Against the Odds: Stories of Inspiration from the Pole- Summer
Summer Morris began pole dancing as a mother of three about eight years ago. She quickly became addicted to the movement. Through an unexpected discovery she created Dirty Girl POLEtice, an organic pole aid that prevents sweating. I spoke with her to learn more of the personal hardships she’s had to overcome, how pole dancing has helped her through them, and what her children think of her pole dancing.
1. When did you first see pole dancing? What made you want to try it?
I first saw pole dancing on Oprah with Sheila Kelley, way back in 2005. I thought “NO WAY! You can do that IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!” I’ve always felt a draw to this type of dancing, even though I wasn’t a trained dancer, I was always good at the slow, slinky movement, but didn’t have anywhere to do it.
2. So I hear you’re self-taught. What was your learning experience like? Did you watch any specific dancers on YouTube?
Yup, fully self taught! At the time I was running a parenting magazine and making silk baby slings, so my world was revolving around kids. So after bugging my husband for 6 months to buy me a pole (there were only 2 on the market at the time), I finally decided to make one! So off to home depot I went..bought some 2×4’s, 2×6’s, plywood, flanges and a fence post! We built it in a few hours for $50! I had to sand the fence post down since it has some burs on it…man was it slippery! HAHA. So I went to a LOT of strip clubs to watch and learn. In Portland, we have AMAZING pole dancers! I found 2 videos available that I liked, PoleTrix 101 with Pantera (ya, that BLEW my mind!) and another one called PoleKatz. I got some basics from that one. But pretty much it was intuition. I did what felt “right”. And practice practice practice and then again.
I wish there were youtube videos around! I was actually one of the first of a handful of women posting pole videos on youtube (back when youtube was a baby…and our videos were getting taken down, a lot!) After about a year I started teaching, starting out with home pole parties, eventually opening a studio that grew into a huge 9000 sq foot facility for women!
3. Have you ever injured yourself pole dancing?
Have I ever NOT injured myself! HA! Yes, I am very prone to injury. It’s actually kind of joke with my students. I was always on them about injury prevention, yet I was always getting hurt. On top of my clutziness, I have fibromyalgia, which makes me get hurt easier (bad for me, good for my students as I knew what would eventually hurt them with improper form). I’ve got what seems to be permanent nerve damage in my heel from kicking the pole during a handspring into a jacknife. However, my biggest injury was an abdominal tear doing a very basic “tuck” spin..my “mommy skin” held on to the pole as my legs came down, stretching my muscles too much and tore my abdominal wall and herniated. I ended up in emergency surgery several hours later. That was interesting!
4. What challenges did you face learning to pole dance as a mother of three?
Finding the time. At first I “hid” it, but then thought “WHY?!” they love the pole. Once I brought it out in the open, I would practice basic spins and inverts (the kind of dancing I do I don’t feel is appropriate in front of children). I would teach them how to do things, and threaten them not to do anything without mommy there! Of course, I caught my then 5 yr old teaching my 3 year old how to invert…with jeans on…without me there. So for punishment, they lost pole privileges for a long time!
5. How do you find the time to fit pole dancing into your already busy life?
When I had my studio I did it all the time. I don’t dance a lot these days. I have low ceilings and long legs, so my ceilings are in the line of fire. Plus, there’s that time thing again now that the kids are older and we are doing more things..plus I homeschool 2 of them, so there’s that! But Summer’s working on getting her groove back. 🙂
6. What advice do you have for other moms out there who are curious about giving pole dancing a try?
DO IT! At least try it before you knock it. It truly brought me out of a dark space in my “mommy” life. I was drained. I was lost, I didn’t do ANYTHING for myself. Pole brought me out of that. I felt SO sexy when I was dancing. I would put the kids down for a nap, and just dance for an hour. It was very cathartic, I was in my own little world, I was the star and no one could tell me I wasn’t. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into a passion, maybe not. But I’m always one to jump in with both feet, you never know until you try! Plus, I never got objections from the hubby when I had to practice 😉
7. Tell me more about your fibromyalgia. You were diagnosed at 21. How has this disorder affected you? Has it made pole dancing easier or more difficult?
Yes, I was in a car accident that triggered my symptoms (FM runs in my family and is often triggered or “woken up” after trauma). For YEARS I was always in constant pain and tired. It was, well, a pain…literally! Dr’s wanted me on this drug, that drug. But about 6 months after I started dancing (I was 29 at the time), I started noticing something. I wasn’t hurting…AT ALL. The movement, the muscles, the stretches, stopped my FM in it’s tracks. I wasn’t hurting, I was sleeping very well. If I couldn’t dance for more than 2 weeks, I would get a flare and start hurting again. I had to find a pole wherever I went to prevent that! That’s when I knew it was the movement and muscle building that was helping me with my FM.
8. You created a pole product called “Dirty Girl Poletice.” How was this idea conceived?
Totally by accident! Out of the blue I got a condition called “peri-oral dermatitis.” It was hideous. I looked like a had some sort of contagious skin disease covering the bottom half of my face. YUCK. After months of doctors, not helping. I said screw it, I’ll fix it myself! So off to the evil lab! Being chemical sensitive I knew I had to go “au naturale”. I started researching (I’m a bit of a research freak) and putting together concoctions. When I came up with one, my face started clearing, but while teaching I noticed my hands weren’t sweating. Took me a week or two, but I finally put 2 and 2 together…my face mask was stopping my sweat! So I dove into research again for a few months on sweat, why we sweat, what makes us sweat, what makes some people sweat more. I then had a couple of students try it, made a couple of formulas, sent them out to some other studios to test the different formulas and the response was fantastic! They all loved it and started asking when can they buy! That was last summer. It was insane how fast everything happened. A couple of distributors contacted me before I was even out on the market wanting to carry and distribute DGP! I knew I was on to something then! What’s great about it is that it’s totally naturally organic, it not only works for sweat anywhere on your body, it also cured my dermatitis, will calm acne, psoriasis and eczema. It’s a really great gentle exfoliater and helps keep your makeup on so you don’t oil/sweat it off! So it’s not just a one trick pony.
9. Do you believe pole has been healing for you?
Absolutely. While I have bruises, nerve damage and scars I wouldn’t trade my experiences in the pole world for anything. I’ve come out of what I now know was postpartum depression, got my sexy back and even though my body, the mom bod, isn’t what I looked like as a 20 year old, I FEEL sexier, more confident and it definitely shows in how I present myself and walk…head high, shoulders back, booty out 😉 I’ve helped so many women in the same predicament..whether it be kids and no time for themselves, or women with chronic pain. Helping others has truly healed me on the inside as well. I feel like I can conquer anything I want. Don’t tell me no I can’t, that’s the fastest way to get me to do it.
10. Anything else you would like to add?
Yes, ladies, moms or not. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t. If you want to do something, whether it be pole, ballet, gymnastics or whatever, don’t let naysayers tell you otherwise. Even if that naysayer is yourself. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Do it for you! Who cares if this is jiggling, or that skin is flapping, or that rythym just isn’t there. It’s your time to do what you need. Women you have GOT to take time for yourselves. Is that couch full of clothes waiting to folded or that sink full of dishes going away, no, but it can wait. If you need time, make the time. Leave the clothes, leave the dishes, do something for you…cause as we say in my southern family..If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Love yourself first!