A new kind of exercise

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Registered: 03-19-2003
A new kind of exercise
Wed, 03-30-2005 - 9:47am

I read this on another site and thought I'd share it, so what do you think? Would you go for it, or is it too risque or tacky? I think it would be fun, and I'd do it in a second. lol


Pole Dancing: the New Fad for Britons


By Elizabeth Fullerton


LONDON (Reuters) - Silver disco balls spin red lip-shaped lights around the room and Britney Spears' "Oops I did it again" blares as Debbie gives herself a cheeky slap on the left buttock.


In school uniform, suspenders and high heels, she struts confidently around the pole, hooks her leg around it and swings to the ground before rippling back up. Flicking her long hair aside, she pauses to glance over her shoulder at the audience.


But contrary to appearances, Debbie is no pole pro. She's a 42-year-old married banker in London who has just completed a six-week beginners' course in pole dancing at My Pole Dance School in London.


She is one of growing numbers of urban British women -- from bankers and accountants to charity workers and housewives -- who are using poles to get fit and get sexy.


Gyms and pole dancing schools are reporting a huge surge in enrollment, supposedly inspired by model Kate Moss's sultry pole performance in the recent pop video by White Stripes and the film "Closer," in which Natalie Portman plays a stripper.


"It brings out the raunchy side in everyone," says fellow pole apprentice Sam, 29, who works in children's TV by day and frequents fetish clubs by night, a pastime hinted at by her six inch perspex and PVC heels.


"It's a way for people to put the spice back into their marriages," she added. "Unlike an aerobics class, this is something you can take back and share with your man."


SEEDY OR JUST SEXY?


Gone are the days when pole dancing was seen as the preserve of the sleaze industry, an activity performed by over-made up doll-like women before leering men in dingy strip joints.


Well, almost gone.


"My husband was a bit shocked to start with. He thought I was going through a life change," said Debbie, who was desperate to keep her secret from her banking colleagues. "I'd hate them to find out. It has a real stigma (but) if you do it, you realise it's fun and not seedy.


Professional stripper Maxxx Dobroslavic says women in Britain are discovering a new freedom in themselves, becoming more aware of their bodies and experimental with their sexuality.


"Women are wishing to have fun expressing their sexuality. Pole and lap dancing, striptease is all very much a part of that."


Stripping and dancing also make women feel more confident and that extends to other areas of their lives, said Maxxx, winner of the 2001 UK Pole Dancing Competition.


Hard-core feminists may disagree.


"If you come from a secure economic background and you've got education then it isn't such a big thing to play with sex tourism. If you don't have these your status is very different," said Paula Black, a sociology lecturer at Sussex University.


The latest craze in erotic dancing doesn't change the way men look at women's bodies as sexual objects and puts pressure on women to achieve in yet another area, she said.


"It's not always about throwing off inhibitions. It's almost like we see sex as a hobby. It's something we have to get right."


BOOMING DEMAND


But judging by the popularity of pole dancing classes and the euphoric atmosphere in the classroom, it seems women are brushing off negative perceptions around the activity.


Such is the demand for lessons that self-taught dancer Vanessa Lam is giving up her full-time day job as an accountant to devote herself to the pole dancing business she and her sister Fiona, a policewoman, set up.


In just three years, My Pole Dance School has expanded from classes in a poky room in southeast London to a business with "schools" catering to individuals, hen parties and birthday groups held in night clubs in eight cities around England.


Jumping on the trend, gyms and companies like lastminute.com and Activity Superstore, offering lifestyle experiences, are signing up with My Pole.


Some department stores have brought in pole dancers to spice up the shopping experience.


At the start of the six-week course, the women are timid and self-conscious. By the end, they are ordering poles to install at home, snapping up the skimpy outfits sold in packets so small they look like they are for tights, and signing up for the intermediate course.


Some are even talking of going professional.


Sara, 36, sporting hot pants, a bustier and black boots, teaches yoga and fitness but now wants to expand to pole dancing, teaming up with Luciana, 32, whom she met on the course.


Long after the end of the class, the two keep practising their dance routines, videoing each other on their mobiles for their partners at home.


"When you watch it done professionally it's an art, it's beautiful to watch. It's like gymnastics on a pole," said Sara.


Some more adventurous men are even taking part. On a recent Saturday, Michael, a former dancer, booked a session with My Pole to celebrate his 36th birthday with a group of 10 friends.


"It's acceptably sleazy. It gives women a chance to bring the slutty side out that they don't get to normally and men the girlie side," said TV producer Barry before slithering down the pole to hoots of laughter from Michael and his friends.