Remember how everyone was left gob smacked last year at JLo’s Superbowl performance because she appeared on a pole? How everyone commended her strength and stamina? And how they applauded her for learning how to do pole for her role in Hustlers? So, that’s not the reaction most of us in the pole community get.
As a pole dancer, it gets tiring having to constantly defend yourself from these misconceptions. Whether you do pole dance, pole fitness, exotic pole dance, striptease, wear heels or do it barefoot: they all require the same strength and stamina. The one thing people do get right, is that pole dance is sexy. Not because pole dancers gyrate their hips against a phallic object, but because it requires confidence, and nothing is sexier than confidence! Pole dance requires one to be comfortable with their body, because training teaches us what our bodies can and cannot do, and how we can make them work for us. Not to mention you need a lot of skin on show for grip.
Throughout my years of doing pole, I’ve heard it referred to in many strange terms. One of them was “stripper class”. This, I do not mind, because its roots are to be found in stripclubs and we gotta give mad props to the talented-ass strippers that make pole dancing look a lot easier than it really is! I cannot do a combo without gasping for air while they do them seamlessly for hours on end while taking off their clothes and looking sexy – basically, keeping everything on point. And that’s hard, y’all! Unfortunately, there have been people who tried to use the term in a negative manner towards me. While it says more about them, it’s still frustrating to hear such ancient perspectives.
When he realised his joke failed, his defence was that “it was just a joke”. It’s not a joke if people aren’t laughing. No, Maximus, we are not entertained. Another misconception is that pole dancing is synonymous to striptease or lap dancing. When I offered to do a taster pole class at my old job on behalf of the studio I train with, I was suggested to do a lap dance or striptease workshop while I was at it. This was not what I was offering nor are any of them the same.
First, I want to make it clear that none of these are negative and shouldn’t be shunned from everyday life. Second, each of these are a different expression of dance, fitness, sport, art, and sexuality. The problem here lies with the fact that people consider them as one and the same, and speak about them in the same derogatory manner. And third, if all these dance styles/sports were the same, they wouldn’t be named differently and taught separately.
Unfortunately, such misconceptions are not exclusive to the pole community. Twerking is a dance style that often gets misperceived as well. Say the word “twerking” and most people will refer to Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz phase. Whereas dancers, especially those with African roots, cringe when Miley is linked to twerking.
Twerking is not sexualizing one’s body nor did it start out that way. Twerking started in West-Africa, where movements that require hip isolations and hip gyrations have been a prominent part of African culture for centuries.
Some tribes in Africa even believe these celebratory dances led to encounters with God. The Westernised, sexualised version of twerking didn’t come about until the bounce music scene of New Orleans during the early 90’s.
Say “twerk class” and all people can imagine are a bunch of women, half naked in a room whilst shaking their asses. How could that possibly be a workout? First, I won’t even deny this: we’re barely clothed. We wear booty shorts while shaking our booties – and we proudly wear them because it makes us feel sexy while doing it.
Second, twerking comes in many forms and is incorporated in many dance styles, performances, and exercises to keep the abs, legs, and glutes firm. Try twerking for twenty minutes straight without feeling any of that. If you don’t, then I am sorry to say that you are doing it wrong and possibly risk injuring your back. The solution for this is to join a class – wink, wink.
Misconceptions in general can lead to certain consequences. In this case, it can get in the way of people trying new classes and having the opportunity to explore themselves further. We all have the right to feel confident and sexy, and if we can achieve that via a pole dance or twerk, then that’s pretty effing amazing, don’t you think?
It’s harmless fun, practiced in a comfortable, safe, and encouraging space of love. Do not be the person who laughs at their friends for doing these classes because you do not think it suits them. Instead, encourage them or even better, join them! Try it out and see what it is like for yourself. Maybe confront your own inner discomfort and misconceptions.
A second consequence is that it can cause families to shun the pole dancing or twerking relatives or for these dancers to keep their hobbies a secret from their family. Unfortunately, that still happens in this day and age. While it shouldn’t, it can affect relationships and hinder dancers from fully pursuing their hobbies. Or, even sharing their passion with their loved ones.
Third is that people can risk losing their full-time jobs if they share their hobbies online, especially when they frequently deal with people of other cultures, in corporate, where pole dancing or twerking is heavily frowned upon. What kind of dance people do in their spare time – or for a living, for that matter – does not decrease their ability to perform on their daytime job.
Another negative consequence imposed on these dance styles is that they’re exclusively for certain body types: pole dancing is seen as dance for skinny people while twerking is for people of bigger body types/people with big booties. None of these hold any truth. Every body type can learn how to pole dance or twerk. If you’re willing to put the work in, then you have everything you need! While every body type will have its own pros and cons, the grind and the bruises remain the same.
Like pole dance, twerk is for everyone. All the big booties, little booties, and medium booties. All booties are great booties!
Dancing doesn’t determine someone’s worth or intelligence. It’s not a personality trait nor are you able to judge someone based on their love for pole dancing or twerking. If you see a friend partake in these classes, even though it clashes with your perception – try to learn about it instead of putting it down. It can’t hurt to discover that you were wrong all along.
And you’re always welcome to join us online here. We might even unleash your inner pole or twerk goddess! The best part is that you can get that goddess glow-up from the comfort of your own home.
Click HERE to join Struttin for €24 pm
Monday – Stripper Style Heels
Wednesday – Contemporary Flow
16 April – Ladies Night Heels Workshop
24 April – Wellness Morning + Nutrition Talk