Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. ― Merce Cunningham

I am a dancer.
I can be hurt.
I am strong.
Watch me dance.
I will tell you everything you want to know about me.
My movement can't stilled by a keystroke, text message or email.
I touch people when I dance.
I am unforgettable.

Dance Found: Video

I get a few requests to post videos of my dance on YouTube. I usually defer because of music copyright issues. At the time I posted this clip I did get a notice that BMG owned music may be in my video. Yeah. Uh-huh. Maybe, semi-sorta, kinda.

The inspiration for this dance comes from what meteorologists call turbulence. The eddies in the wind. The angst that dancers try to put into motion. Turbulence is like a dance. It lives and dies in moments. There is an eternity of eddies and an eternity of dances.

Enjoy. I'm posting the first shitty comment I get.

Music: Any Other Name by Thomas Newman Cafe del Mar Volume 8
That's Estee Zakar with the video camera in her home studio.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dance Found

When my former dance teacher and I went our separate ways last August I had a choice to make. I could move on with my art/dance or let it die. I didn't spend a lot of time with the choice. Long before things went sour last August I had been working with Estee Zakar once or twice a month. She is such an awesome teacher and the whole Denver area is so lucky to have her with us.

It is hard for men in pole dance. Coed is almost never an option in most pole studios. I resigned myself to working on the technical aspects of pole moves and combinations privately with Estee and concentrating on ballet. No more spring showcase. No more audience. No more taking up space and no more weaving in between the poles trying to land jumps.

For the last two months that is what I have been doing. Very structured ballet and getting used to Estee's 45 mm chrome X-Pole. (I had never been on chrome before I started working with Estee.) I love the way Estee breaks things down and she is very organized. She challenges me. I love the push. I left every lesson sweaty, bruised and happy to be on a pole once a week again. But deep down not being able to dance was eating me up inside. I love the pole tricks but if you follow my blogs you know that I have to dance. Dance lets me get things out in the open that I bottle up inside. I have been carrying a lot of hurt around the past few months. Finally on the 20th of this month I just had to dance. I asked Estee if we could set aside five minutes at the end so that I could freestyle. It would be the first time that I danced for her. Without hesitation she said yes. It was totally awesome. I drove home feeling like I could breathe again. Estee encouraged me to think about performing and she loved the ballet style that I use in transitions. It was kind of like that first date after my divorce. I felt like a dancer again.

On the 23rd of October Sasha Viers, the owner of Boulder Spirals pole studio in Boulder, Colorado invited me up to a Halloween pole jam scheduled for last night. I was really excited about meeting a new group of dancers and polling in a local studio. I would have just enough time to eat after dancing with Estee.

There was a video that I watched on YouTube that upset me quite a bit after following a ballet/pole friends Facebook web page Saturday morning the 27th. The dance video with me in it has since been taken down. Every time I feel like "that" dance is behind me, someone digs it up and pours acid in the wound. As I poured my second cup of coffee I knew that when I danced with Estee later it was going to be freestyle. I needed to dance. I needed to cry. I didn't care if I polished or learned a single pole trick.

Estee asked me to bring a video camera to my lesson and we taped. My last dance of the day is on my Facebook page. Estee and I talked and she complimented my extension, open shoulders and lines. I had to acknowledge my former teacher. She taught me lines and letting go of the passion that makes being a dancer special. She was the one who constantly reminded me about carriage, extension, and owning the stage. After we danced Estee and I talked about performing again and being in a studio where I could take up space. After over two months I got my dance back.

Then I was off to Boulder Spirals. Sasha has coed spin pole classes and another group of women who welcome men into their pole world. I'm almost certain that I am going to the big Midwest Competition next year.

Dance found.

Friday, October 12, 2012

How A Halloween Costume Party Changed My Life

The Pole Dancing Bloggers Group on Facebook has decided to do a blog hop each month. This month’s topic is Halloween. So here is my Halloween entry for the hop.

Four years ago a Halloween costume party changed my life in a very strange way. It was my introduction to pole dance. Yes, the truth is always stranger than fiction. My wife came home from work around the first of October and told me that her boss was throwing a huge Halloween costume party. Her boss had rented out the entire second floor of a strip bar in north Denver.

I hate Halloween parties. I love the drinking to excess, food etc. but I’m a nerd and the costume thing was always a little much for me. My wife’s boss loves to throw parties and I always have to be the dutiful husband. So my idea for the upcoming party was to do something so goofy and deranged that I would never be invited to another party ever. I decided to go in drag and be the ugliest hooker that had ever been seen leaning up against a car door.

After a few trips to a local Denver exotic dancer/transgendered supply store, manscaping, and the massive task of finding size 12 CFM pumps I was ready to make my debut as Ashley the Crack Whore. My wife was going to dress up like a guy and were going to be a cross-dressing couple. But somewhere out there while we were looking for fake boobs she found a pirate costume complete with the leather boots.

When party day arrived we showed up at the club, got our wrist bands and directions to the stairway that led to the second floor. Getting to the staircase required crossing the length of the first floor in full view of every stage. There were four stages and every one of them had a nearly naked woman wrapped around a dance pole . My intrepid wife took one look at all that exposed skin and bolted for the staircase. She moved pretty damn fast in those flat soled boots. Damn fast really does not capture it. She just disappeared.

I ended up stranded in pole dance land with the short stride that high heels give you. I was dressed in black leather pumps, long blond hair, stockings and a really short purple mini-skirt. Nasty right? As soon as I started out across the main floor every dancer in the club stopped dancing and started clapping and cat calling me. Hard to be stealthy when you are a 5’ 11” tall “woman” on 4” spikes. The club was at a standstill watching me teeter-totter my way past the dancers and the mostly male crowd. Just when I thought the embarrassment couldn’t get any worse the Master of Ceremonies came running across the floor and intercepted me.

He looked me up and down said, “I will give you $25.00 bucks to get up on one of those poles and dance." Wow! I love a challenge. I so wanted to take that guys money. But I had never seen anyone pole dance and I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit on a stage and show off what was under my skirt. I shook my head no and proceeded hobble up the stairs and drink massive amounts of Scotch while people stuffed dollar bills under my garters. My wife's boss enjoyed lifting up my dress and putting jello shots in the tops of my stockings.

When my wife and I left the club there was another club stopping moment when the dancers gave me the woo-hoo and blew kisses at me. But the experience planted a seed. I was totally bummed that I couldn’t rock that dudes world and take his money. I told myself that someday I would learn a few pole tricks. Then I promptly forgot about it. A few months later I fell down the rabbit hole.

The interesting thing about the manscaping is that I found out that I liked not looking like a fugitive from the gorilla exhibit at the local zoo and it became part of my monthly routine. The woman who did my waxing and I become good friends. In early February of the following year between ripping cloth strips I told her the story of my strip club experience. She laughed and told me that she had just started beginning pole dance classes. She added that her teacher was teaching a men’s class at her studio.

For my next act of bad craziness I found the studio web page. After pondering it for a day I called the studio. I got a recorded message, panicked and hung up the phone. Then I decided to send an email to the studio. If it got ignored I figured that the clear message was that men don’t pole dance. End of story.

A week passed and I never heard back. Then on a Saturday morning the owner and lead instructor returned my call. She was awesome and after a few minutes of conversation she said that she would be happy to work with me and we scheduled a private lesson. After I put the phone in the cradle my wife looked and me and all she said was, “You are going to do it aren’t you?”

A few weeks later I could invert and I had a shiny new Platinum Stages brass dance pole set up in the living room of my house. This past March marked three years as a pole dancer. My wife and her boss moved to a new company and a new Halloween Party has been planned for this month. There was a conspiracy and they thought I would make a great bunhead. Hair in a bun, leotard, tutu and pointe shoes. Rather than learn how to tie the ribbons on point shoes and bourrée en pointe, I just bought a new skirt and blouse. I’m hoping that smart ass with the $25.00 is there. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Two Things Pole Dance Classes Have That Ballet Class Needs

This month marks my second year as a ballet dancer. It is no secret that I really enjoy ballet and the way it has made me a better pole dancer. I do have to say that I have a few things that ballet could learn from pole dance.

  1. FREESTYLE! All ballet dancers know the syllabus: plie, tendu, degage, frappe, ron de jamb, battement, plie-releve (till it hurts), barre stretch, center, reverence. Wouldn't it be nice to just cut loose like the Modern classes do for warmup? Freestyle is what makes pole dance awesome. I know. I know. Ballet is like Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel Larusso karate in the movie Karate Kid. Mr. Miyagi makes Daniel sand the floor, and wax on... wax off... until he is too sore to move. At the end of his first "lesson" when Daniel is discouraged, Mr. Miyagi shows him all that he has learned. I get it. But when do I get to dance my version of the Nutcracker Prince to Guns and Roses?
  2. NEW MUSIC! I have been listening to the same barre music for two years now in one of my classes. We finally got some new music two weeks ago. One piece. Chopin's Nocturne in E flat major, Op 9 No. 2  It was for barre stretch?? No and hell no! I want to do the pas from In the Night.
I wonder if City Ballet would feel the disturbance in the force if I just started doing 1/2 turn pirouettes during the next barre stretch? Led Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks would be playing in my head.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Am Not Saving Anything

Sunday afternoon I had the joy of teaching one of my friend's three boys how to ice skate. I've probably taught at least a couple hundred kids how to skate. Hockey coaches do that. After the boys got tired I had a chance to be alone with my blades and the cold rink air.

It all comes back to me when I'm on the ice. The memories are still very vivid. I have coached many games in that rink, standing on the bench looking down at that sheet of ice. Now for the first time I was just skating on it. I took a minute to stand on the ice in front of the visitors bench and I could still see the gloves and sticks scattered on the ice after my team won a tournament there. I could see another team getting killed and wondering how much longer it would be before the period would end and I could go home and enjoy the 24-hour waiting period before the parents could call and bitch about our lousy performance. Before I started skating again I though of the last words I always left in locker room after the final game of the season. I always said a personal goodbye to each player and then I would tell the team, "Teach someone to skate someday."

Then I went out and checked my stride. The first thing that goes when a hockey player ages is the length of their stride. I always get warmed up and then I count how many strides it takes to skate between the red line and blue line at full speed. The number was three. It has always been three. The distance between the red line and blue lines in North American dimensioned rinks is 25 ft.

The human body is a miracle. After I slowed down I was thankful not only for the muscles and ligaments that ballet has kept stretched but also for the ability to skate at my age. When I got home all the old hockey injuries ached a little. The left knee, the groin, and the right ankle all let me know that they were fifty-five years old.

I have a silly grin on my face right now. I guess I never grew up and I don't see it happening in the future. I found a 45-mm chrome X-Pole to set up at home (replacing the brass) and I'm all set to dance with Estee Zakar on Saturday afternoon. My dance partner wants me to try lyrical with her. She calls it sloppy ballet.

There is only now. Right now. I'm not saving anything.