This week I helped my friend move apartments. Breakups are always tough but breakups in Sydney, where rent is higher than a fifteen-year-old wannabe musician who only ever wants to play stairway to heaven, are particularly tough. In the process I tore my hamstring. Well, the doctor said I pulled it but I have a preference for the word torn because it sounds much more dramatic. Like I’m a sports star with two DUI arrests but incredible hand-eye coordination. Of course, I like to think of myself as someone who soldiers on, although my idea of this may be tainted by my gene pool. My grandfather's idea of soldiering on meant perfecting the art of going AWOL. My friend noticed I hurt myself because I screamed, “Oh fuck,”  and  I became pretty useless at helping with the move. Instead, I did constructive things like suggesting we go and buy some new pillows that would make the colour of the lounge pop. It’s just what anyone wants to hear when they are dripping from sweat from carrying a lounge up three flights of stairs.  

Hurting my leg meant two things, my number one dream to join a Jamaican bobsled team and become an unlikely Olympic hero was dashed (Cool Runnings -  google it). Moreover, I knew I would no longer be able to perform in my Week 8 Pole Dancing class, which was going to be filmed. I’ll be honest with you, on the one hand, I was a little bit relieved because being filmed is terrifying. But I was also disappointed because I had plans to face my fears and that too, had been dashed. Also, I was missing out on outstanding Instagram content and let's be honest; I’m a little addicted to the likes. Marcia Hines used to follow me on Instagram and then one dreadful day stopped following me. Maybe a video of me attempting to pole dance would be the thing that brought her back. Now I’ll never know, and that will haunt me forever.

“I’ll be honest with you, on the one hand, I was a little bit relieved because being filmed is terrifying.”

Sky Sirens is also very big on safety, and I knew I couldn’t just push through. I’ve never pushed through anything in my life, besides the revolving doors at David Jones. However, I’ve been watching many sporting movies lately, so I’ve picked up phrases like “push through” and “you have one shot.” I spoke to my instructor Rose and Sky Siren’s owner, Katia and explained I couldn’t perform and they supported my decision. Not because they didn’t want to see me gripping a pole and being slightly out of time to the music but because my health and safety came first. Katia even double-checked I would be okay walking up the stairs to the pole dancing room. I also shocked myself by saying I’d be okay because usually, I avoid stairs at all costs. The Eiffel Tower has a lift for a reason.

 This was a slightly different reaction to when I was a waitress and burnt my finger, and my boss told me we had no time to apply ice because people needed their waffles. I’m bitter about it because I now have a small burn scar on my hand and it’s ruined any chance I had of becoming a hand model. The only other thing that was getting in my way of being a hand model is the fact I have my Dad’s hands. I use the word chunky to describe them. Another person that would use the word ‘chunky’ to describe them is a guy I went on two dates with but not a third because he called my hands chunky. R.I.P.Pete, who worked at Bunnings part-time and used the word "sick" to describe something that is good.

However, I still wanted to attend my Week 8 class to see my classmates perform and after working on a routine for eight weeks; you want to look at the finished product, even if you can’t be a part of it. I wanted to cheer them on, which now I think about it still feels like being part of something. Quite a few people weren’t able to make it to Week 8, so only two people from my class performed, and I think that is scarier. When you are doing something with a group, you always hope that if you mess something up, at least the other people in your group will take some of the attention off you.  It’s a little bit like a security blanket, at least that's how I feel. Plus you can stare at your classmates to make sure you are making the right move at the right time, basically, copy them. Something I’ve been doing my whole life because I am a little sister and that means my childhood was spent mimicking my sister and telling her I wasn't. I’m happy to use that skill in pole dancing too. In fact, I’m just glad it’s finally come in handy.  

All the babes that were going to be filmed doing their routines were also there to support my classmates and each other. This created a lovely atmosphere because everyone wanted everyone to succeed. It was nice to see that when a babe finished their routine, there were always a few people rushing to compliment them or reassure them that they did great. Some babes even performed solo, which I think would be particularly terrifying. But watching how supportive everyone was to each other enabled people to feel they could do solos. I imagine they felt how Beyonce felt when she left Destiny’s Child, free and terrified.

“Watching how supportive everyone was to each other enabled people to feel they could do solos. I imagine they felt how Beyonce felt when she left Destiny’s Child, free and terrified. ”

It was also great to see what all the other classes have been doing, especially the higher level ones like Pearls or Emeralds. You get to see what you will be learning one day and watch in awe and wonder at how they manage to quite bend their leg like that when you get a cramp from sitting on the bus for too long. It was just exciting to see everyone nail their routines and even if someone didn’t quite nail their routine, it was great to see everyone's progress and courage. The last time I showed any courage was when I DIDN'T scream when I saw a spider. I understand this may be low on the list of what makes someone brave.  

 I think it takes a lot of guts to get up and perform for your peers. Courage is not my strong suit. I'm brave enough to declare that I actually love carbs, don't have a thigh gap and don't care and that you can never overdo leopard, but that's about as far as it goes.

It was especially exciting when I saw my two classmates get up and perform. They were both amazing, and it was nice to see how much they had both improved over the last eight weeks. It was also wonderful to see the routine I’d been working on week after week come to life. I was even surprised to realise how much I knew off by heart, even though I am still struggling with some of the moves, it struck me that even though I may not have perfected them yet, I now understand how I will be able to perfect them, just with a lot more practice -  emphasis on "a lot".  I did feel sad that I wasn’t up there with my classmates. I felt they were Destiny’s Child without their Kelly Rowland (I want to be a Beyonce, but I’m just so not a Beyonce). It would have been an excellent way to end to my pole dancing classes, but after my class finished performing, one of my classmates rushed up and hugged me and told me she was so glad I was here. It made me realise that although I didn’t get to perform, I was still part of the group. I guess learning how to hold onto a pole while sweating from the Sydney humidity really bonds people.

In typical fashion, life never goes to plan and my pole dancing classes certainly didn’t go to plan. If life had gone to plan, I would have been able to perform with my class at the end of the semester, but in some ways, I’m glad it didn’t. I’m not glad that I pulled my hamstring because "ouch" but it was nice to be able to finish at Sky Sirens by supporting my classmates. This whole term pole dancing has been a huge learning curve. It’s taught me how to body roll, how to be a little more confident and made me realise my body is capable of more than just lying down on the lounge. It’s made me understand the importance of learning something not to be the best at it, but to be the best you can be. Watching my classmates performing the routine I had been learning and struggling to learn over the term, made me realise how much I had learned. I found myself watching them and knowing where they needed to move their hands or legs next, and it also made me proud. I’m proud to see my classmates shining and also proud of myself for completing something.

 We often spend a lot of our lives wondering what path to follow. I confess I'm a bit of a meanderer. I often wander a bit aimlessly. I started pole dancing because I wanted a bit of exercise and wanted a different way to achieve that goal. But as often happens when we choose a particular path we can get a lot more than we imagined and there are twists and turns along the way. I have done more exercise and I do feel stronger, but I've also had a lot of laughs, made a few friends, explored a different world and learnt a lot about myself. It, like some Christmas gifts (although not many, like my nan's size 18 undies she always gives me) was a gift that kept on giving. I haven’t finished the term as the best pole dancer in the world, but it doesn't really matter because I have finished the term as the best pole dancer I can be… for now.

“I haven’t finished the term as the best pole dancer in the world, but it doesn't really matter because I have finished the term as the best pole dancer I can be… for now.”

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