A goth bar in a red light district. An opera in a converted bathhouse. My journey to pole and the aerial arts has been a strange one. But 10 years ago, they were such rare art forms that strange was the only way to go.
There was S-Factor; I didn't live near a studio when I started out but I had the book. Still got it. There was the Pantera video. I got that too.
Pole was pretty much always sexy back then. Lingerie and stripper heels were all a part of the authenticity (see Authenticity in Pole). Chinese pole was a thing, but obscure. It is still obscure today, but less so because circus arts as a whole are less obscure. Otherwise it was always sexy. So different from today, where there are more flavors, but you can't have a personal preference without it being political and polarized. Sigh... I do like the variety, though.
When I started, inverting was like WHOAH. It was pretty much the hardest thing you could do. People have been really creative and talented over the last decade.
When I started silks, there were like 5 of us sitting on a cold, dirty floor in Brooklyn. That was one of the only places you could learn. One class a night. Now there are multiple circus schools in any decent-sized city, with packed class schedules.
How do I feel about the increase in popularity for these sports? Oddly, oppositely. For pole, I'm glad it's become so widespread, because it makes it more socially acceptable. It used to be something you couldn't talk about in polite company. It's still awkward because so many people still don't know better, but I don't have a problem mentioning it to people at work. For circus, I'm a little jaded about the popularity, much the same way you'd feel if your favorite band got really huge. Like, I had that shit on vinyl.
I don't remember why I remember that my introduction to pole was in February. I must have had Mardi Gras off work or something. But I've always marked late February as my anniversary. Last weekend I was getting ready to perform at the Sweet Escape pole dance revue and I realized it was late February, 10 years after I first fell in with a bad crowd who taught me to pole dance. I don't perform very much, so it was a good way to celebrate my pole anniversary. Hope you enjoy my routine, which I wrote for my workshop at Pole Chicks (see Studio Review: Pole Chicks, Rockford IL): it's all the moves I was teaching that day in one routine! A couple moves were wobbly when I performed it for the workshop, so I was happy to have a chance to redo it. This one went much better, though the pole didn't spin very well.
It's been 10 years. I've almost quit a few times. I've suffered injuries and other setbacks. I've had periods where I can't teach for awhile. But somehow I'm still going, even though I have no reason to. My only explanation is that I really love this. I don't want pole to be my life, like it is for so many people. But I don't see leaving it behind anytime soon. It just makes me happy.