anchor) that prevents the strap from slipping out from between the door and the frame (see this video for directions). You can also anchor the strap on a pull up bar, and if you need to shorten it, you simply wrap the strap around the bar a few times until you get the desired length.
The MostFit strap itself allows for a number of strength building exercises by allowing you to use your body weight, resulting in a tougher work out (and better results!). Many of the exercises also require you to engage your abs/core/back more than typical at-home exercises, meaning that you aren’t simply isolating one area, but getting a better overall work out. It’s not easy, but you’ll know you’ve worked hard when you use it!
Since I also wanted to test it specifically for pole and aerial conditioning, I opted to take it outdoors and see what I could do. While you can use a sturdy tree branch as your anchor on which to wrap the strap, I wanted to get a little more height and variety, so I took it down to the aerial equipment playground by the Santa Monica Pier (living in Los Angeles does have perks!). I was able to toss one end of the strap over some of the mid-height bars, wrapping it a few times as necessary, and then play with inverting – I did move the plastic strap anchor off to one side of the strap, in order to get centered in the bars, as they’re fairly narrow. I found that it was pretty good for inverting into an upward pencil position, or a forward pike. I wasn’t quite able to do a straddle invert, as my hands are not big enough to safely grab both handles together, but the other basic inverts are great for working on your back and shoulder stability (and abs, naturally). Because of the nature of the strap, when you do invert, your weight pulls the strap into a taught position – however, you still have to work to stabilize it, therefore working your arms, shoulders, etc. For the inverts I am doing in the photos, we still had the strap fairly low compared to where you might place your hands for a pole invert (and very low compared to a hoop invert), but I was still able to balance into it – a taller bar or tree branch might be a better option for a truer sense of inverting, but I still had to work to remain stable.
I also tried some aerial stretching up by looping the strap over one of the taller sides of a set of uneven bars and then slipping my feet into the handy foot saddles that are built into the strap (just below the padded handles). While I did need some help navigating it from a friend that came with me, I did find that I was able to work on some split stretches in the air, using the strap and my body weight. I simply had to use my hands and upper body to stabilize the straps, while keeping my core engaged as I lowered up and down. I had the straps reasonably close to the ground, in case I had to bail quickly – also made it easier to step in/out of them.
Taking a cue from a practice video I watched, I also tried doing a plank with my feet in the strap, then piking up. I thought the move was similar to the kind of controlled lift a pole dancer would need while doing a head or hand stand – it was hard, even harder than doing it without the strap! I can see how it’d be an excellent way to strengthen your core/back for stabilization!
Another benefit of the MostFit strap is that it can also function like a yoga strap. I found it to be helpful with stretching, using it just the same way I would with a yoga strap. I was able to do some shoulder stretch rotations, as well as use it to get a deeper leg stretch, and even do a pigeon-style stretch to work on my shoulders, back, and hips.
The strap itself seems pretty durable – the padded handles and foot straps are a nice touch, and the rubber stopper for door frame use seems pretty solid. The long length is pretty versatile, and the webbing of the strap seems heavy duty. There’s a weight limit of 250lbs, which I found reassuring.
While my strap did not come with an instruction manual for moves, I’m not sure if that was just my box (since I requested a strap for the purpose of reviewing it on this site). There are a variety of videos on YouTube that can help you work out how to create moves and do them safely, but the lack of instructions or basic move guidelines in the box is one of the few cons. Not being a natural fitness person – and not being someone who works out much beyond pole and lyra classes – I wasn’t entirely sure where to start with it, and I think that might be true of other people not used to creating their own workouts. I would bet that it’d be an awesome tool for a personal trainer or anyone who doesn’t need quite as much “start up” guidance. My friend that was testing the strap with me mentioned that she thought it might be helpful if it were adjustable in length, but we got around that by wrapping the strap over and over whatever anchor we were using.
Overall, I thought the MostFit strap was a good buy for a pole dancer or aerialist looking to condition on their own, especially if they’re on a budget. At $29.95, it’s incredibly affordable, and it’s pretty compact, which makes it easier to travel with/throw in the car. As much as I love the idea of using some of the other suspension products on the market that are aimed at yoga buffs and aerialists/polers, the price has kept me from investing in them (as has some of the rigging involved). The price of the MostFit Suspension Strap is great, and you’re getting a lot for it!
You can check them out online at http://www.Most-Fit.com and find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MostFitWorkouts. Additional work out videos and tutorials can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/andrewgaviganfitness
Happy Poling, everyone!
(Special thanks to my Poleitical Clothing partner, Courtney, for helping out with the tests!)
Just a quick post with a couple of videos for you.
First up, a performance from Sarah Scott that blows my mind – she’s SO strong. Like, beast strong. It’s AWESOME. I met her briefly at PoleCon 2012, so it’s neat to finally check out her performance style. She’s got a couple of aerial and shoulder mount sequences that are incredible, and I like some of her other moves – she’s got a shoulder stand floor move that I’d like to breakdown, and I actually brought one of her pole sequences into class late last year – it’s a combo from an odd spin into a series of grip poses, then some planks from the floor to pole. (I’m not explaining it well, but I have no idea what any name of any trick in it would be.)
And, then there’s little ol’ me, trying my best to learn a new sequence at my last Lyra class. I’ve been struggling a bit the last few weeks – more tired than usual, and it could either be that I’ve been sick (especially the last two weeks) and run down, or it could be that the difficulty of the tricks has finally caught up to where my strength level is. Not sure yet. This week was tough on me, though – the sick factor really took more out of me than I realized (which is not a fun thing to discover when you’re in a single knee hang). I’m struggling a bit in this video, but Leigh is walking me through each new move patiently, since I didn’t get a chance to string them together before this moment – I’d tried one of the tricks twice successfully, one of them once successfully, and one of them once rather unsuccessfully, so the entire thing was pretty new to me, except for the knee hang portion and the mermaid. The one I’m working with near the end is called The Dislocater (not sure if that’s just Leigh’s name for it), and it lands into two pretty tricks, but getting into it is awkward as hell (as you can see). Hoping to have it down a bit better next week!
I’m back in class tomorrow and Thursday – hoping my body doesn’t put up too much of a fight – and am tentatively scheduled to finally head out with a pole friend to play with my Most-Fit suspension strap. Between being so sick, it being my busy season with my pet sitting business, and the weather acting up every time I made plans to go outside to use it, I haven’t been able to test it properly yet. Excuse, excuses, I know.
Still no word on whether I’ve got a spot in the PPC 2013 showcase, but I do think I have my song/theme if I get in! Also, we’re working on getting new merchandise ready for Poleitical Clothing – hope to launch it at Pole Show LA, if we end up getting a vendor booth.
I’ve been out of town again, but wanted to update with some recent videos.
First up is one of my new favorite performances, from Marlo Fisken – I seriously keep watching this over and over. She brings so much fluidity to her performances – and she’s a sterling example of what it is to pole DANCE. She’s also a powerhouse. I’m in awe, always. Stunning.
Next is a recent video from USPDF Champ Michelle Stanek – it’s a gorgeous mix of sexy and athletic, proving once again that there is room for both in the pole world. They can co-exist, and the results are beautiful.
This video – damn. This guy is amazing. Incredible strength and moves – he’s got some sick combos and Chinese pole skills. He’s earning some crushes from my fellow pole girls.
I’ve got some new post ideas in the works, and I’m thrilled to share that I’ll soon be reviewing the MostFit Suspension Strap, to see how it helps with conditioning for pole and aerial! Once I receive my test sample, I’ll figure out what kind of exercises to do with it and if I can work out a program for use, based on what they suggest, and I’ll pass along that info on my blog!
I’m looking forward to heading back into Lyra this coming weekend (side note: my mom is coming to a class with me, later in the month – that’ll be fun!) – in our last class, I got to go to the top of the hoop for the first time! I’m excited to keep adding on to what I’ve learned. I have someone tape me in each class, so I can see what I’m doing – how far I’ve come, what tricks are working, what needs to be polished, etc. Right now, I seem to be so focused on tricks and making sure I’m solid that I’m not really minding my musicality, so that’s my next goal. Also, I want to smooth out my inverts. Anyway, here’s the video from my last class!
Psst…we’re having a little sale over at Poleitical Clothing!!!
In honor of Small Business Saturday (and all of the other crazy post-Thanksgiving shopping in the US), we are offering 10% off anything in our shop if you use the coupon code SHOP10 at checkout! The sale runs from 12am Friday 11/23/12 until 11:59pm Monday 11/26/12 (all Pacific Standard Time). Not valid on previous purchases or with any other discount. One code per person.
Please remember that if you live internationally, we DO ship outside of the US! Here is a breakdown of how that works:
We do ship internationally! Since we have two options for shipping out of the US, we ask that international customers send us a message through Etsy when they are ready to order, so that we can set up a Reserved Listing specifically for them, with the correct shipping. (You’ll need to have a profile/account on Etsy, but it is super simple and FREE to create a shopper profile.)
To ship outside of the US, we have two options: USPS First Class Parcel mail and USPS Priority Flat Rate mail. First Class is cheaper, probably around $10 USD, but there is no tracking available and it takes a little longer. Priority is around $17 USD and is faster, allows for tracking.
If you would like to order, please write us back with your shipping choice, item(s) you would like to order and size(s), and we will get a Reserved Listing set up especially for you. Once it is set, we will send you a link!
So, stop by our Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/Poleiticalclothing and support Small Business this weekend!!
At today’s Lyra class, we worked on tying our tricks together and smoothing out our transitions – something important for pole, too! I’m still working on making combos mesh well and smoothing out the moments between tricks so that I get rid of the awkward, “okay, now I’m gonna do a trick” pause.
With Lyra, it feels like I know a lot of tricks for someone who started 2 months ago, but I don’t yet know how to full incorporate all of them. If I mount one way, I can get into this trick and that trick, but I haven’t figured out how to get back around to do these other three tricks, and then if I mount this other way…yeah, it goes on. So, in today’s class, Leigh had us working on transitions within a specific series of tricks off of the Mermaid. We had the option of taping ourselves, so we could learn a little more – video below! – and we also had to work in pairs at the end! She had us pair up to choreograph our movements – again, doing the same specific movements, but we could add more if we both knew how to do them – and then having to sync our movements while performing on different hoops. It was an interesting exercise! We also worked on center straddle mounts – Leigh makes it look so easy and stunning, but damn, it’s hard! I’d venture to say that it’s harder than straight leg inverts on the pole, but that’s also not my strong suit (still tweaks my back a bit). I was able to do the straddle mount better on the shorter hoop, so I ended up practicing more on that one. We did a fair amount of conditioning for that mount, so I am hopeful to get to continue and improve!
Anyway, here’s my video from today’s class – I’ve already launched up to mount the hoop when it starts, but you’ll see Leigh spin me – she wanted us to all work while the hoops were spinning, so she gave us each a spin just after we inverted. It’s such a challenge when spinning, and I had a momentary panic attack about getting dizzy, but the moment I focused very intently on what trick I was doing and where my hands needed to be, I was able to work through the spinning and not get dizzy – I’m still working on that with spinning pole!!!
Also, a couple of videos of Leigh, because she’s awesome:
This is her performance from CPDC 2012, which I loved:
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
That’s the easiest way to describe the entire experience of what it took to compete in Pacific Pole Championships 2012. I had no idea what it would cost – not just financially, but across the board. Emotionally, physically…the time it took, the mental exhaustion…it was a crazy ride, but in the end, I’m proud that I did it. This post is simply my way of giving back to all of the gals who haven’t competed.
I’m in the unusual position of having competed without yet being an aerialist. Most competitions are for the upper echelons of pole dancers. PPC was different because it allowed every kind of performer to compete – the separate levels, as well as the separate categories, allowed so many performers to compete who would not normally be able to be involved in the competition. The categories and levels were as follows for the 2012 competition (text copied from the PPC website) - [please note that the categories and levels for the 2013 competition are different]:
I. Championship Event: This event is for those dancers wishing to compete with a traditional technical competitive program. Designed to offer competitors the type of experience found at National and International competitions, the focus will be on the dancer’s technique, flexibility, artistry and difficulty of tricks.
II. Artistic (Entertainment): This event is focused less on the difficulty of the tricks executed and more on the dancer’s ability to interpret a piece of music to provide a comical or upbeat performance (as opposed to a more dramatic and serious performance).
III. Artistic (Dramatic): This event is focused less on the difficulty of the tricks executed and more on the dancer’s ability to present a serious, emotional artistic interpretation of a piece of music.
IV. Freedance: Dancers will draw numbers approximately an hour before the event begins. That number will correspond to a piece of music chosen by the event coordinators. Dancers will then have an opportunity to listen to their music for a pre-determined amount of time before performing. Focus will be on the dancer’s improvisational interpretation of the music rather than practiced choreography.
COMPETITOR LEVELS (Self-Assessed):
I. Level 1 (Beginner): This is the appropriate level for true amateur beginners who have never taught pole dancing nor made any money from dancing. Dancers at this level are permitted to engage in floor dance, spinning moves, and climbs. There is no inverting at this level and hips must be below the shoulders at all times when the competitor is on the pole.
II. Level 2 (Intermediate): This is the appropriate level for intermediate dancers that have never placed in the top three in a pole dancing competition. In addition to the skills permitted in Level 1, dancers may invert, however dancers must maintain three points of contact with the pole while inverted. No release moves are allowed in this category. Pole dance instructors may enter this category.
III. Level 3 (Advanced): This is the appropriate level for the more advanced pole dancer, pole dance instructors, and those who have placed in other pole competitions. Dancers at this level may perform any tricks, inversions, or release moves.
Pacific Pole Championships offers the Artistic events for those competitors that are classified in a higher level than they feel their current skill level is at in their tricks, so that they can still compete but the judging focuses more on the artistic interpretations than the difficulty level of the tricks performed. Competitors that are found to be “sandbagging” (competing at a level below their actual skill level) will be disqualified from that level, so please contact competition organizers to avoid that situation.
In addition to these categories and levels, there were also provisions for ages, and I think for sex as well (although there was only one male competitor, and unfortunately, he was not able to make it into the country for the competition). Each level also had song length restrictions.
Because of all of these specifications, there were SO many performers in this competition that had never competed before. It’s a lot to undertake, especially if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into! I was SO lucky to have the help and guidance of other seasoned performers and competitors, like Kat, Drea, and Natasha. Drea in particular had a number of really helpful tips, which I will try to include in my breakdowns of everything.
I knew I’d have to train hard, and train more than once a week (my usual rate of taking class), but I didn’t know exactly *how* to train. I was using space at Kat’s studio in the back of Pure Delish, because she has a 45mm pole – the poles at PPC were 45mm, and I had never worked on one, so I thought it best to train as much as I could on that size pole (The Pole Garage had one installed a couple of weeks before the competition), and it took a lot of discipline. I had to run my own warm up, decide what tricks to work on, etc. When I started, I would simply go in and work on tricks I thought I might use in the routine, specifically working on holding the tricks for long periods of time to build up my conditioning – for example, I would hit a Superwoman and hold it for a 30 count, then do the same for a pike, etc. I would basically be doing a version of my class stuff in the practices, but not working much on choreography in the beginning. Early on, I had a rehearsal with Kat, where she helped me block out the opening 30 seconds of the routine, and while I would practice that, I didn’t work much on anything beyond it. After a couple of weeks, I met with Kat again, and she urged me to start doing only the routine in my practices, so I could build muscle memory – and to save the other conditioning and classwork type of training for my actual classes. We worked on more choreography, which I started to bring into class as well after her rehearsal space had to close for a couple of weeks due to a repair that needed to be made.
While in class, Drea helped me refine my static pole run, which I would practice in every class. She would give me small tweaks and feedback to incorporate. On my own, I worked on strengthening my spinning pole skills by borrowing my friend Claire’s pole and taking a spinning-only class at another studio, and I did my best to pick up extra classes when I could. In one great session with Mary Grace (another teacher at TPG), I worked on the 45mm spinning pole and discovered that my whole plan for spinning pole was not going to work, so I threw it out and worked on other ideas that I learned in the spinning-only class and inspired by moves I’d seen in YouTube videos.
I took extra classes and worked in rehearsal sessions, and I even worked on stuff at home, but I still didn’t feel like I had stuff set up well, even in the week before the competition. That week, I had extra classes, but I also had a private lesson with Drea, which was so helpful. She taped my run-throughs, helped me with tweaking things, and was generally so encouraging – which I really needed! My dress rehearsal with Kat did not go well – had an ugly cry – but I think that meltdown was bound to happen. The night before the performance, I took an hour and a half to run through the routine in our hotel room – miming the pole runs – and I think the repetition really helped for the day of the competition.
What I wish I had done was really take it to heart that my choreography needed to be locked sooner. This was a tip that Drea gave me, and that I had read in an interview with Natasha, as well as something Kat mentioned. They were all correct – I think that, had I locked it sooner, I would have had fewer slips and mistakes in the competition. The confidence of knowing the routine in and out would have been higher if I had locked the choreography sooner, too. That’s my advice to anyone looking to compete: start rehearsing immediately. Choose tricks that you know how to do already and do well – or that you’re very, very close to locking, and work the hell out of them. Don’t throw in something new or something you only nail 80% of the time. Don’t chance it. Choreograph early and be smart about what you choose to do. Kat’s advice was to pay attention to musicality, but not be so focused on it that it’s all you think about. Breathe and feel the music, but let your body flow, because if you try too hard to “hit” moments, it will come off as forced. It’s a weird balance.
Another miscellaneous piece of advice: get all of the elements of your costume together earlier, at least with enough lead time that you can rehearse in costume and work out any issues you may have. In my case, I bought two sequined bras in pink and purple, to match my stripes, and discovered that they could not be layered on top of each other because they did not have enough elasticity built into them. I ended up having to use one of my own bras on top of one of the sequined bras for the performance, which I would not have known that I needed if I hadn’t tried everything on a week before the competition. I also had ear issues – the original ears I commissioned were never made, which I did not find out until three days before the event. I bought a crappy substitute pair at a costume shop, only to discover that they did not stay on my head very well during the dance. I ended up not wearing any ears after the hair stylist at the event fashioned “ears” out of buns on my head (thanks!).
There is another reason I am taking a moment to mention all of this: I just watched a bunch of performances (some of which were in a competition) and it occurred to me that a section on costume woes was a smart addition. Something to keep in mind: while floaty, pretty tendrils of material at the waist can be beautiful, they’re also a pain in the ass to wrangle and can be downright dangerous if you’re in a layback or anything with a thigh grip. I have a skirt made of beads that is totally cute, but I have only worn it once because the beads get in the way and have to be wrangled – and wrangling your costume is not cute in a performance. I watched a doubles performance the other night in which the performers both had flowing tendrils of material from the waist, and one of them was visibly adjusting it mid-performance – not only is it often obvious to the audience, but it’s distracting to the performer, I’m sure. I know I was worried that my tail for PPC would get in the way, until I actually danced with one in rehearsals. So definitely try to get all of your elements with at least a week’s lead time, so you can do some dress rehearsals and have a little time to work out the kinks or get something new if you need it. If you want a costume element that could interfere with your grip, see about getting it made to be easily removable in the performance – if it’s something you can whip off, you can use it for flair until you need to use the grip areas it might block.
The Day Of:
First, the obvious: get some good sleep! Go to bed early, because you’ll probably have nerves and not be able to fall asleep right away – better to give yourself a chance to get a little more sleep by trying to head to bed sooner. In my case, we actually rented a hotel room at the location of the competition. It was both to make my day easier – my hair and makeup were so early that I would need to be at the venue REALLY early, which would mean getting up even earlier – and also to make sure that none of the “home distractions” would apply. I was up at 5:45am to eat breakfast and stretch before the rehearsal time began – my intention was to be one of the first in line to rehearse, without having to stretch/warm up, because I wasn’t sure how many people would be jockeying for space…and I wanted to be sure that I got a chance to test the poles before I had to go for hair and makeup. I was lucky enough to have a Starbucks in the lobby of the venue, so I grabbed some oatmeal and caffeine, headed back to the room, and stretched in the bathroom alcove while reading advice from Natasha on my phone. I headed back down to the space to rehearse and was third in the door! (Yay for planning!). This is where another bit of advice comes in: always, always give yourself more time than you think you will need. Hair and makeup were backed up, so I was backed up in getting into costume, and as a result…I almost missed my category! A friend sent me a text to warn me that I was MIA and needed, which had me running from my hotel room to the venue, with no time to finish my costume (I was missing stripes). On the plus side, I had less time to wait and get nervous, but I wouldn’t recommend being so late!! Other bits of advice: plenty of sleep, eat a solid breakfast (not too much sugar or caffeine), and keep yourself stretched and warmed up (leg warmers!) without overextending yourself and your strength.
As far as other advice, I had a huge list of things to pack, and they all ended up being important:
- All costume elements, which in my case were my tail, ears (which I didn’t use), pasty stripes, shorts, underwear, outer bra, and accent bra.
- Back up costume elements: in my case, I had an identical pair of costume shorts (in a different color), an identical back up bra (it was the same as my second costume bra – I wore two bras in the costume), and a spare thong. If I had been wearing shoes, I would have brought a spare pair of those as well.
- Double undies: I had my usual seamless thong for coverage, but I also threw on a nude g-string, on recommendation from Drea – triple coverage!
- Double-sided tape (I ended up using it to secure my under bra)
- Duct tape (I had hot pink – again, a recommendation from Drea)
- Safety pins of multiple sizes (I used one to secure the zipper on my costume shorts)
- All makeup and hair products I thought I might use if I had to do my own makeup/hair (i.e. makeup, skin products, hair spray, bobby pins, hair ties, hair straightener, etc)
- Warm up clothing: spare shorts, tank top, sports bra, yoga pants, slippers, hoodie, leg warmers
- Snacks: protein bars, trail mix, etc. Anything reasonably healthy that could be eaten on the run and provide energy.
- Back up music: in my case, it was required that we bring a cd of our song (and only our song was to be on it), but I brought a cd and a disc containing the MP3 version of the song, as well as an iPod. I also had the song on my phone, so I could listen to it with headphones when I was rehearsing in the room and stretching the day of the event.
- All props. Seriously. All of them. Make a list. Check it twice.
- Grips of your choice. On a side note, DON’T pick the day of the competition to try a new grip. Work it into your rehearsals/classes in the few weeks before your competition and see how you like it – you may get a grip and hate it, so don’t use your competition to try it out. In my case, I got two new grips in the weeks before the competition, and I ended up only using one of the new grips in the competition itself (along with my usual grip). Keep in mind that you may not be able to apply grip to the pole itself, so plan ahead and be comfortable applying your grips to your skin before you perform. If you need to give yourself time for a grip to work, plan for it – one of mine (Tite Grip) was an antiperspirant that needed to be applied about an hour before performing, so I had to remember to do it as I was getting ready, then add my Firm Grip spray to my contact points just before I went on stage.
- Something to wear from any rehearsal room or hotel room to get back stage, if you don’t have dressing rooms behind the stage (hard to know beforehand). I did NOT plan for this and had to run to the stage in a long cardigan and my boyfriend’s pajama pants, because I didn’t want to throw anything on over my head.
- Cash for tipping hair/makeup artists, incidentals, items available at vendor booths, etc.
- A camera if you want your friends to take photos/video – or ask them to use their own. My friend used my phone to tape me, while my boyfriend took stills – this was in addition to the professional photos and video that I paid for, as I wanted to see everything asap!
This can be measured in multiple ways. The obvious is the financial expense. For me, it was high. Really high, more than I thought it would be. I invested money in the following:
- extra classes/rehearsal time
- hair and makeup
- professional video/photos
- hotel room and incidentals
- a massage the week before the competition (to help my body heal a bit and be stronger for the competition)
- registration for the competition itself
The costume itself was more expensive than I thought it would be, mostly because I had no idea what I wanted to do for it at first. Two of my items were custom made, and I invested in back up pieces, so the money I saved by having a few elements that were already mine (or were given to me) was helpful. As far as the classes/rehearsal time, while I do have a pole at home, it is neither high enough, nor sturdy enough for me to have seriously rehearsed on it – it also does not spin and is a 50mm, instead of a 45mm. I used it for conditioning holds more than anything else. This necessitated using more classes/rehearsal time elsewhere.
I could have saved money by simplifying my costume; choosing to not get professional photos and video (or just choosing one or the other); doing my own hair/makeup; staying at my own apartment the night before the competition; not getting a massage, etc. However, being that this was my first competition – and who knows if/when I’ll ever compete again – I wanted to invest in as much of the experience as I could, which is why I paid for the professional pics and video. The hair and makeup were both so that I could look my best, but also so I could have an easy morning and not have to worry about doing it myself (which I’m not great at) on top of everything else. The hotel room was also to make my morning easier, and the massage? Well, I needed and deserved that. My poor body. I was in knots from the extra rehearsals, so much so that I was having grip issues with my hands/wrists.
So, while I spent around $1000 – yes, you read that correctly – I don’t think this is what you *have* to spend to compete. It just happens to be around what I spent, in the end. And, keep in mind that I live in the same city as the competition – there were women from all over the country that came to compete! Plane tickets, gas money, hotel rooms, etc…yikes!
My advice in this regard would be to really make sure you can afford to compete. Think about all of the elements – costumes, training, makeup/hair, video/photos, travel, incidentals, etc – and that stuff might come up that you don’t expect. I had NO IDEA that I would spend this kind of money on it. I never really thought about what I would spend beyond the initial registration fee and that I would need a costume.
There’s also the physical and emotional cost of competing. I wore myself down. I have odd work hours, which have me up very early in the morning three to four days a week. I was able to rehearse after work, but I was exhausted most of the time. The week before the event, I was taking naps in my car in between work and rehearsing – I even had to pull over one night on my way home, in order to take a short nap because I couldn’t keep myself from falling asleep while driving…and I was about a mile and a half from my apartment! Take care of yourself – eat better (eating well is my biggest challenge, always), sleep more, clear your schedule and treat yourself well. After each rehearsal/class, I would do an epsom salt bath, followed by Arnica lotion on my bruises, sometimes Ben Gay on my sore muscles – or Salon-Pas heat patches on my knots/sore muscles if they were really bad. I had Arnica pills (both the pills and lotion are homeopathic and can be purchased at places like Whole Foods) that I took every day, and a big bottle of anti-inflammatory pills for my poor beat up body. I also had a heating pad, which I would nap on, and I would ice my bum knee as needed (the knee brace was worn whenever I was walking around or on my feet for a while). I only had one really ugly emotional breakdown, once the exhaustion, nerves, and lack of preparedness caught up with me. So, if you cry, know it’s totally normal!!! I felt like I sucked – I was terrified of letting people down and disappointing the people who believed in me and invested their time in helping me. I was overwhelmed beyond belief…and I am willing to bet that I was not alone in that feeling! My advice? AGAIN: Be kind to yourself. Take time to give back to yourself – a night off to relax or do something that gives you joy – let yourself cry if you need it. Know that it’ll be all about the ups and downs, and that it’s totally normal.
In the end, it was an exhausting experience, but I ended up enjoying it after the fact. I do think that I enjoyed performing a little more because I am an actor, and performing is something I am conditioned to do, even if I was NOT used to performing pole. Whatever it is in me that knows how to do that kicked in and took over, which I think allowed me to let go of some of the mistakes I made mid-performance, at least within the performance itself. Something would happen, and I would accept it and let it go in the moment – there’s no other choice, really. You have to pick yourself back up and keep going as if nothing happened. I felt so much for some of the girls that went ahead of me, who were nearly in tears when they walked off stage because of a mistake they had made in their performances. Even with the mistakes I made – I had one slip that was super obvious, and I was too fast and had to improvise twice – I still understood that there was nothing I could do to change it after the fact. Sure, I beat myself up a little bit afterward, but it doesn’t do any good to dwell. So, my advice: get up there, give it all you have, and if there’s a mistake, pick yourself back up and keep going with a smile, let it go, and when you step off stage…do your best to accept it and let it go again. I placed third in my category, which is amazing – and it’s really due to one great score from a single judge. Honestly, I am not sure if the fact that I placed made me see the competition as more fun or not, but it’s entirely possible – however, even before I knew my placement, I found myself having fun as soon as I performed. The nerves beforehand got the best of me in terms of truly enjoying everything, but I did have fun being in the middle of the experience – the rehearsal in the morning and getting to meet some of the other girls, plus seeing the ones I knew; hair and makeup coming together; putting on my costume, etc. As soon as I was done performing, I had a blast and felt so thrilled to have done it. I was so proud of myself for getting up there and DOING IT. Seeing my friends waiting for me made it that much sweeter, too.
I guess that’s my last piece of advice: be proud of yourself for doing it. You committed to doing something that SO MANY other people would not have the stones to do. You put yourself out there, you competed, you performed, and no matter what the result, it took balls. It takes a lot of courage to get up like that, so be proud and own it.
This was really the first time I’ve seen higher level pole dancers compete. I was not able to stick around for the level 3 Championship round at PPC, so I didn’t get to see those performances (except online) – I saw some of the level 2 and level 3 Artistic Entertainment categories, which were great, but the Masters Cup was an entirely new sort of thing for me. There were group, doubles, women’s and men’s categories, all of which held something new and different!
(Note: I’ll try to update this post with links to the videos/winners as they show up on YouTube – not every video is available yet!)
The thing I came away with is how much of a challenge this must be for the performers! To choreograph a dance with 4 or more dancers, hitting everything in sync or reflecting/mirroring moves or even doing complimentary moves…wow. That’s a lot to take on, and every performer in that category should be proud of getting up there. Two groups had unfortunate technical difficulties during the show (one even had a performer not present because their flight was delayed!), but they still got up and performed, like pros! In the end, I think it was really interesting to see the elements that worked well and how certain things created a sense of unity amongst the performers on stage. Jag6ed ended up coming away with the title!
Again, much as with the Group Category, I have so much respect for what it takes to work as a team in a pole routine. What impressed me on top of that was how GORGEOUS the routines can be! When a pair hits their stride and is REALLY working together – not just doing the moves in unison, but working off of each other, feeding off of each other…it’s incredible to watch. It reminds me of watching the very best kind of acting scenes, which is one of the things I loved about it – it seems to double the power of the energy and emotion of the performances, so that you’re absolutely drawn to the stage. While Jennifer Kim & Sergia Louise Anderson were performing, I could barely take my eyes off of them and had to actively remind myself to keep checking the camera (more on that later)! I’m excited to see more doubles routines in the future! The winners were Nadia & Mina, by the way!
This was an interesting category, mostly because the women were all so different. Everyone had their own style, and when I talked to Courtney (who was also volunteering), she said her favorite performance was a completely different performer than the person I picked as my favorite. Some ladies took risks, some did more traditional routines, some had more flair, some had more grace, some had more emotion, some had more character, but all were super talented. The woman that ended up winning the category – Charlee Wagner – only had a year of pole experience. A YEAR. And she was up against some huge hitters – but she was amazing! The kind of amazing after only a year that makes me want to sit in a corner and cry about still not being able to nail my aerial pencil, but hey, good for her – not only was it amazing that she’s only been doing it a year, but her joy for the dance came through, and that was the thing I noticed more than anything else – she was having SO MUCH FUN. The performance I ended up really being drawn to was an unusual one, when put up next to the others in the category – very contemporary, with a lot of emotion behind it – congrats to Bailey Hart of Australia, for being so compelling that I (again) had a hard time focusing on the camera I was manning. While she didn’t place, I walked away remembering her name. This is her performance, which was one of my favorites of the night – I’m embedding it because loved it so much:
I had never seen men perform live, so this was a treat! The strength is amazing, but the flexibility blew me away – and the artistry is so interesting, because again, the styles are so different. I really loved getting to see when the guys either allowed themselves to be fully immersed in the artistic expression, but what made me even happier was to see when there was JOY pouring out of them, like when Derick Pierson performed. He’s friggin ADORABLE. Such talent and SO much joy when he dances. I loved it! And I have no idea how he kept his hat on THE ENTIRE TIME. Ravan took the title – he was a beautiful performer!
In the end, some of the groups/duos/people that placed were obvious picks, but some really were not, at least not for me. I think I just respond to certain things in certain ways, which is an interesting thing to realize, because I’m sure that’s also true of the judges. I recently received my own scorecards from PPC, and while they did not contain a ton of notes, the scores were wildly different in range. I had the highest single judge score in my category, for example – and it was 30 points higher than another one of my scores. I think that tells me a lot about the fact that people look for different things and respond to different things – I had positive notes about my lines and pointed toes from one or two people, but middling marks in that category from others, for example. Some liked my character and emotion, and thought I did well with connecting to the audience – others didn’t. I can only imagine it must be tougher at the higher levels!
As for me and my overall night as a volunteer, I ended up being moved from being an usher in order to man one of the cameras for the event. By switching jobs, I ended up with more responsibility – don’t fuck up the master shot of the performances! – but also had an amazing view: dead center, just behind the table section. So it was there I stood, most of the night. Very early on, I had an audience member complain that I was blocking the view (which I’m not sure I could have helped, since the camera was positioned for me, so I was not allowed to move it), so I spent the first few performances crouching, then spent the rest trying to blend in with a support beam/pole that was maybe 8 inches in diameter. As a result of having to man the camera for the event, I wasn’t able to take any personal photos of the performances, which bummed me out a bit. Still, I had an amazing view of everything!
Jenyne Butterfly was hosting – and boy, is she cute and kinda dorky (which she admitted up front, so I don’t feel like I’m labeling her as such). She’s SO tiny! Actually, almost ALL of the major stars I saw last night are tiny – as are the other recognizable polers, like the cast members of Girl Next Door. In attendance, I spotted a bunch of GND girls – some of them were competing – and a few of the Champions: Jenyne was hosting, like I said; Felix Cane was there to judge and also had a booth (all of the judges were famous polers, like Steven Retchless, Fawnia, Jamilla); Natasha Wang was in the audience (went up to say hi at the end – she gave me a hug and said she’d been trying to get our mutual friend to come, without success – I haven’t seen her in person since we went on the Haunted Hayride with said mutual friend a couple of years ago, before I started poling again). I also saw Becca Butcher from across the room and thought she was Zoraya, just because it was dim in the venue and she has all of that hair! I definitely got my geek-out on over the course of the night! However, the only famous poler I actually spoke to – besides Anjel Dust, who was producing the event - was Natasha, and that was really only because I have a previous connection to her and felt comfortable saying hi. I think I’ve lived in LA too long, where it’s usually taboo to approach anyone famous.
I did get to talk to some of the other folks working the event, like Joe from Alloy Images, who shot the photos for PPC. We talked about my pics and the photos in general for the event – he told me some great advice for making sure that you get good still photos (which was advice Drea also gave me, but it was awesome to hear it from a photographer). He explained that some of the performers that are incredibly dynamic to watch never actually hit their tricks – they don’t go all the way into them and don’t hold them for long, so the still photos are flat and not very clean, but the videos look great. The people who commit to the tricks and hold them (Drea recommended holding everything for at least a 3 count, so judges/audience can see it, but also for photos) are the ones that get beautiful stills. He also talked about facing (as Drea did) – he mentioned that a lot of the girls had beautiful jade splits and Russian splits, but they weren’t facing properly, so the view from the camera was all crotch and no extension of the legs.
The gal running the cameras was Suzy Q Williams, who has created the documentary Pole Life – we talked a bit about how she came to create the production and how she found pole, what it had done for her – she was super sweet and very helpful in giving me a crash course in how to operate the camera. I didn’t do much with it, other than turn it on and off, and replace the battery when it was dead, or swap out the memory cards when they were full – since I was the master shot, I just had a SUPER wide shot of the stage and had to make sure the shot stayed the same. (I desperately hope it didn’t look too bad – I was afraid to try to adjust it, so I left it alone after she set it up and made sure it was focused correctly.) Anyway, Pole Life debuts at the Vegas PoleCon in September, so if you’re there, check it out! There is a kickstarter set up for the film, so if you’ve got a few extra bucks, please consider donating to help fund the project – they’ve reached their “official” kickstarter goal, but every bit helps – I know that for sure! I think it’ll be an amazing piece!
I also got a chance to meet Lori of Confessions of a Twirly Girl! We’re friends on Facebook and follow one another on Twitter, and she had been in attendance at PPC – and gotten a few great photos of my performance! – but I hadn’t had the chance to meet her until last night! I hope to see her again at the Convention, which I’ll be at tomorrow – more volunteering!
I love all of this – I love seeing more of the pole world and how amazing it can be! I’m sure I’ll update more after the Convention, and I’m starting work on my piece about what it took to compete for PPC.
On Sunday, I went to my first Girl Next Door show at King King, to support Kat and Drea in their performances as part of the June ensemble. They both KILLED it – such different routines, both incredibly entertaining and definitely highlights of the show! I recommend checking it out if you’ve got the funds – tickets can be pricey for the good seats (the general admission leaves something to be desired – you either have to be first in line to snag one of the few bar stools or plan to wear comfy shoes!), but I hear there are deals sometimes available on discount ticket sites.
It was really cool to see so many different styles of performance, as well as the different themes, the different stage presence of each dancer, and how it all came together. There were a number of gals in the audience from The Pole Garage, and I know that the ones I caught up with afterward talked about how inspiring it was to watch! It was great to see so many familiar faces, by the way!
I took a ton of pictures with my phone (poor thing – 1,000 photos!) and edited them down quite a bit. I’ll post a few here, and once Kat & Drea put up their professional videos, I’ll post links to those as well! I apologize that I don’t have all of the names of the ladies below their photos – I gave my only copy of the program to Kat, so I don’t actually know the names of most of the gals. There are more photos of Drea and Kat for obvious reasons – gotta support my girls! – but I included at least one photo of each performance. Enjoy!
Show starts in half an hour! There might still be tickets available at the door! King King in Hollywood!
It’s a well known fact that pedicures don’t fair well when subjected to pole dancing. At least, not if you’re doing any kind of floor work. I’ve never managed to keep polish on my toes for long, but while trying to replicate a spin that I saw in a video of one of Oona Kivela’s performances (a spin I do, but not nearly as well as she does), I left polish – and skin – and picked up a lot of dirt. Which made me laugh – I took it as a sign I’d been giving it my all.
This is the video in which the spin appears at the 2:26 mark (ps – she’s amaaaaaaaazing!):
I practiced for a little over an hour this afternoon, just running through a series of tricks and holding some of the ones I plan to do in the routine – for conditioning, I get into the tricks I want to do and hold them for a while, usually a count of 30. It not only requires me to lock the trick and nail it/be solid, but it also ups my endurance, which will help me overall. I also ran through a transition that is new to me, so I can start to build the muscle memory for it – the pole was super slippery, despite the incredible amount of product I layered on it over the course of the practice, so I had a hard time doing certain things (lots of sliding going on).
I did manage to do another shoulder mount alone, which is awesome. I still don’t seem to have much in me to do more than one completed one, but even one is a major improvement over none. It’s also a sign that I’m getting stronger, which is great! I also was able to do my signature transition between my two strongest tricks, which is still shaky because of the change in width of the pole (going from 50mm to 45mm) – I couldn’t manage it last week, so this is a step in the right direction.
In reading through the competitor packet, I found a requirement that I was unaware of until now: I must incorporate the spinning pole in the routine. Inner Monologue: “Fuck.”
Spinning pole is so beautiful. I love to watch it. I’m not a huge fan of working on it, mostly because I don’t have much experience and haven’t mastered the art of controlling the spin speed of the pole. I don’t plan on putting many tricks on it, but since I am required to do something over there, I have to choose one or two things to throw on it. There’s a great spin that I can do as a hold pose on the static pole…but I’m so scared to do it on spinning!! It requires me to drop very close to the ground. I tried to get into the pose near the ground today on the static and found it so hard that I ended up getting on the ground and positioning my legs from there. I could hold it, but it hurt like a bitch. So…maybe I’ll choose another trick??
Unfortunately, at the end of my practice, I landed funny on my foot and felt a sharp pain in the ball of it. No idea what I did. I’ve had it wrapped for a while (had to go into work and be on my feet), and it didn’t bother me that much while I was there, but really hurt on the drive home. I’ve got it iced and have been elevating it since I got home, and it’s sore, but I can move everything – toes, ankle, am able to point and flex. I have no idea what I did, but I’ll have to baby it the next few days and see where I’m at. Other than that, I did fairly well with the practice – I worked up a sweat, I free-styled a bit and played with character tells during random songs, I hit most of my tricks well and stuck them. I think that, with time invested working on that pole, as well as in class, I will get stronger and be able to nail what I want to do. I think I’m meeting with Kat to work on the choreo again next week, which I’m excited about! I’ve been continuing with research into costumes and have some ideas…mulling over if I should pay for professional hair/makeup at the event…seems crazy that it’s 5 weeks away!!
I had an amazing class on Monday night! Kelli, one of our brilliant teachers at The Pole Garage, was subbing for our usual teacher (Drea, owner of the studio and our pole dancing guru), ran through our usual breakdown of tricks, but also took us through a flow-through exercise on the poles to start class, as well as an extended freestyle period at the end of the class. The result was a more intensive endurance work out for me (yay!) AND the chance to freestyle to my song for the competition. I was able to throw in a trick combo that I am hoping to include in the final piece, which was great practice! I also was able to shoulder mount alone again, which is AWESOME – been working on that bastard for ages. It’s still not pretty, but hey, I get up, and that’s what matters!
I do have a fancy new bruise from trying the Butterfly into the Keyhole into Gemini, which blows. I hate that trick. I’ve never been able to do it, but wanted to try it again. Ended up frozen in it and aborted the mission halfway through; on the second attempt, I threw myself into it and dropped down on the pole too quickly, resulting in a janky looking move and a brand new bruise on my inner thigh. I’ve found that certain tricks work really well with my body, but that one…not so much. I seem to have such tight shoulders that I have some trouble with tricks where you have to manipulate your shoulders into turns quickly. However, I can make up for that in some other way – and, who knows, maybe it’ll just work one day. Pole is funny like that – one day, you’ll find something impossible; two weeks later, it’s doable.
I’ve sent in my song for the competition, confirmed my place/registration, and am one step further along! I’ve also put out feelers for costume elements – I think it just hit me that I’ll be in very little clothing, and while I do that once a week for class, doing it on stage for an audience feels different. It probably won’t once I’m in the moment, since I’m used to it for acting (see: short film in which I’m in my underwear the entire time, which is on the internet with 15K views). I’m a little concerned about the costume, but it’ll work itself out, I’m sure.
I also went to my first aerial silks class tonight! I was given a Groupon for a class at The New Cirque Studio from my friend and fellow poler, Amanda – she made it into a fun little belated birthday party by inviting another friend as a surprise! We had a lot of fun – the class integrated some of the basic movements we use in pole, so the breakdowns made a reasonable amount of sense, and I did fairly well with what we learned, even earning a comment about my strength from the instructor (love that validation!). I’d love to take more classes in the future, but pole comes first for now.
I hope to get some training in tomorrow, and I have a transitions workshop on Friday, so fingers crossed that this week continues to be strong with movement! I’m definitely coming upon blocks that hold me back a bit, like my diet (I eat like crap and love crappy food), as well as some mental/emotional blocks on things, but I’m trying to let go of stuff that is worrying me and reminding myself to deal with each thing as it comes along, instead of getting overwhelmed.
Mmkay, off to bed, because I suck at going to bed at a decent hour.