Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pole Dancing 101:
Bringing Sexy Back … Front and Center

“Sometimes, when I'm alone, I put on six inch heels and wear nothing else, and dance around in front of the mirror and do my little stripper dance.”
- Tori Spelling

“You gotta keep her off the pole!”

- Chris Rock

Vanilla-scented candles dotted the North Hollywood loft, and Guy’s “Piece of My Love” pulsated from speakers in the dimly lit room …

Sounds like the opening scene from a ghetto erotica novel. Now add to it four stainless steel poles and eight mats strategically placed on the floor and you have X-Polesitions, a pole dancing studio where women can bring sexy back, front and center.

“It’s expressing your sexuality through exercise,” says Leah Daniels-Butler, founder of X-Polesitions. Leah is a woman whom brothers back east would call “thick.” She doesn’t mind pointing out her problem areas, but drapes confidence about her like an old shawl. A former TV and film casting director with 16 years in the business, she opened her doors last October as a means of helping women feel comfortable in their own skin. “Sexiness is an attitude,” she says with a smile.

Last night, I took my first stroll around the pole. The invitation for X-Polesitions’ free intro class had been sitting in my inbox for months, but I never deleted it. To me, pole dancing conjured up clear stilettos, G-strings and crisp dollar bills. It seemed too naughty an activity for an upstanding (read: single and celibate) chick to be indulging in. But my inner siren got the best of me, so I scheduled an appointment.

On my way to the class, I shared the elevator with a 45-year-old white woman who was also attending. “You only live once,” she said, proudly displaying her new boob job. “What do you have to lose?”

Inhibition, for one thing. Seven dimepieces were lounging around the studio, half of them wearing Daisy Dukes and tight halters. I felt decidedly unsexy in my penitentiary gray tee shirt and elastic-waisted jogging pants. But I assured myself that if I felt too uncomfortable (if, say, an orgy erupted), I would discreetly grab my things and hit the door.

The first 30 to 40 minutes of class were spent warming up and doing stretches on the mat, albeit erotic ones. We learned techniques called the “Cat Pounce” and the “Ship’s Bitch.” During one position, Leah instructed us to slowly slide our hands down to our "chocha," a move that felt awkward for me. I couldn’t put my heart into the techniques because I just knew my cellulite was showing through the gauzy sweat pants.

The whole time I was sweeping my chocha across the mat, or bouncing my backside to Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy?” I reflected on the love-hate relationship I have with my body. Since I’ve gained weight, I have to sneak up on my reflection in the mirror, and I try to hide my girth in bulky clothes. Yet even when I was 125 pounds, I never felt truly happy and at peace in my own skin.

Finally, it was time to work the poles. Although the X-Polesitions Web site boasts that its routines will help “build muscle strength and build cardiovascular ability,” we weren't there for the health benefits. Every woman in the room was eager to swing around that stainless steel like a veteran stripper, but we had to earn our stripes. Forming a circle, we were instructed to saunter sensuously across the parquet floor as “Make it Rain (I Make it Rain on Them Hoes)” blared in the background. We giggled. We bumped into each other. We felt clumsy getting our sexy stroll on, little girls trying on Mommy’s heels.

Satisfied with our performance, Leah had us assume the position. I know my limitations. I’ve been called “uncoordinated” since the fifth grade, and was never chosen to turn the rope in Double Dutch because I’m “double-handed.” But I approached the pole like my name was Candy and I was two months behind on the rent. The first five attempts, I could only manage half swings because I forgot to lift my right leg off the floor. But Leah was patient. “You have to trust that the pole is going to hold you,” she said, giving me a maternal nudge.

Finally, I let go. Both feet left the floor and I was hugging the pole like a long-lost lover. At that moment, I wished I still had a weave down my back and a fresh pedicure. I felt – dare I say it? – flirty! I wasn’t going home that night to practice my new tricks on some boy toy, but every woman needs to feel sexy, if only for herself.

After Leah pried us from the poles, we were treated to a collective lap dance by Antoinette, another instructor. Contrary to my initial thoughts, the women weren’t cast-offs from the strip club looking to make an extra buck. Antoinette has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and she trained with a Cirque du Soleil dancer for a year and a half. We oohed and aahed as she sidled sinuously up the pole, performing backflips and splits like an urban aerialist. We admired her grace … but more importantly, her body was bangin’! We had co-opted her curves and her confidence as our own.

I know I’ll never wear Daisy Dukes or make my booty clap at the club, but as I donned my socks and sneakers after class, I realized that, despite my imperfections, I can find the courage to dance naked in front of my mirror again. I don’t need a pole for validation, but there’s nothing like candles, dim lights and 15 feet of gleaming stainless steel to bring out your inner sexpot.

I signed up for six more classes.

X-Polesitions, 5355 Cartwright Avenue, Suite 203, North Hollywood, CA 91601. For more information, visit the Web site:


Anonymous said...

Look at you finding your inner "Sex Kitten." Before you know it, you'll be dancing in the clubs and changing your name to "Diamond." Let me know when you switch careers -- I always gotta a dollar to spare.

Visions of Vida said...

Shoo, if I change my name to Diamond, you 're going to have to come with more than a dollar! Primpin' ain't easy!

jnetsworld said...

Wow... good for you.. I've found my sexy work out with hoola hoops and will graduate to a pole someday.

Work that floor sex kitten. Thanks for sharing... sexy indeed is an attitude .. Looks like you've found a fun way to play.

Monique said...

Don't let me come to Cali and find some clear heels in your closet! Seriously, I'm glad that you're bringing your sexy to the forefront! Maybe I'm go to class with you next time I'm on the Left Coast!

Anonymous said...

It's something, isn't it? The way your own movement can turn you on. LOL! That's the feeling I get in my belly dancing classes. I've been doing it for over a year now. Sometimes (depending on the movement), I can't help but think, "Dang! I would f*** me!" Okay, I'm trippin', but so serious!

Anonymous said...

Everybody wants to work that pole (myself included!). I think I would fall!! Let me know how the other six classes turn out!!! CJ

Miss Accessories said...

Love your blog and posts. Can we swaps links? :o)

Anonymous said...

I recently talked to a few girlfriends on this very subject over happy hour drinks. I've always been intrigued by pole-dancing -- thought it was the utmost in sexy. I've even inquired about where I could find a 'portable pole' to add to my bedroom attire when a 'worthy male' comes calling. You go girl. You have no reason not to feel flirtatious and sexy. It's 'you' who stops you. I'm glad you're not letting 'you' stop you any longer.

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