Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A Foreigner's Guide to Australian Pole Dancing

Over the past month or so, Australia has been lucky enough to welcome to our sunny shores some fabulous international pole talent. There have been (and continue to be) a number of fantastic pole camps, including the Australian Summer Pole Camp on the Gold Coast, the upcoming WA Pole Camp and the East Coast Pole Cruise (which will take place onboard a cruise ship – with waterslides! I’m VERY excited about that). We have also had Miss Pole Dance Australia, and the Australian Pole Championships. It’s been a massive month or two for Australian pole dance. We’ve had Michelle Stanek, Marion Crampe, Josiah Badazz Grant, Anastasia and Evgeny, Laura Martin, and we will soon be seeing Natasha Wang, Kelly Yvonne, Sergia Louise Anderson, Venessa Clack, Nadia Shariff and probably many more pole stars.

Sydney has crazy real estate/rental prices, so having the luxury of a spare room is quite rare. But I have one! So I’ve had the good fortune to be able to host many of the inspirational and talented pole dancers who arrive in Sydney. After many conversations with international pole stars about pole dancing, we inevitably get around to the topic of why Australian pole dance is so different from international styles. 

And it's true that we do things a little differently Down Under... I mean, we are perfectly capable of arty, pretty, contemporary routines. A lot of us perform like that regularly. But every now and again, we like to bust out some crazy, Aussie-style pole shows, the likes of which don't seem to really occur elsewhere in the world.

So it strikes me as important for international pole relations to draft a document that sets out some important principles behind the way we do things round here.

1. The Weather

It gets hot in Australia in the summer time. Really hot. In the winter time, it gets cold. This may seem easy enough to understand. However, Australians live in complete denial about the fact that it gets cold in Australia in winter (especially Sydney-siders). We really do believe that it’s warm all year round, and that the cold weather is an aberration. When it’s not summer, we all act like the cold weather is strange and unusual (even though the same thing happens every single year).

I believe that part of this strange denial stems from the fact that Australians don’t like to wear a lot of clothes. In the summer, people walk around in public pretty much half naked. We love it. It’s just how we roll. We sunbake topless at the beach. We wear shorts so short you can see where leg becomes bum. We wear Daisy Dukes that are pretty much just denim underpants. Bikini tops and monokinis are fine to wear to a nightclub (provided of course that you have your denim underpants on as well).

So as you can see, for most Aussies (and again, Sydney-siders in particular), being half-naked in public is a non-issue.

Which means that it’s only natural that Aussie pole dancers have to go a bit further to shock and awe. Which brings me to my next point.

2. She wore an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny…

Aussie pole dancers are renowned for wearing pole outfits so tiny that the audience spends most of their time wondering how on earth the pole dancer’s costume is staying in place.

I recently stumbled upon a conversation thread on Facebook that made me laugh.

Tips for keeping everything in place...

Now, I don’t want to give away my Aussie sisters’ secrets… But here are a few tips.

  • Have faith. 
    • In my experience, paranoia tells you your knickers have moved when they have not. Further more, if you’re up on stage, no one can really see anyway. So just relax.
  • Double bag it. 
    • Wear two pairs of knickers, or a g-string under your costume. I personally prefer to wear a pair of knickers that match the cut of my costume, rather than a g-string.
  • Double sided tape on your bum cheeks. 
    • Look, you can of course use tape if you want to, but my preference is not to use it. This is because I once did, and it didn’t hold. And then not only did the audience see my butt cheeks (which is fine by me), they also saw two pieces of sticky tape covered in costume fluff stuck on my butt (which I am not ok with). Although some people use it with success - I was able to lend a hand to the lovely Miss Filly in a crotch emergency once. I gave her a couple of strips of double sided tape to keep her itsy bitsy silver bikini in place - and it worked (only just!).
  • Hairspray on your bum cheeks. 
    • Never tried this - I don’t think it would withstand any kind of power pole move, but just for the sake of completeness I’m including it.
  • Strapping tape right down the middle of your Hoo Ha. 
    • You need to be a brave woman to go down this path… and a waxed/lasered woman too! I have never done this, but Aussie pole stars Jedda J Jordan and Fontaine swear by it. Jedda says “If your costume moves, no one sees anything – just like a Barbie!!” NB: Having a drink or two before attempting to remove the tape is recommended…
The Foni Fanny, named after it's inventor, Fontaine (left).
Not telling you who is modelling the Foni Fanny on the right!
And of course, sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, your costume might move a bit… you may not even notice! Hopefully the audience doesn’t notice either. And with a bit of luck, there will be no photos on Facebook to record the incident. 

Hmm, I wonder who this poor girl is?? I've blurred her face out so no one will recognise her... Right?? Except maybe my boyfriend. I mean her boyfriend! Oops ;-)


If you have ever been to an Australian pole dance competition, you might notice a few key differences. I have compiled a list of key features that are common to many Australian pole dance competitor’s shows.

A. At least one costume change onstage. Possibly more.

The general rule is to start big, and go small. Amber Ray is the queen of the massive costume, which is stripped away to reveal a very tiny costume underneath. Fontaine broke with tradition this year at Miss Pole Dance Australia, and actually went the other way – she started small and then PUT CLOTHES ON! Wild. No one knew what to think.

Amber Ray follows the traditional Aussie formula:
Massive costume to tiny costume.
Some tips on costume removal onstage: if something can go wrong, it will. If it is possible for laces to knot, or hooks to get stuck, THEY WILL. Taking clothes off onstage gracefully is way harder than it looks. Take note: VELCRO IS YOUR BEST FRIEND.

Check out my sister Maddie rocking the velcro at 0:45.

B. Music Mega Mixes

In Australia, one song is never enough. Heck, two songs aren’t even enough! We love the mega mix here. Not only can we pole dance, we can all mix music like pro DJs (well, ok, maybe amateur DJs). At the MPDA heats last year, I used 5 songs in my mega mix. Yes. Five. And I did 3 costume changes. Three. 

We also like voice overs. I’ve done them (check out my video below), Suzie Q has done them, Cleo has done them, my sister Maddie has done them, the list goes on. 

Here is an example of a voice over - my Earthquake routine from MPDA NSW this year. 

Speaking of voice overs, Amber Ray once did a live voice over. In the middle of a cheerleader themed routine, she actually belted out a cheer. It was amazing. Check it out:

C. Pyrotechnics, smoke machines, fog machines, sharks with frickin laser beams…
If you’ve ever watched a Miss Pole Dance Australia opening number, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Pyrotechnics are a must, no matter what the cost. This year, MC Maxi Shields suffered singed eyelashes and a melted wig when she was caught in a blast of flames onstage. But the show must go on.


And who could forget Summer’s fireworks from her shoes? I don’t think anyone was expecting that!

This was even more amazing in real life. 

D. Over the top themes reminiscent of drag shows

We are not known for our subtlety. We like our themes, and we like them big, bold, and often, just plain weird. Some noteworthy themes in recent years:
- Oompa Loompa
- Beverley Hills 90210
- Grid Iron Football Player
- Disney characters (Little Mermaid, Princess Jasmine, Cinderella, Poison Ivy)
- Miss Universe Beauty Pageant contestant
- And so on

Below is a photo montage of some typically fabulous, crazy and wild Aussie pole dancer costumes.

There were so many good ones I had to do another montage.... I could easily do a third...

Justine McLucas is kind of a bit of a faux-Aussie Pole Dancer, seeing as how she ditched us for London... But technically, I guess it's ok for me to include her... Just goes to show that you can take the pole dancer out Australia, but you can't take the Australia out of the pole dancer!

E. Miscellaneous features

In case you hadn't noticed, we like to do the splits a lot. We also feel quite comfortable in our stripper heels, and some of us are perfectly happy to perform acrobatics such as cartwheels, backflips, backward walkovers and handstand drop splits in them (yes Chelle and Summer, I'm talking to you ladies). 

Me at MPDA this year, about to do a backward walkover drop split. Boom.

And you might have noticed that we're all a bit partial to a well-executed hair flick...

A warning to all foreigners venturing Down Under...

I wanted to finish off this guide with a cautionary tale to foreigners planning a pole adventure in Australia. Strange things can happen to you once you arrive... You may find that you lose your inhibitions, and start doing things you might not otherwise have done... The Aussie spirit really is contagious, so make sure you're fully prepared for what might happen to you! 

And just remember... What happens Down Under, stays on Facebook... FOREVER!! Muahahahaha....

Shimmy xxx

PS A thank you to Brad Edwards, Chris Misztur, Matt Granger for the photos, and thanks to the pole dancers for letting me post pics of you!

PPS What's your favourite thing about Australian pole dancers??? Keep it clean please ;-)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

My life is so weird sometimes...

My life has changed a lot since I became a professional pole dancer. By now, I'm getting used to some of the stranger things that are just part and parcel of the the daily grind of the pro pole dancer's life. But every now and again, something happens that makes me sit back and think, wow, now that was weird. Here are a few recent examples. 

Topless Waiter Emergency!

On the weekend, we had an emergency at the Pole Dance Academy. A serious emergency. The topless waiter/life drawing model we had booked for a hen's/bachelorette party we were hosting at the studio went MIA on us. Just didn't show up. How unprofessional! I mean, I understand that topless waiting and posing nude for tipsy hens is probably not his life goal, but at the same time, if you commit to something, either do it properly or don't do it at all. Whether it be driving a taxi, extracting teeth, mowing lawns, herding sheep or getting your willy out for a bunch of shrieking women, take pride in your work!

Anyway, so Mr No-Show really left us in a bind. We had eleven women waiting for the naked man they had been promised. My sister Maddie and I weren't sure what to do. So we sat down on the couch, and rang our regular and trusted topless waiter agency, Topless Events (who we should have stuck with, instead of trying a new agency!). No luck. So we tried some others. No good either. No one could help.

This was all we needed. Too much to ask for???
Next step: we got out our mobile phones and called every single guy we knew who we thought might be up for it. None of them were available. However, they did give us phone numbers of people who might be game. So, armed with the phone numbers of a few poor unsuspecting Sydney men, we began cold calling them. The conversations went along these lines:
Me: "Oh hi there. My name is Shimmy. Ah, I mean, Michelle. So, we don't actually know each other, but I got your number from Yvette, who works for us." 
Sean: "Oh yeah, I know Yvette. What can I do for you?" 
Me: "Well, don't be offended, but, um, we have something of an emergency here... We really need a man who would be happy to serve some drinks topless, and then get naked for 10 or so women to draw him. Yvette thought you might be up for it." 
Sean: "Ahh, no, sorry, I can't." 
Me: "Um, ok. Would it make a difference if we paid cash?" 
Sean: "Nope." 
Me: "Ok, I understand. Well, have a nice afternoon." 
Sean: "Wait - I have a mate who might do it..." 
Me: "Great! Can I have his number?"
I passed the phone on to Maddie at this point. She made the next call.
Maddie: "Hi, is this Nick?" 
Nick: "Yes. Who is this?" 
Maddie: "My name is Maddie, and I hope this doesn't sound weird, but we really need a man who would be happy to serve some drinks topless, and then get naked for a bunch of women to draw him. We got your number from Sean." 
Nick: "From Sean? You know Sean?" 
Maddie: "No, we don't actually know Sean, but we just spoke to him on the phone, and he said you might be interested."
[Some confusion followed. As it turned out, Nick was Dutch, and didn't speak English very well. Maddie had to repeat to him a few times exactly what it was that we wanted. Eventually, Nick got the drift.]
Nick: "But I have never done this before." 
Maddie: "No worries at all! It's easy! You just sit there, and the girls draw! You'll love it." 
Nick: "Can I keep my boxers on?" 
Maddie: "No, unfortunately not." 
Nick: "Well, I don't know." 
Maddie: "Please? You'd be doing us a massive favour!" 
Nick: "Well, ok, I guess. What's the address?"
Maddie got off the phone and looked at me. 

"I feel so bad!" She said. "I've just convinced him in 5 minutes to make a big decision about becoming a stripper!" 
"No time to worry about that," I said. "We have to hurry. Those hens will be getting angry if they don't see a naked man soon! Anyway, it's life modelling, not stripping. It's all for the sake of art. He'll be fine."
So we jumped in the car and raced to the studio, hoping to get there before Nick, so we could brief him on how to get brief-less. 

We got there just in time. Nick arrived, straight from Bondi Beach, where he'd been relaxing on the sand when he got our random phone call. Nick was nervous. Particularly because, as he explained to me, when he got nervous: "it gets smaller". I told him not to worry about that and ushered him into the room, praying that the girls would be gentle with him.  

As it turned out, Nick had a great time. Not only did he enjoy being a "life model", the girls were also obviously quite happy with what they saw, because Nick scored a phone number off one of the girls. He even offered us his services again should we have another such emergency. So all's well that ends well. 

But still, cold calling random men to ask them to come get naked for you is a little weird. Like, very weird. I was just surprised at how hard it was to find one who would do it!

I put this in black and white because, as everyone knows that if it's black and white, it's art.


Famous on TV

One of the fun things about this job is you never know what each day is going to bring. One day, I got an email from a casting agent asking if the Pole Dance Academy girls would be interested in auditioning for a television commercial for a big sportswear brand. The product was a new type of shoe that is supposed to give you a better bum (I think we all know how gullible you would have to be to believe that, but anyway). 

My sister and I were both free, so we packed a bag with some sequin bikinis and stripper shoes, and set off. 

When we got to the audition, we were told that unfortunately they hadn't been able to organise a pole. My sister and I exchanged glances.
Me: "So if there's no pole, how do you want us to pole dance for you?" 
Casting agent: "Well, we've cleared a space in the middle of the room, so if you can just sort of show us what you've got, without a pole, that would be great."
Me: "OK. I guess we can just do some floor work or something. Where can I plug my iPod in?"
Casting agent: "Yeah, so unfortunately we don't actually have any music capability here."  
Me: "No music?"
Casting agent: "No." 
Me: "So you want us to pole dance for you with no pole, and no music?"
Casting agent: "Yeah, that's right." 
Me: (rolls eyes) 
The audition itself was one of the most awkward things I've ever done. Picture a small room with no windows, two female casting agents operating a camera, me in a bikini "pole dancing without a pole", and no sound other than the hum of fluorescent lights and my own breathing. AWKWARD. 

We didn't even get the job. Possibly because the consumer watchdog got on to them about making false claims about the butt-lifting effects of their sneakers... Or possibly because they found someone else who could pole dance without a pole better than we could. Sigh.

Pole gigs can be such a drag... 

One of my boyfriend's friends was about to turn 40, and he wanted to celebrate in style. So he hired the penthouse floor of the fanciest nightclub in Sydney, and invited a hundred or so of his closest friends. He had a whole swag of entertainment acts for the night, including Maddie, Yvette and me. He told us that his favourite singers were Madonna and George Michael, and gave us a list of his favourite songs.

We got a bit carried away, and choreographed a massive mega-mix medley of Madonna and George Michael songs, which of course included a re-enactment of George's arrest for having sex in a public toilet. I have to say that even though at first it felt a little strange pole dancing in chaps whilst rocking a moustache and chest hair.... um, I kinda liked it... Plus I think I made a great man. What do you think?

Me as George Michael

George Michael being taken in by Constables Yvette and Maddie

In fact, the more I think I about it, the more I'm beginning to think we should have ditched Nick and used me for the topless waiter emergency! I mean, it's not like I have boobs or anything... hahaha maybe not.

Let me teach you how to be sexy...

We got asked to do a hens party for a lovely bunch of girls, who had hired a suite in a city hotel for their celebrations. They didn't have the hotel's permission to put up the pole, so we said we'd teach them some burlesque basics and lap dance moves instead. 

The girls were very enthusiastic, particularly the hen. She was very interested in learning how to do a sexy chair dance for her future husband. Now, I pride myself on my chair dance and lap dance skills. It's something that I consider to be a real art form, and I take it very seriously. 

So imagine my distress when, halfway through teaching the hen a very sexy back bend off the lap of her lucky man, I suddenly found myself flat on my back on the floor, legs akimbo with the chair on top of me. The girls all shrieked, and began fussing over me to make sure I was ok.

Ever the professional, I tried to act all nonchalant about it. 
"Girls, I'm fine. I was just trying to demonstrate to you how not to do it, and some of the things that can go wrong when you're attempting a lap dance. You can really hurt yourself, so you have to be careful. And yes, as you see from my back, carpet burn is a real risk."
How it's meant to look.

Cries for help 

Ah, Facebook. The best way to link in with people who can help you to master the life skills you need to survive in your world. In a moment of cyber-serendipity, as I was writing this blog, I received a desperate plea for guidance from one of my facebook friends:

Hey Shimmy,
I thought I would ask you this as I have been practising my Booty skills since your workshop. You know the stance you had us in where we are standing, holding the pole and with our feet flat on the ground, you get us to stick our butts out and shake our knees in & out? Is that the right movement? I feel as though I am shaking my knees left & right rather quickly and feeling the reverberation in my butt...
The whole point of this is to make my butt cheeks & backs of thighs look like they are vibrating?? 
Also, been practising pinching each butt cheek individually. This is where you had us sit on the floor with our legs spread and get us to clench each butt cheek.
I find when I do this move, I can feel my knees popping as I clench each this still clenching the butt muscles? Can be kind of hard to see in the mirror sometimes...
Is this the right way to go about it? Is this something that needs practising to be able to see the butt muscles move?
Thanks so much, Shimmy!~

 To which I reply:   

Hi there! 
Yes that's right, but make sure you keep your legs straight and your knees locked, and it should look like your butt cheeks are almost clapping.
As for the butt "clenching", it's not in your knees, its in your thighs and butt cheeks.
Keep it up!!
PS I'm writing a blog about the funny things that happen in a pole dancer's life, and it strikes me that getting messages like this is pretty funny. Would you give me permission to copy and paste your message?
(She did).


And the moral of the story is...

That even though my life is crazy and weird, that's exactly how I like it and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm a very happy pole dancer.

Shimmy xxx

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pop Pole Quiz! What kind of pole student are you?

I have been teaching pole dance now for a while. I've noticed over the years that there are several distinct categories of pole students. So I have designed this little list of pole student categories, for you to determine what type of pole student you are. Study this guide carefully and make your decision.

Maddie studying hard at the Pole Dance Academy.

The Kamikaze

The Kamikaze strikes fear in a pole teacher's heart. The Kamikaze appears unconcerned by the concept of gravity.  The Kamikaze has no regard to the fundamental rule of pole: that failure to have the pole wedged firmly into some crevice of your body will mean that you will likely plunge to the ground.

The Kamikaze will nod and agree while the teacher gives firm, clear instructions on how to avoid falling off the pole when attempting a new move. Then, once the teacher steps away, the Kamikaze throws herself gleefully and with reckless abandon at the pole, caring not for her own safety nor that of innocent bystanders.

Fortunately, Kamikaze pole students also seem to be blessed with an uncanny knack for somehow managing to save themselves from face-planting at the last minute. And so they live to Kamikaze pole dance another day.

These students are what Public Liability Insurance was invented for.

Tip: Try to avoid giving your teacher a heart attack by always having at least one arm or leg on the pole at a time.

My artistic interpretation of a Kamikaze.
You will note that she has only one hand on
the pole, and both her legs are nowhere near
the pole. Not recommended. 

The Former Jazz Dancer

The Former Jazz Dancer knows that there is dance magic in mathematics. She loves nothing better than a well-counted routine, where each move falls neatly into an 8 count. If you look closely, you can see her mouth moving ever so slightly as she dances, "ONE, two, three, four, FIVE, six, seven, eight..."

Nothing frustrates the Former Jazz Dancer more than a pole teacher who can't count properly. You can spot the Former Jazz Dancer by the exasperated expression on her face at the end of this conversation with her teacher:

Student: "So do we step on 3, or 5?"
Teacher: "Ummm, I don't know... What did I just do?"
Student: "You stepped on 3."
Teacher: "Ok, 3 then."
Student: "But before that, you stepped on 5."
Teacher: "Right... Well, let's just see what happens this time. Ok class, let's take it from the top!"
Student: "Grrrr"

Tip: If you need to count, count! Dance to your own beat. And if your beat is right, and everyone else's is wrong... who cares! Remember that pole dancers usually aren't classically trained, so be patient with them :-)

Amber Ray
It is thanks to Amber that I now know how to count.
Sometimes. Sort of. 

The Self Taught Pole Dancer

The Self Taught Pole Dancer is the student who began her pole journey at home, in her living room, running between her X-Pole and her laptop. She is a YouTube and Facebook aficionado, and managed to progress to an impressive level all by herself at home, until eventually succumbing to the pull of her local pole studio.

The Self Taught Pole Dancer is a little overwhelmed in class. She calls all the moves by a different name. She uses her left leg when everyone else uses their right leg. She's a little freaked out by the noise and craziness of a pole class with 10 other girls, but she loves it!

Tip: Get to a class at least every now and again if you can - you'll be amazed at how much easier that tricky moves becomes once you've had someone break it down for you.

Shelle, from Melbourne, getting some tips
from her Facebook pole buddies.

The Overly Trusting Student

This student has complete and utter faith in her pole dance teacher. She knows her that her teacher will always be there for her, and will catch her when she falls. But not in the supportive, metaphorical sense. In the literal sense. This student will drop suddenly and without warning, usually out of a painful pole combo, and fully expect to be caught by her teacher.

A good pole teacher will prepare herself for this student by taking off her stripper shoes, getting a mat ready, and adopting a brace position every time the student attempts a painful move.

In Australia, we also call these students Drop Bears.

Tip: Try to give some warning that you are about to drop. Please!

A Drop Bear after attempting a superman
for the first time.

The Prodigy

This pole student is a natural born thriller. She gets every new move on her first or second attempt. She feels no pain, and has no fear. Her teachers are simultaneously awe-struck by her ability, and unerved at how quickly she is catching up to them.

This is the student everyone loves to hate. But don't be a hater - love her! She can't help being awesome, and besides, if you're nice to her, she might give you a few tips about that tricky combo you've been working on ;-)

Tip: Keep on being great - and try to stay humble...

The Battler

The Battler is not naturally adept at pole dancing. But she absolutely frickin loves it, and it shows. She is dedicated, hard-working, and though her progress is slow, each hard-won victory is a celebration for her and for her teacher. She has repeated every level at least twice, but she is slowly and steadily getting stronger and more flexible, and is making new discoveries about what she is capable of every day. She may never make it to advanced, but she is going to work as hard as she can to be the very best damn pole dancer she can be.

I'm going to put it out there and nominate the Battler as one of my favourite types of student. Go girl!

Tip: Keep at it!!

The Battler at the top of one of the many
hills she has conquered.
Note her expression of grim determination
(it was meant to be a smile but I'm not
a great drawer)

The "I Can't" Student

This student is firmly convinced that there is something fundamentally different about her body, and believes that the difference makes her physically incapable of certain moves. This belief usually stems from an off-hand comment some doctor or physio made to her a few years ago, which the I Can't Student has taken to heart as gospel. Something like "you know, your hip flexors are tighter than most peoples." As a result, the I Can't Student refuses to accept that anything can be done to change her destiny as the Girl With The Tight Hip Flexors.

As her teacher approaches her, the I Can't Student will grip the pole and say firmly, "I can't do this move." Even if she hasn't even tried it yet. However, with gentle and patient persuasion, the I Can't Student can usually be convinced that she should try at least to refrain from saying "I can't do this move," in favour of saying, "I can't do this move... YET."

Tip: Stay positive - don't create limitations for yourself :-)

The Scaredy Cat

The Scaredy Cat is a variation of the Can't Student. The Scaredy Cat refuses to try a new move until she has watched every single other student in the class attempt it and survive it, without plunging to their death. The Scaredy Cat requires a lot of convincing, cajoling, coaxing and bribing from her teacher in order to get her up the pole. Even then, she does it unwilling, with big, fearful eyes.

It is a mystery to everyone why the Scaredy Cat loves pole so much when she seems to spend the entire class in abject terror of her impending doom. But she's there every week, ready to be frightened up the pole again.

Tip: Have the firemen on speed dial. They're excellent at getting frightened pussycats out of trees, and they know their way around a pole as well ;-)

The Scaredy Cat's worst fears coming true.  

The Athlete

The Athlete is the student who has played every sport under the sun. She is strong, flexible, fast, and coordinated. But she cannot for the life of her point her toes, extend her limbs, arch her back or stick her boobs out. She is a little baffled to discover that pole dance may be the one thing she is not a natural at.

You can spot the Athlete because she arrives at her first class wearing trainers and knee-length running shorts. She says couldn't possibly pole dance in heels because she can't even walk in them, let alone dance. In fact, she's not even sure whether she owns a pair.

Tip: Practice working on your sexy at home in front of a mirror when no one is watching.

The Good Girl Gone Bad

This is the student who keeps her pole habit a secret from everyone she knows. She can hardly believe she dared to enrol in pole. She's the quiet one up the back, and is too shy to talk to anyone. She arrives to the studio dressed neatly in a twin set and skirt, and then changes into the cheekiest hot pants in class.

You can tell a Good Girl Gone Bad by the fact that she keeps giggling to herself in class and muttering under her breath "I can't believe I'm actually doing this!" She's a lady on the street and a freak on the pole.

Tip: Keep it up - I love it!

Miss Bunni Lambada. The sweetest pole siren you
ever did meet.

The Desperate Housewife

The Desperate Housewife is the happily married yummy mummy who is as devoted to pole dance as she is to her husband and children. That is, of course, until her husband and children try to come between her and her beloved pole. Unfortunately, husbands and children are usually horrified by the fact that their wife and mum is a pole dancer. But they quickly learn not to say anything about it, because when the Desperate Housewife feels threatened, things at home take a turn for the worse. 

Remember, pole husbands: happy wife, happy life.

Tip: Don't show off your pole tricks at your kids' birthday parties. 

The lovely Yvette doing some housework before pole class.

The Motor Skills Challenged Student

This student is not the boss of her own body. In fact, it seems that her body has a mind of its own, and she has little to no control over what her body will do next. In her brain, she understands that she needs to hook her right leg around the pole, but something happens to the brain signals as they travel from her head to her leg, and she ends up grasping desperately at the pole with her left arm instead.  She is capable of unintentionally tying herself into such complex knots around the pole that she needs someone to help unravel her.

The Motor Skills Challenged Student is often unable to distinguish left from right. To overcome this difficulty, the teacher might consider writing a big 'R' and 'L' on the Motor Skills Challenged Student's hands (careful not to let her do it herself, or, if she does, make sure you check that she got it the right way around).

This student also has difficulty working out which way is forwards and backwards, up and down, and inside and outside. In my experience, the best way to help the Motor Skills Challenged Student is to physically manipulate her into the desired position, and then tell her to try to memorise how the position feels. A plus side can be that sometimes in her confusion the Motor Skills Challenged Student will accidentally create a new and interesting combo - and a good teacher will pay close attention to what this student is doing, because the Motor Skills Challenged Student is unlikely to be able to replicate it once she's disentangled herself from the pole.

Tip: You'll get there! It will get easier as your muscle memory develops :-)

Nothing to be ashamed of. The old right from left
can be a bit tricky when you're upside down. 

The Born Again Pole Dancer (aka the Evangelist)

The Born Again Pole Dancer considers the date of her first pole class to be the anniversary of when life really began for her. She now devotes her life to two main tasks: as much pole training as she can possibly fit in, and preaching the benefits of pole worship to everyone she comes across. She cannot imagine life without pole, and she now wonders what on earth she did with her time (and money) before she discovered pole.

Pole is not just a hobby for the Born Again Pole Dancer. Pole is a way of life.

Tip: As a Born Again Pole Dancer myself, I try really hard to not talk about pole too much to my non-pole friends. But it's hard. Really hard. That's kind of why I started this blog ;-)

I love you pole and I will never let you go. 

The Boys...

Of course, I know that an increasing number of men are getting involved in pole. This blog is obviously directed towards the majority, but boys, so you don't feel left out, here is a quick shout out to some of my wonderful male students, who fit into these categories.

The "I'm so gay I can barely function and pole dance is a natural expression of that" Student

A common feature at most pole studios. Characteristics of this student:

  • wears 8 inch stripper heels to class even though he is already 6 feet tall and as a result can only climb once before hitting his head on the ceiling;
  • goes into paroxysms of pleasure at the sight of sequin hot pants; 
  • is not shy about telling his female classmates that he thinks he looks better in sequin hot pants than they do; and
  • is the fiercest performer at the studio amateur night, where one performance contains at least 8 costume changes, glitter, LED lights, special effects, and a megamix of 5 different Top 50 pop singles.

The fabulous Candy Cane doing his thing.

The "I may be gay, but nonetheless I do not want to dance like a girl"Student

This student loves his pole, but feels silly when it comes to routine time. He does not wish to booty pop and body roll. So he stands aside, a little awkwardly, and waits for the silliness of floor work to end so that he can get back to what he likes best: pole tricks. 

The "I'm straight, but I'm here to learn pole, not to perve!!" Student 

Studio owners need to be careful of this breed of pole student. You really need to suss out their intentions. All jokes aside, a pole studio is primarily a place where women go to work out and feel good about themselves, and to have fun while doing so. The straight male student who is permitted to participate in classes has a special place of trust, and should be careful not to jeopardise that! Some studios don't allow male students at all, for this very reason. 

At the Pole Dance Academy, we have one straight male student, Benji. He loves the pole. And his pole dancing girlfriend Pepper, a teacher at Pole Dance Academy. And every single girl in the studio has a mega crush on him! There are definitely some perks to being the only straight male in a pole student... 

Benji. We all have to be careful to make sure we don't
end up sexually harassing him in pole class. 

The Chinese Pole Artist 

The Chinese Pole Artist has probably only recently discovered the pole dance community, and is a little bemused but pleased to discover that there is a little micro-cosmos jam-packed with women who genuinely understand and are impressed by his particular skill set. 

However, the Chinese Pole Artist is not 100% certain that his artistic integrity as a circus performer will not be compromised by mingling with pole dancers. For this reason, the Chinese Pole Artist may be a little reticent at first about dipping his toe into the crazy waters of the pole dance world, but as they seem to keep coming back for more, we can only assume that they find it at least a little bit fun ;-)

Chinese pole artist, Duncan West, contemplating how
on earth he wound up onstage at a pole dance


Wow, this blog ended up being a lot longer than I intended... But I still can't say that it's an exhaustive list! I guess it goes to show that there are all types of pole students in this wonderful world of pole dance. As a teacher, I love helping them all to discover the amazing things their bodies can do.

Knowing what kind of pole student you are might help you to overcome the challenges you meet along the way... or you might just have a good old laugh at yourself ;-)

Thanks to Brad Edwards, Justin Tran and Ron Clarke for some of the photos used in this blog :-)

Shimmy xxx

PS I'm about to jet off to go to the US, France, England, Ireland and Spain over June, July and August. My next blog will have more details of my travels. Go to for workshop dates and locations if you want to take a class with me :-)