Sunday, 13 March 2011

Changing perceptions of pole dancing

As some of you may know there have been lots of celebrations in Plymouth this week for International Women's day, the events are a chance to appreciate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Being involved with some of these events has been a fantastic experience.

The Intergenerational event was held at Plymouth Guildhall on Friday 11th March, (Herald article on the intergenerational event) it was an amazing event with women of all ages getting together to create this special occasion. The fashion show saw women from the age of 15 to 91 hitting the catwalk wearing clothing from the 1910's through to the modern day. Their was music from the intergenerational choir as well as choirs from Montpelier (my old school) and Mary Dean's Primary School.

I had been invited to pole dance at the event and I was excited to set up my x-pole next to the Tor Lace group and the cake stand. The array of fresh, home-made cakes baked by Platform 51 was mouth-watering and free but I resisted temptation and stuck with a nice cup of tea instead!

The event gave me a chance to meet women from different walks of life and of varying ages. Most of the ladies who watched my pole dancing demonstrations were between 14 and 16 and they were full of questions about what I do and how I earn my living. They, like many, assumed that I worked in a lap dancing club and could not get their heads around the fact that I earn money from teaching pole dancing to members of the public.

One young lady asked me if I was a slut which kid of sums up some peoples ignorance to fitness pole dancing. The lady in question was soon asking questions of a different nature and seemed eager to learn pole dancing for herself. Now that the young ladies were being entertained by gymnastics and not the exotic dancing they were expecting they were asking me to repeat tricks such as death drops and allegras, one lady chose the death drop as her favourite move whilst another loved the shoulder mounts, it was great to capture the attention of these young women and I hope to see some of them again very soon for some lessons.

It wasn't just the younger generation who came to watch me, many of the ladies from Age Concern grabbed a table next to me so they could watch my performances whilst enjoying the fabulous cakes too. Many of the ladies took pictures and perhaps the most common questions were "Doesn't it hurt your skin?" and "Aren't you frightened of falling off?" The answer to both questions was Yes.

If the ladies were amazed by what I was doing I had to admit being amazed by the Tor Lace group whose intricate work was simply beautiful. The piece pictured below had taken one lady nearly 2 years to complete. The ladies were working throughout the event creating their mini masterpieces for all to enjoy. The group also provides a social network for women to meet, swap patterns and enjoy each others company. If you are interested in joining the group simply e-mail Alison.

The intergenerational event also gave me a chance to celebrate the life of Elspeth Sitter, founder of Plymouth Age Concern. Elspeth's tireless work to ensure better conditions for the elderly has not gone unrecognised. Read more about Elspeth Sitter's remarkable life.

Another inspiring aspect of the event was that it was held in the place I got married, Plymouth Guildhall has many special memories for me and it was lovely to perform there again just as I had on the day of my wedding. Finally Plymouth Guildhall has been given a maintenance budget allowing essential repairs to begin at long last, the crumbling building is so important to Plymouth that I am surprised it has taken so long for the money to be found to begin work. The most important thing is that work is taking place and slowly the building can start to return to its former glory.

The pole dancing demonstration had an unexpected outcome for me as I managed to irritate a ligament injury to my knee, within 30 minutes of the end of my demo my knee was starting to throb and swell. Rosanna and I returned stepped in at short notice to cover my classes (than you Rosanna x) home hoping that ice, elevation and rest may be enough to repair the damage.

Unfortunately my plan failed and by 2am on Saturday morning I was in agony, I was also terrified as an injury to my knee could spell the end of my dancing career. It was time to visit the local minor injuries unit to get some professional advice. After a 2 hour wait, and much hilarity in the waiting room as my husband and I bumped into local licensee's Phil and Lyndsay Gill, I was booked into an appointment with a consultant at the fracture clinic on Tuesday morning. I now have to wait till then to see how long I need off work and what the exact prognosis is. I am gutted but hope that the outcome will be less serous than I fear.

Before I sign off for today I want to send my thoughts and best wishes to the people caught up in Japan's devastating earthquake, the images we are seeing are breathtaking for all the wrong reasons and the death toll looks set to rise beyond expectation. You can help by donating via one of the many charities, such as Oxfam, who will be sending aid direct to the disaster zone.

More news to follow soon on my unexpected drinking session last night with council leaders Vivien Pengelly and Ian Bowyer.

Stay Healthy

Sam x

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