Well folks, it finally happened, I entered my very first pole competition last weekend and lived to tell the tale! The English Riviera Pole Championships was an absolute crazy, whirlwind of a day but one that I am very, very happy I partook in.
Was it a nerve wracking experience I hear you ask? Oh fuck yes. I am not one of those cool, calm and collected people who doesn’t suffer with their nerves. You name it if it’s something that can cause anxiety chances are it has shat me up good and proper at some point in my life, so you can only imagine the swarm of Mothras I had going on in my gut on competition day (there were at least four nervous poos that took place on Saturday I can tell you). As the day progressed however, I found myself embracing the whole experience and genuinely enjoyed performing would you believe! Therefore I thought I would share with you my top tips for kicking anxiety in it’s hairy balls on competition day and smashing it out of the park on that stage.
Forget you’re competing
I know this one sounds like I have been smoking about five blunts in a row but trust me hear me out. The thought of being up there on stage in front of four stern judges (spoiler alert, they weren’t stern at all and that was all in my noggin) and having my every move scrutinsed got a bit too much for me in the run up to the big day, so I quickly flipped my perspective around. I kept repeating myself (and my fellow competitors) “this isn’t a competition, this is just a showcase with feedback on your performance” so much that now that’s all I see competitions as. It calmed my nerves big time and stopped my anxiety going on a wayard spiral.
Basically whatever you can think of to help you keep your mind in check I recommend. In a recent episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, Davina De Campo met the legendary Katya , who told her to smash the competition she needed to get rid of all her anxious, patterned thinking and see the competition as her own “one woman show with yourself as the star.” I think it was Anna Frost who told me that if you imagine yourself as a Queen/King setting foot on the stage and the audience and judges are lucky to be graced with your presence, then that boosts your performance confidence no end, so give that a try too!
Put effort into your costume so you’re excited to wear it
Seriously I was so excited to get my outfit on on Saturday it made the old excitement element of the day start to outweigh the fear. My routine was Morticia Addams’ themed, so I had picked both my customised Cannibal Corpse, blood splattered Pleasers and custom, Hoodlum Fang cut out bodysuit (also blood splattered) and a black Primarni special dressing gown to really finish off that signature Morticia look. If all else failed, I fucking adored my costume, and couldn’t wait to channel my inner Morticia and get that outfit on. Whether your theme is Morticia Addams, a sultry mermaid or a fabulous unicorn, I thoroughy encourage you to go all out and create a costume that you’ll be buzzing to shown off on the night.
If make up is your thing – go to town with it
I am in no way an expert on the stuff, but I bloody love going to town and experimenting with make up. By experimenting I pretty much mean painting on various colours of eyeshadows and lipsticks (I can only dream of mastering the art of contour) but you get the idea. There must be some sort of primal, warpaint-esque instinct that some of us still feel when putting on make up, as for me when I’ve got a full face on my confidence and general sassiness is through the roof. The odd few dance shows I performed in as a kid plus the numerous pole performances I have delivered over the years have taught me that stage make up has to be bolder than one’s regular amount in order to show up under the bright lights, so I can thoroughly recommend setting aside at least an hour to applying your make up for the competition. An hour is a decent amount of time to correct any mistakes or add any more bits like lashes or glitter to really accentuate your look. My homie @FacebyDree’s Insta account is dedicated to pole competition make up, so check her chanel out for some ace tips for how to get your competition make up looking next level.
Or alternatively if make up isn’t your thing, embrace your natural face and own it!
Fuel yourself properly!
I’m a big eater and am a firm believer of not doing anything on an empty stomach. Pole competitions can be long and exhausting days and you need to be feeling on top form to smash it, so make sure you have eaten a decent amount of nutritious food before hitting the stage, even if your stomach feels the size of a ping pong ball. I often go for a Lucozade Sport, banana, apples, crisps and a sandwich of sorts, so pretty much a bumper meal deal about an hour before I’m due to go on to make sure my energy levels are at their best and I’m not hungry, anxious or worse hangry before hitting the stage.
Make sure you have one thing about yourself on the day that if all goes to shit on the day – you’re proud of
This is another piece of sound advice that Anna Frost gave me. Basically, have something about yourself on the night that if all goes tits up, you can say “oh well, at least XYZ looked good.” It could be a new pair of shoes you’re performing in ,“Oh well, at least my new bright red eight inch Pleasers looked sick”, your hair “oh well, at least my hair looked banging,” or anything. For me last weekend, it was my nails. I got my nails shellaced in the closest colour I could find to Morticia’s and painted my toe nails to, which is a bi-annual occurrence for me. I was pretty chuffed that I felt all coordinated and groomed, and honestly said to myself at points last Saturday “oh well, if my routine goes tits up, at least all my nails are looking fierce!”
Have something to look forward to when you come off stage
Oh my word my little can of gin and pink tonic literally got me through last Saturday at points. It’s against the rules for the majority of competitions to be under the influence of anything whilst competing, so I had myself saved a little can of gin and a crafty hip flask set aside for the second my routine was over, as I knew they would be needed. As I walked off stage, my homie Lilliana cracked open my gin for me and boy oh boy did it taste nothing short of magnificent after performing! If you’re not a big fan of booze, make sure you have got a hefty portion of your favourite snack set aside for you to munch on when you get off stage.
Remember that no matter what happens- nothing bad will happen and that life goes on
This little pearl of wisdon is so useful it helped me chill out enough to pass my driving test three years back, so note this bastard down. If literally everything that could go wrong does go wrong on the night and your routine feels like one gigantic fuck up after another (it won’t but just say for arguments sake it does) there will be zero dire consequences and life will go on. You’re not going to get banished from your pole studio, made redundant from your job or evicted from your home, life will go on! You may understandably feel annoyed or sad that your routine didn’t go the way you wanted it to, but there will be no repercussions. You’ll get up, brush yourself off and crack back on like you always have.
Well there you have it, my top seven tips for smashing anxiety at your pole competition. If you have any killer tips you would like to share, please drop them in the comments!