|Lovely Rita 2010|
Bel, the owner of Twirly Girls Pole Fitness, recently passed the Twirly Torch to Grace and Rosanne, who re-branded as Twirly Tribe Studio (I believe this is the final Bay Area studio to be turned over to the younger generation). During a pandemic no less, while "gyms" aren't allowed to be open. I know Bel has been ready to retire and hoping to find the right person to take over for awhile. Grace mentioned the recent flood in the studio had Bel in tears, and made her want to step up and do for Bel what she has been doing for years -- taking care of us. And, as I know from experience, it really does take a tribe to take on these types of endeavors. Finding the right partner is key -- and Rosanne seems like the perfect match for Grace.
I started thinking this morning about what Twirly Girls has brought into my life. I wanted to chronicle every cool thing that's ever happened to me related to Twirly or pole dance. I realized this would be a 27 page blog that no one would read. I've had this blog for over ten years. It has almost 900 posts (I once tried to order one of those hard copy books of your blog and it was going to cost me thousands of dollars, so I had to let that dream go). You could spend weeks reading through my already chronicled adventures. So I'll hit some highlights to celebrate Bel's 14 years as the legit OG TG, my life as a pole dancer, and to create a warm send off for the amazing adventure Grace and Rosanne have ahead of them.
|Grace cooling me off|
My first class at Twirly Girls was with my friend, Rita (yes, THE Lovely Rita!) on December 2, 2009 (you can read about the lead up HERE if you want). The short answer to how we ended up there is this: I heard a radio show interview with instructors from S-Factor. They had a studio in San Francisco. I took one class there in early 2009 but it was really difficult to get to and I couldn't spend my entire Saturday going into the City every weekend. Later that summer, a friend mentioned she had received an email from Pleasanton about a pole studio opening up. We all decided we should go. Initially, we had a group of four or five planned. When it was time to go, it was only Rita and me. We had the best time laughing and being silly. It was a class that literally changed my life.
I started this blog in January 2010 to chronicle my journey and met my then-online (now real-life) friend, Heather, who was a poler and blogger (check out a post about Heather HERE). I didn't really expect it to lead anywhere. I just thought it would be nice to keep everything in one place. Ten years later, I have almost 900,000 views. Not earth shattering numbers or anything but pretty decent for someone who wasn't trying to get famous with a blog. I started interviewing pole celebrities for my blog (and later did video interviews for The Pole Dancing Shop). I was a board member of a pole blogger association. I was the self-proclaimed pole ambassador and started visiting studios all over the Bay Area (and California). I started teaching my class at Twirly Girls in 2012, Boys, Girls and Twirls, which brought Robert -- aka cowboywild -- into my circle. That story almost requires its own blog. Long story short, watching Robert come out of his shell and start to use pole dance as a fundraiser via Twirl for a Cause has been extremely rewarding. (HERE is a post about Robert's 2013 show.)
|Photo by Liquidpulp Photography - Rita, Bel and me|
In 2010, Bel started a fundraiser called Lovely Rita to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation (as Rita is a three-time kidney transplant recipient). (You can read about our first Lovely Rita HERE.) We did that fundraiser for nine years! These fundraisers got me out of my comfort zone and performing. I was never an amazing dancer or performer but I always had fun. We used to have Andrew (aka Liquidpulp Photography) do these epic photoshoots at the studio (in fact, my first meeting of Grace was at one of those photoshoots). One of my favorite shoots was a calendar we did with Andrew to benefit the Lovely Rita fundraiser. It brought the whole studio together.
Pole dancing at Twirly introduced me to hundreds of people. I started going to events -- Pole Con in Los Angeles and Pole Expo in Las Vegas. Guys, I've seen Jenyne Butterfly perform in person, met Timber Brown before he was on America's Got Talent, saw Kenneth Kao JUMP between poles live, and I was at the show where Jamilla's flying shoe almost killed a photographer! I watched "beginner" competition moves start at a then-shockingly impressive ayesha or jade split and work up to a mind-blowing fonji. I wrote for multiple pole magazines and websites. I attended pole competitions and showcases. Bel nicknamed me the Twirling Viking Warrior. I started using "pole dance is for everyBODY" and promoting pole for plus sized dancers (I still have a group on Facebook dedicated to plus sized polers). I met my East Coast plus sized counterpart, Roz THE DIVA Mays. I met Amy Bond, who introduced the idea of Northern California Pole Presentational, which I took to Ellen, which turned into six shows (wow, so overly simplified, but if you know me, you know how much of my life was devoted to this for almost eight years...you can read my wrap-up after the first show HERE and my farewell after my final show HERE).
|2017 Birthday surprise|
I got into pole dancing when it was...how best to word this...socially acceptably brand new (the true OGs started in the strip clubs and did the leg work, no pun intended, in the late 1990's and early 2000's to bring pole to the mainstream -- but I have a whole blog series about that if you want to read them). In 2010, I had a list of every known pole event in the world, and every studio in the United States. I essentially KNEW (or at least knew of) almost every pole dancer in the US, and probably even the world (there were only like five plus sized polers, and maybe three pole bloggers). I knew everyone at the first Pole Expo. It only took a couple of years before there were so many people, I could no longer keep up. Pole dance was trendy. It was supposed to burn out in a year or two. Yet now they're talking about putting it in the Olympics. I'm part of pole history.
|Lovely Rita 2017 with Jade and Alana|
After years of abusing my body and having way too many surgeries, I hung up my stilettos last year (which I could never walk in anyway). You can read that post HERE. The thing is, you can stop pole dancing but you never stop being a Twirly. Bel created an environment where people felt loved and supported. New people would comment constantly that they loved how Twirly Girls felt like a family.
Anyway, like I said, I could go on for pages and pages about what Twirly Girls, now Twirly Tribe, means to me. I am excited for Grace and Rosanne to continue the legacy. Who could have known where I would be ten and a half years after a single introductory pole class? Forget the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I have the six degrees of Bel and Twirly Girls -- which has spider'ed into thousands of connections, both online and in real life. Thank you to Bel for providing a safe place for me to grow as a person, and learn how to love and appreciate my body at the size it is. Thank you for the adventures. Thank you for being part of my life journey. I love you all!
If you have any Twirly memories you'd like to share, please feel free to comment on this blog or head over to the Confessions Facebook page to add your photos and memories!
|Photo by Liquidpulp Photography|
|Photo by Liquidpulp Photography|
|Nadia's romance with my boobs 2013|
|Handstands everywhere we go|
|Photo by Somer Ahonen - 2016|
|Photo by Brett Stanley - 2016|
|Photo by Somer Ahonen - 2017|
|Photo by Somer Ahonen - Representing Artista Activewear|
|Roz the Diva 2017|
|Photo by Little Boxes Theater - 2019|
|Final NCPP with Ellen 2019 -- That's a wrap!|