Wednesday, 26 December 2012

More Prejudice against Pole dancing.

For those of you who have not read my previous posts I have finally got round to responding to my exclusion from the Plymouth Dance website.  I was deeply insulted by the suggestion that my classes are in direct conflict with Plymouth Dance's child protection policy and I needed to address my concerns. Today I sent this to Clare Crannock, chair of Plymouth Dance:
Dear Clare,

Apologies for the time it has taken me to respond to your e-mail sent on 12th November 2012. I would now like to respond to some of the points you raised.

"Our ethical decision to exclude promotion of these classes is to protect children and that decision is fully at our discretion."

I am still unsure as to how you can call your extreme prejudice towards my art ethical and I will go on to detail why I do not accept that either my website or my classes conflict with your child protection policy?

"I am afraid that I find it difficult to argue that pole dancing is not linked to dance in a sexual sense at all, when I have a knowledge of the history and background of this dance form. I also note in the history section of your website there is a direct web link to the Windmill Club, we do not feel it is appropriate to promote a link to this venue, that children and young people may have access to. I have additional concerns that your website also promotes the hire of striptease acts (which I am sure are very discrete and tasteful), however these pages are also accessible to children and young people and demonstrate the close relationship between pole dancing and other forms of professional striptease acts."

I have never stated that pole dancing does not have links to the lap dancing industry, and I am sure you are fully aware that most dance forms have a sexual origin yet you seem happy to promote them, you regularly promote belly dancing, morris dancing and salsa which have clear historic links to sex and fertility so I fail to understand what makes my dance genre so different.  It is also clear on my website that our burlesque and chair dancing classes are strictly for over 18's.

Yes, I agree there is one link to a strip club on my website which clearly states it is a historical link and nothing more. Any child logging onto the internet and accessing my website is unlikely to be coaxed into the adult entertainment industry and I am sure most children access for more extreme content on a daily basis by merely watching TV and music videos.

If you feel so strongly that you want to protect children then why have you considered the following activities to be appropriate to promote and endorse:

On the 30th November 2012 you sent a bulk e-mail to promote Purestar Promotions whom according to the flyer teach 8 year old's how to dance like the stars of MTV, Purestar claim to have worked with Madonna, J-Lo and Kylie. Surely most parents would not want to encourage their 8 year old's to dance like any of the artists promoted on MTV and I would argue that this sort of mainstream activity is far more damaging to today's children than any class I have ever offered.

Also if you want to exclude the promotion of any group with has adult content or links then I suggest you stop promoting anything to do with the Theatre Royal; On the day you decided to exclude me from your website the Theatre Royal had the following content displayed within its pages "Peccadillo Circus - Directed by Leisa Rea Drum Theatre -

Revealing the fetishes and naughtiest secrets of real people in their own words, acclaimed character comedian and actress Lizzie Roper delves into the nation’s views on sex. Characters as varied as an adulterous accountant and an internet sex addict inhabit the stage in this brilliant one-woman show, which wowed audiences and critics alike at the Edinburgh festival, and enjoyed a sell-out run in the West End earlier this year.

I still believe that your vague arguments merely highlight your own personal prejudice and I find it extremely insulting that a company that  seeks to, and I quote direct from your website, "facilitate and co-ordinate the delivery of an innovative and dynamic programme of dance......joins up the existing dots to celebrate the variety of dance in the city"" would feel it appropriate to distance itself from, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and athletic new dance forms of our time.

Of course you are not the first person to show extreme prejudice and ignorance towards fitness pole dancing and the following article is just one example of the problems that myself and other pole dancing instructors face on a daily basis.

In response to your comments about my 'inappropriate logo' which is barely visible to the naked eye again I return to your promotion of Purestar entertainments, if it is OK for kids to dance like Madonna or Kylie then they will probably want to dress like Madonna or Kylie? If you had researched my classes you would understand that the minimum outfit required for my fitness pole dancing is shorts and a crop top and the kids classes I carried out last year involved children wearing tracksuits (or similar attire).

Apologies if this e-mail comes across as rude but I consider it to be an appropriate response to your original, crudely argued e-mail which has not only caused myself, my team of instructors and my students great insult but has also reinforced my belief that you are merely prejudiced towards a specific art from to which you have no real knowledge.

I do not wish to change my website as I do not feel that will alter your perception and you will merely find another way to dismiss the hard work that I do. I am one of the few dance genres in Plymouth that does not receive any form of funding (this is due to the fact that I have received the same prejudice from Companies house, South Asian Society, Plymouth Soroptomists and Plymouth City Council to name but a few). I work with many individuals (men, women and children) to promote physical and mental well-being and I can quote many success stories from students who have gained the confidence to positively improve their lives as a direct result of my classes.

I will be forwarding my concerns to the Arts Council who fund you as you are clearly not fulfilling your objectives and are blatantly excluding a minority group.

Sam Remmer

I will let you know what response I get!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Pole Class Etiquette

I have been inspired by the recent blog by Claire Griffin-Sterret entitled 'Respect for pole dance class please' in which Claire questions why students do not always have the same respect for pole dance classes as they may hold for other fitness classes. I am lucky that the majority of my students are extremely respectful and an absolute pleasure to teach but for the tiny minority who don't show respect for their pole teachers I wanted to remind you all of some basic pole etiquette.

General Class Etiquette:

Would you talk through the warm up of your Yoga or Aerobics class, or would you use your phone or carry on doing your own thing whilst an instructor demonstrates a technique? By doing this you not only show a lack of respect for the instructor but you then endanger your own  safety as you may execute a pole move without having listened to the essential advice given.

Please listen to your instructors they say things for a reason e.g. "We are going to start with some 2 handed back hook spins"  OK so most of my students can do one handed Back Hook Spins but I am asking you to do two handed for a reason, not because I want to stall your progress but because you have just finished warming up and the poles may still feel cold and I want to ease you into practice and ensure your shoulders are fully warmed up and mobilised before you try more challenging spins.

When does a class start and when does it finish?

My classes are always structured with a warm up, pole element and cool down to try to ensure a safe, balanced workout so please do not use the poles either before we have warmed up or after we have cooled down. I have seen too many injuries from those who want to show offf their latest move by leaping onto the pole into an extreme position when their body is not ready to do so.

Keeping the right temperature:

It is essential that the studio is kept at a nice temperature for training and I would much rather the studio is to hot rather than too cold. Training in the heat may seem much harder and much more painful on the skin but it is far safer than a cold room, the poles and your skin are grippier when warm and your muscles are better for stretching and moving. So there is a reason why I may decline your request to open the windows during a class, remember that we not only need to keep the temperature right for your class but also for other classes. To the students who take it upon themselves to ignore a request to leave the windows shut  and who open the windows anyway releasing all the heat in the room please be prepared to stay on for the following class to apologise to the later students for the freezing cold room.

One of my students has found an interesting way to get round the issue of opening the windows, she secretly turned off the radiators so not only did it go cold for the next session but the studio was then so cold when students arrived the following day that we had to cancel the classes, I can't believe someone could feel it is OK to act in such a selfish way.
Pole Class Costs:

We all know that professional pole classes are not necessarily cheap but that is not because pole instructors are rolling in money, quite the opposite. Compare your pole class to other classes. At The Art of Dance we take only 12 people maximum per class and many
classes have less than 12 people in them.  We aim to give all students a little bit of one to one time during class so you will never be 'hidden' as is some large aerobics classes. Our insurance is higher than many other fitness forms and you are paying for years of experience as well, we don't take on instructors who have walked off the street, all our instructors have at least 3 years experience and at least 6 months teacher training, this all costs but I think that our prices are actually incredibly good value at £10 drop-in, £8 members, £7 students, £6 beginners and £3-£5 for practice sessions).
So why do people feel so comfortable asking me to knock money off the price of classes? Please be assured that at The Art of Dance we give you the cheapest prices we can possibly afford and we could not lower those prices with going bankrupt which would be a huge loss for all our students.

Sharing a pole:

A common winge is when students have to share a pole, OK so we would all rather have a pole to ourselves but how many of you use the pole constantly when you do have a pole to yourself? It is usually the case in quieter classes when students do have their own pole that I have to constantly encourage them to use their poles and to stop resting. For those of you who are adamant that they want their own pole and do not want to share that is no problem, you simply pay for 2 spaces and I will guarantee you your very own pole! Alternatively you could find a cheaper pole school and enjoy 5 plus people per pole (yes some schools do not limit numbers per pole!)

Arriving on time:

We all have those days when we end up running late and generally I have no problems with people turning up late on the odd occasion but I get really wound up by the students who seem to think it is OK to turn up late every week. By repeatedly turning up late you ruin the warm up for the students who have managed to get their on time. So if you do arrive late please kindly wait outside until we have finished the warm up and do not think it is OK to ring the doorbell repeatedly until someone lets you in.

Respecting our booking policy:

Every school has their own booking procedure and I know that sometimes our booking policy can be a bit of a nightmare, but, we have a 24 hour cancellation policy for a reason and without it the business would not survive financially. If you do cancel with less than 24 hours notice please do not think it is OK to ask for an exception to the rule and have your payment moved to next week. If I can book you in for another class in the same week I will but this is not always possible, If I change the rule for you I have to change the rule for everyone.

There is a reason why we don't take bookings without pre-payment, It is extremely unfair to those who have pre-paid if they cancel with less than 24 hours notice and lose their
money and then you cancel with less than 24 hours notice and lose nothing. I get annoyed at how many people ask for their money back and wonder if those same people would, for example, buy theatre tickets, miss the show and then ask for a refund?

Also the chances are that the people who do persuade me to book then in without paying will then text me on the day with an excuse as to why they can't make it. This is a particular problem if I have just a couple of people booked into class and then a few say they will show but don't, the class then runs at a loss and long term this could lead to the closure of the business and the loss of a great facility.

Damn right rude:

OK so some of the behaviour mentioned in this blog can be forgiven but in the last 8 years I have seen a few examples that have made my blood boil and they include leaving chewing gum on the walls, Leaving rubbish on the floor just inches from a bin,  leaving a banana skin hanging in one of the studio plant pots and my least favourite case of a student sticking a used panty liner stuck on the side of the toilet bin.

So winging aside, I have said my piece and I will reiterate that 99% of students are the best students in the world ever, they make my life special and they give me a buzz during every single class. A huge thank you to those wonderful 99%.

More blogs to follow on pole dancing prejudice so in the meantime you may enjoy this article by Kelly Dunning on the Pole Dance Community website.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x