Pole Dancing

This summer many of you are river rafting, mountain biking or maybe even hula hooping out in a park.  There are lots of fun ways to stay active during the hot summer months. Today Boise State Public Radio’s Scott Ki tries out pole dancing for the first time.

Women in high heeled shoes make it look easy.  But I have some anxiety even before I set foot in Ophidia Studio.  The Garden City studio looks like a store in a generic strip mall.   But inside, there are poles twelve feet high.  And there’s a half-dozen high heeled shoes waiting for dancers on a stage. 

Allison Holley“It feels fun.  It’s kind of like playing on a jungle gym.  And adults don’t get that chance.”  

Allison Holley owns Ophidia.  She looks as fit as Madonna at a yoga session.  She begins with a warm up with everyone bathed in pink light. 

Allison Holley [10000 maniacs music] “Let’s start out with some fireman’s spins.  Get back in the swing of it.” [music fades out]

Holley grabs the pole with one hand, spins, plants her foot, then dips her body to the ground.  That’s a fireman’s spin.  Holley’s danced for six years; three of those years, she’s been an instructor.   

Allison Holley“I worked at a club and I didn’t like the environment so I got out of that but I really missed pole dancing.  So it was a little twist of events I ended up starting just a couple of classes.”

Now, Holley’s studio offers pole dance sessions seven days a week.  After the warm up, she begins a series of moves – a tear drop then a knee hook.  A red light shines on her as she demonstrates a position called an invert. 

Allison Holley “Good.  Awesome. And to get some momentum in that swing this upper leg. Uh, kind of pull it to move back all the way around. . . “

The invert means you swing your body upside down and hook both your legs around the pole.  Lynette McDougal nails it.  She’s a regular.  McDougal started pole dancing last summer.  She likes the way dancing complements biking and running.  

Lynette McDougal “It’s not like just pumping weights you know so you are using kind of all the muscles that frame your skeletal system.” 

I find this out in Alex Louis’ co-ed class.  My first fireman’s spin feels awkward, lead-footed.  But after some practice, I can do a serviceable spin and knee hook.  My hands get greasy and I dread the feel and sound of metal scraping raw skin.  Louis says that’s pole burn.   

Alex Louis  “So, brace it with your arm here the forearm. Grab above and lift.  It’s a good work out, huh, Ki:  It’s a great work out.”

So great, my shirt is soaked in sweat and my muscles burn.  I wipe down my pole and powder my hands to get them sticky. It’s the only excuse I can find to catch my breath.  The free dance and cool down finally arrives after nearly an hour.  The lights dim and a disco ball sparkles.    

Alex Louis “Thanks Alex, that was a great work out. Pole Dancing is not for wimps.  Definitely not.  That was great. Wow, it is serious fades out…”

So serious there are two pole dancing associations:  The U.S. Pole Dance Federation and the American Pole Fitness Association.  There’s even a worldwide federation.  Pole dance fans want the sport to be a part of the Olympics.  A studio in England has gathered more than six thousand signatures to help convince the International Olympic Committee to hold Pole dancing as a test event.  Holley says legitimacy for the sport is important. 

Allison Holley“A lot of times when pole dancing is shown in a context where little kids can see how cool it is and that it’s acrobatic it kind of takes a little bit of the stigma away from it.”

My pole dance session brings back memories of sliding down playground equipment.  I feel dizzy from spinning and even nausea.  I have pole burn on my forearm and thigh.  And, my muscles are sore for days.  Despite all this, I’m seriously thinking of taking another class.  Scott Ki, KBSX News.