There are some distinct challenges that a male pole dancer faces. Some of them are serious and some of them are funny.
One of the first things I became aware of when I started dancing was the way some of the women I dance with always added, "and he's straight" when they talked about me. There is an implicit assumption operating that only a gay guy would pole dance. It's a cultural thing. The only thing a male pole dancer can do about any kind of labeling is to keep on dancing. Men who really want to pole dance need to understand "Sticks and Stones". One of my favorite Baryshnikov quotes is, "I am not the first straight dancer or the last."
My next challenge was the impact it had on my relationship with my wife. You don't have to think real hard about how the most secure woman in the world could become a little intimidated by the thought of her significant other swinging around a dance pole in a studio full of women. I had a near death experience the first time I was late getting home from the studio and I didn't call to let my wife know that class was running late. There were a couple of things that came together that helped ease the tension between my wife and I. She attended the studio open house and met the wonderful women that dance with me. Watching the women dance, getting a chance to meet with them and getting to know them really made a difference. I also learned to call home sooner rather than later. I think that helped the most.
The family challenge. I mentioned in an earlier blog post here that the wallpaper on my Blackberry is a picture of me on the pole. Last year my dad got sick and I was sitting next to my brother in the emergency room. Without thinking I pulled out my phone and started to feed my Facebook addiction. The next words I heard were, "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" I put my phone back in my pocket and said, "Whatever you thought it was." The subject has never come up again. I'm not about to try and explain why a middle aged man would want to pole dance to my family. I'm sure my Mom and Dad don't know and I would like to keep it that way. I dealt with the family challenge by not dealing with it. Sorry. I know I caved.
Finally, to shave or not to shave. There is a funny YouTube video where a guy is doing tricks on his girlfriends pole and they decide that his hairy legs are causing him problems. So off they go to the bathroom and he shaves his legs. My experience is that bare legs work better. The more bare skin I get on the pole the better I stay up. My only secret is that I have my legs waxed. Please don't tell my mom or my brother.
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