On Tuesday I had my first pole dancing class. I was really looking forward to it, but as the time drew near for me to go, I got cold feet. I had had a very busy day at work and had to walk about 20 minutes to go to the studio. I had forgotten my trainers, so had to walk there in high heels, which was a bad idea. My feet started hurting halfway there and I practically hobbled into the building.
As I got to the venue, my doubts deepened. I had changed into shorts and a T-shirt as per the instructions and I can’t say I felt very sexy or elegant in my outfit. Not that I expected to even come close to the grace and elegance of a professional pole dancer, but I didn’t relish feeling old and overweight.
By the time I stepped up to the pole along with my fellow newbies I was ready to run. The other seven women were young, slim and beautiful. The kind of women you expect to be pole dancing. As we faced the mirror to do our warm-up I saw an old, grey, overweight woman who could be the mother of all the other women in the class. My cheese-curd thighs glared at me as if asking me what the hell I was thinking. I agreed with them. This was clearly a mistake.
But as we moved into the different stretches, so similar to the ones I had been doing in my yoga class, something shifted in me. Yes, I was older than the other women in the class, but why did that matter? I hadn’t seen a sign on the website saying the class was only for twenty-somethings. Yes, I was overweight and my thighs weren’t smooth and tanned. But, again, no one said you had to adhere to a random beauty standard to participate in the class.
I had to make a decision. I could either feel awkward and out of place – through no one’s doing but my own – or I could do what I had signed up for: have fun learning how to pole dance. Adriene, my yoga instructor, always says you should love your body. Embrace life and don’t set ridiculous standards for yourself. And she’s right. No one in the class cared what I looked like but me. And even if they did, even if they sniggered at my participation, it still wouldn’t matter. As they always say: confidence is sexy.
So, as I stood facing the mirror, I decided to have fun. To make the absolute most of the class and pole dance my heart out. I hadn’t come to learn how to dance for a living in front of other people. I’ll leave that to the professionals. I had come to have fun, to learn a new skill and to see if I wanted to continue with this. I love challenging myself and I do like dancing.
The result was that I had an absolute blast. I changed my perception of myself from old, overweight woman, to fun, feisty older woman. I’m really not that old, it’s all comparative. Once I changed my perception I was able to throw myself 100 percent into the moves. I spun around the pole, not caring about not getting it right the first time. As some of the other women stood uncertainly near their pole, not daring to make a wrong move, I fell a few times, got up again, and practised the moves until I could do the whole sequence at the end of the class.
[I want to interject here to say that all the women in the class, and especially the teacher, were absolutely lovely and no one made me feel weird for being there. That was all in my head.]
What I learned from this experience are a few things. First, pole dancing is great and really, really difficult. Mad respect for the women who do this for a living and make it look so effortless. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it has taken to master that skill.
But also, I realised that you shouldn’t always listen to your inner voice. I know that the theme for this week’s SB4MH is Listen to Your Inner Voice, but that voice isn’t always right. That voice can make you feel out of place, insignificant, ugly and worthless. I felt all those things when I entered that studio for my first pole dancing class. But when I challenged this voice and countered it, I was able to make it shut up. I was able to have fun and feel great about myself. Had I listened to my inner voice, I would have hated the class, I would have felt awkward the whole hour and I would not have done well at all with the moves.
As I woke up in pain the next morning, I decided to continue with pole dancing. It’s so much fun and, judging from the muscles that hurt like hell, it’s a good workout for areas of my body that don’t often get challenged. I also like stepping out of my comfort zone and having fun with something that challenges me mentally as well as physically. I will never be a graceful pole dancer and that’s fine. As long as I’m confident and having fun.
It’s the roaring twenties.
Desperate to escape the stifling confines of her life with her aunt and uncle in New York, Jane Travers arrives at her friend Rachel’s country home determined to enjoy a summer full of fun and excitement. Rachel has promised her risqué parties, but what awaits Jane is beyond her wildest dreams. Guided by her old flame, Sidney Fitzroy, and the sensual singer Lillian Smith, Jane enthusiastically embarks on a journey of sexual self-discovery.
With Sidney and Lillian both satisfying her deepest desires, Jane sheds her restrictive upbringing and embraces her newfound freedom. As her feelings for both Lillian and Sidney intensify, Jane faces an impossible choice: a stable future with Sidney or a lifetime of excitement with Lillian.
But how can she choose when her heart belongs to both of them?