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This week I started pole dancing for the first time ever. To prepare, I obviously watched Coyote Ugly only to discover there was no pole dancing – just bar dancing. Then I had Leann Rimes’ songs stuck in my head for the rest of the week. I do like to prepare for things, especially if it involves me sitting on the lounge. The only other thing I did to prepare was Google videos of pole dancing, once again from the comfort of my lounge, but instead ended up watching a video of Miss Piggy from The Muppets dancing on a pole. This video amused me a lot, but probably did not give me an accurate idea of what to expect. I asked one of my friends who used to dance in a club what pole dancing was like, hoping she’d say something comforting like, “Oh it’s so easy girl.” Instead she looked me dead in the eye and said, “It’s really hard, and your body will take a beating.” The use of the word, ‘beating,’ haunted me for days.

The night started off badly because I got in an Uber-pool with a guy named Dean who kept telling me about how he was cheating on his wife and that he finally felt,  ‘alive.’ I kept staring at his fitbit as he talked, (he had not reached his step goal for the day!) Time ticked on slowly and I tried not to choke on his cologne that was filling up the Uber at an alarming rate. Dean got the address of where his mistress lives wrong – happens to all of us – and then insisted the Uber driver drop him off at a different street. It was all high drama and at the end Dean winked at me and told me he hoped he’d see me again. I replied, “I hope your wife sees you with your mistress and leaves you.” He was very shocked by this response and the Uber driver told me to settle down. The men protecting men culture, is alive and well.

All the time it took for Dean to locate his mystery mistress, meant I arrived at Sky Sirens five minutes before 8pm, which is when my class started. So I raced up the stairs, well, walked slowly, because stairs are hard enough without running. Quickly got changed in the bathrooms and accidentally missed the instructor calling the class. It took the person working at reception to tell me the class had already gone inside for me to realise this. I felt flustered, not as flustered as Dean was when I told him I hoped his wife would leave him, but flustered. Think fun step-mum forgetting to attend her step-kid’s dance recital. Flustered, but still living my best life.

The instructor was lovely; lovely about me being late and lovely in general and in my experience this is the norm at Sky Sirens. I was also very excited to be in this room, because it has the leopard print wall. My dream is to stop renting and buy an apartment, so I can also have a leopard print wall. Considering I have no savings in my account, and I would like to live in the Eastern Suburbs because I see myself as a Real Housewives type, this is unlikely. But a girl can dream.

Starting anything new is always terrifying, there’s no two ways about it. Even though I’ve just spent a semester doing Lyra, and so some things were easier. I was not worried about finding the studio, or what to wear or where to get changed. But I still felt nervous, plus I had just become comfortable with my old class, and now, once again, I was in a room full of strangers, without the crutch of my friend Maddie who has betrayed me this term (she has decided to do Lyra again.) We launched straight into doing a warm up, which was actually great for my brain, because I needed the distraction. But one of the walls in the studio is all mirrors so it was also forced to realise I had put my tights on, inside out. Luckily, I do not think anyone noticed, but I had to live with the knowledge that in my twenties, I am still unable to dress myself.  A truly crushing reality and that was tough to face.

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“I still felt nervous, plus I had just become comfortable with my old class, and now, once again, I was in a room full of strangers, without the crutch of my friend Maddie who has betrayed me this term (she has decided to do Lyra again.)”

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The warming up part was easy because it was pretty similar to the warm ups I did while doing Lyra, slightly different, but the same kind of thing. We still got to listen to pop music, and as long as a Britney Spears song is blaring, it is hard for me not to be happy. Once our warm up was done, I was panting but pretending I just needed to yawn, because I am a cool cat. The instructor introduced herself and told us her preferred pronouns and we all did the same. The class was filled with a range of different types of bodies, and different types of people. I found this comforting, because I like the idea of something as simple as pole dancing bringing different types of people together, plus I always think it makes for better conversation.

We then launched into the actual pole dancing part, the part that scared me the most. Of course I was wrong to be scared because it’s the first lesson and so really it’s just a small introduction on what to expect, but still I always start everything a little bit anxious. The first thing I learned that completely shocked me is that the pole actually spins, I have no idea why I did not already know this, and I’m concerned this might be a piece of common knowledge, I have missed. Anyway, once I got over that discovery, I was able to concentrate on everything else.

I made the mistake of wearing tights that made it harder to grip, so I think it’ll actually be a lot easier next week. It’s recommended skin-to-skin contact is best for the Pole because you need the help of extra grip. Basically we just got familiar with actually touching the pole and learning how to move, whilst also utilising the pole. This sounds quite easy, the reality is it’s quite hard because you are using muscles that you do not usually use, like thigh muscles and it also requires upper arm strength. Luckily mine has improved since doing Lyra, but it’s still – as my Dad would say – bloody hard work. It was just the first class, so everything was pretty straightforward. I of course was still unable to do everything, but it was a gentle introduction. I think it was more about getting everyone comfortable with the pole and each other than it was about being a pole genius.

We finished the class by learning a bit of the routine that we would we perform at the end of the semester. It was mostly just dancing sans pole, but considering I have absolutely no coordination, I always find this quite hard anyway. Still, the mirror wall is quite helpful because you can stare at yourself, to see what you are doing wrong and right. But it can be confronting to see yourself in the mirror when you think you are looking quite sexy, only to realise your limbs are just flailing around everywhere, and you’re quite sweaty. I do quite like sweating though, because it makes me feel very smug, like I’m one of those Fitness Instagram influencers who post captions like: you’ve got to sweat it to feel it!

The hour flew by, and before I knew it we were wrapping up and I was ready to go to the bakery down the road and buy a brownie. I did sweat, remember, so I feel I deserved it.  Although it’s always confronting to do something new, and I absolutely do not feel like an expert at pole, and there were a couple of moments in the class where I thought, how am I ever going to be able do this? I feel optimistic and a little more confident than when I first started Lyra. I now know my body is capable of more than I realise. Even though I felt sore after class, my body did not feel like it had taken a beating. I like to believe this is because I am getting stronger, or maybe we have just not reached the hard stuff yet. Either way, I’m looking forward to the journey. Especially because my class finishes at 9pm every week and this allows me to get home before nine thirty, sip a gin and tonic and slip into bed. Tired, but happy.

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