I was quoted in today's New York Times commenting on the trend that is bringing pole dancing (complete with instructors and portable, ceiling-high poles) into the homes of middle aged, middle class women, as well as into fitness studios. Here's an excerpt from the article by Tina Kelley:
Some say exercise that echoes the acrobatics done by women who take their clothes off for a living is exploitative rather than empowering. But Ms. Shteir and Joan Price, the author of “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty” (Seal Press, 2006), see a clear difference between middle-class, middle-aged women choosing to give parties in their homes and women pushed by poverty into potentially dangerous or demeaning work.
“If we were to limit what we do in the realm of affirming our sexuality because it has been used against us in the past,” said Ms. Price, who tried pole dancing in 2005, “we would then be buying into the idea that we don’t own it.”
The important point in the NYT article is that pole dancing, once solely the domain of strippers, has been reclaimed by women in all walks of life and of all ages. Why not? It's a sensual activity that lets us see our bodies as sexy and alluring. We wrap around that pole as if it's a lover. Pole dancing is also full of fun, healthy sexuality, fantasy, and good exercise --just try hanging onto that pole with your arms, your legs wrapped around the pole, your body suspended, and see if it's a fitness challenge!
Besides pole dancing, women are flocking to fitness clubs for strip aerobics (we even saw this on Oprah), burlesque dance, and many other activities that "nice women" -- especially of our age! -- supposedly didn't do.
Physical exercise itself is sexy, and we're bringing the notion up a notch or two by indulging in a fitness activity that is decidedly and openly sexual.
I had the pleasure of experiencing a pole dancing class taught by Virginia Simpson-Magruder in 2005 as part of my research for an article for Marin County's Pacific Sun about innovative exercise classes. Here's what I said about it then:
"Push out your chest more," Virginia Simpson-Magruder tells me in the Pole Dance class at Stage Dor Studio (10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite #340, Sausalito). Let's see: butt out, chest out, look over shoulder, hip out, wrap leg around pole, swing--I never realized that pole dancing would require such strength and coordination. This sensual workout is much more than slithering around a pole--it strengthens the upper body (sometimes your arms are holding your whole body weight on the pole) and feels delightfully sensuous. Instructors Virginia Simpson-Magruder and Lane Driscoll got their training from a former exotic dancer. Yes, we used a real pole. (No, we didn't strip.)
What do you think? Have you tried pole dancing, strip aerobics, or burlesque dance? What was your experience?