Natalie, a second year Anthropology and Media student, has been President of Gold Pole Dance for the past year. Here, she tells us all about it...
So how did you get into pole dancing?
I’m actually pretty new to pole dancing myself but when I came to Goldsmiths I thought it looked fun. I only did one lesson, pre-pandemic, then Covid hit! Once restrictions were lifted I visited London Dance Academy - they have lessons for complete beginners so you can learn the basics and build up from there.
How did you become President of the society?
When I first started at uni, Gold Pole Dance didn’t exist because there was no committee, but I wanted to do it, so I decided if nobody else wanted to be President it was down to me!
In my current role I’m responsible for organising events and Aurora, another member, is currently the Treasurer. Next year she’s taking over the job of President, and we’ll then be opening the committee up again, so if there are any students who’d like to get involved they’re welcome!
A practical question next! What do you wear to practice in?
Whatever I feel comfortable in! I’d recommend a short-sleeved top or t-shirt and shorts - the more skin the better, because it helps you grip the pole - but it isn’t mandatory. For your feet, there are classes like flow where you should wear heels, but our classes are done barefoot or in socks.
Where do you perform, and how often?
We haven’t performed yet thanks to COVID, but would absolutely love to in the future! We’re also looking into collaborating with university pole dance teams, or with other societies at Goldsmiths, so watch this space.
Are there routines you follow? If so, who choreographs them?
I’m a beginner, but my teachers have shown me that it’s about a connection to the music and to your mood. The choreography depends on the song, and it can be very emotional and also fun as well. If you want to put three spins in a row because the chorus got really big, you can!
Our current choreography is quite challenging but incorporates a lot of beginner moves like steparounds, fireman spins, attitude spins and front and back hooks, plus floorwork. Check out our pictures!
What level of physical fitness is needed to do it? Seems like pole dancing requires a TON of upper body strength… Do you do any other training to help you out with that?
This is something that people always say - I don’t have the strength - and at the beginning it is hard to get used to, because it’s not every day that you pull yourself up on the pole!
But everyone starts from scratch and the more that you practice, the more that you build the skill. You can start with little strength and improve. Any strength or flexibility workouts help, like weightlifting and yoga. We’ve done a couple of online floorwork training sessions to help with that. Plus as a beginner you stay near the ground anyway, so there’s no danger of a fall!
Also, a lot of pole dancing is actually about your skin squeezing to the pole with friction, so the contact of your skin grips the pole, rather than purely your muscles.
Is anyone welcome to join the society?
Anyone of any gender or fitness level is welcome, it’s completely open to anyone - pole is open, supportive and loving no matter who you are. There’s this idea of dance spaces, that they’re competitive or you have to be a certain body type to take part, and that is so untrue in this case.
Has it changed how you feel about yourself mentally and physically? If you’re shy or body-conscious, can pole dancing help to change that and make you more confident?
Yeah, definitely! It can feel quite intimate because you’re putting yourself out there, but the sense of achievement you get when you master a move, the feeling that you can do it and that you’re improving, is amazing. You’re getting so much support and the teachers are there to encourage you.
Something magical happens to everyone: suddenly you’ll be able to do something you couldn’t do before and it feels like a real celebration!
Aside from being a confidence boost, physical activity in general is great for your mental health. After lockdown so many people are realising how important it is to do something that moves your body and makes you feel.
What would you say to those students who might think pole dancing is too sexy or not really a sport?
When I first saw pole on social media, I’d had this idea of it as something that was a bit taboo and that it was sexual. But actually it’s a fun way to keep fit and get strong and there’s a side of pole for everyone! No matter what you want to do, the community are there to uplift you and they are all so supportive. If you do want to do a sexy pole dance, you can, but if you want to do it to learn tricks and strength and flexibility, that’s great too. At the end of the day everyone is there because pole helps to boost your confidence and fitness.
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Gold Pole Dance have a taster 'Give It A Go' session on 4th October. Click here to get a ticket!