Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vote for Bendy Kate!

Recently, I started seeing posts on Facebook asking people to "Vote for Bendy Kate!"  Turns out we have another pole dancer on mainstream television!  Last year, Steven Retchless was on America's Got Talent.  This year, Bendy Kate has made it into the finals for Got To Dance, a talent show in the UK.  This weekend, Bendy Kate will go up against five other acts and we need everyone to vote for our pole sister!  I asked Bendy to tell us her story: 

I stumbled across pole fitness at my University in the UK and fell in love with it immediately! My gymnastic background meant that I adopted the nickname "Bendy Kate" straight away! There was too many Kate's in the studio and as I was the one doing splits and putting myself into strange positions on the pole so "Bendy" seemed appropriate at the time! After a year of pole dancing I became the UK Amateur Champion. I turned professional when X-Pole asked me to perform for them (which i LOved!!). Since then I won the Miss Pole Dance UK Doubles Division with my mentor Kate Spincity Johnstone, came 2nd in the World Pole Fitness Doubles Championships and won the UK Professional Pole Championships. Pole Dancing has genuinely changed my life, I am now much more confident, graceful, stronger than I've ever been and my creativity has been unleashed! Because of pole I am now following my dreams as part of a circus troupe in the UK doing aerial silks, acrobatics and handbalancing. I hope one day to bring my pole act into circus too!

I entered Got to Dance, a UK Dance competition to try and prove to the public that pole dancing has evolved it is no longer just associated with gentleman's clubs but now is an acrobatic, creative, beautiful form of dance. I auditioned alongside my friend and fellow pole dancer Justine McLucas. The judges loved both of our auditions, we received some of the nicest feedback we have ever had! They gave us both 3 gold stars and we even managed to get the boys Adam Garcia and Ashley Banjo on the pole!

Unfortunately the pole dancers were called back to perform again and me and Justine had to compete against 4 other dancers for the last 2 spaces in the competition. After a looooong day of call back auditions and even having to change my flights to Asia for a circus tour I MADE IT THROUGH :D  I clenched one of the last 2 spaces making it through to the first round of Live Semi Finals after showcasing my acrobatic cabaret chair themed routine to the judges. Justine didn't make it through this time but I have no doubt that she has many great things still to come in her pole dancing career.

I am superrrrr excited about my Semi Final performance on the 29th January on Sky 1 at 6pm. I will be pushing the boundaries of pole fitness and my routine is definitely one to make an impression on the general public (in a positive way I hope!). So please join Team Bendy and support me this Sunday on Got to Dance at Sky 1 as I will be flying the flag for pole dancing and I hope to do everyone proud!!!


If you haven't seen Bendy Kate perform, check out these links:

Bendy Kate on Twitter:!/BendyKate

Monday, January 23, 2012

Project 365: Days 204-222

Day 204
Wednesday, January 4

Day 205
Thursday, January 5

Day 206
Friday, January 6

Day 207
Saturday, January 7

Day 208
Sunday, January 8

Day 209
Monday, January 9

Day 210
Tuesday, January 10

Day 211
Wednesday, January 11

Day 212
Thursday, January 12

Day 213
Friday, January 13

Day 214
Saturday, January 14

Day 215
Sunday, January 15

Day 216
Monday, January 16

Day 217
Tuesday, January 17

Day 218
Wednesday, January 18

Day 219
Thursday, January 19

Day 220
Friday, January 20

Day 221
Saturday, January 21

Day 222
Sunday, January 22

The fat versus skinny girl debate rages on...

I have posted about fit vs. fat in the past...essentially talking about not all fat people being unfit and not all skinny people being in great shape.  I've also talked about self-esteem and body image.  To me, they are all related.  There has been a push lately on Facebook to give street cred to the curvy girl.  Now the skinny girls are pushing back.  

Here's my most recent post on the topic (which includes links to other posts if you need to get caught up):

And here's an old post I did in 2010 called, Real Women Rock It:

"Real," of course, referring to larger girls, although I do give props to women of all shapes and sizes.

It can be hard to feel good about yourself when all of the models in magazines are small and airbrushed.  However, if you ever see any of those "stars without make-up" posts, you know that even the famous celebrities are just normal looking people without tons of make-up and airbrushing.  Even can get to you.

Gabby Reece, a professional volleyball player, and another over-six-foot tall sister, recently posted a blog called "We All Have Cellulite."  I liked this quote "My point is that we all have cellulite. Cellulite meaning big hips, small breasts, less than perfect skin, not bright white teeth, funny ears, a big nose, no top lip, cankles… You name it, we can zone right in on our “cellulite” area and fixate on it several times a day." . . . "We as humans, especially women, love to torture ourselves. It’d be like having a hand full of aces and kings and somehow obsessing over the fact that we had a two. We could win the game with the cards we were dealt but we don’t. Why? Because we can’t see the whole picture since we are focused in on our two. Meanwhile someone next to you is playing the table and having a great time with a mixed bag of 10s, an eight, and a Jack."

It's funny how so much of what we do is to impress other people.  And although women have a hard enough time with self-esteem, it is usually our sisters breaking us down when we are vulnerable.  Why is it that so many of us feel like we have to break people down in order to build ourselves up?  I don't think it needs to be that way.
Check out this article called, "The Problem With Skinny Bashing." 

The Problem With Skinny Bashing
Published on January 20, 2012 by GirlieGirlArmy 
Calling All Women: Let’s Stop Body Bashing and Widen Society’s View of What is Beautiful!

Full figured women have long been under assault. They aren’t represented on television, in movies or in print. And if they are, they aren’t the heroine or the love interest. They are the friend. If the media were to be believed, the average woman would be a size 2, white, straight, and carry a $3000 handbag.
The desire to push back against that vision of what society says is the ideal body type is natural. And it should be challenged. Lately, I’ve been seeing images accompanied by text on facebook that seek to elevate the status of women with curves. They look back to the period of Marilyn Monroe to show that thin, or very thin, wasn’t always in. And that’s wonderful. Celebrate healthy bodies of all shapes and sizes. Sing it loud and proud. But, this particular image which I’m linking to because copyright precludes me from posting it, while trying to rage against what society says is beautiful, is truly an example of what is wrong with society. It shows our lack of a way to discuss our bodies without judgment and without competition.

When I look at this image, I see two beautiful women. Marilyn, of course, was the biggest sex symbol of her time and is undoubtedly lovely. But the woman on the right, the woman who this image seems to despise, is not sickly. In fact, if you look at her legs, you’ll find muscle.  If you look at her stomach, you won’t see ribs poking out. You’ll see a toned abdomen. It’s true that she’s thin. That she fits the size 2 image of woman that is unfairly represented in media as the only desirable figure. But to say that the woman on the right is less attractive simply to advance another body type? That’s not right either. Demonizing one to glorify another isn’t the way to have a real discussion on the female body. In fact, it’s part of the problem.

The real question is, why must it be one way or the other? Shouldn’t we all be striving for healthy bodies? And that means a different shape for every woman. The media has us all chasing our own tails in the search of the perfect figure. No matter where you look, you’ll find a reason to believe that your body can never reach perfection. The idea that perfection actually exists is the real myth.

It’s obvious that we have an issue with weight in this country. As a teacher, I’ve met ten year old girls without an ounce of fat who are dieting. They hate gaining weight even though they are getting taller and growing up. That’s unhealthy. We also have a nationwide obesity epidemic that’s putting our children at risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes. That’s also unhealthy.

The sad thing is, I’m not seeing this image posted on men’s profiles. I’m seeing it posted by women and commented on by women. They are relishing in the comparison between Marilyn and the woman on the beach. They are loving this moment of hate towards the woman in the bikini. It’s true that women who don’t conform to the narrow vision of beauty seen on TV are ostracized. They are angry for being given less importance and less of a voice in society than size 2’s, and they should be angry.  However, why does this anger automatically turn into criticism of the other body type? Shouldn’t we as women be banding together to insist that a larger group of women be represented? Shouldn’t we be taking the fight to the media who is largely responsible for only showing one type of body? One woman, after noting that she’s the same size as Marilyn was, wrote, “So IN YOUR FACE all you haters who think women need to look like stick bugs to be attractive.” Why must this woman verbally assault the size 2’s and call them stick bugs to make a place for the size 12’s? Isn’t there a place for all of us?

What should be attractive? How about healthy bodies. Whether they come in the form of a size 2 or a size 12, a well loved and cared for physique is what we as women should be striving for. By all means, challenge the idea that obtaining runway model size isn’t the only way to be beautiful. Demand that the full range of woman be represented in film and in print. But tearing someone else down to demonstrate your point does a disservice to all women. It’s time to celebrate our differences. To realize that there is no one correct image of beauty. To do away with notions of perfection and instead, enjoy life as healthy confident women. It’s no easy task, but with a little love and self-acceptance, I think we can do it.

UPDATE: The response to this article has been phenomenal.  We are blown away by all your insightful comments, and a follow up piece is on it’s way.  In the meantime, if you agree that we can treat both others and ourselves better than we do now, spread the word on this article with the hashtag #bodybashing and keep the conversation going.

Ali Berman is a writer/teacher/activist. She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. She is also the senior editor for and a fiction writer.

Image above via interesting article on men’s size preference in

Check out some more photos from Facebook below and then let me know what you think.  Can't we all just get along?  ;-)


Friday, January 20, 2012

Pole Candy: Maple Loo from Bobbi's Pole Studio - Malaysia

In my continued adventures to discover the history of pole dance studios around the world, I recently interviewed Bobbi and Ness of Bobbi's Pole Studio Australia. They also have studios located in Malaysia and Singapore.  Today we meet Maple of Bobbi's Pole Studio Malaysia.

You have an extensive dance background.  Excluding pole dance, what is your favorite genre of dance? 

My favorite has gotta be street dance. I love hip hop and can totally relate to street dancers best as I myself have never had any formal dance training. Pole dancing is really the only formal training I've ever received!

When did you first start pole dancing? 

Started 2008. I discovered it while watching The May Lee Show on tv one morning and immediately knew it was the ultimate thing I was gonna do moving on from my the local dance scene (Malaysia). I I was also getting fat and miserable (hahahaha) since my dance career took the back seat when my restaurants/resorts business started to expand. Hence desperately needed an outlet.... Something I could do on my own, in my own time and at home.

 What brought you to Australia to train with Bobbi's Pole Studio? 

I've always been a huge fan of Bobbi.....She's the 'Madonna' in the pole world! From the moment I watched Bobbi on youtube I wished I had found her years earlier. And when I finally met her, I wasn't just pole-struck by her amazingly beautiful talent but I had alot of respect for her humility - she was very warm and had a great sense of humor. You see, when I first met Bobbi in Sydney with my training team (now Bobbi's Spore), I never thought I'd end up teaching seriously. In fact it was never something I pictured myself ever doing! I'm not the most patient human being, always preferred to only work with professional dancers and the stage was always my place not the classroom. But then pole is special. Pole dancing is a lifestyle. Everything changed when the golden opportunity came.... More than anything I just wanted to be a part of Bobbi's legacy.

When did you open Bobbi's Pole Studio in Malaysia? 

March 2010. Despite the fast pace, the way things are moving with the studio since we opened, I still sometimes sit in my office in utter disbelief that Bobbi has chosen me to represent her in Malaysia... What an honor.

Do you participate in competitions?

No I don't like competitions but I love doing shows.

What kind of fitness routine do you follow on and off the pole? 

I love Zumba and Dance-type classes at the gym (I really miss the sort of dancing I used to do over the last 20 years so this is the best I can get these days with my schedule). And I do compound exercises for the extra strength-training once a week or whenever I travel and dont get to pole, just so I keep the power:)

Do you prefer to dance barefoot or in shoes? 

Oh gosh I don't think I can dance anymore without heels! And this is also the result of the Bobbi-fication hahahaha

What do you use to help you stick to the pole? 

Shaving gel and tite grip!

 What trick is your nemesis?

I guess it'll have to be this combo - from static V to brass monkey

Tell us something people would be surprised to hear? 

That I'm a Tae-kwon Do black belt with 7 years of training, and a mega fan of martial arts movies. And my only ambition in life was to be a vet.

What does 2012 hold for you?

Bundling more business trips to Perth and Sydney so that i can go train with Bobbi and Kim more often;) Showdown 2012 (3rd season of the street dance reality tv competition in Malaysia which I'm judge); another hotel to open in Singapore; possibly a vacation in Vegas + LA!; very likely a few more doggies!

The Psoriasis-Humira Conundrum

I've been watching too much Big Bang Theory.  I freakin' love that show.  I just ordered a bunch of books off Amazon to help me learn bigger, cooler, nerdier words.  :-)

So I'm on here whining about my psoriasis about once a month, I guess.  I first started Enbrel shots in late July.  This was supposed to be the miracle drug.  You shoot yourself up, suppress your own immune system, and VOILA!  Clear skin!  You can check out my two-week update which includes photos here:

That wasn't working for me so my doctor then changed me to Humira.  Let's see if we can make you even more tired and apt to catch colds....all in the name of beautiful skin!  You can read that October post here:

So now I am four months into the Humira shots.  Sure, my skin is clear-er than it was.  But its not completely clear.  At my last appointment (barely two weeks ago), my doctor brought up the possibility of taking another step up and trying a drug that really has only been around for a couple of years.  You can read about that here:

So basically, be an experimental rat.  I'm thinking no thanks.  You want to know when my skin was at its best?  When I was thinner.  So I am going to stick to this Paleo plan, the Twirly Tuff workout and probably just stop taking the medication altogether.

I am going to include a couple of recent photos.  From the pictures, it looks pretty clear.  But a lot of the skin is still rough and some days, its redder than others.  I really have not had a break-out this bad since before my weight loss.  So I have to believe that losing weight is the key -- not drugging myself up.

And here's a picture from June 2011:

Progress?  Yes.  Full victory?  Not yet.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sexuality versus Sensuality

I have a hard time with these two words.  Mostly because I consider them to be the same thing:  something, although I'm not sure what, slightly naughty.

sen·su·al·i·ty [sen-shoo-al-i-tee]  

noun, plural -ties.
1. sensual nature: the sensuality of Keats's poetry.
2. unrestrained indulgence in sensual  pleasures.
3. lewdness; unchastity.
sex·u·al·i·ty [sek-shoo-al-i-tee or, especially Brit., seks-yoo-]
1. sexual  character; possession of the structural and functional traits of sex.
2. recognition of or emphasis upon sexual  matters.
3. involvement in sexual  activity.
4. an organism's preparedness for engaging in sexual  activity.
When I think sensual, I think candles and a bubble bath.  When I think sexual, I think hooker heels and a short skirt.  I am still trying to figure it out but found this article and thought I would share.  I am going to continue to think about this and in the meantime, after you read this article, let me know what you think. 
Sexuality vs. Sensuality: The Steady Decline of Affection in America 

Posted: 1/10/12 04:24 PM ET

Although assorted diversities, tastes and needs are typical, what has recently caught my attention is the American public's sudden desire for a GFE-style companionship. For those unfamiliar with GFE, allow me to explain. The acronym, so commonly used in my profession, stands for "Girl Friend Experience." In many déclassé forms of prostitution the definition of the girlfriend experience might mean that the lady offers kissing as part of her repertoire for an extra fee. A true courtesan offers herself in her entirety. The whole experience, whether a few moments or a few days, feels as though there is a deep connection of sensuality and warmth between the parties. The art of being a courtesan is perfected only with the exchange of affection and a desire for closeness, which comes from raw, unbridled passion. A true courtesan feels a genuine appreciation for her client.

Having been a professional paramour all my adult life, I was struck by the recent resurgence of requests for romantic interludes. I started to wonder: What has caused so many people to suddenly feel so alone and in need of an ear, a hand to hold, or casual dinner conversation? The answer is simple.

In my opinion, modern Americans have failed miserably when it comes to differentiating between the words "sex" and "sensuality." Our view of what is "sexy" has become so askew that many women and men don't even know what their own desires are anymore. With most contemporary portrayals of sexuality being outright promiscuity and tactless drunken debauchery, it's not surprising that women and men have lost sight of the joys and need for sensuality. Between this severely misguided view of human sexuality and the pressures of our everyday lives, the sex lives of most Americans have been stunted. Those involved in relationships, and even those who are battling through the "dating scene," are faced with the pressures to conform to what society is telling us sex should be.

There is a lack of appreciation for tenderness running rampant through our sexual society. Our porn has become boring and, in my opinion, it might have much to do with this unrealistic and unromanticized version of physical pleasure. Women seem to think that a quick, rough and raunchy screw is the definition of "sexy" for men. Men seem to think that a sweaty, all night, creatively impressive, position-fest is the answer. Although both have their place, that isn't the only way to give your partner the ultimate satisfaction. Taking the time to kiss, caress and hold one another is so important and the ability to really listen to one another is essential.
Allow me, a self-proclaimed expert in the field of pleasure, to be the one to tell you that the desire for pillow talk, kissing and tenderness has never been at such an all-time premium. My clients come from far and wide just to have the opportunity to let go, be romantic, take their time and just enjoy the company of another human. It might sound odd to take advice from a woman who is paid to pleasure the public, but I can assure you, the more you listen, the less the public will need my services.
More on the subject:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pole Girl Up: This is Cleo from Bobbi's Pole Studio!

As we continue learning about our pole sisters from around the world, we welcome Cleo, The Hurricane!  Cleo is Miss Pole Dance Australia 2012 and an instructor at Bobbi's Pole Studio in Sydney.

Do you have a non-pole dance background?

I did ballet and gymnastics as a kid. Quit ballet when I was a teenager coz I hated it and took up the drums and guitar..played music most of my teenage years and in my 20's. Also did Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) for a few years then took up pole when I was 27..

When did you first start pole dancing?

In 2007 

How did you find Bobbi's Pole Studio?

Since the beginning of my pole life I've always been a fan of Bobbi.. I found her on youtube and would always look at her videos as well as her teachers. I just thought they were in a league of their own and dreamed to be one of them!!! I had a private with Bobbi before my first competition and surprisingly I got through to the finals that year. After the competition I emailed her saying how much of an amazing experience it was and how awesome I thought the Bobbi's girls were and that I'd love to come to Sydney to train with them and she offered me a job shortly after that. I was so shocked.. I said Yes straight away, packed up my life and moved to sydney. Have not looked back since!

You won Miss Pole Dance Australia for 2012.  I'm a rock chick and looooooooooooved your music choice.  Your costume was off the hook as well.  How do you prepare for competitions?

My music and theme are very important to me. I always try to use epic songs and build a theme based on a song. But it always changes, the song may change or the costume might develop into something totally different. This 'lightning bolt' theme started off as a Kiss theme, I wanted to use 'god of thunder' and have a Kiss inspired costume in black and silver with lightning bolts. Then I found out that someone else was doing Kiss for the same competition so I changed my music and altered the costume design to make it a more futuristic theme. As far as training I start working on tricks and combinations about 2 months prior, probably about 2 days a week and then another day on chorey. I would think about it all the time, go through combos in my head, go to sleep and dream about it... to be honest I probably think more about it than actually doing it.. Some of my training sessions I just listen to the song over and over again and do the tricks with my hands.. and maybe bust out a couple combos on the pole to see if it goes with the music. I probably only do the routine in full maybe twice before a comp. In saying all this I teach advanced classes at Bobbi's and we are always working on new stuff and I'm always teaching them new tricks/combo ideas..

Do you prefer competitions or showcases?

Definitely showcases. But I like the lead up to a comp, the excitement, the training, the planning.. the day of a comp is very stressful.

What kind of fitness routine do you follow on and off the pole?

I teach pole approx 15-20 hours a week and do shows regularly. Off the pole I don't do anything else really. 100% pole for fitness.

Do you prefer to dance barefoot or in shoes?

Definitely shoes. MASSIVE SEXY STRIPPER HEELS to be exact.

What do you use to help you stick to the pole?

Shaving cream, hair spray, dry hands, mighty grip.. whatever is there I guess!

What trick is your nemesis?

Anything that requires back flexibility

What are your favorite songs to dance to right now?

Anything by Steel Panther because they fuckin rock

 Tell us something people would be surprised to hear?

I was born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and moved to Australia when I was 11.

What does 2012 hold for you?

World finals, touring the states and Brazil. I also have a new boyfriend after 3 years of being single so that will be fun!

Thank you so much for being part of my blog.  If you ever make it to the states, please let me know.  I would love to meet you!  Likewise, if I ever make it to Australia, I will be looking you up.  :-)

I'll be there in May and June! xx

How going fat-free made us all fat

The Year of the Viking is going well.  I am fully committed to Doug's Twirly Tuff program.  We meet twice a week at Twirly Girls to do exercises that will make us stronger for pole dancing.  I am still doing pilates reformer twice a week.  I also come to pole class twice a week and have been trying to meet with Bel twice a week to learn more about being an instructor.  I plan to get back to Forma to do yoga once or twice a week soon but have been so busy that I'm too tired to add anything else to my plate.  

I am also super excited about The Primal Blueprint/Paleo diet that I started barely a week ago.  I have lost five pounds in the last five days (from 257 pounds to lowest weight yet for 2012 and even during a PMS week!).  When you're reading this book, everything clicks and it just makes so much more sense.  The basics (as I am hopefully understanding it right) are cutting out processed foods, eating the good fats, limiting (but not necessarily cutting out completely) carbs.  Basically, eat fruit, veggies and meat.  

I know I've tried "diets" before and they don't work.  I'm making this a lifestyle change.  Make more of my own healthy foods and enjoy what I'm eating.  I'm not forcing myself to eat foods I hate just in the name of losing some weight.  At the same time, I have gained 50 pounds in the last few years and I keep making excuses for why its happening.  I have always instructed gastric bypass patients to stay on top of weight gain.  Take care of it when its 5 pounds -- not 10, 25, 50 or 100.  But we so often ignore one pound of weight gain.  "It's just one pound."  I have it's-just-one-pounded myself into a 50 pound weight gain!!  Granted, I'm still 100 pounds lighter than I used to be nine years ago, but this still isn't a healthy weight for me.  And now I'm not playing around anymore.  

I love the doesn't start five pounds from now.  That is certainly true but I can definitely do more weighing five...ten...fifty pounds less than I do now.  So I am not putting my life on hold while I lose weight but I am so excited for the additional things I will be able to do when I weigh less.

Catch up on my Lose the Lard Ass adventures (failures) from the past year or so:

It's like the harder I try, the fatter I get.

I keep thinking about going to Weight Watchers years and years ago.  They had a fat and fiber plan (before points was so popular...actually, this is what probably lead to the points system being developed).  You were supposed to eat under 10 grams of fat and least 10 grams of fiber per day.  Well, okay...have you seen all the fat-free food options in the stores??  Do you know how they replace fat when they remove it from foods?  They use sugar.  So the calories may be the same or higher than your full-fat option.  And its stock full of sugar.  Yum.  I could eat thousands of calories in a day and never go over 10 grams of fat.  Weight Watchers, of course, had to start telling people, you still need to eat in moderation.  But that program was probably their biggest failure.  I know I failed on it.  

So Mark Sisson, who wrote the Primal Blueprint has some great information on the carb-eating/over-exercising cycle.  He calls us "sugar-burners."  We eat shitloads of know, because we need energy since we are athletes.  Then we have to go work it off every single day.  But our bodies only ever burn off the carbs and sugar we are eating -- never getting to the underlying fat that needs to be burned off. 

Anyway, this is getting longer than I know most people want to read.  I highly suggest Mark's books, or his website:  Mark's Daily Apple.  If you want to read about "why fat, not carbs is the preferred fuel for the human metabolism," check it out here:

Here's another article that might state it a bit more simply:

I'm totally a poo-poo-er of diets and gimmicks (mostly because, even though they don't work over time, even for a short time, I'm usually too lazy to implement them).  Everyone is telling me to try this or that and I'm always like, "Oh I got this!"  I don't "got this."  Doug made a great statement today.  He said: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  I was certain ready.  And Doug and Bel have appeared to heal my fat and broken body.  

I also really  like that Mark Sisson gives us great information but also gets that you can't/won't do it 100% of the time.  I hate the diets that tell you that you will never have a piece of cake again:  "Do you want to be a lard ass or do you want to be thin and happy?"  Well, can't I have a little of both???  I have certainly made myself a piece of toast twice in the last five days and still lost weight.  I'm sure my increased activity is contributing a little bit to it.  But when I was trying to lose weight before, I was working out twice a day and only losing an average of a pound a month.  It took me about a year and a half to lose 22 pounds.  So clearly my diet is more important than I have ever wanted to admit.  

So the fun continues...I'm losing weight, feeling good and really looking forward to this year getting better and better!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Pole Dancing Shop and BeSpun's Pole Show LA 2012

I am extremely excited to announce that Rita, Andrew and I will be attending the Pole Show LA on behalf of The Pole Dancing Shop in just under two weeks.  We will be taping interviews with some amazing pole stars and the videos will be uploaded to The Pole Dancing Shop's website.  

There is already a list of the headliners on The Pole Dancing Shop's website.  Keep an eye on this link for updates and videos!

We are really excited and I will write more about our adventures when we return. 

Is anyone else planning to attend?  I'd love to meet up with some of my pole friends!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pioneers of Pole: Bobbi's Pole Studio!

I recently started researching the History of Pole Dance to do a post for The Pole Dancing Shop.   While the history for the United States and Canada came up fairly easily, I was having a harder time finding out when pole dancing started moving mainstream in the rest of the world (maybe since I'm in the U.S., the Internet thought I didn't need to know about any other areas of the World?).  I then saw that Bobbi of Bobbi's Pole Studio was named United Pole Artist's Pro-Poler of the year.  I also saw an article from Australia about how Bobbi built her pole dancing empire.  So I started doing some research.  Of course, I'd heard the name before:  I had heard people say that Felix Cane had danced at Bobbi's Pole Studio.  And, of course Bobbi must be a Pioneer of Pole for Australia.  So I decided that it was time to just go to the source...

Today we have the co-owners of Bobbi's Pole Studio, Bobbi and Vanessa ("Ness"), with us [check out their profiles HERE].  Bobbi's was first opened in Sydney, Australia in 2004 (now with three locations in Australia, one in Malaysia and one in Singapore).

You are pioneers of bringing pole dance to the masses.  What made you decide to open your first studio?

Ness:  I met Bobbi learning pole dancing in a strip club (for non strippers) and we stayed in contact. A lot of the girls from the original Strip club classes new that we were doing some projects together (DVD, coffee table book) and kept asking when we would open a school. In 2004 we opened “Sydney Pole Dancing School” (with 2 poles) in a “massage” parlor in Pitt St. 

Eight weeks later with over a 100 students we moved to a new studio in Castlereagh St. and renamed it Bobbi’s Pole Studio (just in case we ever have another studio somewhere else, yeah right!)

In 2005 Miss Pole Dance Australia was born and Bobbi’s sister Kim opened a studio in Perth. Bobbi’s Babes started to handle all the bookings we were getting for Pole Dancers and Miss Pole Dance Australia just got bigger and bigger.

In 2010 we opened Bobbi’s Pole Studio Malaysia and Bobbi’s Pole Studio Singapore.

How did you choose Singapore and Malaysia as additional locations?

It was the people more than the countries, Linna and Jasmine (Singapore) and Maple (Malaysia) came over for a few weeks for private lessons with Bobbi and their ability and personalities just made it a good match to join the Bobbi's family

How do you feel about pole dancing going mainstream?

It's great that it's finally being accepted for what it is, 8 years ago we were having a lot of attitude from the press/sponsors of competitions, etc. But I kind of miss the "undergroundness" of it, I guess. It was exciting to be around when it was still surprising people.

What was your background in both pole dance and other classical forms of dance?

Ness:  Bobbi's trained extensively in many forms of dance, I'm more the business side of the business.

Who are other pole pioneers that you admire?

Pantera and Fawnia Dietrich are the originals.

The new school of pioneers are Felix Cane, Alethea Austin and Jenyne Butterfly.

My favorite Bobbi's-taught pro competitor is Felix Cane.  Who are other famous Bobbi's dancers?

Allegra, Cleo. Maple from Malaysia and Sparx are famous in their own right with pole dancing part of that famousness but probably Allegra and Cleo.

How did Miss Pole Dance Australia come about?

A guy from the Netherlands contacted us to put on the Australian chapter of his Miss Pole Dance competition and we agreed. We had a  rocky relationship with him and we didn't end up being part of his larger competition but Miss Pole Dance Australia was born and we never looked

Tell us one thing about each of you you that people might be surprised to hear.

One thing that people might be surprised to hear? That's hard...I'm a bit
obsessed with survival skills (Ness) and Bobbi speaks fluent Japanese.

What does 2012 hold for each of you and Bobbi's Pole Studio?

The revamp of the Old and The Flexible on Bobbi TV, possibly another Inner Showgirl competition.

Thank you both so much for participating in my blog.  In my wildest dreams, I will get to make a trip over to Australia to take a class with you someday!  Much love to you both!

The "stripper" versus "pole dancer" debate

So one of the questions I have asked in the past of my blog interviewees is what they think about the "stripper vs. pole fitness debate."  It is clear that some people are very comfortable with pole dancing being associated with stripping and/or their sexuality (and sensuality??  I think I need to do a little soul searching to make sure I truly understand the difference between those words!!).  It is also clear that some people are trying to distance themselves and talk about the fitness, acrobatic and strength side of pole fitness.  

Does it mean that strippers or pole dancers aren't also into pole fitness?

Here are a couple of my past posts on the subject:

I feel like I have been caught with my pants down on occasion on this subject.  Not because I haven't chosen a side, but because I don't HAVE a side.  I have never stripped but I am not against strippers.  However, at the same time, clearly society's negative view of stripping occasionally may creep into my words because some people have taken things I have written as negative comments against strippers.  

Example:  I wrote this blog for The Pole Dancing Shop:

The post is about presenting your decision to begin pole dancing to a partner who may be concerned or jealous.  My comment was:  "If they are stuck on the 'stripper thing,' try to move past it by saying that you have no intentions of becoming a stripper, and that this adventure is about you finding your sexy side and building your own confidence."  One person ripped the post for being anti-stripper.  I felt bad because that wasn't my intention but it is certainly true that a lot of people in society associate pole dancing with stripping and that can cause a problem in some relationships.  I am not making a judgment about whether it is wrong or right, but it is what it is.  

I tried to make amends by writing another post for The Pole Dancing Shop:

In it, I included my very favorite quote from Claire of The Pole Story"If for some reason, the idea of your dancing being connected to the strip club scene is upsetting to you, if you desperately need to distance what you do from what those 'other girls' do, if you truly believe that you are doing this because it’s just a really good workout, then I strongly suggest you spend some time thinking about why you chose pole dancing.  Because there are a million ways to get fit without putting on six inch stilettos, a bikini and swinging sensually around a pole."   So then some of the anti-stripper people jumped in to comment that they were different from strippers because they didn't take their clothes off.

*sigh*  I just can't win so I should stop while I'm ahead. 

Then last night I read Michelle Shimmy's first blog post about having thick skin:  

One thing I took away from the post was that I cannot make everyone happy all of the time (of which I was aware but clearly needed to be reminded).  But this quote in particular struck a chord in me:  It's completely normal that not everyone will like what you do. As the pole movement gains momentum, and new skills are created, it's going to get harder and harder to impress people. People will become more discerning, and competitive. Sometimes, people will comment on other people's style of dance as a way of defining their own style. An example of this is a traditional "sexy" pole dancer saying she doesn't like contemporary pole, or a former ballerina saying she hates body rolls and hair flicks. What they're really saying is that they've adopted a particular style as their favourite way to pole dance, to the exclusion of other styles. That's ok too - there's room enough in the pole world for many different ways of pole dancing, and it's quite exciting to see new styles develop and change.

She's right!  There is room for EVERY kind of style.  You can be a pole dancer, an aerial artist, a pole fitness fanatic, or a stripper...whatever you want!  You can love to dance to classical music or hard rock music.  You can focus on amazing tricks or sexy floor work.  You can do whatever you want because THAT is the beauty of ART.  Dance is art.  And you are the artist.  Your art may not be beautiful to someone else, but as long as you're happy, that is all that matters.

Until next time, lovelies, happy twirling!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pioneer of Pole: Annemarie Davies!

I have been so tickled to have some of the most amazing pioneers of pole dance respond to my request for an interview.  Here is another one of our girls who has helped blaze the trails!  This is Annemarie Davies of United Pole Artists!

You have been pole dancing since 2002, which makes you a pioneer of the industry!  How do you feel about pole dancing going mainstream? 

Pole dancing going mainstream is a blessing and a bit of a curse.  Because it is mainstream, there is debate over whether or not we should censor ourselves.  Originally, I began pole dancing because I was stripping, and the erotic side of pole dancing was a big reason why I loved it so much.  However, I did feel unappreciated in the clubs, and have felt so much more love from an audience performing in mainstream settings.  The road here has been a wonderful, arduous one.  Loving every minute of it, but fighting my way through it.

Who are other pole pioneers that you admire?   

I admire Fawnia Dietrich, Bobbi from Australia for always staying true to who they are.   I also admire J.K. Aloia for being super amazing, staying out of the scene because for her it's just about pole and nothing else.

You won Entertainer of the Year at the Spearmint Rhino.  When did you decide to leave the club and start teaching in a studio?

I knew that I wanted to leave the year that I won, which was in late 2005, crowned for '06.  There was no way I could lose, in my head, because it was the only way I could exit.  I did my tour, and ended in December of '06 and tried to quit.  After a few weeks, I realized I was broke, with no experience in anything but "dancing", so I went back, but to a different club.  That's where I met my now boyfriend, fell in love, and 6 months later, mid 2007, I quit cold turkey and had to find an alternative.  That's when I found X-Polesititons and Jumbo's Clown Room, then later, Evolve.  :)

How did the idea for United Pole Artists come about?

After we produced Pole Star Invitational in 2008, I got really depressed because I knew we wouldn't be doing again, and so much work went into it.  There was a feeling that I had to do something, I just was unsure of what.  The thought of a website came to mind, with no real idea of what I do or how I would do it.  That developed over time.  The idea came because all I do is think about pole dancing, so I figured a site where I could talk about it all the time would be a good start.

You also perform at Jumbo's Clown Room and teach at Evolve Dance Studio in Southern California.  How do you feel your background in exotic dancing has enhanced your ability to perform and teach your students?

Because I was able to dance fully nude in front of people, I gained a confidence with my dancing, and felt like I could do just about anything in front of anyone.  From being in several different types of situations on stage, there is a sense of comfort and control that I have when I'm up there, and that translates over when I'm teaching.  I never feel frustrated, angry, scared or intimidated, and I believe that helps when I'm in a room with 8-20 other women who all have their own opinions and ideas.  :)

Tell us one thing about you that people might be surprised to hear.

I often get nervous when performing a choreographed routine!  Terribly nervous.  Sweaty palms, butterflies in my tummy and a lot of pacing back and forth. 

What does 2012 hold for you?

Already, there is a difference with this year.  This will be the year that determines a lot of things for me and for United Pole Artists, which is my number one focus in life, besides my boyfriend and my family.  I want to live this year as if the world is going to end as predicted.  There will be no holding back, there will be an endless amount of work, and every opportunity to celebrate will be had!

Thank you for being part of my blog.  I look forward to seeing you soon!

Thank you so much for asking me these questions!  I will see you in Los Angeles for the Pole Show!    

Monday, January 9, 2012

Power of Pole for ME!

I subject everyone else to my questions so I thought I would answer them too.  :-)
How long have you been pole dancing?

I just passed the two year mark at Twirly Girls!  I first tried a class at S Factor about three years ago but the distance was too far to travel on a weekly basis so I didn't start dancing on a regular basis until I found Twirly Girls in December 2009.

What first drew you to try it?

My first introduction to pole dancing for fitness was when OC Pole Fitness friended me on MYSPACE maybe four or five years ago (I canceled my MySpace account at least two years ago, and I was on there for awhile so I'm guessing it was over four years ago).  I was intrigued but they were in Southern California (and I'm in Northern California), so I couldn't try it out.  I then heard some girls from S Factor on the radio in San Francisco and decided it was something I wanted to try.

Where do you take classes?

Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in Pleasanton, California. 

Do you have a pole at home?

I do although I don't have it up right now.  It's in my front room and sometimes it gets too crowded.  :-/

How often do you pole?

Currently, I am training to teach so I'm scheduled to be at the studio four days a week!

What else do you do to keep your body in shape to pole?

I'm using pilates reformer to work on strengthening my core.  I am also doing the Twirly Tuff conditioning program twice a week.  I need a little more cardio and should get a jog in there at least once a week but I'm lazy.  I also try to hit yoga at least twice a week.

Do you like to dance in shoes or barefoot?

I have shoe envy.  I love how shoes look but I can't walk in them very well so I look more natural when I dance barefoot. 

How do you deal with dry skin on pole days and on off-pole days?

Many dancers have suggested a couple of the Vaseline lotions (I use Vaseline Total Moisture as suggested by Natasha Wang).  I have psoriasis on my elbows (its an autoimmune disease that causes skin to grow faster than normal in certain places, which leaves ugly dead skin).  Skipping lotion on pole days just bums me out because then I feel all scaly and nasty.  If I am putting lotion on in the morning and not poling until night time, I will put a tiny bit of the Vaseline lotion on my elbows.  I will also put face lotion on but won't put lotion on any other part of my body.  If I am poling in the morning, I just go without and suffer.  My dry skin issue is the reason I ask everyone this question.  :-)

What is your favorite product to help you stick to the pole?

I use Mighty Grip on occasion but usually try to just stick myself to the pole.  I often use Dr. Bronner's soap in the shower to kind of give my skin a little stick without anything else.

Where do you buy your pole clothes?

I have a pair of Pole Skivvies shorts.  I also have some Capezio dance shorts.  For the most part, I just wear my Twirly Girls shirts and regular old sports bras.

What is your favorite song to dance to right now?

No favorite right now.  I'm feeling a little discouraged because I felt like in December I was dancing so much better than I am in January.  So when I'm in one of "those" moods, I have no favorite songs.  :-)

How do you feel like pole has improved or changed your life?

Bel and Twiry Girls have completely changed my life.  Even though my weight is higher than I'd like it to be, I can't imagine how much higher it would be if I didn't have pole in my life.  I can't wait for Twirly Tuff to transform me so I can unveil the BODY THAT POLE BUILT.  So many doors are being opened for me right now.  It's a little surreal.  I am very excited about the opportunities being presented to me through pole dancing and writing this blog.  My blog is very close to 50,000 views.  Thank you to every single person who has taken the time to read my posts.  Pole Dancers Unite!  You all rock my socks off!

 Three months into pole dancing (Approx. January 2010)
Two years into pole dancing (Approx. September 2011)