This week I’ve decided to do that very emo thing where I promote being unapologetic about yourself and your weirdness, whether it’s about your social media, your dating life, your awkwardness, or whatever it is that makes youÂ you.Â I realise this sounds like the inspirational bullshit you repost on Instagram, or pin on Pinterest, but this is not me trying to tell you thatÂ you are the change, or that the world is not enough. This is just me telling you to fuck this all off. What’s the occasion, you ask? On October 19th, I performed at PD Filthy Friday’s Halloween ShowcaseÂ in ManchesterÂ and that got me thinking and tripping and it inspired me. So there you go.
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What a Filthy Friday indeed ðŸ˜ˆ up in here looking like United Colours of Benetton! We had the best time! Itâ€™s so nice to see everyone get on stage and feel so comfortable in their own skin. The vibe of the night was perfect and we canâ€™t wait to do it again! Thanks to these beautiful dancers and our fabulous audience for supporting the hoery and most of all for supporting DIVERSITY in poledance! âœ–ï¸âœ–ï¸âœ–ï¸ â€¢ â€¢ â€¢ #pdfilthyfriday #sundaybumday #stripperstyle #hoery #diversity #pdcommunity #pdshowcase #filthyfridayshowcase
Did you know thatÂ UnapologeticÂ is also an album by Rihanna, that one with Pour It UpÂ in it, and the AMAZING pole dancing chick in it? Well, now you know.
Not Another Motivational Speech
I’m not a motivational speaker. I’m probably a demotivational speaker. Most of my days are spent trying to hold five different lives together, overdosing on endorphins by wiggling around a pole. What I am is a show-off and a former metal kid, which was my town’s version of emo, or alternative in the 00s, because even non-conformism gets to Sardinia decades later, like fashion trends. In short, I was never one of the cool kids and this has stuck with me: I didn’t want to be one of them, so I did weird shit to prove it. When I was 15, that meant defying any sort of sensible fashion decision and going around with snake-print skinny pants and Converse shoes of different colours. Now, it means finding my tribe among pole dancers and weirdos of all kinds.
PD Filthy Friday Halloween Showcase
PD Filthy Friday is a community with a corresponding Instagram account created by Manchester-based pole dancer and absolute qween Beanie The Jet. On the 19th, a bunch of London pole dancers and I drove to MCR (which is short for Manchester, not My Chemical Romance) to join the twenty-odd performers Beanie had gathered to celebrate sexy pole or, as we call it, filth. Snippets of my performance below:
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A few of my favourite snippets from my @pdfilthyfriday performance. This wasnâ€™t my best work – with hindsight, I should have prepared better and rehearsed at least once with the set-up – but it was without doubt one of the most fun performing experiences ever. @beanie_the_jet is an absolute powerhouse and performing for and being cheered by a crew of people like the #pdfilthyfriday crew was absolutely priceless. I feel so lucky to be part of this amazing gang. I canâ€™t believe how different my life was before taking up pole. I would have never, ever been able to show this much skin in public and feel comfortable with it. Now I can put myself in the vulnerable position of literally baring it all in front of an audience, and also rock up to the bar and order a pint with my tits out. Itâ€™s a wonderful feeling, not being ashamed. Iâ€™m so proud of all the hard work Iâ€™m putting into pole, of how much itâ€™s showing on my body. And most of all I was blown away by all performers on the night. Love you all – your resident creep, Hades âœ–ï¸âœ–ï¸âœ–ï¸(video by the amazing @hpnotiqrequiem )
The night ended with aÂ Thriller performance by one of the dancers who called the whole crew on stage with her for a final wiggle. It was glorious. And it got me thinking.
PD Filthy Friday celebrates pole dancers in their filth, oddities, quirks and differences. We had a diverse crowd of different ethnicities, genders, sexualities, sizes and styles watching and performing, and it was beautiful. Performing for and being cheered on by such a crowd, who didn’t question our appearance, choice of clothing (or lack thereof) made us feel safe and at home, so much that I and other dancers stayed half-naked throughout the night, even after our performance.
As I wrote in my Instagram post, I had never bared so much in public, and not being ashamed was a beautiful feeling. However, not everyone thinks this way. For those of you who sneakily asked my parents whether I performed at a porn show: no, I didn’t. It was just a fantastic, fun pole showcase to which YOU WERE NOT INVITED (#pettyAF). And even if I did 1) it made you look, and you can turn away if you’re not interested 2) there would be nothing wrong with it, because women should be allowed to use their body however they want to provided it’s their decision to do certain things. If you read this blog, you either understand this already or you’re over me saying that. Either way, hammer that into your brain.
Something Must Have Gone Wrong
Since becoming a pole dancer, Iâ€™ve relished in confusing the shit out of men, and, sometimes, other women. I found it almost funny when acquaintances and friends would ask to meet me for coffee and â€œpick my brainâ€ on my incomprehensible blend of feminism and nakedness. â€œYouâ€™re obviously not dumb. Youâ€™re doing a PhD, you write a lot, I just want to hear about your perspective,â€ is something I hear quite a lot. Subtext: whatâ€™s wrong with you? Something must have gone wrong.
The fact that people can even doubt that I am a feminist, or that I might be qualified to do anything else apart from pole dancing, is insulting not only to me but to women as a whole. It means that a woman can only be one thing, that she has to fight to be taken seriously as if her body and her sexuality weren’t a partÂ of her, but something to use against her. That she cannot embrace her sexuality, use and be happy with her body, as if doing so was shameful. Yet this happens a lot.
To me, this behaviour shows that society still thinks that it’s women who always have to rein themselves in. Women can’t show off like men do, be self-confident, because self-confidence is perceived as arrogance in women, while it’s seen as an asset for men. I am not making this up – there are words, and attitudes, which are seen as qualities on men, and as faults on women. I refuse to accept this and I reclaim the right to show off with and for my fellow women. Read: not for you and your mate. No, it doesn’t meanÂ I will automatically dance for you like I do on Instagram. Sorry not sorry.
This post is to say that I refuse to apologise for being the woman I am – and this spans across all the different lives I am stringing together. I refuse to believe that in 2018 it’s still shocking to people that women might like themselves, and enjoy dancing to something that isn’t a sad ballerina routine (with all due respect to whoever can pull it off – I can’t! I look constipated when I do the sad ballerina). This post is to say that I’m sorry if you’re embarrassed, or uncomfortable, but that I am sorry for you, because I wouldn’t want to be you. I am not sorry I have made you feel that way.
Social Media and Reality
When I say that pole has helped me understand which people I want in my life I’m not joking. This embarrassment, annoyance or mild fetish blending voyeurism with judgement often spreads to social media.
In case you missed it, pole dancers are very active online, mainly because we’re excited about what we do, but also because we use it to network with each other and to find moves. Yet, I have heard a lot of:Â “I saw that picture of you on Instagram. It made me cringe a little bit.” Some people even feel an odd thrill (without doubt a substitute for sex or masturbation) in showing my parents my pictures, as if they didn’t follow me already. I have been told by some people they are embarrassed by my Insta content – whether that’s because a routine was too raunchy, or because I was splitting on one beach too many.
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Dad appreciation post. One of the most frequent questions I get are: OMG DOES YOUR DAD KNOW YOUâ€™RE A POLE DANCER? AND WHAT DOES HE THINK? Yes, he knows ðŸ™„. He came to my twerk showcase in Sydney where his baby girl twerked the shit out of Satisfaction by Benny Benassi – and then he fell asleep throughout the rest of the show cause he was jet lagged. He is trying to install a pole in our garden so I can train in Sardinia more frequently during the summer. He even went on the hunt for G-Strings for my performances while at work in the US because I couldnâ€™t find them in Italy/the UK (not without complaining, but he loved it when the shop assistant told him heâ€™s a cool dad). Most of you will think this is weird and maybe it is, but despite all the shit Iâ€™ve had to deal with in my life there has been one constant pillar of support Iâ€™ve received and that is my family. I have given him a few heart attacks – e.g. when I crashed into a wall while driving a Honda as a teen or when I made terrible relationship choices – but my dad is probably one of the few men who understand that I can be a messy bitch with loads of skills and interests and enjoy pole and twerk. It doesnâ€™t mean he doesnâ€™t make fun of me and my general nakedness, or that heâ€™s not always keeping me in check to prevent me from ruining my chance at a career, or that he doesnâ€™t feel weird about my routines, but he understands that thereâ€™s nothing wrong with being a pole dancer. I am not robbing banks. I work hard like he taught me, whether thatâ€™s for jobs, academia, pole, life. He has always been a feminist, cooking, cleaning and dressing me (badly) when my mum was away for work. He sees how hard pole is and how good it is for me, and he wants me to keep doing it because I love it. If a slightly old-fashioned Southern Italian man can do it, yâ€™all can shut up. ðŸŽ¤ drop.
The answer is simple: don’t watch. Don’t follow. If something bothers you, disconnect. Don’t ask people to be different from what or who they are because it annoys you. Switch off. Gurl bye.
Blogging & Social Media
Before I rebranded my blog, I used to get way more blogging gigs. I don’t know if the industry has changed, and if brands are valuing small bloggers less – which is fair enough, having worked in PR I realise that having a big reach is the most valuable thing for companies. What I have begun to notice however is that many brands that initially outreach to me through blanket lists or that I outreach to then write back with something along the lines of:
“Great content, but we’re looking for social accounts more aligned to our brand.”
“Sorry, not exactly what we’re looking for.”
As a blogger, brand partnerships are very important. But I’ve stopped feeling annoyed or hurt when I get this type of answers. I am tired of all profiles looking the same. I am tired of the behind-the-scenes of Instagram, I am tired of brands looking for the same shot by the same bloggers who look similar to each other.
Strangely enough, my blog has grown much more in the past year when I begun to produce content that felt real and relatable, with less events or dinners no one could go to and with more real-life talk. This has reminded me why I got into blogging in the first place: because I love writing, and because I love writing with my own voice, not sounding like an advertorial.
So in short, this blog was a massive exercise in taking things off my chest, in showing what I stand for and what I believe in. And what I believe is that I am not sorry, and that women, and especially filthy, nasty women, should not be sorry for being proud of that filth, for showing off, for being themselves. This post was to say stop being sorry, and get out there AND EMBARRASS SOMEONE!!!! YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO IT! It’s (almost) better than sex!
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