physical

Private time with Maddie Sparkle (& sexy booty shaking with Michelle Shimmy)

Yesterday I lived my best ever pole dance day. I’m writing about it today because I actually can’t move and don’t know how else to spend my afternoon other than reliving some newly made pole dance memories.

One hour of Sexy Booty Shaking with Michelle Shimmy was followed by one hour of private tuition with Maddie Sparkle. The professional pole dancing sisters from Down Under are friends of my pole dance instructor, France Grieco and they are here in the South of France for ten days spending time with their friend and giving us pole dance students some super sexy giggly fun workshops.

I have to say I had been excited about these workshops for the last 5 months. And when the day finally arrived I felt like I was on my way to meet Shakira or Kate Moss. Was I more than a little star-struck? Oh yes! On entering the studio my instructor France excitedly announced my entry to Shimmy (no, I’m not a star pole pupil, just her English teacher!), who was helping an advanced student hang upside down from the pole with one leg. I blushed and grinned and headed in the direction of the changing room where, in the doorway, perfectly silhouetted in a forearm stand split, was Maddie. (Honestly, I’m not making this up.)

She was smiling and cute and asked about the weather outside and I was instantly happy to be there, all my anxiety about meeting such a huge (but tiny!) pole dance star drifted away and my afternoon of pole fun began.

So let me clarify that the name ‘Sexy Booty Workshop’ actually applied to the rest of the 15 girls present whereas for me I would have to rename it ‘Silly Bum Wiggling Whilst Laughing Like an Idiot’ workshop. But let me tell you we worked up a sweat and laughed our arses off and, as usual after pole dance class, I have again discovered some muscles I never knew I had. And Shimmy is a twerking, poling Goddess who speaks French better than me even though she lives on the other side of the world. What an inspiration!

Oh, and it was also the first time I danced in my pole dancing heels. I say danced because putting them on and checking them out in the mirror at home a few times doesn’t count as dancing in them. Thank God I had a pole next to me for support during all the bum shaking. Thank God noone in the class lost an eye.

A couple of hours after trying to shake my booty to a naughty Australian song I was back in the studio for some alone time with Maddie. If I start to sound like an obsessed stalker, trust me, I’m really trying to tone it down! Honestly, I had possibly the best hour of my pole life with this woman and I am now her number one fan.

Seated face to face on our mats I had to warn her about not asking me to do any inversions or crazy spins. I told her about the stroke I had and that subsequently I’m limited when it comes to certain pole moves. She was understanding and knew about the risks to women with migraine, like herself and me, so I immediately felt at ease. She had us start off with stretches for the hamstrings and hip flexors, she let me in on a little secret for checking my hip alignment and she had me strap on my dancing shoes ready for some sexy Maddie signature moves. Perfect for me, we did the layout and my favourite, the naughty ‘Hello Boys’, into a chair sit and down to the floor. I got a ton of tips on body rolls, as mine are not yet ‘rolls’ as such and at every point where I did something new she was a fountain of positivity and encouragement and at no point did I feel like a stiff ape (even though I’m sure I looked it!).

We did a super sexy routine to No Doubt’s ‘Just A Girl’ (which I love!) and now I have a ton of homework to perfect it and get bendy and rolly and hair-flicky. The motivation I have gained from my short time in the studio with Maddie will last me a lifetime I’m sure.

She gave me hug and then I left, ready to double up on my strength and flexy training. 24 hours later and I’m still on poling cloud number nine. When I finally get back down to Earth I’m certain it will be in a sexy front split, with heels on, Maddie style.

Maddie and I

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How do I stick to thee, dearly beloved?

Here are some of my personal tips and tricks for sticking to my dearly beloved chrome pole (may not apply to everyone as I will point out further down):

 

Wherefore art thou so cold and hostile, dearly beloved?

Why won’t you hold me as tightly as I hold you?

Why do you push me away when all I do is try to get closer?

 

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…”

Yup, in the winter months my pole is so cold it makes me gasp to touch it. And I live in Marseille, where the temperature hardly ever goes below 5°C. What on earth must it feel like in the UK or Canada or Norway?! What I’ve learnt (with quite a bit of research) is that the heater in my pole garage is not just to keep the air warm… it goes right next to my dearly beloved to warm it up nicely, then I warm myself up nicely to the sound of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals ‘The Lion The Beast The Beat’, covered in leggings and sweaters and leg warmers and gloves (I’m always cold) until eventually… warmth is created and my skin doesn’t retract in fear from the touch of the icy chrome. And I can strip off some layers 😉

 

Dry Hands not Dry Legs.

This is one thing that no one in the pole community perfectly or clearly spelt out to me (or maybe I just never really understood, I do live in France): the difference between the hand grip and the ‘rest of your body’ grip. And the difference between dry skin people and moist skin people. Dry Hands is a great, really great product for my hands. It works by repelling any moisture from the hands so you don’t slip. Very safe.  Makes a horrible sound if trying to spin on static (and doesn’t feel v pleasant)! Anyway, I don’t have very sweaty hands but I use it anyway, partly because I actually bought it for the first time thinking I would put it on my legs too so that I could have better grip on the pole for moves like ‘skater’, which was driving me nuts.

It didn’t really work for my body… Dry Hands for my hands, fine. But what about my knees and thighs and ankles and sides?

After nearly a year of poling and reading pole blogs, facebook updates, etc, etc, I understood that I have dry skin  on my body and so to stick to the pole I need to have moist body skin. So I invested in some ‘Dew Point Pole’. (I think it was Aerial Amy’s bloody brilliant blog that helped me discover it… she wrote about how different environments and conditions needed different grip aids, v interesting, see her blog entry here).

This stuff has made me oh so happy. I sprayed it on my legs and jumped into the prettiest ‘skater’ I have ever done. Just like that. Easy peasy. It’s a moisturiser, too. So now I don’t have to jump straight into the shower immediately after pole dancing just to soap off all the dry Dry Hands chalky stuff from my poor dry thighs.

 

What else? Vodka!

This was tip number one from my pole dance teacher France Grieco (anyone coming to the south of France fancying a pole class she is the best!!! See the studio here: Marseille Pole Dance Academy). She told me about it just before I bought my own pole, so I raided the drinks cabinet and found a half bottle which now lives in the pole garage. Not to be drunk!! Nope, I use it to clean the pole after it gets gunked up on Dry Hands and hair conditioner and leftover body moisturiser or whatever else ends up on the pole to make it all dirty and sweaty and gross. A good wipe down with vodka and yes, nice clean easy-to-hold pole. And I will always enjoy the sexy climb with the vodka soaked rag stuck in my shorties to clean it from top to bottom at the beginning and end of my pole dancing sessions 😉

 

 

Disclaimer: None of the products I mention are asking me or paying me to say these things about them. This is my personal review and advice blog. Nothing more. I don’t get any freebies from anyone 😦

 

Getting Stronger: Physically and Emotionally

Feel the music. Move your body. Unleash your passion. Release your inner God(dess)!

This is dance: feeling and movement.

But what about Pole Dance? I have found that many people are either shocked or put off by the word ‘pole’. So much so that they don’t hear (or choose to ignore) the word ‘dance’. That all important aspect of poling: DANCE!!!

I have an emotional connection to pole dancing. I know  it now.

“An emotional connection? To dancing around a stripper pole?!”

Well, yes, of course! Let me explain:

I have always loved dancing. As many of my friends and family may know, I always said my favourite songs had the word ‘dance’ in them. And my favourite films (Flashdance, anyone?! Woman working in a physical, traditionally male job, reading Vogue on her break, wearing oversized clothing with black lycra and leather, big ugly dog, I could go on and on…).

Apart from salsa in Spain, I never went to a physically demanding dance class. No ballet or jazz or tango or breakdancing or hip hop. I think I never fancied the discipline involved. I never saw myself as a disciplined person. I tried giving up sugar once. I literally dreamt about muffins and cupcakes for weeks. Then Easter came and I said “sod it!”. Nope, not very disciplined.

What I saw in pole dancing was the need for STRENGTH.

If you saw me you would never associate the word ‘strong’ with my tiny frame. As I so much enjoy challenging people’s perceptions and ideas of what sort of person I am, the idea of turning my little body into a strong little body was too tempting to pass up. What pole dancing gives me, maybe first and foremost, is strength. Physical strength.

But one thing I’ve learnt on my long, slow route to learning how to pole dance is the added emotional strength I get from being physically strong(er!). I’ve never been this strong in my life. And I can say that I’ve never been this strong emotionally, either.

When I was ill at the end of last year (coinciding nicely with when I was setting up my new pole space in the garage, strong grrrrrr sound), I was scared. The desire to be able to get back on the pole pushed me to go to the doctor quicker than I would have done BPD (Before Pole Dance). I had a number of blood tests, scans, the claustrophobic MRI and of course the results: a stroke. I was told no sport for a while. I still can’t hang upside down or do handstands, doctors orders.

Through these few months I had my man, my family, my friends and my pole. I also had my strength and patience (another subject, that one!!): an inner voice telling me to breathe in the faith, hope and positivity and to breathe out the fear, dread and frustration. If I could put my body through the pain and bruises of pole dancing just for fun, then I could get through any little medical test, easy. If I could train my body to lift my arse over my head and hang upside down from my ankles and knees, then my mind and soul could do the same!

Emotion is often associated with some kind of weakness. “She’s so emotional!” or “Toughen up!” come to mind. But dance is one part of life where EMOTION and STRENGTH are one. And what great things happen when these two things combine!

 

Other pole dance bloggers are writing about emotionality and dance: check out the blog hop here.