Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Pole Dancer Problems - Support is here!

I'm not one to complain. I know that life as a professional pole dancer is awesome. I love my job, and there's certainly never a dull moment. But as with all jobs, there are a few aspects of a pole dancer’s working life that require a bit of forbearance. The life of a pole dancer isn't always sunshine and roses, or even sequins and feathers, for that matter. Here is a list of a few of the ignominies we as pole dancers are required to endure in the name of our chosen profession.

Carpet burn

Oh God. This is one of the worst. When you see a fully-grown adult woman with carpet burn on her knees and elbows, most people assume there is only one logical explanation for it. I'm suffering from a bit of it at the moment, after a performance at a pub recently on a carpeted stage. 

I see non-pole dancing members of society looking at my knees and elbows curiously, and then politely look away. It makes me want to exclaim loudly, no people! The scabs on my elbows and knees are not from wild sexual rampages (ha - I wish)! They're from too much floor-work on carpeted surfaces. But the problem is, when you explain to non-pole dancers (let's call them civilians) that your carpet burn is not the result of a sexual orgy but from a pole dance performance on carpet in a pub, it probably won't really reassure them that you are an upstanding member of the community... Sigh...

Goodbye boobs, hello pecs

Those who know me via facebook will know that the loss of my bosoms is something I still mourn. Overall, I welcome the improved muscle tone that has come with pole, but I can’t deny that I often spend time looking at old photos of my boobs in a bikini and grieve. RIP, Shimmy’s bosoms. RIP. 

Check out my before and after shots.

Tailored clothing 
I still have my tailored shirts, jackets and dresses hanging up in my closet, even though I know for a fact that there is no way in hell I could possibly squeeze my bulging biceps into the sleeves of these elegant garments anymore. 

Every now and again I make the mistake of taking a non stretch item away with me somewhere, and then have to wear it because I didn’t pack anything else. I spend the rest of the day feeling like the Hulk, worrying that every time I move my clothes will shred and my true rippling green monster self will emerge. Rahhhh!!

It’s all about lycra these days. Head to toe lycra. I should be sponsored by Supre. 

Hungry. All. The. Time. 

Being in training for a big competition makes me feel like some kind of wild hunting jungle cat. Sometimes after the end of a training session, I’m so ravenous I can’t even think or speak until I’ve refueled. Be warned – if I have food in my hand after a training session and you ask for a bite, I’m likely to bite you. And growl. 

And then there’s the shaky hands and the pumped forearm, which make it impossible to get food from your hand to your face without spilling it all over yourself (which I do all the time – and Bailey Hart I know you do too – the stains on your ugg boots are a dead giveaway).


We all know about the bruises. We’ve all been there, we all know about it - it’s a similar problem to the carpet burn issue. 

In my opinion, it’s the bruises on the inside of your upper arms, your hips and your thighs that are the hardest to explain to civilians. Of course, you can dress to hide your bruises. But as we all know, pole dancers are secretly proud of their bruises, which means that rather than hiding them, the pole dancer will wear them with pride, and even boast about them. 

But take note – civilians do not understand the rationale behind Bruise Pride. For a civilian, a bruise is the result of an embarrassing tumble or some kind of painful accident. Civilians think Bruise Pride is strange. 

Recently, I was getting a coffee with my boyfriend in a cafĂ© when a policewoman walked in. I was wearing a top that revealed the bruises on my upper arm and hip. I caught the policewoman looking at them. For a moment, just for a laugh, I considered eyeballing my boyfriend and then mouthing the word “HELP” to her, but then I thought better of it. My boyfriend would not have been amused by that. 

Experiencing intense Bruise Pride

Random injuries

One of the joys of pole dancing is discovering new muscles you never knew you had. One of the downsides of pole dancing is that sometimes you discover these new muscles as a result of injury. Pole dancing injuries often occur in complex muscle groups that can make daily life activities challenging. 

Some of the regular life activities made more difficult by common pole injuries include:
-Trying to drive a manual car with hip flexor issues
-Taking off a t-shirt with rotator cuff issues
-Stiff neck from too many head rolls/hair flicks
-Sprained ankle from rolling your ankle in stripper shoes
-Sharp, stabbing pain in your side when sneezing, coughing or laughing from ribs that have been knocked out of place. It is not uncommon to hear a pole dancer say when laughing “Hahahaha no wait stop hahaha don’t make me laugh hahaha owww my ribs stop hahaha OWWWW….!!!”

When worlds collide

Unless you are a full-time pole dancer with no other income-generating side activities, chances are you will at times feel obliged to keep quiet about your pole activities in certain social settings. If you have a professional job in the conservative corporate world, you might even feel like you lead a double life sometimes (I know I did, back in the day).

But in spite of your best efforts, sometimes worlds collide and your secret will be revealed. Some common examples of how this can happen include: 
  • You end up drinking too much at a work function, which can result in inappropriate splits and backbends in front of your colleagues;
  • You run into your boss as you come off-stage at a local pub’s amateur pole competition;
  • A video of one of your pole performances on youtube goes viral in the office, without your knowledge
  • You get over-excited about something and inadvertently let slip: “This one time, at pole camp…”


Murphy’s Pole Dancing Law: the worst performance you’ve ever given in your entire life will be the one that has the most hits on YouTube. Guaranteed. 

Family members

Proud Parents vs Embarrassed Parents - which is worse? The embarrassed parent will try to hide your pole dancing activities from other family members and friends. The proud parent shares your pole dancing pics on their facebook page and pulls up your youtube videos at family gatherings – seemingly oblivious to the awkwardness that ensues. 

My parents fall into the proud parent category. A while back, a local newspaper did a story on me and my pole studio (the Pole Dance Academy). After the article went to print, I got a phone call from my dad. This was our conversation. 

Me: “Hi dad! What’s up?”
Dad: “Great article in the paper!”
Me: “Thanks!”
Dad: “I showed it to some of my mates at work, but geez, people can be strange sometimes.”
Me: “What makes you say that, dad?”
Dad: “Well, a couple of them said, doesn’t it bother you, to see your daughter in the paper wearing only her underwear?”
Me: “Oh.”
Dad: “How narrow-minded is that! They just don’t get it, do they? Idiots.”
Me: “You’re awesome, dad.”

I was reminded of this conversation when I read Aerial Amy's blog about her parents' reaction to her awesome booty shaking tutorial (check it out here).

My grandmother is also a great supporter and promoter of my pole dancing. She’s quite a tech-savvy grandmother, and whenever she comes to watch one of my shows, and always records them on her digicam, to play back for me later. She takes photos too, and then emails the photos and videos to her elderly cousins and relatives in Switzerland, boasting about her granddaughter the pole dancer and lawyer. I’m sure that my unknown Swiss relatives are quite bemused by the emails they get from Down Under. 

And of course, in every family there is the problem of the weird uncle who is overly interested in your pole dancing pursuits and wishes to discuss them with you in detail at every opportunity. 

Personal grooming

Getting halfway through a pole performance and being struck by the sudden realization that you did not tend to you lady garden that morning is horrifying. All I can say on this topic is: laser hair removal. A God send for us pole dancers. Expensive, yes, but think of it as an investment in your sanity. 

Hitting the dance floor

I cannot join other civilians dancing at family or kid-friendly events anymore.  I stand shyly against the wall and watch longingly while everyone else carves it up on the dance floor. This is because a side-effect of pole dancing is that you become so immune to sexy dancing that you’re no longer sure what’s appropriate.  

Example of inappropriate dance floor
behaviour at civilian gatherings.

The problem of not knowing how to dance like a civilian is particularly obvious at weddings and birthday parties, when booty shaking, fish flops and splits on the dancer floor aren’t acceptable.  Really – they’re not. Don’t argue with me on this one. Just take my word for it.

I decided to stop dancing at weddings after I saw this photo. 

Rough skin

I once went to brush the hair out of my eyes with my hand and scratched the skin of my face with the callouses on the palm of my hand. I’m not kidding. There was blood, and it hurt. 

Other side-effects of callouses:
  • any massage you give is less of a sensual experience for the recipient and more of an exfoliation;
  • you put ladders in your stockings as soon as you put them on, but you can’t be sure if the ladders are from the callouses on your hands, the back of your knees, or the inside of your thighs;
  • people give you funny looks when you shake hands for the first time (unless the other person is also a pole dancer, in which case the feeling of a callous on a callous becomes almost like a secret society handshake).

Miscellaneous problems

  • Being allergic to chrome. Imagine what this must be like for a pole teacher! It’s like being allergic to your office desk. Lou Landers can tell you all about it – but take heart - she doesn’t let it hold her back, and neither should you. 
  • Waking up every day feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck until you’ve had a long hot shower to coax your muscles into cooperation. 
  • Say goodbye to prettily pedicured toes. Pole dancing ruins pedicures. Unless you do as I have done in the below pic.


So there you have a list of pole dancer problems. It’s not an easy life. I think it’s important for us to all support each other through the travails of our profession. Remember that you are not alone in the daily struggles you face. 

But who am I kidding, right? All of the above just adds to the fun of it.


Shimmy xx


PS Feel free to add your "Pole Dancer Problems" below :-)