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I want to be the first to tell you that stripper poles are not only found in seedy men’s clubs.
This once taboo and underground activity is taking center stage in the general public as the newest workout craze. Pole-fitness won’t teach you how to take off your clothes. What it does teach you is how to be both graceful and strong, how to tap into your natural sexuality and power.
My first class at DollHouse Pole Studio was on a Friday evening. I showed up wearing cotton workout shorts, a tank top and sports bra, toting my brand new yoga mat and reusable water bottle as recommended by owners Sasha Viers and Melanie Piek on the studio’s website.
Walking through that door was nerve racking. I hadn’t taken a dance class in over 10 years. Plus, the idea of a pole scared me. In my mind it represented immense sexuality and incredible strength – things I believed I severely lacked.
We started with a warm-up on the yoga mats and within five minutes I was sweating but completely relaxed. There were only three other girls in the class with me. We were all laughing by the time we hit the poles.
Doing hip-circles and stripper-push ups is an incredible bonding experience.
As I curled my hand around that pole for the first time, I felt a rush of excitement. We learned how to walk first, letting our hands turn with our bodies, swishing our hips and stepping with our toes. The walk is particularly important because every girl does it in a unique way and it’s the basis for almost everything.
We learned two spins that day: Girl on Top and one variation of the Front Hook. In addition to that we tried poses, half pirouettes and arm strengthening exercises.
Those who tell you pole-fitness is easy are lying. It involves the timing of a dancer and the upper-body strength of a rock climber. I do cardio and lift weights at least three times a week. I consider myself both strong and in shape, and am simultaneously embarrassed and proud to admit that after just an hour long class my arms were killing me, my thighs hurt and my knees and the tops of my feet were covered with small bruises.
The class reminded me that women are strong, an idea that happens to be the foundation of DollHouse.
The studio’s name hails from the Henrik Ibsen play “A Doll’s House.” In the play, the female lead Nora might be considered foolish and superficial, but the owners of DollHouse find her dynamic and empowered in the way she handles her husband’s condescension, eventually leaving him.
At DollHouse, all the “dolls” dance for themselves. You create your own world, and find empowerment within yourself through the power the classes inspire.
At my second class, “Slow and Sexy,” we focused on moving with the music and sensual choreography. Viers reiterated how on the pole, we would always be in control, even when dancing for someone else.
“If you’re playing around on the pole and notice your man is looking at you with, you know, that look, you just have to think, ‘Okay then,’ and do something like this,” Viers said while gently running her fingers over her outstretched arm and onto her chest. “His eyes will follow and you’ll have the control once again,” she said.
I can’t speak for the other girls, but I can speak for why I am quickly becoming a regular at DollHouse: it lies in that ability to create control in a beautiful way. There is nothing more satisfying than completing a hard spin, or perfecting the proper arm positioning.
I am also proud to say that I will be advancing to the next level of technique class and my arms no longer feel like shaky pieces of spaghetti.
Pole classes may not be the right hobby for everyone, but after my experience at DollHouse, nothing makes me feel better about my body and my sense of self.
Now when I head to the studio I strip down to booty shorts and a tank top. Exposing flesh in class is seen as beautiful, and practical, especially when you need some skin to help you stick to the pole. It’s not about what your body looks like, but how it moves, how it feels when you’re in a class.
When people asked me what I was doing that night or what kind of dance class I take, they are always slightly shocked when I say pole. One of my friends even responded with a laugh and said, “you would.”
I’m not taking off my clothes, stripping for money, or learning pole-fitness for male attention, not that there is anything wrong with these things. At DollHouse, I am expressing my sexuality and consequently becoming a stronger person.
So for those of you who think pole dancing at a place like DollHouse is some big, sexy, half-naked thing – well it is. But it is much more than that. It’s a sport, a confidence booster and a hell of a lot of fun.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emily Zarka at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.