Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Forget everything you know about poledancing.

My blog is turning into more of a catalogue of my feelings about postmodern female sexuality and it's inherent problems than about painting. But it keeps me amused so humour me.

In all likelihood, my reader, I'm about to tell you of a world about which you know nothing. So please suspend disbelief and judgement and hear me out.

Most of my friends are poledancers. And at a stretch, given the fact that I've completed six levels of instruction and am typing this next to a fully installed professional chrome dance pole, I am too. That statement generally makes people either angry, aroused or confused. I hope to change that reaction. Sometimes I can change peoples' perception, often I can't.

Let me first tell you this. I watched nearly 40 pole performances on Saturday night at a competition. Some of those were people just wanting to give it a go, and others were from world renowned performers. In the audience- 80% women, 10% parents, 10% pole husbands (think WAGS) My friend next to me noticed that the young man across from us in the front row looked at the floor when he was in danger of getting an eyeful.

It's just not what you think. Of course there are poledancers who do it for advertising so they can show their wares enough to get men to pay for a private dance. Good on em I say! It's good money and if men are silly enough to pay to play the game nobody's losing on the deal. I've been to strip clubs and seen some very impressive performances from some very athletic and pretty girls so if you're expecting me to berate them, I'm not going to. But it's not what I'm talking about.

I understand why pole fitness as a concept inspires such ridicule. There's a basic misconception and prejudice behind it along with a feeling that we're not being entirely honest about our motivation.

Why have so many suburban women got a dance pole in their kitchen? What place have high heels and photos got in a fitness class? Aren't these women just doing it so they can go home and shake their booty in the old man's face and give him a thrill? These questions stop being relevant when you meet us and see what we actually do. If it turns you on seeing a middle aged woman in hotpants red-faced and bruised with a pole between her legs swearing like she's dropped a brick on her foot... stick around. If not you'll be sorely disappointed!

The scorn that some people pour on the concept amazes me. The steel pole makes things possible that no ordinary woman will do unless she runs away with the circus! It's about strength and style. And it's about music and dressing up. There, I admitted it. We like the shoes. Sometimes we play sexy, sometimes we play it for laughs. But we're not playing with men in mind. As long as I've had my x-pole no man has seen me on it. With the exception of the male student in the class (who happens to be better than me!)

But is it a crime? Does it have to elicit such suspicion? It's a post-feminist conundrum until you realise that we quite like our man looking at us- it isn't an automatic violation!! On a recent television discussion about pole fitness it seemed to be that saying a woman might want to use her skill to turn her man on at home invalidates the whole thing.

To that conclusion I say this. Is it impossible that a woman might just understand that men are visual creatures? that she might like dressing up and dancing? That she's not averse to putting high heels and frills on for bed? That she knows why lap dance clubs are successful and maybe, just maybe.... she's grown up enough and secure enough to think she might just give those strippers a run for their money and put on a show for the man she loves?

If to that you think- "No, women should just lift up their M&S nighties in the dark and leave it to the sex workers to the dirty stuff" or " men would rather pay for it with a woman who's spent ten minutes pretending to like every man in the room til he hands over his twenty quid and she moves on. There's no place for that in a loving relationship" - that's a shame. And you couldn't be more wrong.

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