Pole Conundrums 2, written by Vaidehi Amair This is the continuation to Pole Conundrums 1. This is a story about my journey in pole dance and the way it has unlocked my potential to take risks and follow my dreams. Granted, risks do have their consequences and situations can be challenging, but it’s better to endure the challenges rather than sit idly, not following your dreams. This is a story about how pole dance has become the center of my life while at the same time giving me opportunities to fulfill other dreams I was too afraid to follow. I have observed a similar effect in the lives of other pole dancers, so I know I am not the only one that feels this way. If you are reading this and are passionate about pole dance, you know what I am talking about.
The inspiration behind my telling this story was born out of the misunderstanding of what pole dancing is and how much people don’t understand the many ways it inspires and transforms pole dancers. Pole dance is not just an athletic form of dance that can showcase femininity, sensuality, power and grace at the same time, but it can also be instrumental in unlocking doors to personal and even unrelated dreams and goals. I want to share with you the story of how pole came into my life and how it is actually a very natural part of my life that does not take me away from my spiritual way of life.
If you read the first article, Pole Conundrums Part 1, by now you are familiar with my upbringing in a spiritual community and how this background might seemingly clash with the contrasting stereotypes associated with pole dance. It is very common to find people surprised and sometimes disappointed by my all consuming engagement in the art. Even I am sometimes surprised about how much I have given up and how focused I am on this art form. At the same time, I feel that this is an integral part of me that had been waiting to manifest in my life, unbeknownst to me.
So, back to the story about this pole dance thing. I was now living in Oakland, California, working at travel publisher Lonely Planet, where I was about to be introduced to pole dance. Let me rewind just a little bit to a brief moment in time that may have been my first exposure to the art: One evening while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a pole dance video posted by my one and only friend from Malta. I had no idea what it was. Whatever it was, I thought it was incredible! The woman looked like she was floating, swimming— like a graceful undulating creature rippling in space, somehow gracefully excused from the influence of gravity. I didn’t know what it was but I believe this was my first exposure to it. I never knew that one day, I would even be able to do something like that, although I have to admit, my connection to it was so strong and familiar that I guess you could say my intuition hinted at it becoming a part of my life. My second wave of exposure came from one of my co-workers at Lonely Planet who was learning pole dance. I remember she couldn’t hang out Tuesdays or Thursdays because she had pole dance rehearsal. It was at her performance that it hit me.
I went to a small club in Oakland to see her perform, not knowing what to expect. What I experienced was overwhelming. I felt a sense of empowerment, awe, and appreciation. The energy the girls on the stage emitted was something I wanted too: strength, grace, femininity, power, a controlled, natural and accepted sensuality, fun and excitement. Pole dancing was not just strip tease as I had thought, it was acrobatics, dance, technique, strength, choreography—and so much more— soaked in an all permeating empowerment and natural sensuality.
At that time in my life, I was still getting used to my identity outside of the ashram (spiritual center). I was living a relatively renounced life that wasn’t focused on identifying with the body, what to speak of flaunting or accentuating any associated beauty. I was always worried about attracting attention to myself as a result of being energetic, young and beautiful and I had learned to suppress my light, essentially, my power and strength as a woman. I had learned that it wasn’t good to be bold, outspoken, sexy and that it only caused trouble, especially while living in an ashram, so I subsequently subdued this as much as possible…sometimes, I now believe, to my own detriment.
Seeing these women being so confident about their bodies, about being sexy yet not getting stuck on the idea, and executing acrobatic tricks with confidence, was more than I could ever want. My heart raced and I knew that I would do whatever it took to learn this art form. I realized that this had the potential to help me express my passion, high energy, theatrical personality, intense focus, and inherent sensuality.
I started pole dance the next week. It was July 2013, the rest is history. Boom. Pole dance was in my life. To stay. I began taking classes at one of my favorite bay area studios, Atomic Allure (where my friend had been training) and felt that going to class 1-3 times a day, seven days a week, was not enough. I needed nothing but pole. I wanted more but didn’t know how to get more. I was just starting to learn the ins and outs of the pole world and didn’t yet know where to turn or who to talk to what to speak of how to describe what I was even looking for. There was something more that I needed and craved. Did I even know what I was looking for? Every day I saw my growth. I was getting stronger. I was becoming happy with my strength and becoming more confident, more willing to take on challenges in life. I felt strong and confident but with a sense of self satisfaction that didn’t depend on anyone. I began making new friends with empowered women who were also beginning this journey with me.
There were photoshoots, rehearsals, performances, events to go to— my whole world was enhanced and enriched with activity related to pole dance and performing. Yes, I started pole dance a week after the performance and never stopped. Little did I know that this decision would becoming the driving force of my life, as it is today and would literally turn me into a traveling pole gypsy.
Read my next article to see how this journey blossomed and what I am up to now in Los Angeles.