Member Spotlight: Rafahlia

rafahlia pole dancing

As we get ready to reopen our studio at the end of July (all going well!) we’ve been reflecting on our community and how we can serve everyone better. I think we can all agree that it’s an exciting juncture of human history.

In the meantime, we will keep on sharing inspiration from our deadly members and this month we want to share Rafahlia’s story. She has not only been maintaining regular attendance at our online classes through the lockdown, she has also been lighting up our studio since with her infectious laugh and playful sense of humour since she first attended. She reminds us all to laugh more often and to not take ourselves so seriously.

We are privileged to have members from all over the world in our studio, however it’s common that folks feel nervous about joining us if English is not their first language. We understand this can be nerve-wracking; we do strive for inclusivity of different backgrounds and cultures at our studio and we want everyone to feel welcome here. Rafahlia will explain in her own words below about how she overcame her nerves, in her own inimitable and jovial style:

pole dancing classes in dublin

“I first joined Irish Pole Dance Academy 2 years ago. I used to take pole dancing classes for almost a year back home in Greece, but when I came to Ireland my plan was to stay only for 3 months, so of course in my head it wasn’t even worth the hassle to search for a studio here in Dublin. A year and something after, I realised that I was still in Dublin and I never searched for a studio. I asked myself: “Why did you lose so much time?”, but still probably the idea of calling a studio to find out more was just transferring from one post-it to another in the weeks after that. I was also not feeling comfortable with the idea of calling and was also wondering: “Will I be able to understand the person on the other side of the line? (the Irish accent has been haunting me the last 3.5 years of my life of course)” or “Will the person on the other end of the line understand me?”.

So at some point, probably sick of my own procrastination, I spoke with a friend that was visiting at the time and after a chat I told her, look I want to start classes and call a studio but I don’t know this, I don’t know that… bla bla bla, and she told me yeah sure make a call, why not, do it. And after a few days I called. And boom boom boom, my heart was beating fast. But I was able to understand the other person and I remember how helpful and kind she was.

IPDA was the first suggestion when I was looking up for classes on the internet. I was like “Oh my god, the pictures seem so professional, the girls are wearing heels, fuck I am gonna be the most awkward creature in there!”. But I started slowly, and indeed on the first day I was feeling super awkward. I had chosen the wrong pair of shorts to wear for the workout that included leg openings and I was like “Yes, thank you me for being like Bridget Jones one more time in your life!”. But I kept going. I knew I would regret it if I stopped and quit this commitment and also from the attempt to do something better for my body, so I kept going.

Did I ever regret it? Yes, sure… I am joking. Not even a single time. Sure there have been days with rain, days with wind, days with cold, days with these altogether, where I was feeling exhausted even riding my loyal bike to the studio, soaked and sweating at the same time while thinking “WTF I am exhausted already, how am I going to make it through the class today”, but every time that there were moments of laughter in the studio during the class I was feeling grateful for taking the decision to not miss the class.

My background of exercising was like a typical 4-seasonal Irish day: a bit of everything and not one thing focused or for a long period of time. Pretty strong legs, pretty crappy arms; so yes I gave a chance to these arms to finally develop in an adult way and maybe, maybe there is the possibility to seem a bit older in the future than a 17 year old girl. And it is happening, still happening, as the improvement never stops and yoohoo I am doing things I was only dreaming before! And probably now I seem like a 20 year old girl, still not acting my age, but it’s something.

If you want me to tell you what pole dancing is for me, I don’t know. What you learn is not only good for what it is, but also for where you learn it and who you learn it with. Would I still be inspired to continue if I wasn’t a member of IPDA? I don’t know. But thankfully, I am a member of IPDA and yes I am inspired to continue, even if that means spending money all the time to buy pole clothes that I am not wearing cause I don’t want to ruin them, makes sense. I want to be able to dance as I dance in my imagination. And I will try towards that. Cause in IPDA, I not only felt comfortable among others, I genuinely felt the desire to applaud others; I wasn’t feeling jealous of other girls. The inclusiveness I felt was amazing. It doesn’t matter if I am Greek, it doesn’t matter if I think my legs are proportionally way bigger than my arms, in IPDA there are people that are happy to see me and I am happy to see them.

From IPDA I received suddenly on a Sunday evening – which was the peak of an emotional downfall – a surprise email saying that I have been chosen as the member of the month. Just go, now you that are reading my text, just start, somehow. We are all clumsy in the beginning of every new thing. I don’t think there can be a non-clumsy way, so if you think about it you are even very “normal” for being clumsy. And trust me in that at IPDA you will not be faced with women who pretend to know it all, that feel superior in their super-hot, fit bodies, in IPDA you will find people like you. People who were scared and feeling exposed as well. So, they understand and they will approach you, don’t be afraid. Thank you to everyone in IPDA, my life in Dublin wouldn’t be the same without you!”