On October 19th, 2018 I finally performed a routine for the first time in front of an audience! I have now been pole dancing for a little over 3 years so it took me a while to do my first performance. This was mostly due to having to switch studios and finally ending up at one that is organized and knows what they’re doing! I’m super happy to be where I am today!
I started training for my performance I think in August. I wanted to plan in advanced so that I knew I had enough time to practice and that I could work out all the kinks I needed to. I’m not good at doing things last minute, I need enough time. This early on, it was mostly narrowing down my song choice and starting to really listen to the song and pick up on parts that I would like to emphasize. I chose Control by Halsey. I love that the song has a creepy Halloween vibe and it was a message that spoke to me. I personally need to really feel the song because I use my feelings to drive my choreography.
Once I started working on choreography I started practicing about two to three times a week. A combination of going to the studio and playing around at home. I filmed myself as I tried moves and transitions and took note of the ones I liked. I did not use a journal or write anything down besides making a list of moves that I’m good at and feel comfortable with. I wanted my choreography to showcase my strength and flow while also being moves that I knew I could do without much practice. I didn’t want to push myself too hard for my first performance.
I practiced every week from about mid September up until two days before the Showcase. And I didn’t finalize my choreography until that last day. However, I had already been practicing it all the way through for the last week and a half (so probably about 4 sessions). It was pretty crazy that the first time I tried to run it all the way through I was absolutely dying by the end and barely did the last few moves. But as I kept practicing I could run through the whole routine twice in one day and still have some energy to focus on specific parts after.
As it got closer I could start feeling the butterflies in my stomach. I was excited but also scared. I had thoughts of messing up and freezing in the middle of the performance. As an introvert, I was scared that once I saw the audience I would want to run back out. I was the fourth performer in line so I tried to concentrate on the fact that I wouldn’t have to wait too long before it was my turn. And I was looking forward to it being over so that I could relax!
And then the day came and I was soooo nervous. We had to get there a few hours early to get ready and seeing everyone talking to each other and helping each other do makeup and hair, I was reminded that I still hadn’t made any close friends at the studio. I felt pretty lonely. I did eventually find another performer that I had talked to a few times and enjoyed her company and since she was performing right after me I managed to stick around her for a little while so I had someone to talk to.
And then it was five minutes before my performance. I had already been warming up and I did the last few stretches and jumping jacks and put grip on my hands. I was ready. I walked out to the center of the room, warmed up by now by all of the people crammed into the tiny space. The audience sat almost completely around the performance area covering three sides of the four sided room. I tried not to think too much about the people watching and crouched into my first position.
The song began and I came to life, trying so hard to flow to the song and not get caught up in my head. I tried to play with the audience but the feeling was so foreign. It was hard to tell if they were enjoying it or not. I kept going and I took note of the few things I was missing. But they were small and I could play it off. I got through the first verse and chorus on the static pole and crawled my way over to the spin pole. I reached my hands up to go into my first spin and my heart dropped. The pole was practically wet, it was so slick. My mind raced and I quickly came to the thought, well here goes nothing, no stopping now.
I managed to get through the next verse, chorus, and breakdown all the while squeezing my hands as hard as I could to stick to the slippery pole. Now all I had left was the last chorus. Only 3 more things. A climb, a stargazer, into an arched rainbow. Then I could slide down, pose, end. I climbed but I couldn’t get as high as I had practiced. I switched into the stargazer and I could feel that my leg wasn’t wrapped super tight around the pole. I looked out at the audience as I spun and then reached for my other foot to go into the arched rainbow. And suddenly life was moving in both slow motion and so fast that it was hard to process at the same time. My back slammed into the floor, sending me into shock. I sat up and looked at the pole and processed that I had fallen. In the moment, a sense of failure washed over me. All that practice and I fell? Then the sound of the room faded back in and the audience began to cheer me on. I glanced at the door and considered running out. Then I thought, no I can do that once I’m done. My last cue in the song was coming so I stood up, spun, and posed. End of song. Cheers.
I walked out the door as fast as I could and immediately sat against the wall and started crying. All the emotions rushed over me at once and I felt failure, embarrassment, and loneliness. Luckily, I had my partner and two close friends there to calm me down. And the women who was a paramedic when she wasn’t pole dancing made sure I was physically ok and talked me down as well.
But this isn’t a sad story. Once I got over my breakdown, I went back in to watch the other amazing performers. People kept coming up to me to tell me that I did great and that my fall didn’t make a difference. It was a weird experience especially since I don’t particularly like talking to strangers about personal things. And the fall felt really personal. But it did help to pull me out of my head because I started analyzing what people where choosing to say to me and how they said it. The entire night was full of first experiences.
I was still pretty upset for a few days after, especially because people kept asking me how it went but it eventually wore off. And now that it’s been a few months I’ve come around to being really proud of myself. It was a traumatic experience in the moment but luckily with technology my performance was recorded and I could watch it myself. And once I saw my fall, in all its high definition, I realized what those strangers had been telling me was actually true. The fall didn’t matter. The rest of my performance was so good that the fall almost made it better because it revealed the difficulty and risk of what I was actually doing. Now that’s not me saying I would want to fall again but it gave me perspective. And like the paramedic told me, I’m kind of lucky that I had my first fall in my first performance. Because now it’s happened and I know what it feels like and I can better prepare for it in the future.
So without further ado, here is my 2018 Halloween Showcase Performance: