Tiger Lily was the first pole studio I visited when I moved to Chicago. I mean, it's one of the first anythings I visited. I was right off the boat, and a local poler I'd been corresponding with tipped me off to their grand opening party, and invited me to meet up there. I didn't know anyone or anything about the local pole or aerial scenes, so this was my introduction.
Last night, over six months later, I went back for open pole. I'd been wanting to go for ages! They kept mentioning their Open Poles on Facebook, and it just kept not working out for me. Mostly because, as a severely underemployed grad student, I just didn't have the $20 (for non-Tiger Lily students). But I sincerely did want to go. I love my Platinum Stages brass convertible, but my space is just too tight for some of the things I need to do. I need to do hard climbs (shoulder inversion climbs, no-feet climbs, inverted climbs) to train my muscles, and I need height to climb. I mean, I can jump to the top of my damn pole at home. Plus, as an independent poler, I am pretty isolated, and I like to get out and meet people. And sometimes it's nice to train when other people are looking, 'cause then you have to make an effort to look good and not just drag your feet!
So I signed up for Open Pole online the night before. I got an email from Sarah, one of the co-owners (whom I've met several times in person--actually she took my conditioning class once, she's strong!), telling me the class was moved an hour later (and of course offering me a refund it that wasn't OK). That was fine, as Geneva is not that close to me, so I got to take the extra time to digest dinner before jumping around like a poling maniac.
The door was actually locked when I got there (they let me in when they saw me standing there looking confused though). Turns out I was the only Open Pole student, and there was a photo shoot going on before my class. I was disappointed that it wouldn't be a more social workout, and probably would have cancelled if I'd known it was going to be just me. But at least I got to hang out with Caroline, the other owner, who I hadn't gotten to really talk to much yet. She's cool, I like her!
Tiger Lily is not a huge studio, and while they do fall back on hot pink, they use it in much tamer quantities than other studios, alternating it with easier-to-digest shades of lilac. So we can forgive them that.
The dressing room--I'm not sure if that was their usual dressing room or if the photo shoot people were in the usual dressing room. Anyways, it was small but cute, I think it had a fainting couch or something. And it's OK that it's small because they only have one pole room, and there are only 8 student poles, and they only do one-to-a-pole classes, so there's not gonna be more than eight people needing to get dressed at the same time anyways.
The pole room is very simple, with nine poles--8 for the students and one for the teacher--reaching close to 10 feet high (they weren't able to give me an exact height measure so we were estimating). The really cool thing is that the eight student poles are at the front and back of the room, with the teacher pole in the center--not in the front of the class, as in a normal dance class. I think that's brilliant. Not only does each person get an equal view, but pole is a three-dimensional art form. There is a lot of spinning (and unintentional rotating), so you really do need a 360-view. After all, while theaters where traditional dance takes place usually present a two-dimensional, face-front view to the audience, like a TV screen, aerial pole has its origins in strip clubs and circus tents, both of which usually offer seating on all sides of the performer. So it only makes sense that we should perform it that way when we can, or at least teach it that way.
Since there wasn't a class before me, the poles weren't as warmed up/grippy as they might have been. They were stainless steel, and I know people say those are less grippy than brass, but I find that as long as they're warm they are about the same. I picked out the four poles that were the warmest (all towards the center of the room--those must have been the ones they were using for the photo shoot!), and used them for my climbing, and then settled on one towards the front so I could use the mirror.
There was a wall of mirrors, which is always helpful (I like to check to make sure I'm even on things like iron X's and shoulder planks), but there was a ballet bar attached to it that always seemed to be RIGHT in my way. Guess I'll have to practice my power moves aerially next time!
The ceilings are drop ceilings, and the ribbing is on the narrow side, so it's nigh impossible to do any ceiling work. I can usually find a happy place for my feet in a ceiling lay on a drop ceiling, but here no matter what I did I ended up poking through the ceiling.
The sound system was solid. Caroline offered to put my iPod on, but I'm sick of my own music so I let hers run. We didn't play it that loud 'cause we wanted to chat, but I'm sure it can get crazy in there for a dance party.
I don't think they had a shower (correct me if I'm wrong), but they did have a nice bathroom with baskets of complimentary q-tips and tampons for those in need, which I thought was cute!
Like my last studio review, this was Open Pole, so I can't really say anything about the instruction. Caroline offered to spot me plenty of times though, and asked if I needed help if I even made the slightest grunt. So I guess that's the best "instruction" you can get in a non-instructed class!
I wish I could say something about the clientele, but obviously I can't in this case! Apparently there are usually a few women at Open Pole, but I just came on an off night.
Anyways, Tiger Lily is a smaller place than Flirty Girl and Tease and Rondi's and I think even Bombshell (trying to think of all the studios I've been to in Chicago), but it has a nice feel and friendly instructors. Open Pole is their only drop-in class, which is on Fridays at least once a month (sometimes more), so if you're in the area and looking for a place to practice, definitely check it out!!
Tiger Lily Vertical Fitness & Dance
Equipment: 9 10' 50mm permanent poles, Platinum Stages, stainless steel, static-spinning convertible
Amenities: Just the entryway (some merch available) and the pole room, with one or two small dressing rooms
Drop-In Price: $20 for non-students, $10 for students. Open pole is currently the only drop-in class.
Photo from Tiger Lily's Facebook page, because I forgot to take one.