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The TRUTH about pole-dancing

The women in gangster movies make pole dancing look so easy – how hard could it be?  For day 20 of her 30 workouts in 30 days challenge, Anna Magee found out 

Some women have that thing where they can up and shimmy and shake in that Dita Von Teese meets Pamela Anderson kind of way and make it look like the most natural thing in the world.  That’s what Melissa, my teacher in last night’s ‘Discover Pole’ class had in droves.  She was a pubescent boy’s dream – long, black silky hair that went all the way down her back and an easy, sexy flow to the way she walked and talked and smiled.

Who knows why I chose to try a pole dancing class as part of this experiment?  I was the kid that made dancing teachers cry with my two left feet and I have never seriously thought about sexy dancing even as part of my private bedroom repertoire. What was I thinking?

But the last time I went to London Dance Academy, where the class was taking place, I peeked into the studio to see the end of a Level Three pole dancing class.  Women were flying up and down the poles, their feet careening through opposite parts of the air, holding on to the pole by what seemed like a hair.  They were in such great shape, their movements so fluid and sexy. It looked easy.

Let’s get this straight.  There is nothing – NOT ONE THING  – easy about pole dancing.  Those women you see looking so hotly sexy pole dancing in gangster flicks while Robert de Niro smokes and watches broodily at the side of the stage? – they are athletes, my friends.  Athletes.  And the fact that they can do those feats of flying and shimmying and shaking around the pole whilst maintaining sexy pouts and doing hair flicks is so impressive I am campaigning to have pole dancing listed an Olympic sport.

There were about nine poles in the studio and each of us took one.  Most of the girls had short shorts on – this is apparently mandatory – as wearing long tights like I had on meant your skin couldn’t ‘stick’ to the pole the way it was supposed to.  When one of the girls explained this to me I thought, ‘What exactly are we going to be doing with the pole?’

Along with featuring sexy dance moves like body rolls and kicks, pole dancing’s staples are spins and lifts.  This requires the hand grip and arm strength of a Russian wrestler.  I had no hope.  It was virtually impossible for me to spin around the pole while lifting myself up it, it hurt me so much I caught myself in the mirror making decidedly unsexy facial expressions that screamed ‘I am in pain here, get me a valium’ rather than ‘Come F*&k me big boy.’

Next Melissa went through a little choreographed routine we had to do.  It was like sexy interpretive dance moves but with come hither face-making, crotch rubbing and hair flicks while simultaneously pirouetting around the pole, arching our backs to pose invitingly whilst rubbing our hand all the way from our head, down our body to our groin, before sliding down to the floor wiggling our hips on tippy toes and a final little parted bent leg movement.  That all looks great when a pole dancer does it.  When I did it, it looked like a broken hip waiting to happen.

We did our routine to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and got a fright.  There was nothing sexy in the movements I was making, I looked  like a deranged extra from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest or the tragic drag queen in a Nicholas Cage movie. Meanwhile my wrists hurt like hell and all that shimming up and down on my tippie-toes, led to one recurring thought, ‘My knees!’  Plus, when you spin around the pole you have to simultaneously lift yourself up with your hands, jump into it and grip the pole with your ankles.  Today, the bottoms of my feet are bruised!  Lastly, no body tells you how dizzy you get pole dancing.  Round and round we went in pirouettes, spins and lifts, over and over again so that half way through the class I thought, ‘I think I am going to be sick’.

For pupils that stick with it, Melissa says their muscular strength increases dramatically because ‘there is nothing on your body – from feet and wrists to core and thighs that doesn’t need to be really strong to do pole dancing.’

‘That’s all we have time for ladies,’ she said, once we’d finished the final move: climbs (where you climb up the pole like a guy climbing up a coconut tree.  Forget. it.).

Despite my epic fail at pole dancing, I must say the other women in my class – all beginners – were far better at all the moves than I was and looked like they were having a great time.  Pole dancing is obviously one of my many body blind spots, like singing, the world will be a better place if I never, ever do it again.

PROS You’ll learn to dance sexily around a pole, it build up strength in all parts of the body CONS It doesn’t feel like a workout, there’s no cardio though you feel your muscles being challenged

Where: London Dance Academy 

How much? £15

Did I pay? Yes



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