Friday, August 30, 2013

Weekend Crush: Johnny Weir

Johnny Weir
Johnny Weir (c) VancityAllie
CC Attribution 2.0 License
I almost have to look away when I see Johnny Weir oozing pure sex on the ice. Almost. Except that this is completely impossible through an awesome combination of glitter, sequins, and crazy jumps. Then there's the flexy, oh wow is he flexible!

He's unapologetically himself. Period. I bet there are judges out there that wish they could nab him on an infraction--wardrobe malfunction, anything!--and scrape his sexy self off the ice. Even though he's typically covered head to toe, sometimes with a little extra as a showy collar cuff, he may as well be naked. This tickles me so much because figure skating has a history of being a bit dry. See the Debi Thomas rule for reference. (This banned unitards until 2005 because Debi was "showing too much" in her sexy little number.) I have to say Johnny far out-sexies her within 10 seconds of any given performance. As we pole dancers know wearing sparse fabric does not make the sexy--

Monday, August 26, 2013

Can you machine wash a yoga mat?

You may have been wondering what was up with the card board in my Day in the Life post. Well, my dog peed in my pole room, again. I tried hand washing it at least three times plus soaked it with a tiny bit of bleach and it still smells. Nothing like a whiff of dog urine as you lean into a stretch, ugh.

I wondered if you could machine wash a yoga mat so I saved it as a last, desperate option. I figured if it gets horribly disfigured, it was smelly garbage anyways. It actually worked! Here's what you need to do:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Weekend Crush: Kurt Browning

That Skate 2013 / Figure Skating
That Skate 2013 (c) Queen Yuna
CC Attribution 2.0 License
Kurt Browning has been one of my favorite figure skaters ever since I saw an early video of him skating along to Singing in the Rain (we'll check it out  in a bit). It's impossible to watch him at it and not be drawn right in and uplifted; he has such a sunny personality on the ice. Even with my limited figure skating knowledge the level of difficulty of his moves are apparent, and yet all he seems to care about is entertaining.

He's dressed up as everything from the classic, elegant Gene Kelly to a circus clown. No matter what the look you really can't miss his awesome footwork. One of his videos and I'm off on a hours-long jag of video searches touching on my favorite from Sasha Cohen and back again to my pole loves like Anastasia Skukhtorova. In one word: inspirational. I don't care if you love figure skating, dance, pole, ballet, or anything else athletic and expressive; you can find something to love about Kurt Browning.

Then there are his many competitive accolades including being the first man to land a quadruple jump in competition. What I personally love the most

Monday, August 19, 2013

Heel use and pointing toes

Lately I've been trying to improve my stretching form and dismal toe pointing. My problem comes from my high heel addiction--except for the past few months I've worn high heels daily for a few years now (although I don't pole in heels). That's not to say I regret anything. I actually love the shape of my feet complete with the little side bump I've always had before "heeling" that some people call that funny word--bunion.

Barefoot on beach
My toes pop up in a neutral position
It is, however, a problem for me when I stretch. Namely, foot cramps. Ow. I asked around in High Heel Place, a forum I love, and a friend confirmed what I suspected. The neutral position of my feet has gone from toes-to-the-floor to slightly raised. Very pretty, if you ask me, although I know a lot of you probably obsess over super pointes. I'm a little blasphemous--super pointed toes look like chicken feet to me, lol. I love the shape of feet in heels.

If you have this problem: Make extra sure you've warmed up very well, then ease into stretching. If you cramp up, go slower with your stretches and hold them for shorter periods of time and work back up. A great tip I received is to stand on the front of your foot to put pressure on the cramped spot. This also works great for late night foot cramps during pregnancy too.

From where I feel the stretch when I point my toes I think this is less of a problem related to the seemingly horrific shortened calves people always seem to be warning heel wearers about. It's actually localized to the middle top of my feet. Without pointing the rest of my foot I can feel a stretch when I point only my toes. Yeah, I really do wear heels that much. I actually only own one pair of non-heel shoes: my running shoes. High heel wearing has improved my balance to a degree that I can easily navigate lawns, escalators, and even the glare ice we get in the winter here. Curiously, I've always been a klutz barefoot or in flat shoes.

I'm not going to stop wearing heels, much to the chagrin of some, although I will wait until my balance is back to normal to go back to heels. Heels really are not the evil of the world and even have a bit of a power element to them--it's all in the height, the glamour, and the authoritative clicking. I will definitely keep on stretching!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Weekend Crush: Pole Dancing Professor, Lisa Faulkner

Pole Dancing Professor
Lisa Faulkner, PhD, embodies a lot of what Flexines is about. She definitely brings her dash of sexy to the pole world and has just the right touch of nerdy pole dancer. I love that there is a constant undertone of deep thought and empowerment to everything she writes on her site, In fact, I think she is the perfect example of who pole dancers are. There is a recurring thread on StudioVeena about what we pole dancers do for a living and the responses are resoundingly both diverse and impressive. We are doctors, machinists, nurses, social workers, and yes, pole dancing professors.

Here's what caught my attention: the call of the Siren. I first noticed Lisa's celebration of herself and this playful, sensual spirit in the images she shares on her Facebook page. What is a siren? What is the call of a siren? I think this image

Monday, August 12, 2013

YouTube: worst and best in pole social media

I found out about pole dancing through YouTube, yet I think YouTube is the worst social media platform for pole. There are a lot of really great aspects of pole that YouTube promotes but what currently stands out most are the ones that make me click away as fast as I can. It's a great resource (more on this in a bit) but it reflects heavily on what society thinks of pole and perpetuates a lot of the stereotypes out there.

The worst? The title "Stripper dance" in so many pole videos. It is so often tacked on regardless of whether they explore the sexy side of pole, the acrobatic, or pole art. Stripping has its own raw beauty and sticking it like a cheap label all over anything with a pole is really sad. Also, not everyone that pole dances would ever strip for whatever personal reasons. Hardly any of the polers are taking off any clothing, is that not part of what stripping is?

Then there are the comments, oh the comments! Every wack job out there seems to think s/he has the most authoritative take on pole, from criticizing it as too sexual to letting the dancer know "I want to eat your socks." Seriously? First of all, when did we become so afraid of sex? Secondly, other work out videos like yoga or lifting do not get this same treatment and yet they use the same clothing coverage. When I see comments like this I just shudder to think of the impression it gives of pole. Monkey see, monkey do. The more people see pole disparaged, the more they will do it themselves.

So what can we do?

The fact of the matter is that the pole community is completely different from the rubbish you have to plow through to watch a pole video. We praise each other, focus on triumphs and progress, and we uplift. It's what keeps me involved in pole even with how uncoordinated I am slowly I'm progressing. This is what we need to present, and yet it so often gets drowned out in social and mass media.

I challenge all of you to promote videos that really represent pole. Subscribe to fellow pole dancers videos and share them. If you're friend/coworker/partner is concerned that pole will make you "look bad" inbox them a video that showcases what you love about pole. One of my favorite videos is Jenyne Butterfly's dance to the Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine. Every time I would search for it a few of the top posts on YouTube included "stripper dance" in the title. While I've seen some really wonderful videos with strip elements, for example by Felix Cane or Alethea Austin, the video I'm talking about seems to be about childish fun. You can't call that a "stripper dance"--you're doing strip (like taking off clothes is all there is to stripping) and Jenyne's dance an injustice. It's just a tactic to boost their appearance in search results... yawn. I checked it out and we must have been doing a good job because the top results I found this time described it completely.

The good

I love that YouTube is such a great resource for pole inspiration, tutorials, and introducing people to pole. I found out about StudioVeena through Emotioncatcher's videos, which I found after a search on pole. The only reason I was searching YouTube for pole videos was that I saw a recommended video of Anastasia Skukhtorova and loved it. You definitely have to wade through a lot of crappy comments and pole stereotypes to view them, but you can find a lot of good out there. For instance, a lot of home polers can progress by watching tutorials on all sorts of moves from beginner to advanced. Then there are pole related moves like Aerial Amy's awesome booty bounce tutorial. Maybe with enough posting and sharing this will be the main thing we see.

So vote with your clicks. Share what the sexy side of pole means to you--or the acrobatic, or pole art, or you own style. The more we get our voices out there the better social media will reflect that pole includes so many styles and how valuable each one is.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekend Crush: Missy Franklin

I normally do not get into the Olympics, other than my love of figure skating, so this week's Weekend Crush is a little different for me. What's so special about Missy Franklin? For one her awesome performance in the 100 m dash even though she started out behind. Also, how cute is she in the US Olympic swimming team's Call Me Maybe parody? (below)

Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Choose Music for Stretching

"Music" (c) thomselomsen
CC Attribution 2.0 License
This might be a no-brainer for some people, but choosing stretching music is a little more involved for me. There are a few things I consider: tempo, what it reminds me of, and mood. The main goal is to choose music that will help you keep your motivation to stay in your stretches long enough and to keep working on them until you've finished them all.

Some days this is the biggest factor in how music affects me personally. It's harder to want to hold a stretch when the music is crazy fast so after my normal warmup (running) I tend to switch to slower music. Try to pick something you enjoy but can still zone out to, maybe some old favorites (80's for me) or something soothing like classical or country. After a super powerhouse workout I might just leave my current playlist running since I'll be too spent to care.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Weekend Crush: These Pole Kisses

For the first time in over 3 months I finally have some pole kisses. For a pole dancer these are pretty much always a big deal and a lot of fun to show off. Is that we're masochists? What's our deal? There is certainly something about them for us to be going on about some glorified bruises. Even in my pole forum lurking days I couldn't wait to start pole and chime in on the pole chatter, including all the fun pole specific words and pole kisses.

I am convinced we're not weird. Okay, so I'm a little biased. Still, I think our love for pole bruises and the