Will the pizza man think I’m dumb if I ask for parmigiana pizza? Can I be a pole dancer and a lecturer? Is butter a carb? These are all perfectly unreasonable questions you lose sleep over if you have anxiety. So why not add: “How do I perform at a competition when I’m already drowning in work?” to the mix? Here’s the Blogger On Pole guide to performing (and possibly winning) if you’re feeling anxious AF, written by your resident mental health patient.
If this were a Cosmo article, it’d be called: “Top Tips To Slay Your First Dance Competition.” But this isn’t Cosmo, this is bloggeronpole.com, a.k.a. anxiety central. So you’ll have to do with me. Hey yo Cosmo, if you need tips on shaking ass holla at me tho, K?
Any kind of performing makes most people anxious. From public speaking to shaking your nearly naked ass in front of an audience, being on a stage in front of people isn’t the easiest thing in the world. So what does a dumbass do when she knows she’s already anxious as fuck? She decides to compete in a pole dance competition when she already has lectures to teach, books to publish and blog posts to write. OBVS. In case you like leading a quintuple life like me, want to find out how to shake ass in public without dying, or are just interested in how I didn’t have a panic attack on stage, keep reading.
Bit of background here. So on 4 March 2018 I performed at and competed in my first pole competition – and I won it! YAY! I am not always a failure!
Floorplay London is the UK version of Australian comp Floorplay, created by pole dancers Amber Ray and Daisy Peach. It’s a fun competition where you get to do everything about pole dancing, minus the pole. Think floor work, lap dance, booty shaking and choreography, or any style you like, in three levels: amateur, semi-pro an professional.
I can officially say I have an award-winning ass! Absolutely chuffed to have won the amateur category of @floorplaycompetition #London with my #twerkzotic routine to #DeathUSB by @lebonwski. Dancing has saved my life from so many things I can’t even begin to explain how grateful and happy I feel. So many people to thank… thank you @sydney_pole and @___badgalrere for not giving up on me when I couldn’t twerk for shit. Thank you @chanellehall7 and @twerkologynation for giving me confidence and a platform to dance here in LDN. Thank you @londondanceacademy for being my second home. Thank you @circusanna552 @laurenelisepole @soviet_juliet and @distractedbydancing for helping me with my routine. Thank you @whysopandy and @kkristabelle for being there in spirit. Thank you mum for the pole membership 😅 thank you to my soccer mums @catalina.cma and @pennypasch for coming to see me, thank you @tygmediauk @nushy1984 @lisapisavisacard @jodie_buggea @hpnotiqrequiem @camelotgrace for coming to cheer me on and congrats to all the amazing performers who competed! I’m so happy, also thanks to a much needed cheese and bacon bagel from @beigel_shop 🍑🔝 video coming soon! #sundaybumday
What I Won
Aside from the title, I won a bunch of pole goodies that would make every pole dancer very happy.
- Haus of Pole leggings
- Peach Pole Studio pole bottoms
- TwerkOut dancewear pole bottoms
- Bobbi’s Pole Studio top
- Miss Pole Dance Australia DVDs
- 30% off TwerkOut dancewear clothing
- Dragonfly Voucher
- Pole Sweet Pole Voucher
I competed in the amateur category as I had never performed as a solo act anywhere before. I chose a twerkzotic routine (so a bit of twerk, a bit of exotic pole floorwork) to the beat of Death USB by Salmo, a rapper from my home town who used to sing metal before. I chose this song because it has a sick beat and I’ve always wanted to dance to it since becoming a pole dancer. Also, having grown up as a metal head, the song’s darkness really appealed to me and allowed me to go batshit crazy with leather, PVC and reverse crosses. I’ll see y’all in hell. Performance below, directed by Tyrone Grosvenor.
The day before I had a huge knot in my stomach. On the day of the event I could eat very little (a first, in my case, considering I usually eat for two). After rehearsals I couldn’t stay still and I was probably the only idiot who remained backstage in the cold in full costume with 8″ heels.
I thought I was just not going to make it onstage, but when my turn came and I got into position, giving my back to the audience, something clicked and it wasn’t a panic attack. I was actually having fun. After I went off stage at the end of my performance I felt like I was high, but that might have been the beer.
Cut the crap, where my tips at?
OK, OK. Sorry.
Is performing worth it?
Me in January when I submitted my entry to Floorplay: “I’ll just freestyle to the song and if it works it’ll be my routine. I’ll never get in anyway.”
Me in February when I found out I got in: “Holy shit. Bitch, you betta werk.”
Basically, from freestyling in a bikini and freezing my ass on a Sardinian beach in January, I ended up getting into the comp as a finalist. And I wasn’t expecting it. Sure, I was chuffed, but that week I was so nervous I thought I’d flip. It was the beginning of Feb, and I was about to give my first guest lecture with a class entirely created by me. I was still leading four seminars a week, blogging, working as a research assistant, training, trying not to die in a puddle of anxiety.
So kids, the lesson here is: how busy are you? Do you need to add extra stress to your life? Is it really worth it? In my case, somehow it was. Training at least two hours on most days was pretty intense, but I loved every bit of it. Just keep in mind that if comps feel like the last straw in a really busy life, you might not give it your 100% and perform poorly. Which isn’t worth it.
I have been the same person since primary school: an uglier version of Hermione Granger. The only way I can face a test, an exam, a presentation, anything is by over-preparing for it. Knowing that I know my speech, my answers or my routine in and out are the only things that allow me to keep going in stressful situations.
This has allowed me to get top marks in high school straight after break-ups, dramas and a variety of teen problems that looked huge at the time but were maybe a bit emo. So I used this technique for my performance: I over-prepared for it. I made sure I knew it in and out so that even if my brain froze my body would still go on.
My routine was pretty much ready when I submitted it. I loved the song, knew it very well and then I just had to clean it up when preparing for the competition. Some people manage to freestyle all the time, or do things last minute, but I’m not one of them. So find what works for you and prepare that way.
Choose A Song That Isn’t A Cliché
One of my favourite things about the Floorplay night was that everybody loved my choice of song and made time to tell me that. You have no idea what this means to me because you probably aren’t the crazy bitch who tries to put black metal on the Sonos in your office.
Jokes aside though, choose a song you love. A song that makes you feel badass. A song you know so well you know what’s coming on the next beat. Don’t choose a song just because it’s just been released and it sounds nice… although I’d love to perform to every single song Cardi B releases.
If you’re a seasoned performer, chances are you can do an amazing job dancing to any song. In my case, being an amateur, I needed to plan things. Knowing I’ve always loved my song meant I had already pictured some moves I wanted to do in certain bits. It also meant I had an amazing time performing to it, that I knew the video, I knew the vibe I wanted to give off: horror sick bitch. Actual music video for proof.
Songs played at Floorplay included: Rolling by Limp Bizkit (SO MUCH YES), the Come Together cover by Gary Clarke Jr. and Perfect Strangers by Deep Purple, and a bunch of other amazing songs I don’t remember cause my brain was well and gone for the whole night.
Choose moves you’re comfortable with
My song was called Death USB so I really wanted to end it with a death drop. What is a death drop, I hear you ask? It’s a move that originated from vogueing, although they called it “dramatic dip” in the ballroom scene.
I, however, first saw it when drag queens like Laganja Estranja, Shangela, Alyssa Edwards, Aja and many more did it on RuPaul’s Drag Race and GAGGED. I wanted to do it too! So I pulled up Laganja’s tutorial on YouTube and just death dropped in my room, without stretching, like a fucking idiot. Result = my leg hurt for the whole weekend, my quads were fucked and I thought I couldn’t even perform. I went to a friend’s birthday at the Macbeth of Hoxton’s Drake Party and had to twerk with one leg. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS.
I ended up going to a vogueing class and asked my teachers for better quad stretching exercises to prevent real death from death drops. To everybody that saw me doing that exercise in the changing room – I’m sorry! It doesn’t look pretty. It’s pretty much like showing your vag to the audience while you’re on all fours, but backwards, going up and down with your knees. But it worked!
So don’t be like me. Do moves you’re only 100% comfortable with. You don’t want to injure yourself, look tired or awkward – cause when you don’t know how to do stuff, it shows.
…btw, if you wanna know everything about Drag Race death drops, check out this Pride compilation of the sickest ones in the show’s Herstory.
Don’t Watch Performers In Your Same Category Before You Go On Stage
My friend Elaine, herself a competition winner, gave me this tip and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. Watching your competition sometimes fucks with your vibe. Whether they’re great, or they’re awful, it’s not about your competitors: it’s about you. So chill backstage, listen to your music, stretch, warm up. You can enjoy the show later.
This worked for me cause I’m a ball of anxiety, but other people might not be affected by other performances and might want to watch them. Up to you.
“Scaramanzia” is an Italian word that Google wants to translate with “good luck”, but “good luck” doesn’t really cut it. Mind you, “Scaramanzia” isn’t Twin Peaks‘ Garmonbozia (sense of despair), but all the things you do (or don’t do) to make good luck come your way. You don’t tell people that you’re about to get a new job if it isn’t confirmed, for scaramanzia.
For scaramanzia I did a lot of things and didn’t do others. I wore my favourite underwear, didn’t watch performers before me. I may or may not have bathed in the blood of a thousand children.
But the point here is: do what makes you feel confident. If you have any pre-performance rite that has worked in the past, do it. I’m not saying it works, but it might give you that extra bit of chill… which you need if your head is exploding.
It’s your fucking performance. Love it, build up some attitude, serve face. Many of my teachers and performer friends all agreed that the focused face isn’t sexy or fun to watch, so find your performance face and OWN IT. Apparently, my performance face is: shady bitch who thinks you suck but also smiles when she shakes ass. But yeah, maybe don’t be that bitch and just look like you’re loving every bit of it. The audience will notice.
Don’t Fuck It Up
I just really wanted to add another Drag Race gif.
Pictures: Pammie Cameron Photography