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Sunset for a Twirly Boy

Sometimes the words come easy, sometimes they don’t come at all. This will be my final Twirlyboy blog and it’s taken me 6 weeks to get this far. Ive been a recluse lately but I have my reasons. I write this because I believe my friends deserve an explanation.

I’ve decided to retire from pole dancing. My life and the path I’m on now seem to demand more of my attention and there is only so much time in a day, a week, a month, and in a life. Pole dancing was very important to me and I made many many good and genuine friends in this wonderful culture. Friends that I hope to keep. But events in my life are tugging on me to change my direction. Personal tragedy, physical issues, relationship changes, and my work situation have conspired against me. I have this picture in my mind of the four of them sitting around an old kitchen table drinking coffee and chatting about the best way to fuck with Maleko. Well, fuck them. I will regroup, I will refocus, and I will succeed. My sister would want that. But it means that I have to focus on basics for a while and figure out what I want to be when I’m done growing up. Seems that process of growing up just started up again after 35 years of being on pause. Like too many others lately, Peter Pan is dead.

Don’t get me wrong here, I LOVED pole dancing. I loved stripping too. I still do love them both. But I’ve been treading water for too long. It’s time to get my shit in one sock (where DID that saying ever come from?!) and deal with who I am where I want to be. You see, I’m looking at myself as a failure right now and I know that’s not right. But you can’t deny your feelings. They’ll nag and pull and poke you until you give in. But it’s how you give in that matters. I choose to “right size” my personal expectations and reduce the whirlwind that has swirled around me claiming to be a life. By giving in and embracing my limitations I hope to grow beyond them at some point.

I’d like to thank all the good people at Twirly Girls Pole Fitness for the wonderful memories. You guys are changing the world. You certainly changed a big part of it for me.

Peace and love and blue skies to you all.

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OK, that was weird…

I managed to get to pole tonight! Yay!!! That’s not the weird part, by the way.

I was pretty worried about coming back. My knee was killing me from walking around all day keeping the Internet safe for spam and porn and the class was at 6:30. I was worried I would run out of steam before the class was over and find myself watching in agony from the back wall. Nothing like spending money to watch others have fun!

But, something weird happened.

We did the stretching, we did the exercising and all through it I could feel my knee poking me every once in a while just reminding me that it was still a bit sore.

Then we got to the real work, doing inside and outside leg hangs. I remember when AJ asked me “how are your inverts?” I of course said “they’re great!” My knee said “bitch!”

Then we started the actual work and the muscle memory started to kick in – even with it was with a bit of amnesia. I remembered what it felt like to leave skin on the pole, what it felt like to get cramps in body parts that normally don’t cramp, and what it felt like to realize that you were upside down and sliding head first to the floor.

But, as I said, something weird happened and I didn’t even notice it!

After cooling down and changing, I said my goodbyes and we all exchanged hugs. I had to walk a couple of blocks to the car when I noticed that my knee wasn’t hurting anymore!

I switched on that steal trap mind of mine, analyzed all the facts and came to the obvious conclusion that POLE HEALS!!! WOOO FREAK’N WHOOO!!!

How WEIRD is that?

I’m off to the hot tub. I’m going to be sore in the morning.

Oh, that’s right, I’m a pole dancer!

In the movie a Christmas Story, one of the characters, Flick, sticks his tongue on a frozen fence pole and gets stuck there. That’s kind of the vision I had when I went out into my garage to work on my pole during the cold snap. I touched the pole and I could feel the stickiness that the near freezing temps were causing. Worse, grabbing the pole only caused the cold to seep into my hands and arms causing the kind of fatigue that can only be fixed with a hot toddy!

But I have to admit that part of that was an excuse. I’ve been a bit on the wrong side of the power curve as far as my health is concerned lately and I suppose I’ve been covering for that. It’s amazing how easy it is to fall back into bad fitness habits. I looked up a few days ago to one of those holy crap moments! More on that later….

A couple of months ago I changed jobs. Generally not a big deal, but my old job was 5 minutes from Twirly Girls. I actually had to go out of my way to avoid the studio when I went home! But now I’m working in Santa Clara and Sacramento. I can see your eyes rolling into the back of your head but, I’m a consultant so I go where the work is. It means that I have to make a conscious effort to get to class. And that’s the question! Am I committed enough to this to make it work when it’s not easy to make it happen? Getting to class is going to be HARD! Any way I look at it it’s going to take an hour to get there.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve made a point of getting back into my workout schedule despite my knee and back pain. But something has been missing. Back to the holy crap moment. What was missing was pole! I miss my friends, I miss the work. But most of all I miss the art my friends create and the joy I get from being a part of it.

I think it’s time to get back into pole. I didn’t even realize that I missed it and I find myself thinking about it more and more often now. So, after I post this, I’m going to do it, I’m going to sign up for a class. See you in class.

Learning about yourself through the art of choreography

So, here I am, a couple of months after my first solo performance and because of injuries and work I’m jones’n for the pole. I was hoping to get my impressions of the performance on “paper” (hell, does that saying even work any more?) but I did a stupid thing and hurt my wrist before I could capture what I’m sure would be super intuitive observations about my achievement!

If you’d like to see my performance, please go here;. It’s a short video on my facebook page.

Now that I’ve made myself feel good about blowing off my blog, I think we can dive into my innermost thoughts. Not the deep end of the intellectual pool, but we’ll at least we’ll get wet!

First, choreography is not easy. Even if you can picture the moves and what you want to do, actually connecting them into something that’s reasonable is quite another thing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even think about the moves other then to say “I want it to have a certain feel”. I was looking for something different. I didn’t want to use the rock songs that I was familiar with. That was going to be a challenge since it was dragging me outside of my musical comfort zone. Thankfully, I had a secret weapon and her name is Jade Kim. You may know her as one of the talented instructors at Twirly Girls but I know her as My Savior! I spent some time talking with Jade about what I wanted to do and we spent some time in the studio working on the “big picture”.

Jade was very happy with the fact that I had already picked a theme for the routine and she was surprised at my music selection: Santa Marta by Jesse Cook. It’s a flamenco style guitar song that is almost 2 hours long. OK, it’s only 3 minutes and 45 seconds of song, but my GOD it seemed like 2 hours when I started putting together moves for it! In the end, Jade and I cut it back to a few seconds over 2 minutes. As it was, it still seemed like an hour of actual work!

Now that I had a song it was off to the really important stuff! What should I wear? Well, as usual, as little as possible! I wanted something bright and fluid but something that would also convey the Spanish theme I was working in. We wound up deciding on a gold lamé thong, a black Spanish hat with a broad rim and dangly gold rings around the edge. On the wrists, ankles and neck I had gold lamé flags tied in a way that they flowed with my movements. Although I wore it for the dress rehearsal, and the studio denizens loved it, I had to tone it down for the show. It was a bit too revealing for the G rated audience we were expecting. So we replaced the thong with a neat pair of back short shorts.

Back to the choreography. Yes, it seems incredibly daunting when you’re sitting there trying to figure out how the entire routine is going to go so I used a method for solving problems that I use at work – I broke the problem into smaller pieces. How would it start? How would it end? Are there any parts that I will repeat? Are there any moves that I want to incorporate into the routine?

All great questions for which I had no decent answers! Enter Jade!

We sat down (metaphorically since I was working my ass off doing moves) and created those anchor points that we could move around. I think that this is a good time to point out something that may be pretty obvious to many but eluded me until I was about 3 weeks away and I still had bupkiss. How many of you have sat down at the Thanksgiving table and looked at all the food and thought, “I want a little of everything!” only to realize that your plate would definitely hold more then your tummy?

Same problem here. Each week I’d learn a new move or would see something that I liked and I’d try to incorporate it into the routine. What a waste of time! If you’re new at this, STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW! Don’t try to do anything fancy or complex in your first routine. Keep it simple and keep it easy. You’re going to be plenty busy with the stuff you know and figuring out how to connect it. Once I had that epiphany, things actually started to come together. We managed to get a beginning, an end, and some repeatable stuff that worked on the song choruses. Now, it was just a matter of making it smooth and clean. Simple stuff unless you’re a big ass dorky bear like me!

And the answer was…. Back to the garage, my pole, and some long hours of going through the routine.

Did I mention that your new best friend will be a video camera? Unless you can figure out how to mount a cell phone to a tripod or you can get a friend to hold your camera without breaking out into uncontrollable laughter, you really need a cheap camera that will do video (which ones don’t nowadays?) and a tripod. I have some decent experience with the camera tripod combo (no, I’m not going to say why!) and for me it’s a minute to set up and believe me it’s well worth it. You may actually do something that you didn’t plan on and say to yourself “hey! That was pretty cool! I wonder how the hell that looked!” On the other hand, the camera never lies and it will show you every single mistake you make. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying be ready to see how you really look. It was quite a shock for me! The conversation when something like “I think that went really well! I can’t wait to see it on the replay.” Click, click, replay… “Holy crap that needs work”.

About a week before I was supposed to perform I actually felt like I had a workable routine. With Jade’s help, I figured out how to emphasize the breaks and rhythm of the song with the moves I was doing so, I thought, there were some nice combinations. My moves weren’t especially tough, but they did manage to flow smoothly. That is, when I did them smoothly!

As we got closer I was actually getting pretty excited about the event! I was pretty sure that the Lovely Rita herself would be impressed! All I had to do now was to actually do it in front of people….

Now, I’m not shy (remember the camera and tripod experience?) but this was way new territory for me. I had my costume and I had a routine but was I ready? To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure. The dress rehearsal was the next day, the Friday before the Saturday event, and for some reason I wasn’t at all nervous. It wasn’t because I was so sure of myself or because I was so confident. Keep in mind that in my other profession I do regular presentations in front of large groups. But I’m usually dressed in much more and I usually don’t get inverted on a pole in front of them. It took me a while to figure it out, but I was only concerned about a couple of people being there and the rest didn’t seem to matter. Not that they weren’t important, of course they were. But I was way more concerned with the folks that made this possible for me. If I screwed up in front of strangers, so what? But screw up in front of Bel, Jade, Rita, Lori, Grace, or the members of my class? UNTHINKABLE!

And yes, the unthinkable happened and I did screw up. But I just kept going. Two minutes that felt like 200 because I’m sure that every second happened in slow motion for me. But then I was done and people were clapping and cheering! Three months of work, effort, sweat, fear, frustration, and it was over. But!!!!! I felt cheated! I still had performance in me!

The high was incredible but I turned it inward so I could enjoy the other performances. And enjoy them I did. TG has some very talented people and any time I have an opportunity to enjoy their art, I’m going to take it and hopefully learn some more myself.

Learning to dance

I took the big step.
The step that causes most people to freeze in terror.
The step that forces you to learn some songs.

I got a gig.

A gig means that I have to have a routine that I can perform in front of people.
Real, live people.

Crap.
Terror building….

Why did I do this if I’m so terrified?

Simple.

Well, maybe not so simple, but let’s pretend that it’s simple. And that simple reason is that I have to get a gig if I want to get to the next level. I’ve overcome all of the other obstacles placed or dropped in my path but this one is self induced.

Self induced how you might ask?

How can someone put obstacles in their own path to their own success? Well, us human beings seem to make a habit of doing just that: enabling our own failure. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the local book store, assuming you can still find one, and ask for the self help isle. Yes, they’ll have a self help isle and in it you’ll find books about overcoming your own self imposed obstacles.

Keep in mind that I think of myself as a big ass dorky bear when I dance. A lap dance is different then a performance on a pole. I’m a lot more comfortable doing a lap dance since I think I can focus on being erotic and that’s not as precise as a scripted dance routine. OK, I can hear everyone yelling, “what about free dancing?” Again, simple. I suck at free dancing.

Getting back to how I dealt with my self help, I did something that most guys are good at doing: I let a part of my body not connected to my brain make decisions! Bel at Twirly Girls hosts the annual Rita Fund Raiser for the Kidney Foundation and if you check the performer registration you’ll see that the first entry is Maleko Wine. Yep. As my hand was signing my name to the registry, my brain was yelling “WHAT THE HELL!!!”. My hand laughed as we walked away. It was very strange. My hand and my brain haven’t talked since! Not that they’ve had a close relationship in the past….

But my brain has been working overtime trying to answer the question “now that you have a gig, what the hell are you going to do?” Naturally my brain screamed “CALL JADE KIM”. Thankfully my hand was listening at that moment and the next sound I heard was the reassuring voice of Jade telling me “Maleko, climb down from the ceiling! We got this!” A few days later we had 42 second of routine that has a 4 minute song! Not bad!

Yep, only 188 seconds to go. Only looks like 3 minutes from where I’m standing.

We totally got this.

Yep. 3 minutes and 8 seconds.

Totally.

Crap, this is gonna be hard….

Back in the Swing!

Hi Fellow Twirlers, after a way too long hiatus, I’m back boring you with my misadventures on the pole. It’s been a while but I’ve been working on quite a few things, including getting my wife excited about pole! But, like all good intentioned things, there are always unintended consequences. Like, now we’re having a discussion about how we need to get a skinny pole. I happen to like my fat pole….so you can guess where this is going! At any rate, more to come, observations to be made, and achievements to brag about! Like I can now go into Brass Monkey from a flip! 

Naked and Confused…

I was SOOO excited when I got my first issue of Vertical Art & Fitness Magazine! I remember when I was a wee child (a very recent memory) and I finally got that rubber-band powered model airplane that took 10 box-tops off of the Captain Crunch boxes to get. I checked the mail each and every day for months with bated breath in the hope that this day would be the day that I would get to hold my new treasure in my hot little hands.

It was like that.

When it finally came, I brought the stack of mail into the kitchen throwing anything that wasn’t my new source of pole information onto the kitchen table. I  even violated the house rules by using a kitchen knife to open the envelope that my treasure came in. (Please don’t spread that part around.) Once the magazine had been freed from it’s transcontinental prison and I was holding it in my hands, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. After all our discussion about pole stripping versus pole dancing, the lead article blew me away: “The RAW Issue”.

There were naked people in this magazine.

Ohhhh Kayyyy…..

Raw Empowerment” was the actual title of the piece and it was written by Claire Griffen Sterrett and photographed by Jasper Johal.

My first reaction? What the HELL were they thinking! Here we are in a pitched battle between the forces of pole conservatives and the pole diversity, and here is an article where somebody actually TAKES OFF THEIR CLOTHES and gets naked while on a pole! My God! I was sure that the magazine was going to spontaneously combust right there in my hands while I was reading the article. Crap, I’d only had it less then a minute and I was trying to remember where the kitchen fire extinguisher was. Was this actually possible? Was I just imagining this (I have a great imagination) or was this real?

But I pushed past my initial reaction and read the words that Claire had taken the time to craft together. I really looked at the photos that Jasper had captured. Afterward I spent some time considering what I had just seen.

Then it dawned on me: what the hell was I thinking?

Besides the fact that I was clearly a moron for thinking what I had thought, I came away thinking that the whole argument about nudity and pole was indeed artificial. Granted, we’re not going to do naked pole dancing classes, but I have to admit that there is an art form here. This was more then a simple article about being naked on a pole for personal empowerment – it was a work of art. It proved the point that not only could our art form produce fluid stories, it can also produce fantastic images of frozen beauty – even if the performers are naked.

What it also proved to me was that we can’t limit our perception of what is art when it comes to the pole. We need to make sure that we keep our minds open to our heritage as well as new facets of our very young art form that creative people will inevitably experiment with. We’re lucky enough to be at the beginning of something that is going to be bigger then any one of us and we shouldn’t let puritan attitudes or corporate branding get in the way of creating art that will survive the ages.