With events currently on hold, and a lot of pole dancers have been missing their dose of live filth. Luckily, @pdfilthyfriday and its tech queen Rubi Noxx organised the filthiest virtual show for our community – and there’s another one coming soon! In this Q&A she tells me more about her pole dance journey, her relationship with @pdfilthyfriday and shares her tips to help you organise your own flawless virtual show.
@pdfilthyfriday and Its Virtual Show, Quarantine Queens
So in case you’ve been living under a rock, on 24 April @pdfilthyfriday threw a filthy, inclusive, raucous virtual show via Zoom. Yours truly was one of the performers, and I was blown away by its flawless organisation and by how many people ‘came’ to witness it.
I’ve talked about @pdfilthyfriday a lot on this blog, interviewing its powerhouse founder, my friend Beanie The Jet, both in a stand-alone interview and about her tips for beginner pole dancers. @pdfilthyfriday is a body-positive, sex worker positive safe, diverse and inclusive space, celebrating the filthiest side of pole in a way that showcases and respects all bodies. I began performing at their showcases in 2018, but they’ve been organising shows in London and Manchester since 2017 after the hashtag #PDFilthyFriday and the account took off.
Their virtual show was a riot, and I’m incredibly glad I could be part of it. And since shows will have to be online for a while, I thought it’d be nice to share some tips about organising a virtual show coming from @pdfilthyfriday’s very own Rubi Noxx, a fierce, curvy metal head that gives us life at every performance.
Tell us about your pole dance journey.
Hi! I’m Rachel, aka Rubi Noxx. I started pole dancing at Spin City Bristol in 2014, and absolutely fell in love with pole from day 1. I started with a more pole sport focus, and eventually booked onto my first heels class, albeit with a bit of trepidation. I never thought of myself as sexy, but that one class completely changed my life and my perspective about myself. I vividly remember my first pair of ‘pole’ heels that were so impractical – I had picked them up from Blue Banana, and they had no platform, no ankle strap, and rhinestones and spikes that kept pinging off every 5 minutes! We live and we learn, huh!
After moving to London, I had an on-and-off relationship with pole while I navigated my changing life and career in finance. After taking a year and a half off and missing it immensely, I pushed myself to begin competing to force myself to go to classes, train and practice. Even though I felt like I started from the beginning all over again, I rediscovered my love for pole and a new, burning passion for exotic styles. In 2019, I won the beginners category in the Southern Heats of the Authentic Pole Dance competition and placed 3rd in the final.
My passion first and foremost is exotic style pole, and primarily floorwork. While I started sporty, I’ve never been incredibly good at tricks, so I love the ability to feel my sensuality through the different mediums that exotic pole provides. I also dabble in fire eating, burlesque and go-go dancing!
How are you and how are you coping with lockdown?
I’m okay, I think! I have good days and bad days, as I’m sure we all do. I’m just trying to take everything one day at a time, stay as active as possible socially and physically, and give myself space for my mental health when I need it. It’s absolutely OK to turn off those notifications for the news or for socials if they aren’t doing you any good! Make sure to take care of yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally.
What does pole dancing mean to you?
Pole has given me permission to love myself, including my flaws. I’ve struggled with my own self-confidence my entire life, but walking into a pole class gave me the opportunity to leave that at the door for an hour or two and be present in my body and everything that comes with it. It’s helped me realise that so many things in life are a journey and are a labour of love that pay dividends in the end. Pole awakened a fire that I thought I never possessed, and a love for myself that I never thought was possible.
Pole has also given me an incredible, chosen family of amazing people who accept all aspects of me without asking for any compromises or exceptions. As someone who is estranged from their parents, I’ve had times in my life when I’ve felt incredibly alone. But this fantastic community has lifted me up and made me so much of a better person.
How did you first get involved with @pdfilthyfriday?
I had followed the @pdfilthyfriday Instagram account for ages, and loved the diversity of content that was shared. I had never heard of a sexy, safe space where all colours, creeds, sexualities, body types and genders were accepted. It blew my mind! I reached out to Beanie (@beanie_the_jet), the Queen Bee and owner of Filthy Friday, to take part in their Manchester show in October 2017. She gave me a chance, as it was my first ever pole performance other than the odd studio showcase. I was anxious and shaking before I went on; but before, during and after my performance, the audience and all of the other performers were kind, warm and absolutely electric. I had never felt so at home, surrounded by such beautiful people. The rest is history!
Why did @pdfilthyfriday decide to do a virtual show via Zoom?
Beanie wanted to do another Filthy Friday, but with the current climate, we weren’t sure when we could all get together in person for a giant, glorious Filth Pit. So Beanie decided for this to be an online affair, so that we could still bring Filth to our audience from a safe social distance.
Beanie and I discussed the pros/cons of using Instagram Live vs Zoom for the showcase, and decided to use Zoom due to the additional amount of control and monitoring we would have to keep the space safe. Another STRONG benefit of Zoom for us was that we could do whatever we wanted without fear of censorship or being banned – including Keri Graham (@keri_gold_) getting 100% naked!
This has also allowed for us to have performers and spectators from all around the globe, as location and distance is no longer a constraint. This has been a fantastic, positive experience, and means we have wider reach and more diversity in our performers.
Tell us a bit about how you organised @pdfilthyfriday Quarantine Queens virtual show.
We only hand selected our performers for Quarantine Queens 1 due to the constraints of having space/pole/etc. at home. We wanted to be sure we only approached people who would be able to participate as it was our first online show. Luckily, this meant that we had a diverse group of performers, including some well-known Filthy Friday faces, to kick off our first ever online show.
We decided that the show should be free, as we wanted everyone to experience a little sparkle of Filth in their isolation. However, we did encourage tipping of our amazing performers since we couldn’t throw Holla Dollas all over them in person.
It was a bit of a learning curve, taking into consideration everyone’s different spaces and tech availability. Thankfully, we all worked together really well, ran multiple run throughs to make sure that everyone was okay and comfortable with the setup. Ultimately, we had a fantastic show with incredible performers and a great audience who tipped well and maxed out the room at 100 participants!
What should Zoom / virtual show organisers know about setting up an event like that?
- Be mindful of Zoom’s meeting limits! Do your research on the Zoom membership plans and the associated benefits and restrictions. There are pros and cons to the free vs. paid membership tiers, primarily surrounding meeting length caps (e.g. 40-minute meeting maximum for a free membership), host control capabilities and caps on the number of participants. Weigh up what is best for your show, your performers, your budget and your expected attendance.
- Do run-throughs with your performers and compere(s)! Everyone is working on different devices, with different internet connections and in different environments. Doing one or two tech runs with your performers ahead of the show will help you as an organiser know what you need to do on the day, as well as ensuring your performers can be seen and heard in all of their glory! For Quarantine Queens, we held tech run-throughs a couple days beforehand so that we would have time to correct any technical issues before the day, as well as a final run-through a few hours before the show.
- Prep bios and running order ahead of time! This feels a bit like it goes without saying for any type of show, but I thought I’d mention it. This will help you be more organised on the day and will give your performers an idea of when they need to be ready to go. Organise bios in the order of performance to make your compere’s life easier!
- Advertise, advertise, advertise! Driving traffic to a Zoom meeting is very different than using Instagram/Facebook Live – Engagement is intentional and less passive, so make sure you are posting regularly about your event, especially on days when you typically get higher engagement. Make sure your potential audience knows where to find you and how to get access to the show. Make sure your audience also knows WHEN to attend your meeting – if you have an international audience, include popular time zones to make it easier for them.
- Multi-cast, if you want to and if it is safe! You can multi-cast your Zoom meeting simultaneously to Facebook Live and YouTube if you want to increase your potential audience beyond the confines of the meeting itself… But be mindful of your content so you won’t get banned! A useful resource for this can be found here.
- Mute everyone and pin/showcase your performer! Zoom has some great meeting control functionalities that can help your show go as smoothly as possible. In the settings, make sure you mute everyone on entry and don’t allow people to unmute themselves. This gives you control as the organiser to allow who is speaking at what time. We unmuted performers after reading their bios and showcased their video so that this was the main view for everyone in the room. This makes sure there are no disruptions, and everyone gets their time in the spotlight!
- Record your meeting! Make sure you press record at the start and save it onto a laptop once the meeting has ended. This is a great way to save the show, and you can subsequently use video editing software to splice this into individual performances. Performers can also record their own video, but the host must allow this individually, so be mindful of this added bit of admin when you’re starting your meeting.
How can you turn your virtual show performance into something special?
- Get the audience involved! Audience participation goes a long way. Come up with a fun mini challenge you can do with your audience to break up your show like you would in person to keep your audience engaged (twerk-off, anyone?!). At Filthy Friday, we always have a Filth Pit at the end of our shows, so for Zoom we let everyone go crazy on camera. Have an intermission/break about halfway through, like you would in a physical show, and unmute everyone so that they can all have a chat amongst themselves/with performers and go get a drink!
- TIP THEM! With Instagram and their (ridiculous) T&Cs, you can be limited with promoting tipping avenues, such as PayPal or CashApp. Not with Zoom! Feel free make a PayPal Pool or CashApp and share it throughout the Zoom meeting using the chat functionality so that your audience can tip your amazing performers. Or you can make your own virtual background with the link so it’s always visible while you are compering!
- Dress up & have fun! Unfortunately, we can’t get done up to the 9s and go out on the town these days. But that doesn’t mean your show shouldn’t be an event for you! Getting done up in whatever way makes you feel special might help put you in the right headspace to relax, let go and have fun.
Zoom has had quite a few privacy and safety issues recently. How can safe spaces like @pdfilthyfriday use Zoom without jeopardising their safety and ethos?
General internet safety tips and privacy considerations apply in this space too. Don’t link your Zoom account to Facebook/sign up via Facebook if you are concerned about data protection. If you want to multi-cast to Facebook Live, you can do this via many third-party applications that would prevent Zoom from directly having your Facebook details (read more here).
Although Zoom have advised they have fixed the issues/bugs prompting the privacy concerns, avoid using a mobile device (e.g. phone, tablet) and use a laptop instead if you are especially worried about this, as many of the initial privacy concerns were in response to iOS data leakages. To caveat, I’m not a Zoom expert; these are just the general rules I apply to myself!
From the perspective of protecting your performers, use Zoom’s host & meeting control functionalities to keep your room safe. Enable a waiting room, so that you can monitor who wants to come into your meeting throughout. This will also give you control of who you actually allow in, and who you deny access to. If you have reached your total expected/capped audience, you can also lock your room to prevent anyone else from joining and make it a private affair.
Also make sure that your settings are done so that if you eject someone from the room, they cannot re-join. This will make sure that if you do get any problematic audience members, you can quickly make the space safe again. Go through all of your settings for the meeting prior to the show to familiarise yourself with how they work, and don’t hesitate to use your tech run-throughs to test out privacy features you aren’t sure with.
What can we expect from Quarantine Queens Part 2?
Quarantine Queens 2 will see the return of some of our OG Filthy Family and fantastic pole powerhouses – Lauren Elise, Chan, Little Dee, Keri Graham and Josh Taylor to name a few!
However, we are also so excited to welcome a few new faces who have never performed for us before! While we usually have an open call for performers before a physical Filthy Friday show, the beauty of doing an online showcase means that our open call could span the world. We’ve received fantastic responses from all around the globe, and hopefully we can continue to bring international filth with QQ2 (…and in the future!).
But, as always… all the same filth, booty and sass!
Quarantine Queens 2 will be live on Zoom on Friday 22 May at 8.30 BST.