Pole pas de deux

Pole pas de deux

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Men and Pole Dance: When I Dance

My time in pole dance has been filled with joy, laughter, wonderful friendships, and applause. I have also experienced rejection, injury, self-doubt, sexism, and tears. Nothing in my male life experience prepared me for the look into my soul that would come with swinging around a dance pole to “Clocks” by Coldplay. I have always been an extremely sensitive person in some ways. I don’t know if that is a result of brain chemistry, my Spanish-Italian ancestry, or some other cosmic force that pulls on my heart. All I know for sure is that before I took my first pole dance lesson I did NOT dance. My world revolved around my family, meteorology, ice hockey, and annoying my boss.

I really was not body aware before I started pole dancing. After my first lesson I needed to find something to wear that was as functional as the stuff that had a Mika or Pole Fit logo on it. But the crotch had to be cut differently. When I went out looking for something to dance in, all I could find was swimwear. The kind that leaves the world no doubt about the gifts nature gave you. 

As I stood before the swimwear rack at the sporting goods store, I knew I was in for a whole lot of conflict. Men and women were going to judge me. The mere mention of the word, “Speedo” would get me a bucket load of disgusted remarks from any woman under sixty that I knew. Unless of course it’s Channing Tatum. As I pulled a pair of boy short style Speedos up my legs I could hear the hockey locker room voices, “Is that gay or what?”

I honestly don’t know how I got past that first time in the fitting room. As I looked in the mirror I was thinking that women were going to see me climbing a dance pole in this swimsuit. I could see my stomach hanging over the edge of the drawstring. My fifty-two year old legs looked like they had been hit with a waffle iron, and the tattoos only my wife had seen were on display. I found myself thinking that ice hockey (all those hours in the weight rooms and skating) had given me a decent ass and good upper body. Maybe the women would notice my arms and chest and not see my gut. As I walked out of the store with my purchase I wasn’t so sure that I was safe in the place women were safe.

As my time in pole has progressed I have become acutely aware that some women really have issues with “scantily clad men.” There is an ongoing thread on the Studio Veena website about dress codes in pole studios. The majority of the women don’t want to dance in studios that are body shaming. I agree with them. If you are going to have issues with exposed body parts, why are you hanging out in pole dance studios? 

At the same time some of my best female pole friends are vocal about men wearing dance belts under their dance wear. I started wearing one right after I started taking ballet. Why? Because one day I was inverted and I noticed that you could see the entire outline of guy parts in my shorts. I was ashamed of my body. I wasn’t trying to expose it to anyone. It just happened. Last year I was dancing in a studio where a gay guy was dancing. He was coming out into the main studio floor from the bathroom where he had changed. He announced that he was coming out and the unified response that came from the women was, “You better not be wearing a thong.”

I’m pretty sure that the response to a new thong or g-string in any pole studio I dance at would be different for a woman. At the same time I know that a guy with a Magic Mike body might also get a different response.  

How do I feel about that? The same way a woman feels when she opens the pages of a fashion magazine. I don’t feel sexy or “pretty”. I know I can never live up to the Photoshopped images. When I dance, I feel exposed and vulnerable. When I show emotion in a performance it comes naturally but only in the moment. When I look at the video of past shows I rarely see something I like. I keep doing it because I love to dance. You have to love it a lot to keep on dancing when you are a guy. Especially when you are a guy over fifty.

I try to keep a sense of humor about my dance and keep it fun. There are women who enjoy my company in the most intimate of pole classes. Just last month a Coed Art of Sensual Movement class started at one of the studios where I dance. I love the woman who teaches it. It is full blown erotic/stripper, complete with legwarmers, seven inch platforms, and chairs. I can chair dance, throw the “Hello Boys” shot and invert without stabbing myself. 

Two weeks ago I let the teacher tape one minute of me dancing to “Cola” by Lana Del Rey. I posted the clip on Studio Veena. Can I tell you a secret? I don’t hear lyrics very well in many pole studios with high ceilings. Too many Deep Purple concerts in my younger years. It was only after I was posted my dance on Veena that I looked up the lyrics to “Cola”. 

“My pussy taste like Pepsi-Cola”

Go ahead. Laugh with me. Laugh at me. It is all good.

“People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.” Martha Graham

1 comment:

  1. I really like this post, it is a great insight into the vulnerability of dance and especially in pole dance. A lot of times we forget that everyone is feeling some version of this, and I think that for women it is hard to imagine a man feeling vulnerable. The way you describe choosing clothes and getting ready in a locker room is so familiar--I've been there too. It feels silly now that it didn't occur to me: men judge their bodies this harshly, too.

    And I never know the lyrics of songs! I have to look them up and half the time I am shocked at what I've been "singing" along to. Case in point, that song about the pumped up kicks that also happens to be about a school shooting, lol. That's one of my "sexy running" songs, so you can imagine the shock!