Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pole Etak's Quest For A Pole Venue in San Francisco!

You are known as Pole Étak on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook...  Do you have an actual studio location?
I call myself "Pole Étak" for a couple reasons, the main one being a type of branding that's in line with my other creative endeavors: Étak Productions which is my film making business and Club Étak which is the name of this upcoming venue (It's pronounced "Attack" and is "Kate" backwards, in case anyone didn't catch that). The other reason the name "Pole Étak" exists is to connect my students that I have privately at my in-home studio and my students from the Crunch gyms in the Bay Area. I don't have a "proper" studio yet, but the intended day use of Club Étak will be to act as my new legit studio (the awkward moment of inviting strangers into my apartment is nearing an end).
You are trying to get a pole-friendly performance venue in the San Francisco area (I live near SF and am 100% supporting you).  Here is the Kick Starter link, but also tell us in your own words about the venture and what you hope to accomplish.

I've been trying to condense the multitude of beautiful reasons why San Francisco should house a pole performance venue, and I think I've narrowed it down to this: The stigma we as pole dancers encounter every day is at times tolerable, but also at times tiring and endless. How are we to show the public our incredible art form when all we have are the bright neon lights of Broadway's topless venues jading their opinions, and the exclusivity of private pole studios unintentionally shying away the average interested patron? If we have a dedicated venue where we can expose the public to pole dancing as we know it, then we will certainly empower our path to a more objectively valued and respectable community, rather than just subjective.
Oh, and it's just going to be incredibly kick-ass...

Do you already have a venue/location in mind?
There's a couple spaces I'm eyeing - but the main goal is to find a space near to BART/CalTrain so it will be easily accessible by all of the Bay Area. My students aren't just here in the City, so I know they would appreciate easy access (and of course those hailing from the East Bay would like that too!)

Which other local pole celebrities or studio owners have teamed up with you for this project?
Besides you my dear Lori?! Unfortunately no one has committed to teaming up with me at the moment. I've had interest from a few studios in the East Bay, but no interest (yet) from the ones currently operating in San Francisco and the South Bay. I'm hoping that my feature in this blog may persuade them that this is a legitimate venture and that I want to team up with literally everyone I can. I love networking and I LOVE pole dancing so I hope this one space can eventually bring us all together.
 What is your pole dancing background?  (What brought you to pole and how long have you been poling?)
I was a receptionist for Crunch Fitness for many years and really was not the epitome of health for the longest time (University habits got the best of me and stuck). So when they installed the poles upstairs at the Chestnut St. location 2 years ago, I almost was dared to go up and try. I was quite grumpy about it and thought everyone was pretty skanky, but then I had the "moment." I think it was when I did the pretzel spin pretty quickly and nobody else got it, and my instructor complimented me up the wazzoo. I had never been complimented like that, let alone for something athletic (which I never was). The mere dose of instant confidence in my body as a temple (which I previously thought of as a temple's dumpster) encouraged me to practice like crazy. Soon I started subbing classes for Crunch, and last year became a certified X-Pert Pole Instructor (HIGHLY recommend that, by the way). Now I am the regular instructor for Crunch Chestnut & San Mateo and nothing makes me feel more joy than finding girls like me who are starting from scratch and complimenting them just like my first instructor did for me. All about positive reinforcement, in my book. 

Have you participated in any competitions?
I have not. Eventually one day I'd like to, but I'm very realistic about my body and my current limits. One has to be in that competitive mind-set in order to push their bodies to greatness, and right now my mind is more set along the lines of playing host to those people who really are interested in going the step above what they thought they could do.

It feels like the pro/competition pole dancers are all going the route of contortion and extreme tricks.  Do you feel like something is lost from pole dancing when it is all tricks and no dance?
I think about this a ton actually...but in a way I don't feel comfortable criticizing the way someone wants to perform, whether to impress or to inspire. What I can say is what I feel myself - and I do know that when I'm focused on trying to mimic the Pole Stars' Extreme Tricks I become instantly miserable as a human being. It's frustrating, and I lose that confidence I once gained. The beauty of incorporating "dance" with the pole is that you can have an amazing outlet for all sorts of emotions. It doesn't matter if I dance well or if my split isn't flat or if my "lines are gorgeous" or anything like that - what matters is what is portrayed to the audience and what is felt in myself as a performer. I go at my own pace, and would prefer it if everyone did as well. It's nice to have different tiers and sectors and genres of pole dancing, though, so there is always something to aspire to. To each, her own.
 Tell us something that people would be surprised to hear about you?
People tend to be surprised by the multitude of things I participate in. I'm really all over the place and it confuses the average friend of mine. I have a habit of learning as many things in this life that I can, but never mastering them. Examples: I can read and write Arabic, speak French, write and produce short films, paint with India Ink, play guitar and piano and sing, and do triathlons and running races - but I've never mastered any of these subjects. I call myself the Jane of All Trades, Master of Some. I find it makes the life way more enriched, and it really tends to confuse and surprise anyone that meets me.

Besides this awesome project, what else does 2012 hold for you?

2012 is really revolving around this project, but the second biggest thing I'm looking forward to is participating in the Olympic Distance London Triathlon in September. I still don't understand how I'm going to ship my bike over to England, let alone myself...

I really understand the need for venues that are pole-friendly and hope that everyone will support Kate in her quest (or maybe you can start one for your area!).  Please join Pole Étak on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

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