"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Friday, 24 June 2016

New Experience Challenge Week 41: Pole Dancing!

(Originally published on October 20, 2014)

This is part three of what I'm deciding to call the Crash Course Trilogy - three situations where a friend of mine has brought me along to a class she's taking part in. Part one was a Zumba class with my mum. Part two was a salsa class with Jerida. This week, Sarah took me to The Pole Boutique, where she'd been taking pole dancing classes for the last few months. I wanted her to come with me for emotional support, but we couldn't find a beginner's class when we were both free. So Sarah had the fantastic idea to book a private lesson.

'Ask for Olivia,' she said to me. 'She's my instructor at the moment, she's the one I told about your situation. Or Rosie. She was my first instructor and she's a little firecracker, she'll give you tough love if you need it.'
'Is there anyone named Charli?' I asked.
'No, why?'
'That's a shame. The last couple of classes I've taken have both had really hot instructors named Charli.'
'Oh yeah, I read about that. Sorry to disappoint you Mikey.'
'That's okay, I'm sure we can get their names legally changed...'

When I called up the place to ask for a private lesson, the girl on the phone sounded confused.
'So wait... You want to book a private lesson?'
'Yes please.'
'...And you're male?'
'Last time I checked.'
'Do you want a male instructor?'
'Do you have one?'
'No...'
'A female's fine. I've been told to ask for Olivia or Rosie.' This was starting to feel like I was hiring an escort.
'Have you been told how much it costs?' Not helping.
'I sure have.'
'Alright, I'll have a chat to them both and see who can book you in for that time. We'll give you a call back.'

The next day, I got a call from a much less confused-sounding person.
'Hi Michael, this is Olivia from The Pole Boutique. I heard you'd like to book a private class?'
'Yes please. Weird question, is it okay if someone's there taking photos?'
'Oh, are you the guy Sarah was telling me about?'
'Probably.'
'Yeah, that's fine. So we'll book it in for this Wednesday at three.'
'Sounds good, can't wait!'
I broke the news to Sarah over Facebook.
'All booked in. This Wednesday at three.'
'Yay! I'm so excited for pole!' she said.
Mustn't... make... jokes...

When Sarah and I walked into the studio on Wednesday, all I could see was a desk and a giant curtain blocking off view from the street. I guess they'd get a lot of gawkers who want to see women in hotpants dancing. Olivia greeted us and took us behind the curtain.There were two rows of poles, one along each wall, and a mirror facing each one. One pole at the end was being used by an incredibly toned woman who seemed to be working on a routine. She was playing some slow music from a speaker that was set up near her and getting into all sorts of crazy, gravity-defying poses. She was very good.

I got changed in the bathroom. I'd been told to wear shorts so that I could use my skin to grip the pole. But I only own two pairs of shorts and they both come down to my knees, so I wasn't sure how much help they'd be. When I got out, Olivia and Sarah were already waiting in their gear.

'Hi, I'll be teaching you a few tricks today. I'm Olivia.'
I wondered how she'd feel about me calling her Charli for the next hour. I wanted it to be a hilarious through-line for my trilogy. I'm weird like that. Olivia continued, pointing at the woman on the pole.
'And that girl in the corner is the owner of the studio. Her name's Carlie.'

...Oh, snap!

'Were there any particular tricks you wanted to learn?'
'Not really, I don't know any tricks to begin with.'
'Well if you're doing this new experience thing, I'll give you a taste of a whole variety of tricks. That way you'll get the best idea of what it's about.' That was unusual to hear. Up until now, my friends and I were the only people who'd known about the challenge. This was the first time a person had been forewarned about it. It was nice.
'Good idea,' I said. 'Sarah, better get out the camera...'

The Warm-Up
So naturally, the first thing we went through was the warm-up Olivia took me through a series of weird stretches I'd never done before, a lot of which used the pole for support.




The Pike
As the last part of the warm up, Olivia got me to grab onto the pole and tuck my knees up to my chest, then drop them and kick them almost above my head. Sarah gave me a little bottle of solution that was meant to make my hands sticky so I could grip the pole. I think the sweat on my hands melted it off, is that possible? I grabbed onto the pole and instantly slid down a few inches.

'Um, this isn't going to work,' I said. I tried washing my hands and reapplying the solution. Still slippery.
'Maybe try without the solution,' said Olivia and she grabbed a rag and spray bottle to wipe down the pole. For the rest of the afternoon, I had to use that rag to wipe down the pole (and my hands) so I could actually keep hold of it.

The Shoulder Tuck The first actual trick I did, it involves standing with your back against the pole and using your shoulder to roll yourself upwards into another trick.
The Forward Spin I had to stand next to the pole, wrap my inside leg around it and kick off with my other foot, bringing my feet together in a point and spinning for a while. It made me dizzy. Meanwhile, Sarah busied herself with a few tricks on the pole next to me. She was amazing. She has a long background as a dancer, so her form on all her tricks was pretty much perfect. Not to mention that she's made of muscle and bone, so she could hold herself in  the air for minutes at a time. Anyway, here's my spin.
The Reverse Spin This one was a little harder, because I had to start spinning before I left the ground. Watch in the mirror how quickly and effortlessly Olivia does it, then watch how pathetically I fail.
But I think I got it in the end.
The Climb It's amazing how many times she had to repeat it. 'One foot hooking around behind. The other foot in front. Knees together. Use your elbow to lock yourself in place, then lift the feet up and move your lower hand to the top.' No matter how many times she said it, I kept just trying to pull myself up with my arms. My feet were in an uncomfortable position and the shorts were stopping my knees from being able to grip. The shorts had to go. 'Would it be weird if I took my shorts off and just did this in my underwear?' Sarah and Olivia looked at each other and I realized they'd practically been in their underwear the whole time. So I took them off. Much easier.
The Twirl Now I had to use that same leg-grip to twirl around the pole. You can hear Sarah's tiny celebration when I got that one right.
Olivia paused and thought to herself for a second. 'Do you want to go upside down?' she asked. 'Nothing would make me happier,' I replied. Going Upside Down Going upside down basically involves just holding onto the pole and kicking yourself into half a back flip. Here's what happened on my first attempt.
It didn't get much better from there.
And then it got downright weird.
But I think I got it in the end.
The Flagpole This one's a staple of anything gymnastic. It's the ability to hold yourself in the air horizontally. I've always struggled with this one. My attempts ranged from this...
...to this.
'Well done, that's great!' Olivia said. 'You're doing things that it usually takes three months to work up to. Not many people have that kind of upper body strength.' I grinned, embarrassed. 'Hahaha thanks I guess. I don't know how, it's not like I work out or anything...' 'Oh, so you're just gifted. I hate that,' she said, making Sarah laugh. She looked at her watch and then at Sarah. 'We've got a few minutes left, should we show him the Hello Boys?' Sarah perked up and grinned. 'Ooh, yes! Show him that one!' The Hello Boys! Olivia stood facing her pole. 'So here's how it's done,' she said. 'Grab the pole with both hands, take the top hand, arc it behind your back and with the thumb pointing straight up in the air like you're about to stick it in your bum, grab the pole again from between your legs. Once you've done that, kick your legs up into a V over your head. It looks like this.' She did the trick and I almost had to look away. They were right about the name...
Disclaimer: Her legs went ALOT further back.
Time for me to give it a go. 'So... how do I do it without crushing my... um...' 'Oh, right,' she said. 'Well, just be careful I guess.' 'Thanks, I feel better now.'
So that was everything for the afternoon. Olivia congratulated me again and took me through the warm down. 'How do you feel?' she asked. 'Sore,' I replied. I'd slightly pulled both of my hips during one trick and the tops of my feet were peeling off from when I climbed up and slid down the pole. 'Yeah, since you don't work out, you'll really feel it tomorrow,' she said. 'Have fun with that.' 'Do you think you'll be back?' asked Sarah. 'No way,' I replied. 'It was really fun, but I can't keep taking pole like that. I just feel too rooted.' Couldn't resist sneaking one pole joke in there ;) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This post was republished as part of the Flashback Friday series. Participants use the last Friday of each month to repost an old post that either needed more attention or that you're very proud of. This particular post was big for me because it marked the point that my readership exploded (in comparison to what I'd been getting previously). If you'd like to join in, add your name to the list below.

40 comments:

  1. You were very talented at doing the flagpole move... it looks very difficult. Not like I have ever tried, but I don't think I could do that one.

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    1. Oh yeah, that's probably the hardest to do properly. I can get relatively close though...

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  2. Haha, you'd be surprised how few non-Australians know what "rooted" means! Olivia is in great shape, but I don't think she gave you enough encouragement. Isn't there supposed to be whooping and whistling during a pole dance?

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    1. Don't let them hear you say that ;) They get angry at people who think it's just for sexual purposes.

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  3. Oh my gosh, you are just too adorable :) Good job!!

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  4. Every situation in life is improved by a Charli. And pole dancing (or pole fitness, as I've been informed is preferred for some reason) is hard. I enjoy it for the athleticism mainly.

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    1. Yeah I get that people in the biz would prefer the term pole fitness. They're forever trying to shake the tag of it being a trampy sport.

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  5. I'm laughing and so proud of you. Sorry, Michael, that it took me so long to visit.
    This was the most awesome blog post I've seen in a long time for many reasons:
    -Your humor ("Last time I checked" "I wondered how she'd feel about me calling her Charli for the next hour"...) Hilarious!
    -Your guts to take a pole dance class and publicize it for the world
    -Your very impressive gymnastics. I can't do any of that.
    -As Kinley said, you are adorable. If I had a daughter, you'd be my #1 pick for her.

    You're awesome through and through, Michael!

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    1. Wow, that's probably the best comment I've ever gotten on this blog. I'm blushing now :P

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    2. Oh, and about the daughter thing... I know a lot of mothers who feel that way, but the daughters always want someone who's not the best for them. It seems to be a right of passage for girls ;)

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    3. Actually, I know what you mean, Michael. Nice guys and gals finish last, it seems. But keep hope. You're a youngin. The thirties are the best decade for dating too. As for me? I'm waiting for some woman to drop dead so that I can move in on her widow. I've known of too many couples in which the man is a fantastic catch but the woman's a witch with a capital b. I want to kick those ladies aside and take over, but I'll just wait patiently until they die. Anyway, it's frustrating. But you're going to make a very good one very happy. =)

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    4. This is bound to be a post one day.

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  6. PS I'm going to bring more followers here. Your following is, while very high in quality, ridiculous. What's wrong with people? For starters, I'll be tweeting this...Cheers. =)

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    1. You're fantastic Robyn, thank you. Always going with your charity work ;)

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  7. no thank you. pole dancing is not on my bucket list. the sore business afterward is sooo true. you do seem to be gifted though. loved your blog before and that is why I'm back. that right of passage comment while funny seems to be all too true though. my daughter dated a guy like that at 16, finally got rid of him and is now engaged to him. being mom though he had to prove to me he was a changed man. I have a knack for being able to see these things and I believe he's a good, man, straightened up his life etc. first sign of mistreatment I'll have his ass and he knows it. anywho, I think you are adorable too and will find the right someone. until then keep us entertained because you're so good at it.

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    1. Aw, thanks Sheila! Wow, that's an interesting story. I've never heard of the guy changing his ways and becoming good for the girl. Although my friends Kelsey and Sarah have a story that's kind of close...

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  8. great stuff. I'm from Robyn's blog, and she's greatness. You crack me up and are so brave and talented - wow. Maybe if we'd been throwing money at you, it would have been easier. Just a thought. Thumbs up and cheers!

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    1. I can guarantee you, if people were throwing money at me for it, I'd keep learning it.

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  9. Hats off to you for trying the pole dancing class! I do Zumba and Hip Hop Fitness, and even though I am seriously the only female that hasn't taken the job of a stripper in my immediate family, it's just not something I could bring myself to try. Though a private lesson would help ease some of the nerves, I'm sure. I think you did great!

    Stopping by from Robyn's to say hello ;)

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    1. Hello! I have an earlier post where I tried Zumba. It's called 'This Takes a Sudden Turn and it's in my Hall of Fame on the side of the page. Looking forward to meeting you!

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  10. I heard that pole dancing is super hard, but a great workout. Go Michael!

    *No my boys haven't read Harry Potter yet. Maybe we should start with the books. The only reason I thought of starting with the movies is because the 6 yr old isn't advanced in his reading just yet. The 9 yr old certainly is though.

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  11. Impressive for someone who's never tried pole dancing before! I can imagine the muscle aches afterwards. It was brave of you to put yourself in front of the camera like that; requires a lot of self-confidence. Kudos!

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    1. Thanks :) Confidence in those situations has never been an issue for me.

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  12. Wow. You did awesome for your first time. Pole dancing is no joke; plus you had an audience. For some that's the scariest part, but I have a feeling it's not that big an issue for you.

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  13. Pole dancing requires a lot of physicality and I've got to admire you for giving it a shot, but there's no damn way I'd go to a strip club to watch you pole dance.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. That's a shame, I was prepared to give you a private dance for free ;)

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  14. Wow you look good, me I would just fall on my ass if I tried it

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  15. That's wild! I can't watch the videos right now (I'm away from home and my Ipad crashes when I watch videos), but I love the story---and the idea behind it. I'm pretty sure my arms would fall of if I tried this--and that Arlee would rather pay to see you do it than me :p

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    1. No problem, you get the idea anyway. Don't worry, I don't plan to make it a career.

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  16. This is hysterical! It looks like it takes a lot of skill and ability to be able to do some of these maneuvers.

    Cheers - Ellen

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    1. Apparently, my technique was crap. I got by purely on upper body strength.

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  17. That looks like it was a fun thing to do. It's funny though, I just wrote a scene last night that involved my character learning a few pole moves.

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