The views and opinions shared in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Vocally.
In recent years, pole dancing received some recognition as the art form it is — an incredibly expressive type of dance that requires a ridiculous amount of strength combined with grace. Videos on social media of pole dancers performing amazing routines opened up my eyes to how awesome these women are, but I could never imagine trying it myself.
That is, until a friend of mine invited me to try an introductory pole dancing class at a local studio.
At any other time in my life, I probably would have politely declined. However, recent political and social developments had left me feeling weak and helpless. It's hard to feel your power as a woman when, say, a massive misogynist and alleged serial sexual assaulter is elected President.
As it was, I said yes. It just felt right, even though I haven't been the most comfortable with expressing my sexuality.
Everyone says that pole dancing is an empowering experience. And they're correct.
The class started with introductions, and then a warmup. The instructor turned the lights down and put on some ambient music, then had us close our eyes and follow her instructions. Every bit of it was sensual. She instructed us to make our movements as flowing and natural as possible, even while doing simple stretches. Any time our hands were unoccupied, she asked us to use them to explore our bodies however felt natural, running them over our legs, hips, stomach, through our hair — whatever felt good.
I usually think of the stretching and warmup of a workout as the boring part. This was not boring. It was relaxing and self-esteem boosting. It helped to have a gorgeous and fit woman telling me how beautiful I was.
She then taught us a basic pole dancing routine with the classic fireman spin. Because the introductory class is for women of any fitness level, much of it was off the pole. But all of it was about owning how incredibly sexy we are. It wasn't about "you can do this for men to make them want you." It was about "you're a sexy, beautiful woman and you rule this room."
Once we had learned the routines, we split into two groups and took turns performing for each other. The audience group was encouraged to applaud and whoop to encourage the performers.
I left the class feeling amazing. I felt every bit as sexy as the instructor said I was. It's been difficult to feel good about my body after gaining a lot of weight during my 20s, but this one class slam dunked any self-consciousness I had straight into the mental trash. Now, if I'm ever feeling bad about myself, I can think back to my pole dancing experience.