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How I Got into Competing in Pole at 40

It’s two weeks until my next Pole competition. I’ve had 2 ½ panic attacks (major kudos to my husband for intervening) and my 3rd giant stress zit is coming in nicely. I’m a mom, for god’s sake. In my FORTIES. What the hell am I doing?!

To be honest, that’s a question I’ve never asked myself when it comes to Pole Dancing. I’ve been teaching pole classes for 11 years, and I absolutely love it. But that’s a long time to do something, and I’ve been feeling “too comfortable.” So I started competing last year. Since I live in Los Angeles, I was able to do my first two competitions locally. But then my coach, Kelly, said that we should be more ambitious, and that was music to my ears. I applied to USPDF in New York – New York Freaking City!! – and they accepted me.

Hooray! And also: dammit. Now I have to step my game up. I’ve been to New York (that was in my previous life as a model, but still). New York doesn’t play. You come prepared or you don’t come at all.

If I had to guess how I got here, it probably started when I was pregnant with my son. I never expected to have kids. I’m pretty sure I told my Mom in no uncertain terms, “That one will give you your grandchildren,” as I pointed imperiously at my little sister. I was twelve at the time, but I was very clear: no kids. And then I found someone who was just the right kind of crazy to marry me. The only problem was that he really wanted to be a dad someday. I thought I could tell him “Let’s wait one more year” until I went through menopause, but he saw through my ruse. So we had a baby.

One of the first things my friends without kids asked me was, “Now that you’ve had a baby, has EVERYTHING CHANGED?” Even though I kind of knew what they meant, I would stare at them blankly for a few seconds, then reply, “I had a baby, not a lobotomy.” (I’m not very sentimental.) I wasn’t trying to be mean – I just really needed to be firm that becoming someone’s mother didn’t mean that I stopped doing everything else that made me me before he got here.

So that’s how I ended up wanting to jump from teaching to competing. I’ve been a performer all my life – I started tap dancing classes when I was four. I had to remind my Dad of that when he asked me once how his child grew up to be an actor. (Yes, models who get old, or “old,” become actors.) He told me, “That was supposed to teach you poise. You weren’t supposed to like it.” But apparently everybody forgot to tell me that bit, and here we are.

Making the shift from local pole shows where I could just sign up, to a competition that had an application process and required a cross-country plane ticket was a huge leap. What was that thing I said earlier about being too comfortable? Maybe I should re-think that.

When I started thinking about competitions this year, all I had was a song that moved my body and the faintest scrap of a concept. Once I got accepted into USPDF, I had to adapt those things to their requirements: my song was 40 seconds too long, and my pencil sketch of a story wasn’t going to cut it. First stop: cut the repetitive bits out of the song … which was more interesting to listen to, but also made it 40 seconds too short. Grrrrrr.

We switched channels & worked on the concept. Kelly asked me tons of very specific questions: What is your point-of-view for this story? Where does it start? What’s the catalyst for change? Where do you want it to end? Getting clear on every possible point (with a metric ton of help from my incredible husband & his B.A. in Theater Arts) made my fuzzy outline into a clear story that (I hoped) could be followed from the back row of a theater. Then I tried everything from bits of other songs, to snippets of dialogue, to ambient sounds in order to make my piece the correct length. I pulled dozens of clips into iMovie, and made at least five full-length edits. The scariest part was that I wouldn’t be able to make a change once the deadline passed. If the choreography didn’t fit somehow, I would have to dance faster instead of adding another 2 seconds of audio.

In the end, we made a piece about the #MeToo movement, about a woman who is attacked & fights to get her power back. Putting this piece together pushed me past so many of my limits: my stamina, my flexibility, my mastery of tricks, and especially of what I’m willing to stand for on stage. One of the things that surprised me most when I started pole dancing is that it’s an amazing way for my body to tell her truth.

So that’s what the hell I’m doing here. I suspect I’ll be doing it for a while, because despite the occasional panic & sudden-onset acne attacks, I’m having a pretty good time. In fact, I had such a great time in New York that I’m submitting to a show in Europe this winter!



This post first appeared on Bad Kitty Blog | Pole Dancing Fitness Lifestyle Ne, please read the originial post: here

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How I Got into Competing in Pole at 40

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