Striking a pose at my pole dancing class.INSIDER / Ciara AppelbaumI took a beginners pole dancing class. The class combined flexibility, strength, a
Striking a pose at my pole dancing class.INSIDER / Ciara Appelbaum
- I took a beginners pole dancing class.
- The class combined flexibility, strength, and, of course, a lot of dancing.
- I left feeling energized, empowered, and confident.
Society has ingrained in us the idea that men are allowed to be sexually open, while women or femme representing individuals should keep their sexuality a secret. If they don’t, are often labeled a slut, whore, or something equally degrading. Talk about double standards.
I, on the other hand, believe you should be as sexually open or as sexually closed as you want to be. Do what makes you feel the most empowered, whatever that is for you.
For me, that meant trying a pole dancing class at Body & Pole in New York City.
The ambiance is really fun.INSIDER / Ciara Appelbaum
Most people (wrongfully) believe pole dancing is restricted to strippers or women desperately seeking the attention of men. Some even argue that pole dancing perpetuates sexism. Although it’s impossible to ignore the exploitative aspects of the stripping industry, a woman can — and should — be able to do whatever she wants without it being deemed a desperate grab for male attention.
The minute I walked into class, I realized just how inaccurate that narrative is.
I entered the room and was greeted with floor to ceiling mirrors, sensual red lighting, and, of course, seven poles which were ready for dancing. In walked my instructor Pauline, a stunning blonde with rippling muscles, who began the class with a variety of stretches and strength exercises. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
After about 30 minutes of stretching and activating our core, arm, and back muscles, we were ready to dance. And the nervous sweats began to drip.
The dance portion of the class was a lot harder than it looks.
Standing at over six feet tall, I’ve always considered my movements a little awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I have grown to love my long body. But I don’t consider myself a graceful person, and often feel self-conscious when it comes to moving nimbly. When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I’m consumed by long, scrawny arms and legs. This self-consciousness was only heightened by Pauline, who made each movement seem effortless and cool.
But when I looked around the room and saw my classmates were all regular people who were equally excited and nervous, I felt more at ease.
It didn’t hurt that Pauline created a nonjudgmental space by making lighthearted remarks and presenting an all-about-fun attitude. Soon everyone in the class followed her lead and my insecurities were replaced with confidence.
We started the dance section of class with the most basic move—walking around the pole. Pauline cranked up some Beyoncé on the speakers, signifying it was time to find our inner sexy.
Demoing my pole walk.INSIDER / Ciara Appelbaum
Although it may seem easy, walking around the pole does take some effort if you want it to look sexy —which was the goal.
I learned that a sexy pole walk requires brushing the tips of your toes on the floor as you walk with your body in a crescent moon shape while simultaneously touching your body with your outside hand (the one away from the pole). As Pauline so eloquently said, “It’s your body. Do what you want to it.” I opted to put my hand on my hip.
Once we mastered walking the walk, we moved onto learning body waves, dip turns, pole crunches, and back hook spins.
Pole dancing may look like it’s all about attitude— but it actually requires a lot of strength.
Body waves were, by-far, the most sensual move we did all night. They involve facing the pole and waving your body towards and away from it. Pauline made a point to tell the class that, “the goal is not to hump the pole.” But, to be perfectly honest, we pretty much were. I didn’t care though, there was no judgment in the space and I felt comfortable, confident, and, dare I say, sexy.
After our body waves, we moved on to dip turns. I soon learned that a dip turn is a simple forward turn on the pole that essentially ends with your inside foot on the pole. From this position, you can body wave the pole again, lean back, or do whatever movement you want. I was a fan of doing body waves with my leg on the pole.
The end result of my dip turn.INSIDER / Ciara Appelbaum
After having way too much fun dancing on the pole, Pauline told us it was time for the pole strength portion of the class. We soon learned how to do pole crunches, which involves holding onto the pole and quite literally crunching your legs up to your chest.
Pauline said that by doing pole crunches now, we would begin to gain enough strength to climb the pole and do flips in more advanced classes.
After sweating it out on the crunches, we had one more move to learn—the back hook spin.
Unlike the dip turn we learned earlier, which was a forward spin that ended with our leg on the pole, the back hook spin is a backward spin that is much faster and ends with you on the floor.
It took a few tries, but soon everyone in the class was spinning around the pole like a pro.
My back hook spin.INSIDER / Ciara Appelbaum
After over an hour of fun yet strenuous training, the last few minutes of class were reserved for a dance routine where we got to put together all the moves we learned throughout the class.
Pauline dimmed the lights to get us in the mood and each person got to “do their thing” on the pole, adding whatever personal touches they were comfortable with, for a three-minute routine. By this point, we were all really comfortable with each other and each dancer was met with a roar of applause from the rest of the class after their routine.
Sitting on the floor of the studio after my dance routine, “Fetish” by Selena Gomez playing loud over the speakers, one thing was for certain—I was exhausted. Pole dancing may look effortless, but it is hard work.
You shouldn’t let someone else define “sexy.”
As the class wore on, I began questioning why strippers and pole dancers are looked at so narrow-mindedly. When some people found out I was taking pole dancing classes, it was met with a lot of judgment and disapproval. After all, pole dancing is connected to strip clubs for most people and has mostly been associated with the objectification of women, not their empowerment. My classmates and I, however, were all just regular people there for a good workout and a fun time.
Aside from being a surprisingly great workout, the class was really empowering for me. Not only did I feel super strong hoisting myself up on a pole, but I felt graceful with my long, lengthy body while doing it. The feeling even followed me outside of class when I confidently got on stage during a party and started dancing in front of strangers—something I normally would never consider doing before taking pole dancing classes.
Caught with a big smile post dance routine.INSIDER / Ciara Appelbaum
The class also served as a way to explore my sexuality: because it’s not about what turns on others, but what turns me on and what makes me feel the most sexy. I felt sexy and fully in control of my sexuality—a feeling society had trained me to feel ashamed of.
Aside from exploring my sexuality and gaining body confidence, I learned pole dancing doesn’t have to be sexy if you don’t want it to be. There are styles where you don’t have to dance provocatively at all. If you do want to embrace its sexy side, however, that’s OK too.
All-in-all, this definitely wont be the last of my pole dancing career.
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