Offline pole dance teaching is back baby! I mean, it was *already* back for a lot of pole instructors, but it wasn’t for me: I had taken a break from offline teaching in May, and then a break from teaching altogether since June. But now I’m back, back, back again and ready to share my experiences of teaching offline again for the first time since December 2020, having just started at my new home, the lovely Akila Pole Studio in London.
Why I took a break from teaching pole offline
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know how busy I get with teaching during lockdowns. Problem was, I was teaching so much that I stopped exploring and developing my own movement. For me, being able to still learn and develop as a dancer is crucial to being a good pole instructor, and since I was already burnt out by lockdown teaching, I didn’t feel like I had any juices left for offline classes when studios reopened in the UK. On top of that, I have severe anxiety, and teaching groups without being vaccinated (in May, before my turn came) terrified me.
In all honesty, I was also ready to find a new home studio. I had the privilege to be trained and learn the ropes at my former studio, but my style and approach to pole during lockdown were taking me elsewhere. It was time to find new digs, and I wanted the space to think about new options.
Worries about going back to offline teaching
The opportunity to teach at Akila Pole Studio came up in the summer, when I was decompressing back home with my parents in Sardinia, Italy. Akila and I vibed immediately and I understood that her studio could be a new home for my teaching.
…Buuut I felt very anxious before class, and not just because I was about to teach at a new pole studio.
Before you go like: “Why is this bitch sharing these mindfucks with us?” let me explain. I think it’s important for other instructors not to feel alone in their nervousness, and for students to realise instructors are human. I am an appalling human, so hopefully that humanises the towering glamazon you sometimes see on IG.
So here’s the whole truth: the idea of going back to offline teaching for the first time during a still ongoing pandemic felt slightly odd, despite the two jabs. But that wasn’t even the main thing.
Teaching means meeting new people and hanging out in a crowd, which is totally fine if you’re an extrovert… but I am not. So I was afraid of being overwhelmed or drained by the experience, and of the more irrational but very real feeling of everybody hating me, like on the first day of school.
I’m an anxious person at the best of times, but I’m even more anxious before teaching – be it academic or pole teaching. I’ve been talking about this with some academic friends and colleagues, and it turns out they shared this experience – in fact, they said they’d worry if they wouldn’t, because the ‘performance anxiety’ is what makes them good, caring teachers.
It was with this cocktail of hopes and fears that I made my way to the studio last week.
Offline again: my first day back at the pole studio
As soon as I walked into the studio and met Akila IRL, all my worries kind of dissipated.
I am, after all, prepared to teach pole classes. I have two years of experience doing that, and I have used the many lockdowns we went through to gain three movement and pole dance teaching certifications. I also love the adrenaline you get from seeing students have fun while dancing to your choreo, or nail a move you taught. Luckily, my apparently retro, ‘ass’ sexy pole choreo to Shakira’s La Tortura went down pretty well, and students told me they enjoyed both in person and via DM.
Meeting completely new students from the studio’s own customer base felt like a nice new challenge, and I was really pleased to meet some of my regulars from online classes offline.
Teaching tricks after a sweaty choreo class during a muggy, humid London evening felt a tad more challenging. I barely had any grip to demonstrate most moves, and students also struggled with gripping the pole, so we had to play it by ear.
Overall, being back felt overwhelming but nice. When you teach, you have to have 1,000 eyes to make sure everyone’s having fun and staying alive, and going back to it always feels a bit intense. But very few experiences feel as good as watching a room of strangers live their best lives and feel badass and strong in tiny outfits, so going back – and going back to two fully booked classes – feels very rewarding.
It remains to be seen if sessions will still be fully booked after the students met their very awks new instructor 😛
What to expect from my classes
If you train with me you will know that I will push you to get all the moves, but that not getting them on that day won’t make you less worthy as a dancer. Pole dancing for me is a form of self-expression rather than a static practice with a set of rules, and I learn from my students as much as they learn from me. In my classes I’d like to think that we grow together, so whatever you do – unless you insult me, hurt yourself or hurt other students – matters and adds to the experience.
My style has been deeply influenced by my teenage passion for rock n’roll and metal, and my favourite bands’ theatrics. I started pole dancing in Australia, where I fell in love with fast spinning pole flows. I am continuously inspired by strippers and learnt from amazing Black twerkers, so I love the sexy and naughty style of pole choreo, and since I started teaching at a Russian studio I also love power and discipline… Provided we’re all having fun. In short, my style is like a giant minestrone of my passions, all about hair flicks, drops, booty shakes and power moves. I love to dance to rock nâ€™roll, heavy metal and to cheesy pop tunes, but I promise not to make you dance to death metalâ€¦ unless you ask me to!Â
Find me at Akila Pole Studio every Tuesday at 6.15 PM (for Sexy Pole Choreo, all levels) and for Intermediate pole tricks (7.30). Find my online classes at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/bloggeronpole and book me for offline and online 1-1s at firstname.lastname@example.org