I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon wearing hot pants in a dimly lit room with three poles and eight other women; not my usual rainy Saturday. On a whim I decided to fill a last-minute opening in a friend-of-a-friend’s pole dance birthday party at the already legendary S Factor owned by Sheila Kelley in Chelsea.
Even though pole dance and strip tease classes have already caught on in a big way, I was skeptical. Exhibitionist I am not. But S Factor is nicer than any fancy yoga studio and the lobby was adorned with ruffly shorts and 5 1/2″ stilettos for sale. A whole new concept in workout gear. If I wasn’t sold right there, I was certainly interested.
Inside, the studio was barely lit (hooray!) and the instructor was like your funniest saucy friend. She told us to take our hair out of our ponytails, braids and buns. This made me nervous, as I was afraid I’d be brainwashed into one of those girls who does the elliptical with her hair down at the gym, shudder. But then she eased us in with yogic stretches and barefoot ballet moves, pointing out all the ways the female body naturally curves and rather than urging us to suck in or straighten up, she encouraged the curving. It seems so simple but this one little difference was hugely freeing. I don’t usually smile ear-to-ear during yoga.
Then we got to the really good stuff. A beginner spinning pole move called the firefly:
I did hit my shin pretty hard the first few times, but it was worth it. When do I ever get to spin? I need more spinning in my life. Overall I felt graceful (besides the shin setback) and happy and centered. When we left my abs ached and I was energized and exhausted. Best of all I made new friends in record time and, if I get really good, they’ll teach me a few moves with the stilettos on. Final review: Forget all preconceived notions of pole dancing and try it, at leat once.