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Head over Heels

Written by: Erin O’Brien

It is safe to say that I love heels, all heels, but especially pole heels; in fact, Santa brought me a pair of chrome 7 inch heels two christmases ago and received a very special thank you for his thoughtfulness (who am I kidding, I left post-it notes in my husband’s shoes, lunch bag, and car to make extra sure he knew what I wanted; forgetting was punishable by death).

These were of course not my only pair; when I started pole, hands down one of the most exciting moments was buying my first pair of Pleasers – they were bright pink and delicious (delicious in a very non-wanting-to-eat-them kind of way) and I naturally wanted the world to see them; the world, though, was not as delighted as I had assumed it would be. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I unfortunately was not. I pretty much expected the reaction my enthusiasm was met by, and was most put out by the notions that poling in heels is 1. easier than poling without and 2. detrimental to the image of pole dancing/fitness as a whole. Excuse me?! I had never heard such drivel in my life – firstly, pole dancing, whether you choose classique or sport (or the myriad of other styles available to us) is about empowerment and not shame – the image portrayed is that of the strength and supportiveness of the pole community, heels or no heels, every poler is a bad-ass. Secondly, pole is not easy in any form; it is accessible to all, yes, but takes hard work, determination, and passion – this is true in each and every genre, and for someone like me who is more comfortable doing contemporary dance, dancing in heels is in fact a much bigger challenge.

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Okay, so after that slight detour, we have definitively established that I love pole shoes, BUT – and this is the big one – I am a very far way from being an expert in them.

This fun fact was driven (painfully) home when, a few weeks ago, the lovely Trena (my best friend, instructor, and heels extraordinaire) very graciously allowed me to try on her outrageously amazing 8 inch dazzlers. I was on the verge of crazy-girl-excited tears as I stepped into them, and am not ashamed to say that I admired myself in the mirror for a few minutes before attempting to walk in their awesomeness (yes, that IS a word).

It was at this point, ladies and gentlemen, that the reality of my heel-ability was revealed in stunning clarity – I did not, much to my dismay, walk seductively across the studio like a consummate professional but instead resembled the first tentative journey of a newborn giraffe.

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To say that we laughed would be an understatement, and really, what else could I do? If we cannot laugh at ourselves at moments like these then life would be a very dull and dismal place.

However, I was not to be discouraged by my maiden voyage (I am by no means implying that this was my first time in heels, but it was certainly my first time in 8 inches, which served as a strong reminder of my less than stellar capabilities when it came to poling in heels) as I am fully aware that it has been over a year since I spent any time dancing in shoes, and that, coupled with the blaring obvious – 8 inches ain’t easy – made it more than a little obvious that I was not going to be a glamorous gazelle.

My point? – when the love of sexy style pole is growing by the minute, more and more dancers opting to delve into performing in heels, the link between heels and classique is one I have been thinking a lot about and it reminded me of an important conversation I had with Trena not too long ago – Trena, while being a beautiful dancer in all styles, mainly dances in heels and I therefore respect her opinion on such matters very highly; she said something that has stayed with me, really hitting home: “sexy is not just putting on a pair of heels, sexy is an attitude not an accessory”. I had experienced this exact truth time and time again – I may be able to do tricks and spins on the pole in heels (I one hundred percent believe that almost all tricks are more difficult in heels, increasing my respect and admiration for all the pole dancers who make it look effortless and breathtaking) but this does not mean that I make it look good.

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Does this mean I never will? That sexy style pole is unattainable for me and others like me? That we should hang up our beautiful 6,7, 8, or 10 inch works of art? Not at all! I love that more of us are trying different styles of dance,whether it be classique or comedy or contemporary; pole is an amazingly inclusive medium that allows us all to explore different facets of our own personalities and talents, something that should be taken full advantage of. What I AM saying is that it might take time to not only learn to walk properly in heels but to do them justice; that heel workshops are a must for me, and that sexy is not just skin deep, found in expressions and subtleties, felt and not worn (don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a stupendously sexy outfit that makes our jaws drop and our minds sizzle, but you get where I’m going with this).

With so many amazing events and showcases such as UPA’s Bringing Sexy Back happening around the world, there has never been a better time to hone our sexy skills in heels, so I for one am dusting off the chromes and stepping outside of my comfort zone – any space for a private class Trena?

About Erin: Originally from South Africa, lives in Ireland with her husband and two daughters. She is a fitness instructor who teaches spinning part time while using all available other time to immerse herself in her one true passion: everything pole

Erin O'Brien
Erin O’Brien
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