Social Media drives me up the fucking wall the majority of the time, however it does sometimes have it’s good uses in society. Probably my favourite thing that social media is good for in 2018 is for introducing members of the pole community to one another from all corners of the globe!
After posting in the Handstand February group last week, I was introduced to the lovely Sara Catino and her wonderful website Learn Pole Dancing. Sara sounded like an awesome lady (which she most definitely is) so I thought I would interview her for this little blog. I hope you all enjoy reading!
First off, what made you discover pole dance and want to take up the awesomeness that is pole?
Oh my God, I love telling this naughty story hehe! I was in a Borders Bookstore (no longer a round apparently?) and on a display table at the entrance to the store screamed Sheila Kelley. That chick screamed to my inner stripper at me from that black-and-white cover! To say the least, the room disappeared from around me and all I could do was stare at the pages of Sheila crawling, grinding on a chair and upside down on a – what? A POLE!
I was a single, young, religious (WTF?) mommy trying to raise a little girl to love Jesus and sing “Amazing Grace” – but I really all of a sudden wanted to be naked in vinyl thigh-high stiletto boots and fishnet crawling across a floor, so I bought the book quickly and hid it in my diaper bag until I was in the privacy of my bedroom in my religious parent’s house. It was then that I fell in freaking love with sensual, slutty, stripper-style floor and pole dance. The story continues a few years later (mind you I still hadn’t touched a pole – I went on to marry a man from church and try to be a nice wife) that I went to Las Vegas with my religious mom and not-religious sister for my 30th birthday. We did no partying, just some shopping and eating, but I found Stripper 101 in the ‘things to do in Vegas’. I paid the $40, snuck away to the class when Mom was napping, took some heels and booty shorts with me and effin fell in love with that chrome pole. I think I hogged it from my partner I was supposed to be sharing it with.
I think I actually became addicted that day. No joke.
How long have you been pole dancing for?
That Stripper 101 class-episode was in 2007, so this is my 11th year now! I have not always been consistent but I have always loved pole. I just bought my own house and created a dedicated pole room that no one is allowed in – maybe pole friends and my cat – but it is my sanctuary. So I intend on going further in pole dance than I ever have.
Your website, Learn Pole Dancing, is a fantastic and very informative site, what made you set it up?
I first had the idea when I had been in a car accident and in a neck brace on painkillers at home. My late husband was supporting us as I was recovering at home with two little girls. I was used to working full-time but all of a sudden we were missing my income and I wanted to look into making an income at home. I found Site Sell, a company that helped you to create a website and start earning money from advertising and such. I decided to try it out and chose a topic that I felt passionate about although I hadn’t been poling in some time then. I started building the website and just fell more and more in love with pole dance and the community.
I left it alone for a long time – several years in fact until recently I took it up again as soon as I had some free time from working – and have been reviving the content and trying to add more and more information and resources for beginning pole dancers in particular.
What do you love about running your own pole website?
I love that I have a place to express myself and the sport/dance/hobby that I love. I like being able to connect with all of those in the world of pole dance as well – I get to connect with the pole stars, pole dance product manufacturers/creators and people like you that offer such a special gift to this fab world of pole dance! I love getting emails every day from beginner pole dancers globally that are looking for a place to start taking classes or maybe just need someone to encourage them to start at home if they don’t have a local studio. I get inquiries from instructors who have new certification programs that want help getting the word out to women from countries who still have laws against dancing that want to know how they can discreetly start to learn to pole dance.
What are your short and long term pole dance goals? Do you have any specific competitions you want to enter or goals you want to reach?
My short term goals at this point is to pole dance and train at least twice a week now that I have an available pole space and I live closer to a pole studio. I want to get a strong straddle invert and a clean, pretty shoulder mount this year! I know that I can. My long term goals would be to be able to do a routine that lasts more than 2 minutes – to have that endurance and to do a series of pretty pole tricks along with it. I would be really, really happy to be able to do that. And I will!
I’ve never had any dreams or plans to enter a competition although I would do more showcases. I don’t even feel like I am at a level to compete and I don’t know if the pressure I would place on myself would make it enjoyable for me or not. I am not closed off to the idea and if I ever do get that urge, I will give it 100%!
What is your favourite pole trick?
I really love spin pole and probably any climb, spin, pose or invert on spin is just so beautiful and graceful for me to watch that I have just fallen in love with doing tricks/moves on spin.
What is your nemesis pole trick?
I consider myself to be about an intermediate level – but I am still having trouble accepting the pain of the Superman – which is one of the reasons I identified so much with your post about it. I feel like it’s like the pole sit when I first learned it – I will just get used to the pain and my inner thighs will embrace the pain of the pole there!
How would you describe your own dance style? Are you more of a gymnastic trickster or a floor-working filth monger?
Definitely a floor-working filth monger. Definitely. If I were 20 years younger (I’m 41 now) and my knees could take it, I would strip for a living. I love strip club, strippers and the whole dance style around it. I actually feel a little envious when I tuck dollar bills into their thongs.
Who is your pole inspiration?
I think one of my biggest pole inspirations has been Fawnia Mondey. I love that she has fearlessly been a pioneer in the industry and started events like Pole Expo in Las Vegas (that is super amazing btw). She is so disciplined in her approach to fitness, yet she has the whole sexy, stripper side to pole dance. I have followed her for the past decade and am just amazed by what she has accomplished and how she continues to help and contribute to the growth of the pole community.
As far as dancers/performers, I really, really love Leigh Ann Reilly, Carmine Black, Eva Bembo and Lara Joh. I have playlists created on YouTube of their videos and just love to watch them like a favourite movie, over and over. No, I’m not obsessed or anything…sure!
What motivates you and keeps you going when you’re having a bad practice session? How do you pick yourself up and carry on?
Sometimes I have to stop – I know now to take a break if I am hurting in any way; and if I am frustrated with a particular move, I normally will work on something else for a bit or maybe for the rest of the session and come back to it the next day or the next week. I find giving myself a break from something – a move, a new trick – I am really not “getting” helps me when I revisit learning it.
My other way of dealing with this is to turn on the pretty lights, close the door, put on some music that I love moving to, put on something that I feel hot in and buckle on my Pleasers – and just start moving. Get into the music and get out of my head. This always helps and I still get a beautiful workout and I feel just plain lovely.
Where did you learn to pole dance?
Besides that one-hour class at Stripper 101 where I first was able to learn anything on a pole, I took a six-week beginner course from Diane Flores at Venus Pole Dance Fitness in Central California. The studio was the backroom of a hair salon but it might as well been the Taj Mahal to me! It was a magical time in my life going there. I learned how to push myself to new limits in fitness; I learned how to spin, to climb, and to slink my way around the floor. Suddenly all of the moves I had to learn from photos and worded descriptions in Sheila Kelley’s book came to life there! I will never forget that studio. Diane is still going strong in her studio in Modesto, California and is still creating super-magical pole-dancing experiences for women.
If you could give any advice to people wanting to start pole? What would it be?
My advice would be to take it slow and build up your strength – don’t go into your first class trying to invert or do crazy spins. Learn all of the basics until you can’t get them wrong. Don’t be afraid to keep practicing those simple climbs, simple spins and floorwork moves over and over until you can do them in your sleep. They will be the foundation to so many things you learn later on as you progress in your pole journey. And your pole journey is YOUR pole journey – no one else’s. It will be unique to you. You may or may not learn all of the things you see other people doing. Love your body and take care of it – learn to listen to it and stop sometimes. You can save yourself from injuries and frustration. Sometimes you have to walk away from the pole for a minute, for a day, a week, a month, sometimes several months. It’s okay. I’ve learned that my time away has helped me in many ways in relation to my pole journey.