Last night I went with three male friends, two of whom wish to remain anonymous, but all in our 40s and 50s, to work out our daddy issues on a pole in a free, 30-minute pole dancing lesson in the outskirts of suburban Brisbane, Australia.
How did this happen?
Aaaaaah online advertising algorithms… A couple of years ago I lamented how I began getting email advertisements for ‘Elite Singles’ despite my CLEAR aversion to dating. But you know, they had the ‘Elite’ part right, didn’t they?
This turned from mild annoyance into pure horror when they changed into advertisements for “Silver Singles” imploring me to “Explore like never before!” Noooooooooooooooooo! I hadn’t even embraced the silver within me then, let alone the dating thing I have avoided since the ripe old age of 15…
About three weeks ago Facebook started relentless spamming asking if I was “pole curious” and showing pictures or videos of normal people in their gym gear “having a go” in a gym-like looking class filled with poles. The offer was for a 30-minute free pole dancing lesson.
What had I done now to warrant such targeting? What was it about my search history that made Facebook think I was ready to release my inner stripper? Actually I suspect it had to do with my location and that I started using the app my yoga place set up to make bookings given the COVID restrictions on numbers in classes now… But that is not so exciting…
Regardless, I thought it was funny and sent it to a few friends, propositioning them to join me. I sent the original advertisement I saw then asked, “Are you in?”
Then to make it more attractive, I added Celeste Barber’s stella attempt at pole dancing to show how awesome it would be. If you are not familiar with Celeste’s work, she gallantly copies famous model poses showing what they look like when “real” people do them… She’s brilliant!
As expected, I got lots of hilarious rejections.
“Haha! Wasn’t sure if that was you for a millisecond!” said one female friend, I’m SURE talking about the first woman in the video and not Celeste, before she added, “Oh and FUCK NO!”
“Looks amazing. I tried to do a handstand some time in the last four years and almost destroyed my face as the ground came hurtling toward me. The days of holding my own body weight are well gone,” said another female friend.
“I used to do it, but stopped because I kept getting bruises all over my legs,” said another particularly fit, bendy female friend.
Then two male friends said yes! Huh. That I wasn’t expecting. I was just joking and bitching about the algorithm, wasn’t I?
But going to a pole dancing lesson with them would be hilarious, as a writer of this blog I have the God given responsibility to entertain (you’re welcome), and the price was right… so it looked like we were DOING this thing!
Dazza got back a bit later.
“Bahaha! My fat mid range on a pole,” he said, characteristically self-derogatorily.
I said I thought it would be hot and mentioned I had some other takers who were suitably entertaining.
“Oh wow!!! Are you gunna go?”
Daryl is one of Brisbane’s premier entertainers, but is having issues with being on his feet all the time and stuff with his ears. I reminded him “on the pole” he would be off his feet and no one would mind if he wore ear plugs, so perhaps this was the career change he was looking for.
He was in.
It was about three weeks between the initial messages and the big day. There were logistical issues, but we finally got a date and time that suited us all. With the long lead-up, we had time to fantasize about our maiden pole dancing experience.
One drunken evening my two anonymous compadres agreed we should go in drag. Dazza was immediately on board. Did we need him to bring some things for the other two? Yes.
When I asked if Daryl’s boyfriend would join, he said he would not for religious reasons. (I apologise in advance if I offend any religious people here, but if your religion condemns gay people, you can’t be surprised if we make fun as most religions say far worse about them.)
“The higher up the pole you get, the closer to God,” he said.
Made sense. Which of us would attain such lofty heights?
The big day
We arranged to meet yesterday at 4.00pm to get ready for our 5.30pm debut. It would take us about 20 minutes to drive there, but that would give us enough time to get ready in all our finery.
We got a text message that morning explaining how to get to the venue, that we should wear shorts, and bring a water bottle. Shorts made sense, that would limit our wardrobes though…
I arrived at Old Mate 1’s house at 4.00pm sharp armed with my bag of wigs, an assortment of potential clothes, and a six pack of beer. I knocked on the door. No answer. I rang. No answer. Lucky I brought beers, I thought to myself and was about to sit and consume one on the front stairs when I got a call back from Old Mate 1. He was waking up from an afternoon snooze.
Just as that was going down, Old Mate 2 arrived and we all went inside with our bounties. The first order of the day was obviously to crack open the beers as that HAD to be a requirement for the outfits we were about to select. Old Mate 1, in his sober, just woken up state had second thoughts about dressing up. This needed to be rectified.
Life also seemed to want to get in the way, with all of us taking various business calls which hampered our preparation. Dazza rocked up with just 10 minutes before we had to leave. Three of us selected our gorgeous outfits of ridiculously tiny shorts, and brightly coloured wigs with Old Mate 1 promising to change at the venue.
I drove with Dazza. We sat waiting at a roundabout in peak hour traffic and over to our left spotted a strange house with a bunch of bizarre looking dolls in the front window on the left of the house, and a real-life, shirtless, bald man hanging out of the front window to the right. He did not look dissimilar to his weird dolls on the left. We were busy judging and laughing about how weird people are until we remembered there we were, in sparkling purple and bright pink wigs about to go pole dancing, so who were we to judge? We then laughed heartily at ourselves.
Google maps eventually spit us out in what seemed like an industrial warehouse district. We couldn’t see the place, but from the directions we knew we were close so parked the car. When we spotted it, it was on the other side of the rather large car park to where we parked, so the walk of shame in our gear was long I suspect for Old Mate 1 who hadn’t changed yet, but had to be associated with us degenerates!
We were late. It was 5.31pm, and there were already a bunch of people inside. Old Mate 1 still had to get changed, and I had to relieve my bladder of the beer I consumed in preparation, so we took the toilet key on the huge metal bar to stop us stealing it, and made that happen.
Working the pole
When we returned, we were ushered to our special pole area, the curtains were drawn to protect either us or the others practicing in the other part of the gym from each other, and it was time to get to know our poles. There were huge floor to ceiling mirrors to help us see our progress.
Aside from the four of us, there were two young, attractive girls partaking in the free lesson, and the incredibly fit, attractive instructor who would make look effortless what, as we would soon find out, clearly was not.
After selecting our poles, we had to make sure they spun. Of COURSE! I wondered how people spun around poles without some kind of lubrication which would obviously mean they would slip down. Now I had the answer. It was the pole that spun. One didn’t spin so needed some adjustment. Our instructor gave us cloths and cleaning spray to spray into our cloths and wipe down our poles. Good pole hygiene is important in these times, but it would also help stop us from slipping. We may need to do that from time to time if we started getting sweaty, she told us.
“Are you guys going out somewhere after this?” she asked, clearly impressed by the effort we went to dress for the occasion.
“We did think we might have to find a strip club to practise at after, but we weren’t sure if there were any around here,” I said, as we were quite far from the city and areas where the strip clubs are.
“Nope, this is the main event,” said Old Mate 2 who would change before we went to a pub after our class.
“You’re right. There is nowhere around here,” she said with authority.
It was time for our first move. We would not talk in “left” and “right” arms and legs, but “inside” and “outside” ones. Apparently it made sense to talk about where your limbs were relative to the pole as things got more complicated and you started doing spinny things. The first move she showed us was with your feet flat on the floor, putting your outside arm high up on the pole, your inside arm about halfway down, then getting up on your toes, wrapping your inside leg around the outside of the pole at your knee, leaning into the spin, then drawing your outside leg so your toes touch, and your knees are far apart forming an elegant triangle.
It looked amazing and effortless. Like she was light as a feather. Now it was our turn.
Right, feet on the floor, outside arm high on the pole, inside arm further down, so far so good. Inside leg wrapped around the outside of the pole gripping it with the knee, toes pointed, oh how elegant we looked! Now to lift the outside leg and oh my God who hung a bunch of bricks off my back? DAMN that needed more upper body strength than I thought! But there we were, hanging less than gracefully, groaning as our middle-aged bodies screamed at us this was not natural.
But we did it! Well done us! Now the other side. She showed us again looking so elegant and graceful.
“It may be easier or harder on the other side. It is different for everyone,” she said.
We had this. We could do it. Yup! Still felt like tonnes of bricks weighing me down and making our leg spreads less than elegant. But around we spun, all killing ourselves laughing at how expert we were.
Next there was a toe out, pole knee grasp, backwards spinny number. Ooooooh. Backwards spinny. Mixing it up. Again, not so graceful as our instructor, who told us she practiced for eight years and had taught for two so she SHOULD make it look effortless, but we did it none the less.
Ratchetting up the degree of difficulty
Great! We had done so well! She thought we were ready for something a little harder. It was time to climb the pole.
Top of the thigh up tightly to the pole, both arms tightly holding up high, then wrap the other leg over the thigh so the pole is between your legs, and start pulling yourself up as you close your thighs at each reach up the pole. Wow! She made it look easy! Maybe we were getting closer to God tonight!
Nope! Not me! There was NO WAY I had the upper body strength for this. There went my dreams of paying my way through law school. But Dazza and the other guys were all over it! God was firmly within their short-shorted, colourful wigged, tight t-shirted reach. If I was ever to go into the “industry” it would have to be much further down the “whorearchy.”
Because “we,” and by that she meant everyone other than me, did so well, we were going to try the forward leg spinny thing converting to back spinny thing combo. Oooooh. This would require strength AND coordination… Nope! I didn’t have either. But I have to say, it would appear the male form is clearly much more naturally suited to the pole. The guys were crushing it. They didn’t really get the elegant toe pointy thing, but aside from that, they will pulling off the moves. Why aren’t there more male pole dancers? Maybe there are… what would I know?
To bust a few other stereotypes, I can’t see drug addicts doing this either. There is way too much coordination and strength required to pull this stuff off! It takes extreme upkeep to make this look easy!
Right! Now our gracious instructor had shown us a few moves, it was time to ‘freestyle’ a bit and take photos of the crimes we were committing against humanity.
Otherwise we made a few other attempts…
I didn’t get any better with this practice time…
The not so hard sell…
After we had enough pole freestyle time, our instructor came back with the schedule of how we could get involved. If we were ready to start next week, we could join the 10 week “Pole Foundations” course where we would learn a routine and do a performance at the end! That peaked the interest for a couple of the lads.
Otherwise there were a few other options open to “beginners” like us. Some were for fitness, others for technique, or were routine focused. But it was the “Sexy Floor Work” and “XXX Dance” which our instructor explained got a lot more raunchy with “humping the floor” and things like that which REALLY interested Old Mates 1 and 2.
While if Dazza ever went to a female strip club, it really would be for the buffet, Old Mate 1 and 2 held more of an appreciation for the female form and were weighing up the economics of doing this instead of actually going to strip clubs.
On our way out, we went through the other room where there were literally women of all shapes and sizes practicing routines. There were a couple of morbidly obese women doing incredible things! Given their extra weight, I was in complete awe of the strength they had to do what they were doing, when even the prospect of enlightenment wasn’t enough to get me up the pole. There were also people practicing on Lyra Rings hanging from the ceiling.
None of us signed up on the day, but while I will stick to yoga, I wouldn’t be surprised if my classmates don’t have a bit more pole dancing in their future, even if they don’t make next week’s 10 week course…
Until next time!