This past week I got to visit Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the first time in my life, even though I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I booked in for Sexy Pole 1 at Milan Pole Dance Studio with Prana! It was described as “all levels” and said “Learn to move smoothly with some fun spins on the pole and sexy floor work.” Perfect for a non-trickster like me.
I was staying just a few blocks away downtown so I walked (even though it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit and I had managed to lose my gloves in the cab from the airport). The walk was brisk, but beautiful. I passed the Notre Dame Cathedral, lit up at night! I felt very safe walking downtown at night (unlike the studio in Tulsa that I reviewed.)
I got there about 15-20 minutes early and was buzzed in from street level up a flight of stairs to the studio. As I waited for the receptionist to finish whatever she was doing and acknowledge me I got a nosebleed. Now, this is pretty common for me in the winter due to low humidity but this is the first time I raised my head to look at something and droplets FLEW from my nose like some horrifying Quentin Tarantino movie! Of course, I pinched my nose and asked for something to clean the floor with. Classy. Then I got cleaned up in the restroom area and came back out front and got checked in. THEN I was able to change and come back out front to attend the class.
There were about 15 brass poles and there were about 14 students. I think all the poles were on spin mode and almost all of them were taken by the time I came out so I was on a 38 mm pole. WHAT?? I always use a 50 mm pole and secretly desire a 45 but I had never tried a 38. I was a giant! In many ways it was awesome (I always felt secure on the pole), but I tweaked the HELL out of my wrist by doing a simple pirouette too aggressively. Seriously painful. But sitting didn’t hurt like I’d read it can on a smaller pole (now that I think about it maybe it’s knee holds that hurt on small poles).
Prana was SO sweet and she smiled CONSTANTLY and everyone else was nice, too. Some of the people even chatted with me for quite a while afterwards (hi Marc!). by the end of class people were starting to cheer each other on a little. There was one guy in the class; I didn’t meet him but he seemed nice and was very good – he shared a pole with another very advanced student and I think they might have been dance partners (or at least they looked great doing some doubles stuff).
The class really did have ALL levels of students in it and Prana did offer various levels of moves for people, though there was no floor work other than one floor spin in the middle of the routine. French is the primary language in Montreal, but everyone is bi-lingual. Prana asked if there was anyone who didn’t speak French and I was the only one. She was very good to give instructions in English and only broke into full French when telling stories or joking with students. And she was very encouraging of everyone as she went around to help. The music was almost all in French but of the same pop/dance style as I’m used to. The warm up was vigorous, the pole moves were very challenging, and the cool down / stretch was nice. The next night as I was writing this up I sneezed and my abs hurt tons! In fact, I was sore all over for for 3 days. She wanted us to have 6 packs by summer – silly girl!
I think the move that killed my abs was the forward version of a “showgirl” We used what my studio calls “sunwheel” or “stag” legs and were spinning forward AND releasing down to the floor. When I do spin pole work I pretty much never come down – it takes a serious level of control to keep your legs up level with your hips and do a correct spin AND release (spinning while releasing down comes naturally on a static pole, of course). I’ve done this move backwards on a spin pole (not coming down) and backwards on a static pole, but you’d think it was brand new to me – that’s how weird it was when going forward. Hence the abdominal workout!
One of the tricks we worked on was a fan kick (also called a Cartwheel Spin) and at the time I thought it was transformed for me. I wanted to show you the before and after in a video but the video didn’t take and now that it’s a few days later I really don’t have the same dramatic effect to show you so I’ll just explain.
First, my hand positions may not have been ideal before. Prana said we should be able to kiss both hands and I’m pretty sure I used to keep my outside hand much higher and I guess that’s less strong. In my fan kick, regardless of my legs, my body spins around but doesn’t move over at all; I think I brace my hip against the pole. It’s okay but not really noteworthy. In the new way I learned, I start in the same position but plant my outside foot forward hard and kick my inside leg up and around so hard that my butt clears the pole in front and around, and by the time I’m coming down my body has moved around the pole. If I can remember to keep my legs splayed it is much more impressive, of course. I imagine eventually I won’t have to use as much force once I have some muscle memory for how to do it “big.” The whole point is to be able to end it with a corkscrew (tuck) or even a sit. So not there yet.
I really had a great time and a huge workout. Thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome!