Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Gay Label

I'm starting to get some feedback on my writing and one of the issues that has been brought up by a straight male poler is his uneasiness with the possibility that he might be labeled gay if he actually danced rather than worked out on the pole. It seems like the ultimate insult that can be hurled at a guy on the playground is to call him gay. In my playground time the word was sissy. There are many gay pole dancers and many reasons for their being involved in pole dancing. However, that is a big subject. In this piece I am looking at one of the issues straight men face when they decide that they want to pole dance in either an artistic or erotic way.

Let's take a look at what is behind the scene when someone calls a man gay as an insult. In the simplest terms it is just a word meant to hurt. It is no different than bitch, asshat, etc. But there is a deeper meaning. It can be linked to the archaic role that women are supposed to play in our culture as submissive, receptive partners in the drama of human interaction. One of the stereotypes of the gay male is a submissive, passive, and receptive human. All the things the alpha male is not.

When a man pole dances he comes face to face with a part of himself that is sensual, emotional, and sexual. All men possess these attributes. It is just not acceptable to express them openly in our culture. Why can't men comfortably be sensual, emotional creatures out in open society? It is because we are supposed to be out hunting for food and defending the nest. That is our role. Dancing with flowing lines and grace just wasn't in the bargain God struck with Adam on creation day.

Women have fought and struggled to get past this ancient, "Me Tarzan, you Jane" nonsense and have found success. When I am sitting in the locker room before an ice hockey game putting my on my pads it is nothing out of the ordinary to see a pelvic protector being slid over a pair of lacy panties. The men and women lace up their skates and we go and play one of the ultimate macho sports. Women are evolving. Men on the other hand are playing the same old part.

What wannabe male pole dancers have to realize is that the same body that can go out and play ice hockey can also slide down the pole and stretch out on the dance floor in the slowest most sensual way, with a power and style that is not the least bit feminine. In the movie, "The Right Stuff" when they were attempting to break the sound barrier they said that the demon lived at Mach 1 (The speed of sound). A demon also lives in the male pole dancer's head. Yin and Yang don't play nice up there after years of fearing the "sissy/gay" word. The curious newbie is going to see this demon the first time he ventures away from the safety of the room where his wife or girlfriend has her pole or into a dance studio.

Empowerment for some male pole dancers just might be getting past the gay label. I know that there are a lot of guys out there on dance poles. Hell, I've seen video of Ricky Helms (Karol Helms's husband) on one of Karol's poles. I've have had pole parties at my house and I also know a few male hockey players that I have taught to invert. The art of male pole dance is developing. It will be defined by those who know all about "sticks and stones."

"I am not the first straight dancer or the last." ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

Friday, June 8, 2012

Agressive or Assertive

In my book assertive means that you are confident in who you are, what you do, and you are going to stand your ground against oppression, prejudice, and ignorance. But you are going to do this with the least amount of sweat possible. You draw a line and quietly, subtly, let people know that they can expect a fight if they cross the line. Aggressive on the other hand means taking the war to the enemy. Going on the attack. The trademark here is being vocal and in someone's face. The name George Patton and blitzkrieg comes to mind.

It is important to me to help make space for men in pole dancing. For men to get past "pole tricks/fitness" and dance we have to get beyond the empowerment word in the way that some female pole dancers use it and find our own meaning. We have to do this without being aggressive. We have to seek out the assertive women in pole dance. They are the dancers who will dance with us, laugh with us and share what they know about the dance with us. They are the dancers who will tell us that men move in angular ways on the pole, that the articulation and length of our moves make our dance sexy.

Last week I was watching the movie "Men Who Stare At Goats" with my wife. At one point in the movie Bill Django tells Lyn Cassidy that sometime in his life someone told him not to dance. Next we see a flashback where a young Lyn Cassidy is rocking out to the radio in his room and his dad walks by and tells him to stop it because he looks (expletive) queer."

I'm sure all the guys who swing on their SO's dance poles have at some point seen a fleeting glimpse of this bad spirit. It's ok. Really. If you ever get the chance to dance in front of a crowd and listen to the applause afterward you might find as I did, empowerment. It takes courage to be a guy and pole dance. And I do mean dance. No going from one trick to the other. The floor and the pole are your friends.

I danced last night with my teacher and she left the studio for a minute to greet the new Pole Dance class that was waiting outside for my lesson to end. I grabbed my Ipod and put on Eric Clapton's "I Wanna Make Love to You." I grabbed the pole and swung it just a little differently. I did it with an edge. I liked the feeling. I could make it sexy or I could make it sexual. Assertive vs Aggressive. You cannot dance and pretend to be someone else. It is going to show.

"Acting is not my language at all." ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov