Why I Now Respect Strippers...
I entered the studio tentatively, unsure of what to expect. I had just put my bag down when a girl burst in looking like a modern schoolmarm, dressed in all black, a feathery headband, pearls, and shockingly red lipstick.
“Oh my god! I’ve had such a day. And I haven’t been on the pole in a week. A week! I’m going out of my mind!” she exclaimed.
She meant pole as in pole dancing. And I was here to take my first class.
I went because I like a challenge. I went because I figured it might be good to learn to ooze a little sexuality. But I went mostly because my friend, much like the schoolmarm, loved the pole. In fact, my friend had a pole installed in her apartment. She had gone one step further creating her own Youtube channel, which showed her thrashing and gyrating and doing amazing, sexy, aerial things to a burnished pole. Unexpected comic relief was added when her small, furry dog would fly through the frame, wanting to join in, too.
I had no idea what to wear to such a class. In my head I thought clear stripper heels and pasties maybe, but I was told I’d need a tank top and “booty shorts.” My friend brought several booty short options and I choose the ones that would reveal the least amount of my lady parts. Not knowing what to expect as far as how difficult a workout it would be I had gone to the gym earlier in the day.
“Alright guys, let’s do this,” Kyra, our instructor said, clapping her hands. She started up her iPod and hip hop blasted from the speakers. She was tall and toned and looked serious. In place of booty shorts, she wore loose tear-away cargo pants. Kyra got her start choreographing routines for the strippers at the Hustler club. I joined the other three girls, all well-versed in the pole for some floor work. We sat on the wood floor surrounded by mirrors, the three poles gleaming in the fluorescent light behind me. I was surprised to see that schoolmarm, who’s name was actually Jade Electrica (yes, that’s her real name, not her stripper name) when changed out of her attire, was covered in tattoos.
For forty-five minutes Kyra taught what could be best described as sexy yoga as we did sit-ups and stretches, pushing and pulling our bodies closer to the floor until I was ready to yell out “mercy!” I’d left my hair down, thinking that would help with the “sexy” factor, but by the end it was sweaty and matted to my face.
Just when we were at our breaking points Kyra stopped us. “OK girls,” she said, pausing. “It’s time for some pole work.”
I got my own pole and my own instructor because I was about as much of a beginner as one can be. I watched the other girls saunter up to their poles and rub up against them, like a strange animalistic courting ritual. Seconds later they were climbing up the poles like they were part of a sexy covert CIA mission. Then they were upside down. They were twirling around the pole. They were sliding down it. They were, in essence, making love to the pole.
“Um, can you teach me how to do that whirly upside-down thing that looks like a helicopter?” I asked.
“Well,” Lian, my instructor said, “why don’t we get you acquainted with the pole first.” Like we were supposed to shake hands or something. “Getting acquainted” required me to circle the pole and roll my body down it. And all the while I kept seeing my reflection and realizing that with my tongue hanging out in concentration, I looked anything but sexy. It was as if all “the practice” I had done in my clubbing days had vanished.
Eventually, I started to get it. “Good,” Lian said. “Now let’s try some moves.” She pranced around the pole, her long brown hair swaying at her hips, complimenting her thin dancer’s body, swinging around and then flipping her legs from side-to-side while hanging from the pole in a move called the fan kick. But it wasn’t just swinging around, it was “left leg first, dominant hand at the top, pop your booty, arch your back.” And I did it over and over again because I’m competitive. And soon my hands were starting to slide down the pole because they were so sweaty. All the while Lian never took her eyes off of me or unpuckered her lips. If we had been anywhere else this would have felt like sexual harassment.
My friend, who had been watching me while uttering assurances like “you’re doing it, Em!” and “You look so sexy!” (which always made me lose any sexiness I could muster), ran to her bag. She returned with some kind of ointment that made my hands stop sweating, like we were Olympic gymnasts training for the gold. And so I kept mounting the pole with determination. Soon I had managed to hold myself up and rotate my legs through the air from side to side like a completely unabashed oscillating fan. As I slid down the pole to the floor, I felt a sense of accomplishment and noticed with amusement that Color Me Badd’s “I Want to Sex You Up” was playing. My arms, however, felt like Jell-o. I looked over to the right and saw Jade go from a “fireman pose” to a “no-handed bow and arrow” to a “spinning chopper” to the “teddy bear.” She dismounted the pole and breaking from her sexy face, displayed a huge smile.
“You did great,” Lian said, turning me to face her and giving me a big hug. I half expected us to make out. “We’ll work on the sexy part next time.” I had so much to learn.