Friday, March 28, 2014

West Coast Curves at NCPP

It's hard to say exactly how I heard about Roz the Diva. As soon as I started pole dancing, I started rabidly searching Facebook and the internet for other pole dancers. This was long before we had the close-knit community of pole dancers from around the world at our Facebook finger tips.  I did my first interview with Roz on this blog in 2011.  You can read that HERE

I first met her in person at Pole Convention 2012. I was actually at the AERA show and saw her in the crowd. It was like we had known each other for years. When she performed at Convention, I was blown away by her performance. It was full of "did she just do that?!" moments and it is still one of my favorite pole performances to date. You can watch that video HERE.

Roz held her first Dangerous Curves competition in 2012. She gathered plus-sized athletes from the East Coast and gave them a stage. In early 2013, we started talking about bringing it to the West Coast. Roz came to the West Coast again in 2013 to visit Twirly Girls for some workshops and attended Pole Expo, but we didn't have a chance to put that comeptition together. Dangerous Curves II was held in 2013, again in New York.

Well, my friends, after two years of yapping about it, The Diva and I have finally found a home for Dangerous Curves on the West Coast. May I introduce you to West Coast Curves at NCPP. I figured since we were going to be spending all this effort on a venue and rigging for Northern California Pole Presentational, it was time to make Dangerous Curves happen too.

And so it began.

We are so excited to bring West Coast Curves at NCPP to San Jose Stage Company on August 23, 2014. If you are a plus-sized pole athlete and would like to apply to the comeptition, please click HERE.

"West Coast Curves (WCC) is newest installment of Dangerous Curves (DC), the wildly popular competition series for plus size pole dancers. This particular event will feature up to ten (10) competitors to impress a panel of judges that will decide on the top four (4) finishers. From there, the crowd will determine which dancer has earned a guaranteed spot in the Dangerous Curves Grand Finale in NYC (fall 2014) [travel not included]. The Diva will also select a second person to go to NY for the finale!"

And how is plus-sized defined?

"There is no hard and fast definition of "plus size," but women who wear a size 12+ and men who wear a size XL+ are usually considered plus size. If you fall outside of that criteria but still identify as a plus size pole dancer, you are still welcome to enter."

If you are wondering WHY we are having two separate events, it is for two reasons.  (A) I respect Roz and her brand, Dangerous Curves. I respect that plus-sized bodies are built differently than "straight"-sized bodies, and may be unable to perform ALL the moves those bodies can perform (although if you've watched Roz dance, there don't seem to be many moves she can't do). Having a platform with a more even playing field seems like a no-brainer. That being said, I don't really believe that every single comeptition or event needs a plus-sized category. I feel like Roz has spent a lot of time building the DC brand, so I am happy to bring that brand to us rather than start from scratch and compete with her. (B) NCPP is not a competition. It is a showcase, offering three different skill levels, with optional feedback. So if plus-sized dancers are looking to COMPETE, WCC is the event for them. If they just want feedback on their moves, then NCPP is the event for them. If they want both options, they are welcome to apply to both!  It's that simple.

I am really excited about this endeavor. I admire Roz, not only as a pole dancer but as a woman who busts her ass every day to make it in this crazy world. I feel very fortunate to have met her and cannot wait to see her again in August. I believe I may be able to talk her into walking the WCC stage in our almost-matching bikinis.

So, again, if you want to apply to WCC, please click HERE.  You can ALSO apply to NCPP (solos (three levels), duos and groups welcome)...and to do that, click HERE. (We already have one dancer doing both events!) If you want an explanation as to why we must charge fees and/or why we are doing NCPP to begin with, please click HERE.

In addition, if you are interested in SPONSORING WCC (hello there, my local plus-size loving companies), or NCPP (I'll be blogging about this later with what we are looking for), or if you are interested in buying tickets to attend these events, please e-mail us through the website.  Roz is also available to teach workshops while she is here in August. If you are interested in booking a workshop with her (I LOOOOVE her SWAG workshop), then please e-mail us through the website (link above) and I will put you in touch with her.

Thank you again to Roz for allowing Ellen and I to partner with her on this endeavor.  See you all in August! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Come one, come all: Northern California Pole Presentational and West Coast Curves

I've written in the past about how much it costs to put on a pole show.  Until I started trying to organize a pole show, I had NO FREAKING IDEA how much it actually costs, not only in money, but in blood, sweat and tears, to put on a dang pole show!

Last year, Amy Bond brought me an idea:  Let's put on a pole competition, but not a comeptition, a showcase with feedback!  Initially, she wanted to put our show ahead of PPC in LA (which was held the weekend of March 1-2, 2014) so that competitors could showcase their routine and get feedback from a panel of judges in order to present a more polished routine at the actual competition.  The more we thought about it, the more we realized that most people wouldn't want to reveal all of their cards pre-competition.  But we decided we still liked the idea, so we tabled it for summer of 2014.  Not all pole dancers want to compete but many have a desire to get on the big stage and showcase their talents without the pressure of a competition.  At the same time, if we're going to bring together all of these dancers, why not offer them the option of receiving feedback on their routine, so that they can improve their dancing. 

Then early in 2014, Amy, who recently passed the California Bar Exam and took a new job, e-mailed me to tell me she wanted to focus on other things and needed to drop out of the planning process.  She gave me her blessing to continue without her, and I am honored that she would trust me with bringing her idea to light. 

But now I needed a new partner.  Enter the amazing Ellen Lovelace.  When I told Ellen about my predicament, she immediately stepped up and has been kicking ass ever since.  Ellen has secured the location and has been doing a ton of work behind the scenes to keep the process moving.  It certainly makes me respect Amy and Bayleigh of PSO for putting on multiple shows each year.  And my hat is off to Ellen for all the work she is doing to make this event happen. 

So, let me formally introduce to you the Northern California Pole Presentational (NCPP), which will be held Saturday, August 23, 2014 at the San Jose Stage Company in San Jose, California.  This event will be run PSO-style.  No need to send us a video link to try-out, you just pay your fee, fill out the form and you're in!  Why do we need competitors to pay?  Because, like I said earlier, putting on a pole show is not cheap.  The largest expenses are the venue, rigging and insurance.  In order to keep ticket prices down so that friends and family can come watch, we (like many other pole events) have asked participants to help share the cost.  We use that money to create a safe environment and beautiful stage for you to showcase your routine for your loved ones.  Also, each participant can choose to receive feedback (or not) on their routine from a panel of judges (which we will announce soon).  We don't only accept solo performers, though, we are also excited to include duos and groups. 

Why does Northern California need this event? It is evident by the 200+ participants in PPC that Southern California is inundated with people who want to perform (including many Northeran California polers, who traveled down to compete). Nothern Calfornia does have some really amazing pole shows, however they are generally associated with area studios and/or require try-outs to get in. This will be first independently produced pole event for Northern California, which will be open to everyone. We are trying to give Nor Cal polers a chance to get in first by only allowing Nor Cal and Nevada addresses to apply until April 30. At that time, spots are fair game for any pole dancer in the United States.

In addition to NCPP, we have Roz THE DIVA Mays, bringing her plus-sized pole comptition from New York to us!  West Coast Curves at NCPP (WCC) will be held the same day.  This is an actual competition and the top two competitors, chosen by the audience, will win entrance into the Dangerous Curves finales, which will be held later this year in New York. 

So, with all of this excitment coming to the Bay Area, what is THE topic everyone is talking about?  Our bear logo.  Meet Pat.  Who knew a cute, fluffy bear wearing a pink pole outfit would cause so much chatter?!  In my mind, the purpose of a logo is to brand something and make it memorable.  Even if some of you hate it, it's certainly doing its job.  You will all remember this bear.  For me, the logo is fun, which is how I want this event to be.  It pulls in the California flag, which has a bear on it.  Is it doing a pole trick?  Is that a karate kick?  Who knows?!  Maybe it is a pole ninja doing some innovative new trick that hasn't been revealed yet.  I enjoy all the bear comments, though, so keep them coming.

Ellen and I are really excited about this event.  Sign-ups are currently open to Northern California and Nevada residents.  The cost is only $50 per person/performance slot.  People are certainly encouraged to do solos and group routines.  Or they can particiapte in NCPP and WCC (we have already had someone sign up for both).  Information on sponsorship, vendor booths, and tickets to the show will be available soon.  All information regarding participation, including volunteering, can be found at www.PoleNorCal.com.  If you're on the fence about participating, remember you will be at home in front of all of your loved ones.  I can't think of a better way to get your first pole show under your belt. 

I hope to see all of my Pacific Northwest friends at NCPP in August.  I would love to know what you love most and hate most about big pole events.  We want this to be the best pole event you have ever attended.  Please leave a comment below.  Also, if you have any questions, please e-mail us through the website.  See you in August!

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 2013 Blog Hop: My Men of Pole

The PDBA blog hop this month offered us choices...either write about some very personal stuff ("the great reveal") or do an interview piece with someone ("the profile feature").  Since last month's topic regarding men in the pole industry was so popular and controversial, I decided to interview two of the men I discussed in my first blog hop post for February (my second piece was a bit more personal). I guess since I often write about very personal topics on this blog, there really isn't a "great reveal" that I can share with you. 

So I would like for you to meet two Twirly Boys who are very near and dear to my heart. I guess you could call this a Q&A with the Men of Twirly Girls!  

Meet AJ and Seanmichael - the dynamic duo:

Tell me your name and a little bit about yourself - where you are from and what you do for work. That kind of thing!

Street poling with AJ and SM
SM: My name is Seanmichael Richard Rau.  I was born in Oakland, California and have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the majority of my life.  When I'm not on a pole I work in the natural foods industry doing training and education.   


AJ: My name is Job Bautista. I graduated with a BM in Voice and I dabbled in local theater in the Philippines. During my days off from the university I trained and worked as an aerialist and contemporary dancer under Airdance Philippines.  

I've only been in the United States for 10 months but I was fortunate enough start working as a Pole Fitness and Dance instructor as soon as August of last year, 2013. Before then I taught and coached company members of Polecats Manila and spearheaded their Men's Pole Fitness class.

How did you first hear about pole dance and where did you take your very first class?

SM: The very first time I danced on a pole was at a club in Cairns, Australia I thought it was lots of fun but didn't realize that the pole industry or classes existed at that point.  Years later, my coworker, and dear friend, Lizzie Robillard took me to a pole workout class at a circus training facility called Kinetic Arts Center and it was love at first spin.

AJ: I first heard of Pole Dancing back in 2010 when I worked under a contemporary dance company called Airdance. They organized an event for International dance day wherein local dance companies would come together and celebrate dance in public spaces along the local railway transit and boarding stations in the city. Amongst the groups attending was Polecats Manila who was then in the beginning stages of creating their school. 

My first informal lesson was with one of their members teaching me how to do a skater on the vertical handrails in the train station. After an introduction to a few of their members they then invited me to a trial session for their Men's Pole Fitness Class. 

How long ago was that?
 

SM: My first class at Kinetic Arts Center was on December 1st, 2011.  

AJ: Roughly 4 years ago.

How did you know you were hooked?

SM: I credit my initial love of pole to my instructor (now friend) Luiza Silva.  She created a space that was all about getting fit while having fun and being creative.  I have always hated working out but loved physical play.  That class was also a lot about community support.  We encouraged and celebrated each other and ended every class with a lights off freestyle - the first time I had ever let my body speak my emotions for me.

Can you find AJ?
AJ: I knew I was hooked when I just kept on wanting to learn more and took every opportunity to do so. After that fateful meeting in the train-station events just seemed to roll over one after the other. The girls invited me to their first trial Men's Pole Fitness Class and then a few weeks after I joined an international pole workshop held in Manila. Soon after I was called back by the Polecats to became a guest Male Solo pole artist in a Contemporary Dance Festival called Wifi Bodies. It seems as if I always kept on saying yes to all these invites and the opportunities just kept on coming till before I knew it I was training for a competition overseas. 

The world of pole dance is heavily dominated by women. How does it feel to be a man in a world where men can sometimes not feel welcome?

SM: This question for me is more about being a part of a community where not all people are welcome.  As a side affect of our larger societal community I worry about things like cultural appropriation during "themed" competition pieces or some competitions' judging bias towards male bodied performers and perceived "masculine" movement.  I also worry about our trans community members and how heteronormativity and gender binaries are negatively affecting their ability to feel included.  I want this to be an inclusive community where all people get to come together to create and share and have fun.  I do not always feel like that is the case and I am hoping that more dialogue is opened up on these topics so we can bring awareness to the issues.


AJ:  This question is strange to me because I always felt welcome since the first day I started. Back in the day I was one of the few men practicing the craft not because there were a lack of co-ed studios but simply because it was just starting to take off and hardly anyone knew about it. Together with the girls we spearheaded the first Men's pole class in the Philippines and since then we've had mixed level co-ed classes. I'm proud to say we have around 10-15 men regularly attending our classes and the women have been very supportive of them.

  
I've been lucky because I have always found my way into finding studios with such a welcoming environment. I dropped into Twirly Girls and was greeted by quite a few men and the women were just as warm to having that masculine energy in the crowd. 

There have to be a thousand websites with pole clothes for women. Where do you buy your pole clothes?
 

SM: My go-to comfy pole shorts for everyday use are the wide band boy shorts from kurve dancewear.  They come in dozens of colors and are very well priced.  Competition and performance costumes are a combination of swimsuits, custom designs, thrift store finds, and fetish wear from all over the place.  I spend a fair amount of time searching the webs for interesting pole pieces.  Even though there are less go-to spots for me to shop (bad kitty, mika etc.) I like the challenge of finding something unique.

AJ: I buy them everywhere from the most popular brands to the most unknown. Lululemon is a staple for me coz they are able to shorten and hem their bottoms for free. As for tops, well, I hardly teach topless so I just cut up nice loose shirts on the side so I have a bit of side and waist grip.


Tell me about competitions in which you have participated. What did you learn about yourself during the training process?

Seanmichael
SM: I've competed at The Pacific Pole Championships twice, National Aerial Pole Art and Pole Expo.  The decision to compete was a challenge I posed to myself to become a better performer and athlete.  I will admit that there are times when getting ready for these events that I have completely lost sight of the love and joy that I have for movement and I have gotten caught up in the details of scores and titles.  I am learning not only how my body operates physically but also the mental exercise of being reminded why I do this. David C. Owen sent me a lovely message that I hope he doesn't mind me sharing here "Just be your weird self and enjoy being on stage and doing something you find meaningful.  Be the best you." I think that sums up quite nicely how I feel about competing.  I'm not up there for fame and glory.  I don't need a gold medal or a worldwide workshop tour or 1000 likes on Facebook.  I am there to become the best artist that I can be in order to share my story with anyone who is willing to watch.

AJ: I've joined quite a few competitions and was lucky enough to place in a few of them;

Best Choreography- Singapore Pole Challenge (2011)

  • Champion- Singapore Pole Challenge (2011)
  • 1st Runner Up (Pole Division)- PPS Aerial Performance Tournament (2012)
  • Pole Fit Runner Up -International Pole Championship (2012)

I think more than anything I learned to be fearless. To be fearless of whatever critique comes my way, to be fearless of my capabilities, and to be fearless as a person in general. I've learned to take risks and learned how to trust in myself and in the faith of others who believe in me. During a lot of the competitions I've joined I have been held back by a lot of self doubt but then I put my trust and faith in those who believe me. Sometimes it takes someone else to put you into perspective and it sometimes is scary because their perspective of you is far greater than you have ever imagined. You just have to be fearless.

Do you have an opinion about pole getting into the Olympics?
 

SM: I am more interested in pole as an artistic expression than an athletic competition so I do not feel strongly about seeing it become a part of the Olympic games.
 

AJ: I think it's a great thing that we're driving pole into the Olympics. It's such a young sport that I think it will take quite some time till it makes its way but I believe it's a good thing. Some people will think that it will stunt the creative process of pole to becoming more of athleticism and technique as opposed to creativity and artistry but I think there are other venues for these creative processes. As for now I think that pushing pole to the Olympics will help widen the understanding for Pole as a form of art and sport.

What would you suggest studios do to make classes more welcoming for men?

SM: I would change the word men to "people" for starters because men and women aren't the only options. Then I would make these requests: 
  • Please do not perpetuate stereotypes about how society expects different bodies to move. "We're working on this movement but it's really girly so you can try something else."
  • Instead let the entire class know that we all have unique bodies and what works for one of us may not work for another. Create a space that is safe for everyone to explore their own unique style of movement.
  • Please do not downplay someone's abilities because of their body. "Deadlifts are easier for you because you're a boy." Instead, acknowledge the hard work that everyone has put in to achieving a skill or movement.   
AJ's hiding again!
AJ: Well, just like every business you have to reach out to your audience. Nothing sends more of a welcoming message then a hand that reaches out and makes you feel you are wanted and just as special as everyone else.


What is your pole dream and how do you plan to reach it?

SM: My dream is to continue to create movement based art that touches its viewers and provokes thought and to help others find the potential in their bodies' ability to move and express emotion.  Before pole, I had no idea what my body was capable of and I want to continue to push those limits.  

AJ: My dream is to spearhead a show built on artistry and concept. It doesn't have to be a big show. It can just be made in a simple space but I'd like to make performances that make you feel distraught to those that elate you to euphoria from the most whimsical to the mundane. I just want to make people feel and step out of themselves for a moment.  

As of now I'm immersing myself in circus and theater to build on that concept and we'll see where inspiration takes flight. 

How did you each find Twirly Girls and each other, my dynamic duo?

SM: I came to Twirly Girls for a private lesson with Nadia Sharif and was welcomed onto the team shortly thereafter.  The community that Bel Jeremiah has built is astonishing and when AJ came to visit from the Philippines he immediately fit in with our family.  We trained together with Phoenix Kazree before he flew back home and I was heartbroken because I felt like I had found and was about to lose my kindred spirit.  Luckily for me, he moved to the Bay Area and became an official part of the studio less than a year later. AJ is a tremendous artist, dancer, friend, and support.  I admire his skills but even more-so his humility, and compassion.  He has always pushed me and believed in my ability to compete even when I've lost my way.  There is something about the way that this apparatus has managed to create an international community that brings people together and it's comforting to know that even when our bodies are no longer capable of throwing fonjis, we'll still have the relationships that pole brought into our lives.  I affectionately refer to AJ as my "pole boyfriend" but he is so much more to me than any title can explain.

AJ: I was then residing in the Philippines and was teaching part time as a pole instructor and finishing my Bachelors of Music in Voice in the year 2012. My family decided to bring me over to the U.S. for a Christmas break vacation. We headed to Las Vegas where I met David C. Owen who was then teaching in Shine Fitness. I hardly knew any pole studios in the Bay Area where my family lived so I asked him for some help. I figured that just like my home in the Philippines that I could simply step in to the studio and drop into a class. Little did I know that there were a few studios who had co-ed classes and he sent me a list of them through facebook. I wanted to go to each and every studio who accepted men in their classes but since I was pressed for time I only went to one. That led me to Twirly Girls where I met SeanMichael and the rest of the Twirly Girl team.


We only met once that day but I guess we were fated to train with each other since. Phoenix Kazree was in town and SeanMichael had signed up for a private with her in preparation for a competition. Being such a fan of hers I asked to tag along with him for a semi-private. That would be our second pole play date together.


The moment I decided to come back here after my graduation in the Philippines I sent him a message that I was in town. We've been Pole Boyfriends since. =)

*****

I really appreciate both Seanmichael and AJ taking the time to be part of my blog this month. I know they are both very busy and I want them to know how much I enjoy the time I get to spend with them at Twirly Girls.

If you know AJ and SM, leave a comment below and tell me how you met them! 




I'm turning 10 today

No, not really, but kinda. On this date, ten years ago, instead of drinking beer for St. Paddy's Day, I was knocked out on the table having my guts rearranged. What have I learned in the last ten years? That my stomach wasn't the problem. It was always my brain. And that I wish I had taken care of that problem a long, long time ago. Food was my drug of choice until I could no longer eat, then I turned to shopping. When that was taken away from me four years ago, I turned back to food. So here I am, almost 80 pounds heavier than my lightest post-surgery weight, wondering how the hell I fucked this up.

HERE is my update from year nine.  I feel like nothing and everything has changed in the last year. I had my foot surgery and got out of a job I absolutely hated. I am fully aware of my issues, yet I can't make them go away. I continue to be at odds with half my family, and fully expect I will never speak to most of them for the rest of my life. Yet the thing that keeps bothering me most is the war I've waged up myself - upon my body. I have spent my entire life hating myself. I really wish I could make that go away.

I'm in a weird place in my life right now. I am unhappy with my appearance and lack of strength (working on it!!).  But I am stoked to be in new job with a healthier atmosphere. However, my boyfriend is interviewing for jobs that will move him out of the area. And his cat keeps pissing on all of my stuff (so then I may not be so sad he's going to move). I am trying to write for the PDBA and keep up on various projects. I have my own blog, which I'm not managing well. I am trying to teach at Twirly Girls, take classes and keep up the social media stuff for the studio. I also have other projects in the works. I could not have even guessed the mountain of work that would come with putting on NCPP. My weekend to-do lists are so long that I never get to everything, and yet I also don't get to relax so I don't get to rejuvenate before the next week is upon me. I don't know. I know I sound like I'm bitching -- probably because I am -- but I sometimes wonder why life is never easy for me. I guess I'm the one making it that way. 

So yes, in the ten years since I had gastric bypass, I have learned that food was never my enemy. I was always my own worst enemy. I'm almost 40 years old, so I certainly hope I can figure this out and end the war.

Thank you for being on this journey with me. It means a lot to know I have so many supportive friends in my life.




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Boys, Girls and Twirls turns 2!

Although, we didn't get our name until later in the year, my beginner pole class started in March 2012 and just turned two! Thank you to those who have passed through the door in the last two years to join us for Boys, Girls and Twirls...especially to Yolanda and Robert, who have been with me since day 1!






My first Bodybinds post!

My first article for Bodybinds went up yesterday! I understand it may be a little less risque than the bb crowd is used to but I do feel that keeping your body in shape helps us all feel a little more sexy! 

 "If you are looking for a well-rounded work-out and want to get the most bang for your buck, then an option worth exploring is yoga. Depending on the type of class you choose, you may be able to combine weight training (using your own body weight), cardio (flow) and stretching in a single class."

Read the rest of the post HERE.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Big changes for the lolorashel show

I know I've made reference to it but this is my official announcement: I NO LONGER COMMUTE TO SAN FRANCISCO TO A JOB I DISLIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On February 10, I officially started a new job at a law firm only two blocks from my house.  Yes, I now get to walk to work.  No, not walk to BART, sit on a train for 40 minutes, then walk to work.  Just walk out my door, and ten minutes later, magically arrive at my destination.

No more BART.  No more anxiety medication.  No more pure mental exhaustion.  No more ulcer pain.  Much diminished foot pain.  Apparently stress does a lot to hurt your body. 

Expect many fewer Facebook rants from now on!  I have been trying to find a squirrel to start beef with but have been unsuccessful so far. 

So I am really excited.  This new job is insanely busy and my day passes quickly.  The people are amazingly helpful (and the real kind of helpful, not the kind where they tell you they don't know even though they've worked there 20 years or give you bad information because they are jerks).  The attorneys are all extremely nice as well.  No screamers or passive aggressiveness!  And my seat mate is going to be one of my new favorite people.  She's really sweet and she answers my questions with no hesitation.  No deep sigh before giving me bad information.  It's like a dream come true.

I'm over the moon. The medium had told me the "other side" was begging me to leave that job but I really am glad I waited for the right opportunity.  No job is perfect.  I get that.  But I just came out of the worst job I've had in the 19 years I've worked in the legal field.  That's saying something!

The next chapter of the lolorashel show begins now!!