Previously on Pole With Peach…
I wrote a post titled Our Stripper Shoes Aren’t Just A Costume, so go over and give it a read. And I mean, like, read the WHOLE THING, please. Because that is why I am writing this piece here. I had a lot of comments, and a few messages, following that piece, which were pretty sad, accusatory, horrified and p*ssed off. Sometimes it feels as though people read the title and then get their panties in a bunch, without bothering to read the whole thing.
If the stirred pot and rustled jimmies are anything to go by I have apparently been telling people…
“You should NEVER wear heels unless you have been a stripper”
“You aren’t sexy enough to do sexy style pole, you hideous slut!”
“I think you should dance exactly as I tell you to, mwahahaha!!!”
I believe that dancers from all styles and all walks of life have every right to dance in heels. It would be pretty hypocritical of me to say only strippers can wear heels as I have never been one. Dance in them in whatever capacity you choose, however you want, and wherever you want. I love seeing people try heels for the first time; the curiosity, nerves, excitement. That is what I love and an attitude I want to encourage. The post was never about those people.
So… here is the original concept broken down as simple as possible, so you can’t get it twisted 😂😂😂
- Heels can be danced in by whoever and in whatever style.
- However, there are set techniques when it comes to authentic sexy pole, particularly ‘Stripper Style’.
- Don’t enter an authentic stripper category if you aren’t dancing authentic stripper style.
- Heels doesn’t automatically make your style Stripper.
- Have some respect for the origins of pole, the sexy style of pole and the shoes associated with them.
Do we need a non-sexy heels category?
It got me thinking that maybe we need adapted rules or categories in competitions that state heels can be worn but not within a sexy capacity. Because really, sexy style is so much more than just the shoes. That is what I was trying to say in the first post… Some dancers put on the shoes and think that is enough to compete in a sexy style category or competition, without being passionate and curious about the style and types of movement within it. That the heels transform their movement into sexy, without them requiring any other adaptations.
Authentic stripper style is a ‘style’ in the same way that ballet, exotic, lyrical or hip hop would be. You would not watch a ballet inspired routine and call it hip hop because the dancer was wearing a backwards facing cap. That is why we would like a distinction within the sexy categories between technical heels work that is Stripper Style, and technical heels work which isn’t. It is also why in Stripper Style competitions having dancers who may be doing a routine in heels, but not an Authentic Stripper Style, could be seen as diluting the exposure of Stripper Style and preventing it from growing and getting the right recognition.
If you want to do just gymnastics, lyrical or contemporary style in high heels, then maybe we need a new, open category that allows dancers to explore the functionality of the heels, and the possibilities of movement beyond sexy style whilst wearing high heels. Because it isn’t about the f*cking shoes!!! I’ve seen super sensual dancers in bare feet who make me drool, and I’ve seen gymnastic, crazy sh*t in high heels that doesn’t give me that ‘Oooh sexy’ vibe, but blows my socks off regardless. The heels are an apparatus, as I said in my previous post, so maybe we need a way to recognise this. A way that simultaneously encourages innovation, whilst preserving the Authentic Stripper Style’s representation on stage.
Sexy is an attitude
I guess what I am saying is… heels have become intrinsically linked to Stripper Style, when really sexy pole is so much more than the shoes. That is why it is a bit annoying when someone puts on heels, does a routine and calls it automatically sexy just for the fact they are wearing heels. I’m not asking you to dance in one specific way, because there are dancers out there who are f*cking sexy in their own unique way, just be respectful of the roots of sexy style.
Tiff Finney is a great example – she says so herself ‘you have to find your own sexy’ because as much as sexy is based on some different styles of movement, and use of heels etc, you can experiment and innovate at the same time as respecting the core roots of sexy style. Tiff is mental, brilliant and off the wall. Her dancing is strong, she includes big power moves and grip changes, whilst also being filthy and fun, AND REALLY GODDAM SEXY!
And I think the key is, that she is obviously really passionate about sexy pole, and about how she explores movement within pole dancing. She isn’t constrained to a set concept of what sexy is ‘meant to be’, but she explores dancing with passion and a real, honest love for sexy style.
Love and respect. If you approach something with love and respect, then you are doing it justice. So, be passionate, and as I said in the previous blog, be open to learning even if you have been pole dancing in a lyrical / contemporary / other style for years and years – when it comes to Authentic / Stripper adopt the beginner’s mindset, and be passionate and curious about learning it.
You need to stop the ego
A lot of people get defensive when they read a criticism that may apply to them. The subconscious ego kicks into overdrive and puts you into high alert, defensive mode…
“Is she saying I can’t wear heels?? What a b*tch, well you know what, f*ck her!”
It is a natural, knee-jerk reaction. The ego is there to help you feel secure and comfortable in your identity. People never want to think that what they have done is maybe problematic, because ‘OMG am I a bad person?!’. It is the same reaction that people respond with if they are told something they said is racist or sexist – ‘I can’t possibly be, I’m like the least racist person ever, so f*ck you!’… They’re either gonna go on the defensive, or the attack, because it helps to protect the ego, which makes them feel like ‘OK, I’m a good person’.
I try, in life, to be a mindful human being. That just means that I examine my actions, and I look at how I am impacting other people. I ask myself, ‘what am I putting out into the world? Is it self-serving or is it a positive contribution?’ Yes, it is f*cking HARD! It means you have to be humble and open to being wrong… Sometimes we are wrong!!! And that is OK. No one is gonna hate you for admitting you were wrong, and maybe you could have been more sensitive and done things differently.
In the case of heels, some people reacted aggressively or defensively to my previous post. Because maybe if they examined their space in the world, then they would have to think about why they wear heels, and that would be hard, and make them think maybe they shouldn’t, and that would make THEM uncomfortable, and they don’t want to be uncomfortable. If they thought about it, maybe they would have to adapt what they do, because what they are doing is disrespectful to sex workers and strippers, and really, that’s not OK! But they don’t wannnnnaaaaa change – because they are having so much fun and it is so great for them, because the heels are so pretty and they just wanna dance sexy without having to think about oppressed minorities, ew.
So, the self-preserving ego goes about it through an individualistic ‘whatever makes you happy is OK’ framework. This protects their ego and means that they don’t need to analyse their actions. ‘Move along, nothing to see here, it doesn’t matter if what I do is disrespectful to strippers, because it makes me happy!’
It’s not about the f*cking heels, and it’s not about you either!
Sometimes it isn’t about you. Sometimes it isn’t about what makes you happy. Sometimes it is about other people and what impacts THEIR happiness. If you have children, you know the deep, selfless bond and love a parent has for a child. Try and cultivate that feeling with every being on the planet. You wouldn’t do something that hurt and upset your children long-term, just because it gave you short-term happiness. I try to think this way with the people I contact and touch in the world. ‘Is my short-term happiness more important than their long-term comfort and self-esteem?’
It is the reason I question whether I am culturally appropriative, if I am respectful to all races, if I am being sensitive to LGBTQ issues and individuals, and so on. I think the bindi is really pretty, but my short term happiness about wearing one is not more important than being culturually sensitive, so I don’t wear them. By admitting that sometimes I can be a bad person, I become a better one.
It doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing heels, or stop training in sexy style pole. It just means… look at what you are doing. Make sure you’re not being a poop emoji and disrespecting our stripper allies. If you approach sexy style with an attitude of love, gratitude and modesty, you’re golden! And don’t be scared to be a bit uncomfortable sometimes, don’t be scared to question your intentions now and then… cause if it helps you put out positivity into the world, then it is only ever a good thing.
This post is already 1000 years long, so I am hoping I have clarified my points today. If you’re reading this, thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read through this whole post.
I’m in a strange position now where my blog is getting pretty popular… people are seeing me as a bit of a ‘voice’ (scary!). I’ve never been under the impression I’m anything other than one little pole dancer in a little village in the UK, writing about her thoughts, feelings and love of pole, and hoping I can help others out there. I always strive to keep my platform positive, because like I said above, that’s my mission statement, it is what I want to put out into the world. But, sometimes we have tough concepts that we need to talk about, and sometimes that’ll mean we have to analyse ourselves and feel all itchy. Sometimes that’ll mean we have to ask ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ and the answer may be ‘No…’ That doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you can become a better one.
Let’s work to lift each other up, and I promise, I’m going to take a break from the heavy topics for a few weeks! I’ll write about cats some more or something haha. It is a lot of emotional labour to write these posts, and then answer comments and so on, so I will be leaving the heavy duty topics for a short break.
What would you like me to write about next? Something funny, interesting or useful please. Drop your ideas in the comments below.