I remember my daughter on the phone from college, telling me about a pole dancing class she saw that would be interesting. I mocked it, saying I could just imagine having one of those in the house. For all the sarcasm, it peaked my curiosity, I was, after all, still a dancer at heart. I spent as many childhood days in ballet and tap shoes as I did soccer cleats. Heck, I was even on the local TV20 Dance Party back in high school.
A few years later, realizing that Zumba near my house had me awkwardly bumping into my ex-husband’s sister-in-law, and not connecting with local yoga choices, I decided it was time to look for something new. I looked up “Pole Dance” near my work in Pleasanton.
On Friday lunch hour I made the trek to find Twirly Girls, and stopped in to see what it was like. I wasn’t dressed to do anything besides a work interview, and I just wanted to do a quick check before committing to anything. First thing I saw was a beautiful blonde women in a sports bra and spanx who appeared to be about my age on a pole over a big cushy pink mat dropping from this elevated ballet dancer pose into a long extension, while being spotted by Bel. I knew I would be safe, and with mid-cay classes I was motivated, and sure I could work it in.
Over the next few weeks, Christine encouraged me with a big smile to try climbing, even loaning me these super sticky socks to help give me confidence in making it up past a few feet. I signed up for regular twirly sessions & also yoga classes nearby to help work on my flexibility. At the same time, work was challenging me on a new intense project making it a challenge to pole more than one night a week, and commute across country, keeping me home only 3 weeks per month.
However, life came to a head, with intense personal crisis toward the end of my work project. I needed an outlet, and started doing more yoga, signing up for more pole classes. This is when each time I walked into the pole studio I felt I finally had found my tribe. I committed to performing in a single Halloween show as a solo act, practice became more regular at 2 days per week, and occasional privates. I got stronger. I tried moves I never thought I could do, and found the instructors believed in me more than I did. A few months later I attended the Pacific Pole Competition while I was in LA, and wanted more!
Five months later I was performing in the Nor Cal Pole Presentational. My coach and I had created a routine that poked fun at a drunk character giving me free reign to be goofy, wave around a beer cup, kick off my shoes and laugh off any mistakes. By the spring I was once again with PSO in LA, this time as a competitor with the same character, winning my first Gold Medal. I was 49 at the time, so I was in the Masters group in the Entertainment Category. The next year, I moved up a level both in age and in level, as a Grand Master 50+ in the Level 3 Entertainment, once again winning the gold Medal at the same PSO PPC event.
I had achieved these things by having a really good match with a positive coach Janet Cee, and taking different classes with instructors each with their own style, impact, and encouragement. Add to this I have a wonderful yogi studio 2 blocks away providing focus & flexibility training, adding a new level of body awareness to keep injuries to a minimum.
This year was probably my favorite, taking advantage of being able to have regular private lessons to develop a hard-hitting dramatic piece for NCPP to test out the scope of my skills. Facing the opportunity to perform in my home SF turf with PSO Golden Gate, I wanted to really do something new. Coach listened to the music I had picked, and once again warmed me, this isn’t going to be easy as my music was hard rock, but it was definitely me. We could do Entertainment category again, or, we could consider this, do it as an exotic piece. It took about 5 minutes, and we decide, Level 3 Exotic Grand Master for me! This time we had lots of time. A deep bag of tricks and very specific goals to achieve; giving time for poses, character, and mostly deliver on the floor part of the routine. We did it, and came away once more with gold medals, I in my category, and my coach Janet Cee also won Gold in her ever so smooth Low Flow Category.
As I look back, one of my favorite combos is still flipping from that ballerina-like leg hang to an extended superman, and smiling inside with accomplishment, just like I’d seen when I walked in the studio that first time. When I’m not in the studio I’m practicing at home, my husband now spots me to keep me safe. My phone is full of pictures taken at the studio and at home, so I can measure my progress. I am still focused on whatever comes next, and celebrate each new milestone.