Too much pole to choose from!

Let me tell you a story.

 

Seven years ago, a young girl tried pole dancing and fell in love. She learned how to move with the music, how to walk in killer heels, and satisfied the monkey-tendencies she developed during her tree-climbing childhood.

 

Four years later, she moved to England, and found her beloved pole dancing wasn’t quite the same – in England they were all about pole fit. She searched high and low, in London and beyond, for a school that taught a similar style to her school in Sydney, but it wasn’t to be. So, like a well-adjusted human being, she had adapted her expectations and get on with life. Only to find that she discovered a friendly pole school in Durham, and rewarded with loads of new moves to learn, a completely new style to get to grips with, and lots of new friends.

 

This post looks at the differences between pole dance and pole fit, and is 100% based on my own experience: I’d love to hear from people who have different experiences too. When I first arrived in the UK, I noticed significant differences between the style of pole in Australia  (dance) and the UK (fit). Here is a basic breakdown on the styles:

 

pole table

This isn’t anything official, but is my own interpretation based on what I saw when I arrived in the UK

Both are designed to be challenging, fun and to reclaim the idea of pole dancing as something that’s not inherently related to the red light district. But they do it in slightly different ways.

Pole dance reclaims it by maintaining the overt attractiveness to the dance: fitness and strength are as equal to mastering a smooth routine, with sexiness an important part of the performance. You as the dancer are in control – you’re not being objectified (not that there’s anyone there to objectify you!), and you are choosing to demonstrate your strength and femininity in that way. And looking objectively, apart from the shoes and the costumes, a lot of the routines aren’t overtly sexy – what makes them sexy is the attitude of the dancer themselves. They consciously steer their performances towards a certain interpretation.

Bobbi Right Leg Hang

This is Bobbi doing a pole dance move. The way her arms are placed, her shoes, and her facial expression all shows that this is a performance. All lines are smooth, but not dead straight, suggesting movement and fluidity.

Pole fit has a different focus: it focuses more at the actual move itself in isolation, with an emphasis on building core and muscle strength. In my experience, UK dancers know loads more actual moves than the Aussies, but they don’t always have the stamina to do combos or routines. They reclaim the sport by trying to negate any sexual connotations: their focus is on the sport and fitness of the activity, and work to steer their activity away from any inherent sexiness.

pole fit scorpio

This is the same move as Bobbi, but a pole fit version. The lines are straight and rigid, her outfit emphasises sport rather than costume, and the overall composition of the photo is designed to show off the move itself rather than create a performance.

So, basically, the Aussies are saying ‘too bloody right, mate, being sexy is a part of the sport and we’ll continue to work that into our routines with kick ass moves, and we’re true blue proud of it’ (because that’s how all Aussies talk), the UK are saying ‘excuse me, actually, you can have a perfectly respectable sport without reminding ourselves of the stripper pole, thank you very much. Now pass the tea’. And I am qualified to make those statements because I am: a) a pole dancer, and b) have lived in both countries, so know how they talk.

In recent years, there has been a shift in both spheres to focus on really contortion-y moves: how you literally tie yourself in a knot around the pole. The only way I’ll do this is to remove a few ribs, or quit my full time role and spend my days on a rack, like the good old middle ages.

Contortion 1

Rainbow markecho

Recently it seems like  UK has started to focus on expressionist dance. Performances are done bare foot, and costumes have to include a certain amount of material to pass: you can’t be too sexy. So with that in mind, here is some homework before we continue.

Go and watch these videos:

  • Here is a performance by Bendy Kate – UK pole superstar, and winner of the World Pole Dance 2014 as well as many other titles (web address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV_zbt7ycUc)
  • And here is a personal hero of mine, Cleo the Hurricane, two-time Miss Pole Dance Australia, dancing to Courntey Love (web address: http://www.poledancevideos.com.au/weddingday/)

 

So. One is a competition entry, and the other is a freestyle dance. Both are really fun, amazingly impressive and super advanced, but in my opinion, Cleo seems a little more free. Maybe cos it’s not a competition entry, but still. The routines that are based in pole fitness are often more creative because they interpret it in so many different ways, however they sometimes lack a certain…. liberty that is present in the routines based in pole dance.

Personally, I love the energy in Cleo’s style. It’s fun, and she’s completely in control of what she’s doing – like I said before, there’s no objectification there whatsoever: what you think says more about your attitudes than her, and her unapologetic confidence is like a huge f*ck you to any naysayers out there.

That’t not the only reason why I like her style, but I appreciate what the Aussie style pole has done for me personally in terms of not being awkward about yourself: now instead of feeling self-conscious on the dance floor, I frickin tear it up, as we found out on Friday (whether the moves were any good is a different question…).

Anyway, this is a bit rambly now. The main points are:

  • Although I like the inventiveness of the expressionist pole routines, as long as the UK is still a little conservative towards certain styles of pole dance, Aussie pole dance will be my favourite
  • The sexy element of pole dance is what has had the biggest impact in my overall attitude, and I don’t think I’d be as open minded, happy or relaxed in myself if I’d learned only pole fit – if that sounds weird, I’m happy to talk more about it!
  • The moves that my pole heroes can do are breathtaking in their grace, strength and contortion, and both pole fit and dance are moving in an incredible direction
  • I have made some amazing friends through pole fit in the UK, and so even though I don’t get my headrolls in as much as I’d like, I would never choose to be without these ladies

 1973773_10152293493469551_1782847630_o

So that’s that. Like I said, this is all based on my own experience, so please feel free to agree, disagree, go off on a tangent in the comments…..

 

Ellie B

Famous Last Words: Weekend Running & Pole

‘And no doubt the 18-miler tomorrow will give me the ass-kicking I missed this week’. Oh, how confidently I wrote that last week!

 

Consider my ass well and truly kicked. This distance is the furthest I’ve ran in training – and ever – but given that 16 miles wasn’t too bad, I was looking forward to it.

 

I chose a route that I’ve not run before, to get some variation, and very quickly I noticed that, mentally, this run was going to be harder than the others. It took a while to warm up, and my left leg was aching from a week in high heels the week before. By mile 6, I was heading out of Durham, and started towards the next town.

 

Running to a whole new town is kind of a big deal in my opinion. You actually leave your familiar surroundings and venture into a whole new postcode. I ran from DH1 to DL16. If you don’t know how exciting that is, then I can’t help you. 

This is the main route I took. See what a big deal it is to run to a different town?!

This is the main route I took. See what a big deal it is to run to a different town?!

You remember how far it is when you drive, and get some satisfaction in knowing that you’re relying on your two legs to take you there. The people are different, the landmarks are different, and the mentality is different. It took 2 hours and 35 minutes.

 

What I’m realising about this whole long distance thing is that I rarely get a stitch, or need to stop because I can’t catch my breath or anything. The challenge is in your head – you just have to keep going – and for me, in my adductors. They don’t really like going strong for 2 hours or more!

 

So, all you seasoned marathoners will be familiar with this. I came back from Saturday’s run feeling more intimidated by the distance, and more than a little bit tired. It was the first run that I think did kick my ass – so, you know, good prep for the day and all that.

 

Then the next day, instead of resting, I thought it would be a good idea to go to a pole workshop. Actually, I had been signed up for a while. It was with Bendy Kate, aka Miss Pole Dance UK. I thought it would be all stretchy and flexy, but instead we did handstands, pole flips and some other different moves.  Each guest teacher has their own style and moves, and I really liked Kate’s new variations to get upside down on the pole. I’ll post a video when it looks better than it currently does….

This is a move we worked on called Allegra. That is not me.

This is a move we worked on called Allegra. That is not me.

 

I love that stuff, but was just too knackered on Sunday! Plus in the warm up, we did running races, and I 100% completely face-planted. As well as ruining any credibility as a runner among my pole friends, I am now sporting a lovely yellow bruise on my chin and knee 😉

 

After such a busy weekend, it is a good thing that my mum has been here this week. What is it about being with your mum that makes you feel like you can eat whatever you want? On Monday we had KFC for lunch and Thai for dinner. Plus she bought us chocolates, which didn’t last long.

Showing Mum the finest Durham eateries. We started with KFC.

Showing Mum the finest Durham eateries. We started with KFC.

 

Ellie B