Vulnerability in pole dancing

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to pole dance performances I have a style I know I can pull off, and I stick to it. Tell me to change my style though, or to experiment, and I panic. Then an event I wanted to perform at came up and I had no choice. Here’s a super personal post about how I went about doing it together with my routine for the show.

<img src="BloggerOnPoleLDA.jpg" alt="Blogger On Pole LDA showcase"/>

Style Choices

You know that thing called versatility? As an intermediate pole dancer but still amateur performer, I don’t have that. I like badass routines to rock n’roll/metal songs that make me feel like a bad bitch because in life I hardly have my shit together. I like them fast-ish, which means I don’t do slow, and I don’t do emosh pole art or vulnerable performances. I have choreographed very few things, but I choreograph songs to lyrics, preferably if they say something powerful/weird/badass. Exhibit A:

The Event

Then my pole school, The London Dance Academy, turned into a performance art space last weekend hosting all sorts of routines under the umbrella of the eerie, dark, emotional Room of Discarded Thoughts. All performances had to be inspired by some type of art… and they had to be done to instrumental music. So totally not what I’m used to.

Vulnerability in Pole Dance

I spent weeks panicking about the idea, thinking I could never pull it off.

I knew I taking part was important to me. It wasn’t just that my local pole studio was my home and that I wanted to perform something for its showcase as a celebration of the fantastic year I spent there. It was also that I had the chance to perform a routine that was inspired by my first novel, which I self-published last month, and I didn’t want to waste it.

My novel Bad/Tender is a fictional account of an abusive relationship inspired by real abuse I went through. Publishing it was already a major relief: it meant leaving the story behind, and moving on to writing something new and different. However, pole dancing is what helped me find and accept myself again after that relationship, and that performance would have been a perfect act of closure. It had to happen.

I mulled over the music for weeks. I had no idea which moves to pick, which style to use. Sure, I can shake ass for two minutes, but that couldn’t fit with the vulnerability I was trying to channel.

Twin Peaks

Then the music came to me: I made a mix with the Twin Peaks soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti.

The reasons were many. I’m a die-hard Twin Peaks fan, sure, but I love what the series represents: horror and darkness, but also humour, hope and a weird charm. Laura Palmer in particular is that perfect mix of light and darkness, a decadent homecoming queen who gets into trouble.

The weirdness of the series helped me channel my own, and I even if it wasn’t a 100% vulnerable performance it still was a routine I was proud of.

<img src="RDTHades.jpg" alt="Room of Discarded Thoughts Hades"/>

The Show

Preparation wasn’t without hurdles. The week before the show I managed to graze my leg and foot while pole cleaning at Pole Theatre and by the performance weekend they still hadn’t healed. I had planned a variety of climbs-based moves, and I wanted to wear bridal style white underwear with heels, but I had to reconsider.

Picture by Karen Toftera
<img src="RDTHades.jpg" alt="Room of Discarded Thoughts Hades"/>
Picture by Karen Toftera

I ended up cutting the majority of outlandish moves I was planning, doing a floorwork based routine and wearing just one sock to cover up my bandage. Luckily, the performance space looked so much like the Black Lodge – dark and weird – that people didn’t notice it.

<img src="BloggerOnPoleLDA.jpg" alt="Blogger On Pole LDA showcase"/>

The few climbs I did were clunkier than I wished they were because of the wounds. Yet, the light and the scenery made up for it, allowing me to dance on two sides of a curtain, one side representing the light and another one the darkness.

Picture by Karen Toftera
<img src="RDTHades.jpg" alt="Room of Discarded Thoughts Hades"/>
Picture by Karen Toftera

My performance started light, girly, upbeat to then end up behind the curtain, in the dark, a loss of innocence in line with both the PTSD following the relationship and the Twin Peaks vibes.

I performed four times over two days – two performances each day, each and everyone different from the other. I noticed my stamina was improving and I was growing more and more relax with the routine, which required a good deal of improvisation and helped me feel less self-conscious while doing it.

Dancing In Different Styles

I think pole classique/sexy pole with a bit of twerk remain my favourite styles and my go-to options for performances. I’m very new to the showcase/performance space and I’ve only ever choreographed a couple of things. Yet, being “forced” to find a new style, a new vibe with music I would not normally choose was an invaluable experience, because it helped me recognise bits of myself in things I wouldn’t do and to grow as a baby performer.

I hate showing vulnerability. Having been through an abusive relationship and suffering from anxiety, PTSD and depression have made pole my refuge. I use it to escape from every tension, not to create new ones. I really wasn’t looking forward to performing and showing that side of me at all.

Yet, the fact that I was able to pull off something so toned down and so different, and that I was able to turn something so damaging into something I loved, fills me with pride.

<img src="RDTHades.jpg" alt="Room of Discarded Thoughts Hades"/>
Picture by Karen Toftera


I hear many friends say “I could never perform” or “I can’t do that style” and I used to say that too. The Room of Discarded Thoughts however helped me work with the music and with my feelings a lot more than I used to.

<img src="RDTHades.jpg" alt="Room of Discarded Thoughts Hades"/>
Picture by Karen Toftera

<img src="RDTHades.jpg" alt="Room of Discarded Thoughts Hades"/>

My next challenge is to actually follow my teachers’ suggestions and dance to something different, something slow, something that isn’t just the same old me. I would love to hear what everybody thinks of the routine and of their challenges as dancers – feel free to comment!

A New Name

The performance was also an occasion to reconsider my pole name. It has been pointed out by friends how Blogger On Pole might work for this blog, but kinda sucks as a pole dancer name. It does, innit.

So there you go, shiny new name: Hades. Hades was the Greek god of the underworld. I chose it because I love creepy shit, I study criminology and, while studying Ancient Greek in high school, teachers used to mistake my surname for “Ade”, which is Hades’ Italian name. So like it or not, it was meant to be. Ciao!

*Official Pictures Coming Soon, Existing Ones By Friends*

Video: filmed at LDA

Buy Bad/Tender here.

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