In the middle of finals, you think my brain would be hitting critical levels of overloaded thoughts of drawing...animation....maya....portfolios...perspective...volumes! Oh the volumes! They're all wrong! Everything in this animation is warping, make it stop, oh god please make it stop!
Ok, so maybe some of my brain is a little on the fritz about all my art finals. And the liberal arts too, at that. Can anyone tell me how the ideologies underlaying Russian Communism in the early 20th century were seen through the relationship between humans and the environment? I bet not. I can't even tell you, which is bad because I have to know by this evening. That is what I should be doing right now. Instead I am writing this blog.
But only a small fraction of my brain is freaking about finals in comparison with the amount my brain is thinking about pole dancing. I can't stop. It is starting to get to the point where it may or may not be a serious problem. It is very distracting in any case, so I guess I can count myself lucky that I am good at getting most of my work done early, or at least in a timely manner, because if not I'd probably be screwed. Or at least very tired.
About 4 or 5 weeks ago I was browsing living social, a site where you can find local deals and coupons to varies services in the area. I was on the prowl for a decent massage deal, not because I was in any particular pain, but mostly because I wanted to spoil myself with something besides food for a change. You know, positive feedback for all this exercise I've thrown myself into. Instead I signed up for more exercise. Figures. But when I saw the deal for 2 pole classes for $30, I just couldn't say no. I'd be so rebellious! It would add to my badass status for sure. Also, everyone on Facebook told me to do it. I just couldn't say no to the internet hoards. Besides, it was a bargain. And we all know how cheap I am. I mentioned my ratty, two year old converse shoes with all the holes in them before, right? Yes, I still refuse to shell out $40 for another pair. Just can't do it.
Anyway, so I bought the classes and that meant I had to go through with it. Because of the whole cheap thing. Can't waste a dime. Right. Actually, I was really excited. I didn't know what to expect, but I was being so rebellious! Yea! Badass!
On the website it said that the class starts off with a 40 minute "warm up." That is a lie. It is basically an entire workout in and of itself. Sure, there is some nice, fun stretching and "sensual movement" (lots of hip thrusting in various positions) but then there is the insanity of what is something similar to a pilates workout. I think. I've never really done pilates, except in gym class my freshman year of high school. I think. But I am pretty it is what pilates is supposedly like. This is the order in which things burnt with a fiery hate: my butt, my legs, my arms, my abs, my abs, my abs, my abs.
Ok, so that is probably incorrect. It was mostly just my whole core. There are more than just abdominals down there. I would know. I finally learned anatomy in figure drawing. So now I am an expert. Clearly.
Right so, basically everything hurt a lot. We did bicycle crunches and scissor kicks at a very fast pace non-stop for what felt like an eternity. In my version of real life it was more like 3 minutes. In the real reality it was probably half that time. Nevertheless, it felt like an eternity. Then finally that whole misery was over. I've noticed over the past few weeks that after each workout there is always at least one student who will say to the instructor "you were evil to us today with that workout," as she changes it up a bit every week so it is a slightly different workout each time. I find this odd, because that statement implies that sometimes the workout is easy. I have yet to see one of these mythical easy workouts. They are all evil, in my opinion. And somehow the instructor can literally dance through the entire workout. I am not even joking. She will bounce to the beat while doing planks like it's no big deal.
Actually, as humiliating as it can be to see someone dance their way through a workout that makes you feel like you must have done something truly horrendous in past life to deserve this torture, this is one aspect of the class that I really, really like. By that I mean the dancing. And the music. The music is loud enough to burst your eardrums. Which is great, because no one can hear you pant like one of those sad little pugs in a doggy sweater vest. Also, the lights are really low so no one can see you sweating out enough liquid to drown a small child. Basically everything I am insecure about when I exercise is hidden. Why didn't I do this earlier?? Anyway, with all the low lighting and loud music it is a wonderful environment to get your dance on. And since other people are already doing it, it feels like no big deal.
I am one who can never get enough of dancing. I am the one who would stay until the very end of all the lame high school dances because I actually thought it was more fun than going to someone's house to eat ice cream/party (depending on what grade I was in). I am the one who will burst into dance in the middle of campus, or in any awkward situation ever. And if you have or could have seen me at the dance parties we used to throw at the good ol' girl scout camp, you would know I can freaking pop til I DROP yo. Here is a picture of me in a killer outfit working my killer moves at said all girls camp last summer. Brace yourself.
Don't you love those leggings? I did too. That is why I totally stole them from the costume room. (+1 badass point?) Although I still have yet to encounter a situation in which I can actually wear them into public without having people think I am a time traveller from the 90s. Or 80s? Sadly, I am too young to determine what era these leggings belong in. I just know this: they are akin to God. With a capital G.
I really enjoy a dance-y atmosphere. I've never been to a real club, but I always thought I would have a good time at one. And I always wished I could have taken dance classes as a kid, but that was probably the one physical activity I never participated in when I was young. Seriously, I did almost every little kid sport there was, besides maybe karate. Soccer, softball, basketball, tennis, track and field, ice skating, horse back riding, swimming. None of them stuck. I don't know why I didn't do dance. There were a lot of things I wanted that I could probably just have asked for, but I didn't know that I could. Like that one time I wanted plums at the grocery store, but instead of just asking my mom to buy plums, I tried to smuggle one out in my dress. As I was scheming how I would eat it without my mom seeing me when I got home, I looked up and saw a squished plum at the end of the aisle. The plum from my dress was gone. Mission plum-snatch failed. And so did mission ask-for-dance-classes, although that was never a real mission. It just never really occurred that I really wanted it until what felt like too late, when everyone I knew who danced had been doing it for years and years and were all competitive and stuff. I just wanted to dance casually, but that didn't seem like an option for a girl in her mid-teens.
That is why pole dancing class actually seems like the perfect way to fulfill all the lost dance classes of my youth. No one can do it until they are 18, so no one really has a "leg up" on being a child prodigy or whatnot. (see what I did there?) I don't feel like some old fart when showing up to a class. It's nice. I know all the older people reading this blog probably think I really have no concept of what it actually feels like to be an old fart, but we had campers last summer who didn't even know what VHS tapes were, so I think I have at least started down that road by now.
After the so called "warm up," the real pole dancing business begins. Actual pole dancing is like gymnastics, acrobatics, yoga, pilates, and dancing mixed together but all sexy-like. You even add in lap dance moves, which I can proudly say I've been instructed in now. I must remember to add that to my resume.
All the beginner tricks basically go like this: walk around the pole being sexy, grab the pole in some variation, hold on for dear life, and let gravity do the rest of the work. The hard part is holding on for dear life, which you think would be easy, since it is your dear life after all, but it isn't. The tricks all have fun names like "goddess," or "siren," or "dirty goddess." Yea, they get really creative. Actually no, they do. I am pretty sure I heard some more advanced students talking about a trick called "thumb up the butt" ...oooor maybe they were talking about something else. I don't want to know. More advanced moves involve climbing, hanging upside down, and basically being a freakin' BAMF because sometimes I see people 10 feet in the air spinning around holding on to the pole with nothing but their armpit. Wha...?!?! How does that even work?!
At the end of the class everyone does a little dance. New students perform a simple routine. Older students get to do all the really cool freestyle improv. This is one of the best parts of the class, being able to watch everyone move so beautifully. Because it really is beautiful, and not just in the "pole dancing is hot" way. I think I have mentioned how I appreciate human bodies before. They are just so magnificent, especially when they practically defy gravity and move in ways that just seem so...natural. It is truly stunning, and you really learn to appreciate it when you know how hard the tricks that they are doing are.
Have you ever seen the movie Suckerpunch? Hopefully not, it isn't a very good film. Zack Snyder really should have just made a video game, because that was basically what it was. It would have made a great video game...or maybe just a decent one. Anyway, there is this huge plot point in which the main character, Babydoll, can apparently dance in such a way that it completely entices and distracts every man watching from anything else going on. You never actually get to see the dance in the movie and that always really bothered me. What kind of dancing could she possibly be doing to be so amazing? How is it possible?? Well, now I get it when I watch the other students and instructor dance. And whenever it is my turn to dance, I feel kind of like Babydoll in those scenes. It is really weird. But cool.
When the class is done it does not mean things are over. There is of course, the being sore for several days after each class in the kind of way that makes you feel a little bit like crying every time you have to get out of your chair. Oh, and don't forget the bruises. Here is a picture of the bruise I got *during* the first class I went to. Not after, during. This baby was forming and also throbbing terribly before I even walked out of the studio that first day.
It came from bashing my leg very ungracefully into the pole about a dozen times. Nothing says sexy like a giant purple, yellow, brown, and pink lump on your leg. I haven't had any more bruises quite this big since, but my left knee has permanently looked like bruised, rotting pear for about a month now and I currently have over 20 bruises on my legs just from last night (I counted). There is a particular move where you have to hold on to the pole with your crotch as tight as you can while spinning around and prancing your legs that makes your crotch biscuits (wobbly inner thigh triangles) look diseased after. The first time I did it, I had a giant bruise on my inner thigh that was pretty much jet black for a solid day. Sometimes these bruises are little speckles, seemingly indicating to any potential lovers that you might have some sort of weird STD and to stay far, far away. Also, sometimes when I am on the toilet I like to push all the bruises on my legs like buttons and pretend I am operating a fork lift or a super computer and am hacking in to the government system because I am in a really cool heist movie with George Clooney.
I know, I do really cool things in the bathroom.
I know, I do really cool things in the bathroom.
I am sure you are wondering why on earth I apparently like this so much if it causes so much pain. Well, besides the fact that I think the bruises make me feel like I have real battlescars, rather than just all the snot and sweat wiped on the front of my shirt when I run, I have to say that I REALLY DON'T KNOW. It is perplexing. I have never been this into any form of exercise before. Sure, I talk about running a lot and how much I like it, but I still have to make myself do it. I still feel miserable during the run if I forget and let my brain turn on. The good feeling only comes from accomplishing what I set out to do afterwards. This is a whole different slice of cheese.
I think a lot of it comes from how fun it is to dance and "fly" around a pole (it is more like straggling around in the air, but you know what I mean). The pounding music and low lights only add to this. I like to think that I am dancing for myself, needing to impress no one, and that frees me. But I also think that there is more to it than that. I have been doing a lot of reading on the internet about this activity and people who do it all seem to say the same things. They got hooked right away. They are addicted to it. It gives you this sense of empowerment, strength, and inner-sensuality that makes you feel incredible. When you dance, you are inside yourself, feeling and flowing through the movement without ever using your brain. All of this seems to be unanimous among pole dancers. I know it sounds like corny bullshit that you spew out to sound deep, but it's real, I swear to you! I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it. Maybe Jung was right, maybe we all do have a collective unconscious, and maybe dancing allows us all to tap into that stream together, where we all feel the same thing. There are women who even say that it makes them feel closer to God, ironically enough (There are women in Texas who "pole dance for Jesus," I kid you not, click here for the article)
I buy it. If I am this into something physical, something that takes this much strength training--an activity that has always been grueling for me--there must be some worth to it. I don't understand this addiction, but I love it. I have been spending way too much time looking at pictures, pole dancing blogs, watching videos, and browsing pole dancing trick dictionaries. I had trouble even getting this blog written because it is so distracting. Every song I listen to I have been assessing whether or not it would be any good to dance to, and looking up more music that would be fun for dancing. I feel inspired to draw pole dancers, to paint them, to animate them even! I have been scheming how I can do it more, how I can convince my parents to help pay for classes, how soon I can get my first paycheck for my summer job so I can afford more classes. It has completely engulfed me. All I want to do is improve. I look forward to class all week and count down the days just like I am waiting for the next episode of one of my favorite TV shows or my mandated Mac'n'cheese night.
It is all slightly scary. But I think it is also good. I feel stronger, and every week I get a little bit better at the tricks I've been taught. I'm fairly certain it has even helped my running. On Monday I ran 3.5 miles like a breeze and even ran entirely up the half mile, 18% grade hill without stopping or walking. I've never been able to do that before. I beat the dragon!! When I got to the top I had this dopey smile of joy. This mixed with my beet red face and pouring sweat probably concerned all the passengers in the cars going by, but I didn't care. I just feel so damn good lately. It has even made me forget about my plight of men, or lack thereof (mostly). That is an amazing feat right there.
I don't know guys, this thing may just be the most badass thing I've done yet, besides my mud run of course. I'm really excited to go broke for this hobby. I really am. I just hope I can keep it up.
Ok, now I REALLY need to study. Excuse me while I go try to not fail an environmental history test.