On Friday, the famous pole dancer Alex Shchukin posted a thought provoking status entitled “Is pole dance dead?” as a result of how the industry has recently suffered many setbacks and ultimately changed for the time being as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Naturally, such a powerful status got my little brain having a ponder on the topic. So as a pole dance student of five and a half years and a pole dance blogger for three of those, do I, in my infinite wisdom think pole dance is dead?
To reassure everyone (including hopefully Alex if he reads my humble blog) I can think of so many reasons why I believe that the pole dance industry is more than strong enough to survive the storm that is the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Is pole dance dead? I want to ask you to make this post a platform for discussion of very important topic. What is going on with pole dance community? And will we survive? At the moment I see that 1. Studios are closing one after another. The rent has to be paid, however in most countries the gyms are closed or closed-opened for six months. 2. On-line classes have lost their appeal. People are generally depressed and let’s face it – snack of KitKats is so much easier and faster than 1 hour long training. Takes us straight to number 3👇🏼 3. No motivation. Will there be the championships? Competitions? Events? When? To train… what for? To keep fit? Well, tabatha and yoga are easier, plus you can do it anywhere. 4. No workshops. With the number 1 plus strange travel rules changing every day I doubt any studio would risk to book an instructor 6 months beforehand (as it was before) and invest in promoting the workshop, getting people etc. 5. No circus, no gigs, nothing. When will it come back? Nobody knows. 6. Pole camps, I would say, will be the last ones standing. At least it is about vacation. But I can say from both perspectives – as an instructor and camp organizer – I want to bang my head against the wall with the despair. As I see it, at first we all tried to keep it together, to support each other. But after six months it is just every man for himself. And I get it. Everybody is struggling. So my questions are: what is your situation? Do you think we can do something to help the community? What are you struggling the most with? Have you found something that helps you in your pole dance business or training? Will we survive? Because I think, honestly, we won’t. #poledance
Firstly, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, pole dance is an industry that has been able to adapt to a certain extent throughout this weird time. For example, my Dad is a barber and unfortunately whilst we were in the fuller stages of lockdown here in the UK, he was unable to work at all. The pole dance industry however did not have this issue as such. Within weeks, if not days of the studios being closed, so many awesome instructors got their business brains firmly switched on and rolled out all manner of online classes for students across the world! We were no longer limited to just training at our local studios as thanks to the world wide web, we could pretty much take classes with instructors wherever we fancied (time zone dependent of course if you’re a lazy bitch like me who cannot get out of bed in the morning for shit). Christ, two of my pals and I even had the privilege of attending a splits class with none other than Felix Motherfucking Cane herself back in April! Yes I did mange to get up early for her holiness on that occasion.
Also it’s not just online classes that the pole industry has managed to conjure up during the lockdown period. The brains behind the badass Filthy Friday have ran online showcases throughout lockdown and both GFFDamian dance studio in Manchester and Pole World Festival in Bristol managed to run entire weekends of online workshops too. I think that’s the very definition of the phrase “improvise, adapt and overcome” if you ask me.
As a student, these online classes have been an absolute lifeline throughout the lockdown. They have enabled me to train with pole friends from far and wide and even before I purchased my X Pole at the end of May, attending weekly stretch, floorwork and strength and conditioning classes provided a wonderful (all be it fucking painful at times) semblance of normality in the weirdness that was lockdown. Seeing my pole buddies on screen and hearing us all struggle with the moves again together was a massive mood booster. I still know so many people, myself included, who are loving the online classes and have no intention of stopping them anytime soon.
Which brings me onto my next point, us pole dancers have been getting fucking flexy! One of the many forms of online classes that has thrived during the lockdown was the amount of flexibility classes available to take. As a result of this, so many of us (myself included) are training our entire bodies properly when it comes to getting bendy and reaching our flexibility goals- I can even touch my toes now, a small goal for some but a pretty significant one for my shitty hamstrings! Personally, I much prefer online stretch classes too. There’s no denying that stretching is bloody painful, requires maximum effort and I’m not going to lie, sometimes the thought of driving all the way to the studio to stretch was too much for my lazy arse. However, the thought of merely turning my laptop on and getting bendy in the comfort of my own home in my pjs is something I can certainly get behind. Would there be the huge increase in online flexibility classes if lockdown hadn’t happened? Probably not.
Let’s not forget the joyous surge in the purchasing of home poles! Certain pole dancers (myself included) finally got in gear as a result of lockdown and bought a home pole (I’ve only been saying that I’m going to get one since December 2015), thus enabling more pole dance training to take place. I am absolutely loving seeing so many videos on both Facebook and Instagram of everyone busting out the home training, it reminds me of Kitty Velour’s old school videos she used to post of her dancing in her uni dorm! Again, I can’t speak for everyone here, but I sure as shit can say that I wouldn’t have been so motivated to actually buy a pole an train at home if our beloved studios hadn’t been closed.
Another fabulous trend I am seeing at the moment is the return of pole dancers who were having a break from the old chrome . As classes are currently recapping the easier moves for their levels, it’s providing the perfect opportunity for those who have had some time off to hop back in, regain their strength, confidence and recap the basics. If you’re thinking of returning to pole, now is definitely the time to do it!
Now, this one starts of as a bit of a sad point, but hear me out and I promise it gets happier. Whilst it’s quite shit that the competitions have been put on pause this year, it has meant that dancers are truly training for themselves once again and not just to snatch trophies. As someone who was often practicing for showcases and competitions pre-lockdown, this has resulted in substantial strength gains, shit the bed I can even do a very sloppy aerial shoulder mount now. Also after all the flexibility training that’s been going down, when the competitions and showcases do start back up again, I can’t wait to see all the bendy bitches up on that stage.
For some of us , as a result of the many lifestyle changes bough about by Covid-19, we logistically have more time to train-which I am not complaining about one bit. Several organisations are now encouraging staff to work from home more frequently, which means less time commuting and travelling and more time for training. Yes that does require a hefty dose of motivation to train after a long days work, but speaking from experience if you can manage to dig deep and find said motivation extra training is always worth doing.
Very importantly, having more time to and communicating with a wide variety of pole friends more frequently has enabled us to learn more about things that are far more important than training. Pole is more than just pole dance and I have learned so much about how to both educate myself and actively support social and political issues such as supporting Sex Workers and the Black Lives Matter movement as a result of many, many intelligent members of the pole dance industry. I’m going to be honest and state right here and right now that many more figures in the pole dance industry need to support Sex Workers and the Black Lives Matter movement, as thanks to those who have shown active support, I have learned so much about both movements and how I can continue my education and support going forward.
Of course, at the moment it is very sad that we cannot attend our beloved pole dance competitions and cheer our pals on at the top of our lungs, or get starstruck during a workshop in person with one of your pole idols, but I am confident that one day those things from the old world will return. I have heard many key healthcare figures here in the UK refer to the Covid-19 pandemic as a marathon and not a sprint, which is fucking shit but it’s not going to last forever. Like a great big orange phoenix (the mythical bird, not someone who’s been on furlough getting a bit tantastic and busting out the move) pole dance shall rise from the ashes!