Surprising ways pole dancing can change your life - Rosie's Journey
Pole dancing: an activity reserved for women who have hit rock bottom, and have resorted to selling their bodies. At least that's what I used to think.
Hi, I'm Rosie and I'm a pole dancer.
So how did I end up at 'rock bottom'? Well - to give you the really quick version - I spent the first 25 or so years of my life attempting to be a man. I gave it the old college try, but it turns out that I wasn't well suited to manhood. So I transitioned.
But, although I'd gained some understanding of my gender, and in many ways had never been happier, I also found that many of my pre-existing body issues became much worse. Up until now, those issues had managed to quietly bubble beneath the surface. But they'd bubbled for long enough, and now they were boiling over.
That was when a good friend of mine said to me: "You should try pole dancing."
Well, that was all it took to convince me (I'm a bit of a pushover). Forget 'rock bottom' - I just wanted to try something that was fun and made me feel feminine and sexy. That was more than 4 years ago now!
Okay, so I've hopefully set the scene. Now here are some surprising ways that pole dancing has changed my life.
1. Pole dancing made me like my body!
When I started pole dancing, I couldn't look in the mirror full stop. I was more frightened of mirrors than somebody who'd taken one tab of acid too many. More than a passing glance in a mirror would frequently lead to me hysterically crying, sometimes for hours. Sometimes I couldn't hold back tears during pole class, so I would claim to be feeling sick and get out of there before I broke down. Sad stuff.
Now you might be thinking: "Rosie, are you a masochist? If you hated mirrors so much, why did you keep going back to a place you knew was FILLED with mirrors?"
Well, besides the mirrors, one thing the pole studio has a lot of is different people with different body shapes, all out on display for the world to see. Oddly enough, I could look at the people around me and see how beautiful they were. And I started to realise that many of them had similar body features to mine. Not the full collection I had, but definitely individual parts. I have broad shoulders... plenty of polers with broad shoulders! I have no hips... plenty of polers without hips! I wasn't the only one with those particular features, I was just the only one ashamed of them.
That was the reason I kept going back: I wanted to have the confidence these other girls had. And so through the magical power of being semi-naked a lot of the time, surrounded by mirrors, knowing there were others like me, I learned to like my body (loving it is a work in progress!).
2. Pole dancing got me a vagina.
I know right, it took me by surprise too.
As noted, I had a lot of body issues, and my extra appendage was one of them. Well, I decided to do something about that, so I started saving for a rather expensive operation in an overseas country.
Saving was slow-going, and it started to feel a bit hopeless. Giving up was unimaginable though, so I enlisted help! I thought I would put up a Givealittle page and run a fundraiser event. I was going to crowdsource a vagina.
Several beautiful polers and aerialists agreed to perform at my fundraiser, and the one and only Karry Summers (Hallowed be her name) helped me to secure a venue FREE of charge.
Long story short, the fundraiser was a success thanks to my fellow polers (and others), I ended up with the money that I needed for my wee surgery, and the rest is history.
3. Pole dancing made me a stand-up comedian.
Okay, this one might be a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.
Having had my surgery, I was on top of the world. I'd never felt so at home in my body. Looking in the mirror no longer lead to tears, instead I smiled.
With my new-found confidence, I started to feel an energy and verve for life that I hadn't felt in some time. There were a whole host of things I'd always wanted to try, stand-up comedy being one of them.
So I signed up for an open mic one night, and lo and behold, I did not entirely suck. From there I've had a whole raft of achievements, such as travelling to DUNEDIN to perform in a basement, or travelling to KAIKOURA to perform in a basement, or travelling to WELLINGTON to perform in a bar that was in a basement.
Just to make the connection clear - pole dancing got me the vagina that caused me to feel comfortable enough to try stand up comedy. Pole dancing -> vagina -> comedy. It's simple maths.
4. Pole dancing got me a job.
One day I was talking to Karry Summers (Hallowed be her name) about how I was on holiday from study and was looking for work. Next thing I know, she was asking me if I wanted to be the studio receptionist. There was no way I could refuse!
Having been given such a great opportunity, I had to give it my all. I did my best to make the studio a welcoming space for students, spending my time smiling a lot and saying things like "Hi!". I was a natural.
In fact, I was so good at smiling and saying "Hi!" that Karry Summers (Hallowed be her name) offered me ANOTHER job - this time with Altitude HQ as the Compliance and Analytics Officer. That means I say things like "You can't do that, that's illegal" and "The data shows that that is 100% illegal". I don't think we'll be doing a games night for our Christmas party again.
5. Pole dancing helped me find a family.
Okay so I might be going a bit overboard with the cutesy stuff now, and I should also preface this by saying that I was not lacking a family before getting into pole (Love you Mum and Dad and Sisters!), but I found a second little family within the pole dancing community.
I've never joined a community where I felt included and accepted so quickly, especially as a queer individual. It's not just Altitude either (although Altitude will always be my #1 <3), every poler I meet is fucking awesome. Honestly, it's a little unsettling. Suspicious even.
Anyway, I should stop here, because I could go on with surprising ways pole changed my life for quite a while (did I mention the time I spent an evening dressed as a giant vibrator? Life-changing!).
The point is, you'd be crazy to describe my life since starting pole dancing as 'rock bottom'. Body confidence, new genitals, a career in stand up, a new job, and a (2nd) family - doesn't sound like rock bottom to me!
And if those things don't sound appealing (though, let's be honest, who doesn't want new genitals! Even mine could do with an update, I hear there's a suede version now), then there are many other wonderful and surprising things that the World of Pole can offer!
Curious? Book in a consult! (you didn't forget that I work for Altitude did you?)