Linda is an inspiration to me. She started pole dancing shortly after me and I have watched with awe as she has progressed at an amazing rate, by far surpassing my own humble skills. My introduction to Linda was shortly after I took the teacher training at Boulder Spirals. I had been taking classes for a couple months and was observing my friend, Stacey Mulvey, teach an Intro to Pole class, one that I was training to teach myself. The first thing Stacey said was, “What are you doing here Linda? You don’t need to be in level one.” to which Linda replied, “I love your class and you are such a great teacher, I can’t stop coming back!”
Linda’s Lesson Number One: No class is beneath you. If you want to get better quickly, spend as much time as you can in the studio.
Linda is a stellar hottie and with that comes some baggage, at least when it comes to knowing me. I can’t help but be intimidated when I meet a young and gorgeous woman. In my own petty way, I make up stories to dull the sting of being reminded that I am not the youngest/prettiest/best dancer/etc. in the room. Being almost 41, you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Between Linda’s tiny outfits (even by pole dancer standards) abundant tattoos, super thick eyelashes and amazing body, I just assumed she would be a vapid, self-absorbed youth. So my next memorable experience Linda was when I brought my 82 year-old best friend, Marcia, to observe a class. I was curious about how she would be received and I’ll admit that I’m not the best at making introductions. We sat down on the couch and the people in the room didn’t pay any attention to us. Except for Linda. She made a beeline and introduced herself to Marcia, wearing nothing but a bra and the cutest panties ever. Marcia was moved to draw a picture of them to illustrate to our husbands how cute Linda looked. She was warm and welcoming and I felt so grateful that unlike me, she didn’t make up stories about why an elderly lady would be in a pole studio and just ignore her.
Linda’s Lesson Number Two: Don’t judge people on how they look. Welcome everyone with an open heart. This isn’t a new lesson by any means, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit it.
The first time we performed together was at a Cinco de Mayo party. Since we started pole dancing around the same time I thought we’d have similar skill levels. Imagine my surprise when she busted out moves that I had never seen. When I asked how she learned them (I certainly didn’t learn “The Alethea” in Level 2) she told me that Sasha taught her in an intermediate mixed levels class. My first thought was, “How can you be in that class if you are in Level 2?”
Linda’s Lesson Number Three: Don’t assume you can’t do something. Go to that advanced class even if you might be the “worst” person there, especially at Boulder Spirals where instructors won’t let you do something that is unsafe or you don’t have the ability to attempt. And if you see something cool that you want to learn, ask about it. You might learn something new.
I’ve been writing this blog since I started pole dancing and Linda has been a regular reader. She never hesitates to tell me when she has read something that moved her or resonated. As a writer this means so very much to me. Linda is always vocal about when she loves a class, or someone’s performance, or something they’ve written. She never holds back in this aspect. It tells me that she is the biggest kind of person, one who isn’t threatened by other people’s success.
Linda’s Lesson Number Four: Don’t be threatened by other people’s success, let it inspire you and lift you up. Take it a step further and become a cheerleader for those around you. Again, not a big revelation, but it means so much more when it is embodied by someone I truly respect.
We had our Fall Showcase and everyone had been working on their pieces individually. I hadn’t been attending open pole to practice since I was performing a reprisal of the duet Stacey and I did about a month ago at Shine. In other words, I had no idea what people were working on. The show itself was amazing. I saw people pushing their boundaries in a way that truly inspired me. Linda performed in a group piece and then did a solo that took my breath away. She’s is a champion booty-shaker so I was surprised that she chose to perform a lyrical piece to Adele’s “Someone Like You”. I’ve posted the video so you can see it for yourself, but what you won’t see is how many people in the audience were sobbing. It wasn’t that the piece was sad, although it was pathos laden, I was crying because I was so damn proud of her. She started after I did and has rocketed past me, not that I am a measuring stick for success, but her progress has been exponential. She has been devoted to pole from day-one, from perfecting her shoulder mount to getting her full splits. And if you talk to her about it, she is serious and professional about her approach, not at all what you would expect from such a pretty face.
Linda’s Lesson Number Five: If you want to get good at pole, buy an unlimited monthly pass and go to as many classes as you can. Beginning, yoga, GoGo, advanced, intermediate, body conditioning, you name it, just go. Commit, commit, commit. She wasn’t a gymnast or a ballerina, like some people are who get good ridiculously fast, she is a regular person. She just knew that she wanted this badly and put in the hours.
Linda’s performance was an inspiration and a kick in the hot pants. Because she has managed to disarm my knee-jerk reaction to be intimidated and dismissive, her performance made me take a hard look at my progress. I have been progressing steadily through the ranks, but I will never be her. I don’t have the time, the youth and the drive she does. But I don’t have to be as good as her, or anyone (because we have so many amazing dancers: Sasha, Shawneen, Keri, Stacey, Leslie, Chrissie, Katie, Nicole, Amanda, Jaslee … ) to be the best dancer I can.
Walking the dog the next day I started dreaming about my next performance. I will never stop learning new tricks and working on my “old” ones, but it was clear that the whiz-bang category is all locked up by the likes of the women I listed, and probably many to follow. So I thought about what I know, what I am good at, and what unique skills I bring to the table. So here’s my list of things that will make my next performance awesome.
1) I am an excellent clothing designer and seamstress. I’m going to take costuming to the next level.
2) I can connect with the audience. I like looking at people and sharing a private moment.
3) I have a sense of humor and I intend to use it. My piece won’t be a parody, but it will offer a few laughs.
4) I know how to be sexy, especially if I take Sasha’s advice and slooooooowwwww doooooowwwwwn.
5) I have two children and forged a deep connection with my body as a result of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. While this has left its’ mark on my body (can you say stretch marks?) it has been a blessing to me as a sensual being. I see it in the women I teach, those who have children and know themselves more deeply than an unblemished teenager can. I want to bring that wisdom and confidence in my dance. Oh, and I can pole dance, too.
So stay tuned. I’ve got something really wonderful in the works and I owe it to the ever striving, ever growing women I dance with. And check out Linda, a newly minted instructor at Boulder Spirals. No doubt she will inspire you as much as she has inspired me.