The Power of Pole Jams
This week, I have trained with six different local instructors. Three of these are from my immediate local area, and three are from schools within forty or so miles.
There is a school of thoughts that says “Why train with instructors who are essentially your potential competition? Why give away your trade secrets or signature moves? Why try to learn from them, if you already good enough?”
I disagree completely with this train of thought, and here’s why: I think all of the above is utter nonsense.
The idea that other instructors are a threat to you is ridiculous. Unless you are a pole dancer of a very poor standard, or one that operates under a shady practice, you have nothing to fear from other instructors. Sure, you will all have your own strengths and weaknesses, and your own signature moves and style, but here’s the thing: the most important factor to students is very rarely how damn good their instructor is comparted to the one at the school in the next town. There are so many variables that matter – apart from the boring stuff like school location, convenience and affordability, one of the most important issues for a student is how comfortable they feel at that school – do they feel safe and comfortable and supported by their instructor? Do they enjoy being around the other students in their class? Does the instructor’s teaching style work for them? Can that instructor show them what it is that they want to learn?
Has any student ever upped and left a pole school they loved and were happy at because a teacher elsewhere could do a particular move their own instructor could not? If they did, I’d wager they weren’t happy at that school anyway and it was always going to be time to move on.
I know some instructors feel that training or jamming with other instructors is financially damaging – that if someone wants to learn something from them, they should pay for it. I can see the logic of this argument, and indeed there are many debates raging about pole dancers who are possibly damaging the financial status of the industry by giving away tips and tricks for free via online tutorials, or charging a rate way below the standard, thereby squeezing prices down so low that it’s making it impossible to break even. I fully understand those who don’t want to train with others, especially if they feel they are at a level where they will be sharing their own skills, but not learning anything. Nor do I jam to learn stuff for free – if I want to learn something specific, or just demand the attention of a teacher for an hour, all to myself, I will absolutely pay for that.
However in my own pole jam sessions, I have shared and learned so much more than just moves and techniques. Pole jams are not lessons. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the industry, about changes and shifts that are occurring. I have discovered new products at pole jams, from grips to pole cleaners, and shared tips about moisturisers and shaving foam. We go to masterclasses together and car pool. We support each other’s events, showcases and charity nights. We help each other train for competitions, then go and cheer our heads off. I have gained as much as I have ever “given away”. It’s not about anyone being “better”, or giving anything away. Like I said, we all have strengths and weaknesses, so an instructor with a style for strength can help one with a flair for flexibility and vice versa. Learning something from another instructor doesn’t mean they are better than you. Sharing something with them doesn’t mean you are better than them. And, no matter how good you are, there is always something you can learn. As one instructor at a pole jam of five of us said: “If we could just combine all the best bits of all of us, we’d make an awesome pole dancer!”
she can’t even, like,
point her toes properly…”
There’s no getting around this: Pole can be a bitchy industry. No matter how much everyone says they don’t get involved in the bitchy side, no matter how much positivity exists in your school, no matter how nice a person you are, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that bitching and sniping and judging does go on, whether you personally partake in it or not. It’s the worst part of ourselves and our industry.
But if you regularly train with someone, surely that could only be a positive thing? If I was ever with other instructors, and negative comments were said about someone I trained with, I know I would defend them. Whether this is true the other way around is not my place to say, but I’d like to think so. I’ve met some great people through training together, and of course, we all have pole love in common, so what’s not to love?
Wouldn’t getting to know each other and working together, whilst respecting each others skills, strengths, schools and achievements, only lead to support, not only for each other but for the industry as a whole? We all want to be a positive, supportive, friendly community.
Getting to know someone as a person, or even a friend, rather than just someone on social media… well… wouldn’t that make the industry stronger?