Social Culture & Pole | Still in the Pole Closet

While 99.9% of the time, this isn’t exactly a pole dancing/aerialist blog, I wanted to write a piece for this month’s blog hop because it’s probably the biggest factor behind why I kept this blog hidden for so long. (In the interest of full disclosure, even now, I’m still apprehensive about letting many people know about my blog.)

This post was also somewhat fueled by my annoyance over this video. While I realize that they may have cut certain parts of the video, it irked me that they were so quick to judge. Teaching someone to pole dance does not magically predispose someone to becoming a stripper. (If that sort of logic were valid and really did apply to real life, I would be a mathematical genius today, and possibly also a boy.)

The #PDBloggers “blog hop” is a monthly blogging event that unites the global network of pole dance bloggers, pole fitness bloggers and aerial art bloggers around a common theme. The goal is for each participant to write about the group topic with their own unique perspective on their independent blogs. This month we want to explore how the industry of pole is covered in the news, culture and within our social spheres. We want the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. We want you to explore how pole dance is marketed, publicized and talked about.

I took my first pole dancing class in December of 2010 and fell in love. It was another couple months before I could start taking weekly classes, and I spent a summer as a fixture at Twirly Girls, which I consider to be my second home when I’m in California. Bel is my pole mom and we all love her. <3

My parents don’t know that I pole. I hate lying to them, and I do it very rarely (past instances include not letting them know that I got a job, not letting them know that I got yet another internship…etc.). But suffice to say, pole dancing is not something that I believe they would ever accept. I explained away my long, long absences that summer by saying that since I was interested in sports medicine (which I really was [and still am]), I was apprenticing under a friend who was a personal trainer and learning everything I could from her before I went off to grad school. It went hand in hand with the athletic training classes I happened to be taking at the time. In actuality, I was helping to teach beginning pole classes and yes, I really was learning everything I could [that was [pole-related] before grad school took over my life.

Since I now spend most of my days across the country in pursuit of yet another degree, pole is unfortunately much less a part of my life than it used to be, and it really saddens me. I’ve met so many amazing people through Twirly Girls. There are men and women from all walks of life in the pole community, and it’s been awesome getting to know them and learning from them.

I’m not quite on the Bible belt, but I am close enough to it that I know better than to tell much of anyone here about this particular hobby. People here are extremely friendly, but it is definitely still a very conservative area. As much as I’d like to be open, honest and upfront about every thing that I do, this is one that I persistently feel that I have to hide, because I don’t want to be written up for unprofessionalism, and because I cannot afford to have this be a (or the) reason as to why someone decides not to hire me in the future.

(“But why would you even want to work for a place if they were going to judge you based on that?”)

Not everyone necessarily has that luxury of choice. Life doesn’t always go as planned, and where I end up depends on so many factors. The fact of the matter is, why can’t it just not even be an issue? If I really do get to go into sports medicine, I want my patients to be able to come to me with whatever it is that’s bothering them, and I want them to know that they can be honest with me. (Where are those bruises from? Was that a stress injury from improper technique for twisted grip? Let me know, so I can better understand your situation and help you!)

I’ve been lucky in that all of my friends back home have been incredibly accepting, but I’ve definitely heard comments here along the lines of, “Well, it could be worse. At least you’re not a pole dancer.” / “You’ve got class. It’s not like you’re spinning around on a pole or something.”

Ah, but I am. I know you mean well, but oh, if only you knew…

And that infamous time when a couple of my closer friends came over and I hadn’t had time to take down my pole:
1: …Why do you have a pole in your room?
F: Because I’m a recreational pole dancer.
2: It’s pole fitness. She’s not a pole dancer.

Why does there need to be a distinction between the two? Why can’t it be both?

I don’t get angry, but it does make me a little sad.

While I recognize that acceptance is definitely growing, as with all things in life, there is always room for improvement.

If I could wish for anything for the pole community, I’d wish for people to be more open-minded, and less quick to judge. I’d hope that they would give it a chance and see what we could do and what we were capable of before they immediately thought, “stripper,” and automatically assumed that all the negative associations that go with that were true. I’d want them to realize that pole dancing or pole fitness–whatever you wish to call it–is an art form, an alternative form of exercise, and a beautiful outlet for self-expression.

I’m still in the pole closet, but I hope one day, I won’t have to be.

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About Farrah

A frugal, selectively antisocial Family Medicine resident physician with too many interests. Loves...God, family, friends, volunteering and helping others, making others happy, music (especially piano and singing), Tahitian/hula/salsa/pole dancing, aerial silks, learning, writing, cooking, eating, sleeping, lifting weights, playing SNES and DS, photography, editing, window-shopping, gymnastics, kickboxing, BJJ, finding great deals, pyrography, horseback riding, archery, frolicking in the great outdoors...making every moment count.

Posted on May 19, 2014, in Day by Day and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. This is so great! I have always wanted to try and now, you have inspired me. Next time there is a Groupon *there always seems to be), I will try it and report back!

    • Aww, that’s awesome! I hope you have fun! I don’t know where exactly you are, but I was actually in SD last October and went to Fun Pole Fitness (http://www.yelp.com/biz/fun-pole-fitness-san-diego) and the ladies there were super nice. :]

      It’s definitely very different from what would be considered a “normal workout,” but oh, do your arms and legs burn after a while. :P Let me know how it goes (and hooray for Groupons!)!

  2. Hey! I do aerial arts and trained in classical ballet since I was 5. Anyone who has a background in serious athletic training knows that poll is a totally legitimate form of exercise. There is nothing innately sexual in anything having to do with flexibility, balance, core strength, and coordination. If people are snotty about it, I’d ask them to come to a class, see if they think it’s a real workout then!

    • Agreed! I always feel that you can’t really knock something until you’ve tried it (and even then, different strokes for different folks, right? If it doesn’t affect them, why does it matter?). That’s awesome that you do aerial arts! I’ve gotten to take about 5(?) classes and would absolutely love to have the chance to take more someday. It’s so beautiful!

  3. I always see classes advertised on Groupon as well. I think you can enjoy pole dancing and not be a stripper. It looks like it takes quite a bit of coordination and talent to do it well. Good for you for following your passion. I hope your family comes to accept your choices. Good luck

    • Thanks! :] I actually told my brother about it about a year or two ago; he currently helps to cover for me when I’m taking classes, haha.

    • As are you! :D I love all the events and promotions you’re doing for pole back home! It’s pretty much one of my life’s goals to hopefully be able to attend/help out at/be a part of one of em’ sometime in the near future. :]!

  4. I’m relatively new to pole dance, but I love it, and it makes me really sad that people have such a narrow view of what it is and what it “leads to,” which based on my experience is more likely toned muscles than strip joints. I try to share performances by dancers who are very graceful or acrobatic to show people that it’s like any other form of dance. I hope people will stop being so judgmental about it sooner than later.

    • Haha, so true about the toned muscles! I was in way better shape when I was dancing regularly and very much miss it. I do appreciate that acceptance has grown/is growing, but it’d definitely be awesome for people to stop making snap judgments about it!

  5. I really appreciate this post– I resonate with it so much. My closest friends know I pole, and a few coworkers. My parents, however, do not. And there are people several paygrades above me that believe I do not conduct myself in a professional manner. It’s so stressful feeling that you have to stifle who you really are just to please others, but like you said, sometimes we don’t have a choice. Thank you for writing this! Great to know someone else shares my pain :)

    • I’m sorry to hear about the people at your workplace. :[ Although my school/professional life isn’t aware of this hobby (as far as I know, hah), they would definitely feel the same way. You’re definitely not alone! I’m glad at least our closest friends are cool with it! :P

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