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 :-)