Dear Pole Dance,
I am writing this letter to thank you. When I first discovered you I was booking in classes thinking you would simply be a fun way to get in shape and meet some new people. How far we have come since then.
You have changed my life immeasurably, much to my surprise and the surprise of my family and friends. If I had been visited by a ghostly apparition who foretold my future, whilst I sat agog among my History Of Art text books, I would have struggled to believe it. I would not have thought that I would fall in love with pole dancing of all things. No, I was never a prude or a judgmental ass hole, it just didn’t appear on my radar as an actual thing that existed.
Now, you have grown to take over a big chunk of my life – not that I’m complaining. You have given me a new level of passion and drive. You inspire a hunger inside of me that gives me a purpose and a vision for my future.
In my life I am many things, just as we all are. I am a fitness enthusiast, art historian, movie buff, entrepreneur, oil painter, writer, sister, girlfriend. I have plenty of talents and interests, but all these things seemed to come so easy to me, and there was still a piece missing.
I think it is precisely because you did not come easy that I fell so much in love with you. Yes, I was naturally strong and I picked up the moves quite quickly to begin with, but you are always presenting me with new challenges and things to work upon and improve. You give me structure through my training and my creative process; you give me rewards when I achieve a new move, or complete a choreography; you give me a sense of well-being when I can help others to grow and develop through you.
You have made my body strong, and my confidence stronger. You have given me new friends, and new experiences. You have taught me resilience and perseverance, and shown me what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. You have shown me the importance of dedication, and of mental strength as well as physical strength. You have made me a better student, a better listener, and now, a better teacher.
What you have done for me extends beyond pole. You have given me real, transferable skills to help me in all aspects of life. It is in learning patience and people skills, and knowing how to teach something from scratch. It is in knowing how to structure my time. It is in having the persistence to deal with delayed gratification when I can’t achieve something right now or it isn’t ‘easy’ straight away. You have changed my approach to life and what I do. You have shown me that often the most gratifying route isn’t always the most picturesque or straightforward. That we have to challenge ourselves in order to get the most out of our experiences.
You have helped me to focus my fitness regime, and taught me to love my body for its strength and what it can do, not just how it looks or how thin / curvy / pretty it can be. You have shown me that muscles aren’t bad or unfeminine, they are amazing, and being strong is something great, not something to be avoided. My body isn’t just something to look at, it is something to experience and move and use. Yes, I love to admire my body, but I also like to admire what it is capable of.
More so, you have given me an appreciation for all bodies and what they can do. You have revealed to me the tyranny of social expectations on people’s bodies. You have shown me the strength and beauty in all body types – fat, thin, short, tall, leggy, busty, curvy, slender. All of these bodies can be strong, and they can all achieve and flourish through you.
Finally, you have taught me not to be ashamed of my sensuality, of my femaleness. Why should we be ashamed to express our erotic potential? Something that is so innate and so natural for so many of us? You have taught me to ignore the haters, and to embrace what I love and what makes me happy. And yeah, sometimes that is dancing around in 7″ stripper heels, so what?
Everyone has different aspects of their personality that they may struggle to explore in their ‘normal’ life, but you allow them to discover these parts of themselves in a safe and secure environment. With you, they can be the sexy tease, the stripper, the strong warrior, the bad ass punk – they can be gentle, emotive, vulnerable – they can be sassy, confident, arrogant. You give people a way to be themselves, their very best selves and their very worst selves if they need that. Pole dancing can be your play time, your ‘switch off my brain’ time, and your therapy time.
So many of us are made up of many different roles that we play. Our identity is a puzzle of pieces; some of these are our relationships to other people; some of these are our relationship to ourselves; some of these are our jobs and responsibilities; and some of these are our hobbies and interests. What is amazing about you, Pole, is that you are able to bring all of these puzzle pieces together, to create a whole, inspired picture. You are a loving community of pole dancers, you are the confidence and perseverance that helps us in our work and personal life, and you are the hobby, passion and sport that fulfills, invigorates and energizes us.
This becomes so obvious to me when I see it in my students, who might be shy, worried and nervous when they first arrive wearing their long leggings and t shirts. But, you help them to thrive – you help them to bring all those puzzle pieces together to see the beautiful complete picture. And that, that is f*cking fantastic.