I haven’t been inspired to do much of anything since moving to Chicago but my therapist, a pole dancing showcase, Sir-Mix-A-Lot and my will to not be depressed have motivated me to start blogging again, so here I am. You’re probably wondering what any of the aforementioned has to do with the other so I’ll try to explain.
I’ve been through a lot in life and in my career and it all came to a head last year. I got married, laid off again, relocated and my dad died the day after Thanksgiving. Marriage is and has been great. The relocation came at a time when we were tired of New York. We were looking to purchase a two bedroom but doing that in New York can be frustrating if you actually want something halfway decent, so things looked bleak. The other thing is, we were both frustrated about our industry–media. The opportunity in Chicago intrigued us enough to try it out. Leaving New York for the Midwest of all places, and for somewhere that doesn’t really have our industry, initially wasn’t ever a thought but it was presented to us in a way that sounded attractive enough. We knew that our move wouldn’t be forever but figured it was worth it to try it out so that we had no regrets.
Leaving New York was bittersweet. I found the nutrition school that I planned to attend and I was getting really engrossed in the NYC pole-dancing scene. Not to be dramatic but pole dancing, fitness and nutrition gave me something to be excited about in life again, outside of marriage. I was also just starting to bond with amazing people but again, my intuition said to follow this opportunity because I was feeling sad and stuck in a rut career-wise.
Turns out, life in Chicago made everything worse. It’s a nice city but it doesn’t feel comfortable and there are some things that are noticeably missing, which tell me that it’s not the city for me. I won’t get into everything but one of the things that I crave is the pole dance experience I used to have. In New York, there were several schools to choose from and a network to lean on for support. I found two studios in that I fell in love with because they felt like home, and attended both back and forth. My teachers were great and the students were cool. We learned and grew together. I was getting better and staying motivated and had a lot more to look forward to. There were tons of pole dancing events and showcases and even informal meet ups in rented studios but also in lounges that just so happened to have poles (I’m looking at you R-Bar).
Here, the girls all know each other and they come to class and do tricks. That’s it. There are no meet ups and seemingly no shows outside of a Midwest competition and occasional studio demonstrations. The studio I settled on isn’t terrible but it’s not the one either, comparatively speaking.
The teachers are different, the techniques are different in terms of technical aspects of executing certain moves safely, kinesiology aesthetics, and the students are clicked up. I smile and say hello. They smile and say hello (sometimes) but the warmth isn’t there because I’m an outsider. Of course there were terse unfriendly students in NYC but I felt it less because the warmer people outnumbered the cold.
I can’t explain that any better, but I know how I feel about it, sorry. Another problem for me is that we had to leave the pole in my Brooklyn apartment behind because it was too short for our now super high ceilings. It took me six months to get a new pole (I’ve had the new one for a few weeks now) because poles aren’t cheap, especially the style that I ended up getting. Now that it’s here, I have no strength because I stopped working out the way I used to so, the things I learned or had been working on have escaped my body. Here, I tried to convince myself that classes would fulfill me 100% but it’s time to stop kidding myself and admit that they don’t. Again, they’re not terrible but the flow is different. The way they learn here is different, there’s no variety in classes whereas in NYC there was static pole class, spin pole class, Cirque Du Soleil style, flexibility training, fluidity workshops…I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining and I’m not trying to make this into a New York versus Chicago thing so back to the depression stuff…
I didn’t realize how affected I had been by all of the above until therapy, which started three weeks ago—but also my most recent visit to New York, which was the weekend before last. I went to the Flight Club Winter Showcase (I was apart of the summer showcase last year) and got to see some associates in the pole community that I was just starting to get to know before leaving. It was an amazing show with versatile performers, including two of my friends who performed. I was overjoyed seeing them and chatting with them and relating to them. Then on Sunday, when I was in the airport headed back, I cried. This is obviously bigger than pole dancing but for the sake of this post I’ll admit that pole dancing, fitness, nutrition and kineseology have become a huge part of my identity and I lost that. There’s no quick solution but I pray that it comes soon.
In the spirit of not being a Debbie Downer….my therapist and the inspiration I got from Flight Club convinced me to keep poling since it’s something I love to do, so I will continue going to classes here and I’ll use my home pole too.
I got nostalgic and started trolling the web for pole dancing videos. Here’s a still from my first ever performance at Sacred Brooklyn. We called ourselves “Melt” and we danced to “Skin,” by Rihanna:
This is the best I can do for a photo. It’s from a private video so I’m going to honor that by keeping everyone anonymous. However, I am on the pole in the front, on the right side.
A few months after that, I did my first solo in the Flight Club Sultry Summer Showcase (Summer 2012):
I did a soca routine to Destra’s “I Dare You.” According to Roz the Diva, it was the first time she ever saw someone mash up Afro-Carribean dance with pole, so I’m honored about that. If nothing else was there in terms of moves and execution, at least I was creative about my concept. There is video floating around but you’re on your own finding that one. In hindsight, I’m proud of myself for doing it but I don’t like the performance anymore and cringe when I watch it but I’ll stop there (the shock of a first performance once you grow from that point is an entirely different post). I do hope to do another show case with better, more refined skills.
Here are a few stills from the Winter Showcase that I just attended:
I don’t know who this woman is but her performance was beautiful. She danced to Meshell Ndegeocello’s “Fool of Me.” Her execution and fluidity were mesmerizing!
This is Roz, of course!
This is my girl Tiffany! We did a workshop together at Shockra Studio and hit it off. This was her first show. She came to support me last year at the Sultry Summer showcase.
Curtain call (the lady in red was the evening’s host, NY Burlesque legend Jo Weldon).
All photos courtesy Christopher Donald.
And in related pole dancing news, Sir-Mix-A Lot apparently got wind of my “Adventures in Pole Dancing” blogs and gave me a shout out lol:
I don’t know what he was promoting and I don’t think it ever launched but hell, I was on his radar and I’ll take it. Thanks for the shout and providing us with one of the most classic hip-hop songs of all time. It’s also a song that gets a lot of play in the pole community when it comes to ratchet playlists (please believe, there are different types of playlists depending on mood), so I guess the shout out is cosmically apropos.
That’s all I got for today. Now it’s time to work on my happy space.