So last night was my pole competition. Apart from smaller performances, this would be my first performance in front of a large crowd, and my first competition. To say I was excited would be the understatement of the year! We’re having the hottest weekend of the year so far, and for a second I thought I was in Sydney rather than England….
I arrived at the club with loads of time to practice on the poles and get my stuff sorted. There were loads of girls there from other schools, and there was an excited buzz as we all did our hair and make-up on the top floor together.
I was in the semi-pro category because I teach, which was a little intimidating! All the other girls in my category were full time dance instructors, so I knew my chances of winning anything were slim. This actually made me feel better – I could just go and enjoy it.
As the day went on, we got more and more nervous. It was baking in our prep room, which was good for stretching! There were only six of us in our category, and I was going out first. I was completely ready: I had done my stretches, I had used my grip aids, I was feeling good.
And when I went to do my first trick – a pretty simple one – my thighs wouldn’t grip. I was covered in sweat, and I was in real danger of sliding off. For the rest of the dance, instead of focusing on the quality of the moves, all my attention was on making sure I just stayed on the pole. I had to leave out one of my bigger tricks because I was slipping so much, and what I did do was no where near up to my usual standard.
I was gutted when I came off: I had wanted to do myself proud, but felt like all my hard work and effort had been wasted. Plus, I wanted to show my friends and SB, who had come to support me, that I did deserve to be in the semi-pro category even though I wasn’t as strong as the others.
However, it was fun to perform, and there were times when I had the audience clapping along to my moves. And I was lucky enough to have met a bunch of extraordinary women throughout the day. It took a lot of mental strength to continue even though I felt like I was tanking, and even now it takes a lot of strength to make sure I remember the good things about the experience rather than focusing on the negatives.
None of the other girls seemed to have the same problem that I did with slippery poles, and I think it came down to a couple of things:
- In my excitement and nervousness, I over-applied my grip aids which can actually work against you if you’re not careful
- The club was really, really warm, and full of people
- I was nervous, which always makes me a little more sweaty!
However, as Andy Murray knows all too well, sometimes you do all the preparation and on the day you just can’t deliver (my amateur pole comp and Wimbledon final 2012 – they’re the same). I wanted to enter this comp for performance experience, and having to continue when things go wrong is an important part of performance.SB was full of encouraging words, and really helped me put it into perspective, and to remember the fun of it all. My friends from the studio were great too: thanks heaps for your support!
I am still embarrassed that the judges and the audience have only seen that from me, but there will be other opportunities to turn it around And here’s what I did enjoy:
- Meeting the other girls. They were so friendly, supportive, and inspiring, and I hope I see them at other events
- The excitement of being part of an event and working towards something
- Feeling the rush just before I performed (usually you’d feel it afterwards too, but to be 100% honest I felt deflated and annoyed!)
So there we have it! First pole competition done, and unfortunately it wasn’t my best. But that’s all part of the learning. The winner of my category is slightly older than me,and has amazing flexibility, strength and grace. This is really encouraging – it could still be within reach!
FYI – it’s our first wedding anniversary today 😀 Happy anniversary SB xx