Pole Dancer=/=Stripper (It’s about to get ranty in here)

You guys.

Seriously, you guys.

It’s going to get real in here.

Here’s what a pole dancer looks like:

Swap out the skirt for shorts and you basically have my class outfit.

Try not to get too turned on.

Can we have a come to Jesus talk?

Because everybody and their mother seems to think pole dancing=stripping.

*insert rage face here*

Okay, I get that the two are related. They’re not exactly mutually exclusive. But just as every stripper is not a pole dancer, every pole dancer (or even “exotic” dancer) does NOT remove clothes for an act, or dance for money. Or men, even. Speaking for myself, I don’t think I could ever come up with the balls to! My usual audience is a room full of women in sweatshorts 🙂

Funny enough though, a lot of people get the idea that all pole dance instructors come from a gentleman’s club background.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that–that’s where many AMAZING dancers got their start–it’s just not fair to assume.

So allow me to set the record straight with my own fascinating story:

October 2011, I bought a Groupon.

Why? Because it sounded like fun! And it was like, 30 bucks for 5 classes. Having taken $15/hr belly dance classes for years (and those classes don’t even involve expensive props!) I knew this was a deal.

So I bought the shit out of it.

Here’s what happened: it kicked my ass. I had no idea how hard it was going to be.

I walked out of that first class bruised, stiff, chafed, and bloody (the skin came off both of my wrists).

I thought I was in shape, and boy was I wrong. But throughout all the pain and frustration, in my first class, I achieved exactly ONE spin. Out of at least 30 attempts.

One weightless, thrilling, wind-blowing-in-my-hair, HOLY CRAP BOTH MY FEET ARE OFF THE GROUND spin.

It was the most fun I could remember having in months.

I was hooked.

I bought a 5 class card for that studio in Brooklyn, and then one in Manhattan so I get could my fix 5 days a week–in my borough on the weekends, and in Manhattan on my lunch breaks and nights when I wasn’t working my evening job.

I bought nice shorts… then several bottles of Dry Hands… and then, shocking myself, my own $400, professional pole. Not the cheapy kind meant for prancing around, looking sexy next to, but the kind that could actually support your weight for serious tricks.

All the obsessive practice at home paid off, and this past spring, after class one day, the instructor said the manager of the studio wanted to talk to me.

The manager asked if I’d be interested in teaching.

Several months of training, studying, and assistant teaching later, I’m an instructor.

I love it, and the best part is–I can tell my students are having as much of a blast as I am.

What I am not: a stripper. Or a go-go dancer. Or anything that has an iota of connection to titillating men, earning tips, or pleasing a single person but myself and my students.

A few other things that might shock you:

1. I wear shorts and a T-shirt or tank to classes.

So do my students. Nobody comes in hoop earrings and thongs (although if that’s what makes you feel good, WEAR IT–no one cares!)

If it weren’t for the poles though, it would mostly look exactly like any other exercise class.

2. In almost year of dancing and training, the only people who have seen me dance have been teachers and students

There are exactly two exceptions to that: a friend who wanted to learn how to climb (he couldn’t do it!!! LOL, pole is tough, bitches!), and another friend I showed off a new spin to. That’s it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love guys… they’re just not really the reason I dance.

3. I teach because I’m ambitious… not because I’m “retired”

“Driven” doesn’t really cover it… I’m a hustler, baby! When given the opportunity to turn a hobby I love into something bigger–a livelihood, and a way of sharing something I enjoy and believe in–I had to take it. And I’m so glad I did. That said, if I were in the strip game, I’m sure I’d be making more money, so why would I retire at 25 to teach?! Logic, people.

4. I’m not slutty, and I don’t have low self esteem

If anything, having such an expressive outlet has made me respect myself more than ever–and I see that effect in my students too. On the whole, they’re the classiest, smartest, most confident group of women I see all day. Considering that this is New York, and I also work in a corporate office, that’s really saying something. Pole dancers are BOSS girls.

Probably because they don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

As for me, if I wanted to show off my sexy, I’m sure I could find any easier way to do it than busting my ass trying to hang upside down on a pole. Let’s not get it twisted.

And while we’re on the topic of bodies, since starting such a demanding sport, I see mine much less as a decoration and much more as a machine. I don’t care if you think it’s pretty. I care that my legs can hold my body weight.

So there you go. I’m not a prude, but it really bugs me that people consider pole dancing so intrinsically sexual. For me, it’s always been challenging, fun, AND gorgeous to look at. It’s time to get those descriptors in the mix, too.

Happy twirls,

Cathy

PS. Classes this weekend! 1pm Intro and 2pm Spins!

PPSS. Here’s something awesome to look at: 

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