By Chad Allen
My exploration of pole dancing began almost two years ago following a 20 year plus professional dance background as a performer and now choreographer. Pole dance was something I was always intrigued and intimidated by. Dancing for the purpose of expressing sensuality, sexuality and eroticism was something I could hardly imagine a person could feel free enough to do. I assumed this was largely a bias coming from my dance background where technique and correctness were synonymous and using dance and eroticism in the same sentence was a different kind of professional. Now I'm not so certain it was my dance background that I had to overcome, but more an insecurity as a man, that made pole and sensual dance so intimidating.
As a student of a studio that embraces men in pole classes I have to say I have never been anything but supported both in my desire to be in class and my presence in class. I do make a specific point to introduce myself to all the women so that they know that I am there in support of their own journey. The studio environment, staff and client, is extremely friendly and extremely supportive. What I have come to observe and I offer here is a subconscious expectation of men, or possibly a lack thereof.
The journey of breaking through the fears of being, and being seen as, sensual, erotic, beautiful and powerful may be a consideration for women that is not quite appreciated for men. Men are afraid of exposure too. It seems women almost expect men to be strong. We're given permission to excel at tricks faster than women but I've noticed that women are less intrigued or sensitive to the journey of men when it comes to the eroticism of the dance as they might another woman. And maybe this is where we are all the most afraid, women and men alike. I suspect it's the greater discomfort for everyone in the room. We can watch someone struggle with a shoulder mount much more than we can watch them struggle with finding their own sensuality. But I wonder what is being lost when we don't.
I can say men, including myself, use strength not because it's so natural but as a distraction from our own fears, especially our fear of "is this sexy?" or "am I sexy?" I've seen many male pole dancers scale a pole about as sexy as the cable man and people still applaud the trick where I am quite confident the same forgiveness would not be given to a female pole dancer. I have definitely heard it being instructed in class by our amazing teachers; it's not simply about getting to top of the pole, it's how you get there. I do think women really do want a man to climb to the top of the pole with sexy sensual deliberation, but maybe they are afraid to expect it. And men, like women, are just scared to be bad at it.
I am so grateful that I have been allowed to explore these questions for myself in an environment where I think everyone really does care, but we may still be trying to figure out how to articulate it. At the end of the day, when I leave pole class, I am most fulfilled by the feeling that I have made myself present to other people's journeys and that, like me, it isn't only about the trick and skills. Being exposed to a room of people and not shrinking in the corner when you don't necessarily feel terribly sexy that day is an accomplishment that I think has bigger value than a trick, or the workout, or the calorie burn. I get to express being a man in ways the outside world might not embrace. Just like my fellow female dancers.
You can find Chad in Los Angeles at The Xcceleration Station
Gender, Men & The Art Of Pole: There’s a man in my pole class.
This post is part of our entry for the “Pole Dancing Bloggers Association” Feb Blog Hop on Pole Dancing & Men
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