We’re back in lockdown again after having had a hectic but lovely 10 weeks of being open following the first lockdown. So here’s an uplifting story about our member Sylver.
Sylver is someone who has physically come a long way since first joining our pole dancing classes a little over a year ago; despite set-backs (including getting hit by a Jeep in January and of course the obvious multiple lockdowns) she has gone from strength to strength. These, and her dyspraxia, has not held her back from making great progress on the pole. Not only this, Sylver is someone who is seemingly capable of infinite compassion; in her free time she goes to great lengths to help our other members here at the studio, and avidly campaigns against bigotry, intolerance and misogyny. In other worlds, she makes the world around her a less grim place:
“I had an eating disorder for most of my life, which led to the muscles in my upper back never properly developing, to the point where I struggled to carry my daughter when she was a baby. I started seriously working on that about five years ago, and got a gym membership. I had no problem with the commitment of going a few times a week, but never made much progress, because I didn’t actually know what I was trying to achieve. Then, last year, I decided to do a few obstacle runs (Hell & Back and Tough Mudder) despite having zero experience with running more than 2km at a time, let alone obstacle courses. I managed to get through the 16km+ versions of both through sheer stubbornness, and realised that what I needed was a concrete goal to work towards, and body weight strength seemed like a good place to start.
I came across IPDA on Instagram in August last year – for all its faults as a platform, Instagram is still an amazing way to connect with people and find new things to try. I had never seriously considered pole dancing before I saw IPDA’s introductory course, because to me, pole dancers (and all aerialists) were embodiments of strength, grace, and coordination — three things that I’m sorely lacking, so clearly I never stood a chance. I looked at their Instagram page, saw that I knew literally no one on there, and figured that if I was terrible or hated it, I never had to tell anyone about my attempt. It’s worth mentioning that I had never done any form of dancing whatsoever prior to this, including dancing with my kids, because I’m so bad!
And, to be honest, I was terrible. I struggled with directions, had no sense of grace or fluidity, and didn’t have the strength in my arms and shoulders to do even the most basic moves. Oh, and apparently I’m the first person to have knocked down a clock on the wall while trying to be sexy during an exotic class. I’m not going to lie, I thought about quitting a few times — and definitely wasn’t going to become a member once the Intro course was over. But over the four weeks of classes, I realised that I was enjoying myself, had made significant progress, and had found a community and social circle that I had been really lacking in my life – so I went for the 12 month membership, and haven’t looked back since.
I have dyspraxia, and the worst balance and coordination out of anyone I know – and that list includes several toddlers. I can’t properly look at what someone else is doing and apply the motions to my own body; it just doesn’t compute. I’m definitely not a natural at pole dancing (or any other physical activity, let’s be honest) and it takes me a lot longer for a move to really “click”, but the instructors and other students are so supportive and encouraging – I don’t know where I’d be without Arlene telling me “Your left – no, your other left – no,” and then physically putting my foot where it needs to be until I realise my mistakes. It’s also really encouraging to see that professionals and very experienced dancers also have days where they slide down the pole or can’t bend in certain ways!
In the last year I’ve gone from dancing in sports shorts and t-shirts, knocking things off walls, to dancing in 8″ heels and lingerie, knocking things off walls. I’ve figured out that my favourite place to be is hanging upside down and spinning fast — oh, and I’m more of a “crash to the floor, but intentionally” person, rather than one of those people who can flow down gracefully, but that’s okay! Somehow, I can twist my ankle walking across a flat floor in Converse, but can spin in circles around a pole in crazily high heels.
I love the community and camaraderie in IPDA. Whether it’s swapping shoes and clothes, spotting in each other in awkward positions, or giving advice about where the best clubs to strip in Dublin are, there are always people there to help and support you — both figuratively and literally. Some days I show up in a baggy t-shirt and no makeup, and others I go all out with straps and lipstick, and both are totally encouraged, which is amazing.
I got hit by a Jeep in January, and actually the only things I really missed during the few months of recovery were pole dancing and a full range of motion. Then, Covid-19 locked down the country, but in a weird way the absence of a physical studio made me grow closer to the pole dancing community, and that of IPDA especially. Between Facebook groups, Instagram stories, Patreon accounts, and hundreds of messages, I really realised how much pole dancing has become part of my life and identity, rather than simply a hobby.
If you’re not sure whether pole dancing is for you, or if you’re debating it because you don’t think you’ll be good — honestly, just try it. The instructors at IPDA are all amazing in so many different ways, and every student is also encouraging and supportive. If you’re anything like me, you might be terrible the first few times, but you could find an amazing hobby and part of your life you didn’t know you were missing.”