December 2018 Student of the Month: Phoebe

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When did you start your pole journey?
I took my first pole class ever on 7/18/2013 at Pole Pressure with Devon :)

Why did you decide to try pole dancing?
My mind was in a very weird place at the time, and I needed a healthy distraction. I trained Mixed Martial Arts (mainly Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) in my 20s, and I tried to get back to that, but my body just couldn’t handle the impact anymore. One day my husband pointed me to the Pole Pressure ad sign on 14th St and I said I’d go, sort of as a practical joke.

If you told me that day I’d become a poler and still practice pretty much everyday 5 years later, I’d think you’re crazy because nothing about me would have predicted that: I had never taken a dance or gymnastics class my entire life, I was not particularly expressive and pretty much the opposite of an exhibitionist. But after a few classes, I realized that all those assumptions I had about pole were just spectacularly wrong. It’s such a shame that most people won’t try pole because of the stigma... I guess it’s hard to imagine the pole as a fitness apparatus that’s really fun without the actual experience. 

What do you love most about pole dancing?
I feel like I could write a book on this! Physically, I love being able to make interesting shapes with my body, which, at this age, feels more gratifying than trying to choke someone out. Yoga is also great for that (which I also practice every day, usually before/after pole class), but pole is a whole different game -- the pole gives you an extra dimension that opens up so many more possibilities for making shapes, and it’s always prettier on spin :) Conceptually, I love how the pole community has one of the most vibrant remix culture (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remix_culture) on the internet today. My favorite moment in class is when everyone huddles to watch a pole trick on insta, and try to replicate or make their own version of it. Pole tricks have gotten so much more technically sophisticated and challenging precisely because this read/write culture allows us to constantly learn from each other and innovate. You can literally go on insta every day to find a trick you've never seen before -- that's really cool and exciting.

I also love the idea that we turned something that’s been traditionally a symbol of exploitation and objectification of women into a hobby that showcases our strength. Some feminists complain that pole perpetuates sexism and stereotypes, which I think is missing the point: we’re exercising the freedom that women before us fought so hard for to express ourselves on our own terms and be comfortable with our body. Never mind that most pole classes are more like gymnastics training and not at all sensual; even if it is, it’s awfully patronizing to tell women what they should/shouldn’t do for their own enjoyment. Our culture still has a very sophomoric attitude towards women’s sexuality – there’s so much shame and judgment attached to female sexual expressions that are really unhealthy for women. I think the younger generation understands that the solution isn’t to deny the need to express, but to normalize and celebrate it. I feel a special sense of comradery with polers because we brave the shame to do what we love. When people ask me about pole, I usually describe it like fight club for chicks: we hide our bruises and don’t talk about it at work. I once walked passed someone I met at pole in my office building, and we gave each other the fight club nod¦ it’s a very unusual and empowering female bond."

Why do you love Pole Pressure?
Our friendly and awesome people, of course :) I haven’t seen the same close-knit togetherness at other pole studios I’ve been to. We help each other out, we cheer each other on when we nail a new move, we push each other to compete and perform. It’s a very supportive community. It also really helps that I live a block away from the studio, which is a major reason why I haven’t moved and am horrified by the thought of moving.

What are some of your goals for this year?
I still can’t kick up to a handspring (ugh!) so I’ll continue to work on that. I’m finally getting some hang time in my freestanding handstand so I’ll start practicing scorpion soon. I also started spending more time on aerial hoop and fabric, which I’m still fairly new to. The grip is so different with both of them, which is the hardest thing to get used to. My 2019 goal is to just get comfortable with them so I don’t look like I’m fighting for my life between moves :)