Days before the USPDF Pole Dancing Championship on September 29th, I realized I hadn’t invited anyone to use my spare ticket. So I invited three men. The first two responded along the lines of, “Sounds fun, but why are you interested in pole dancing?” The third said yes.
The pole dancing I like is more about athleticism and skill than titillation. But it may be a while before the majority of people accept it as such. Done well, pole dancing combines grace, sensuality and daring, and the championship focuses mainly on skill and uniqueness.
My date for the evening texted me an hour before the event, saying simply, “I have unfortunately to cancel tonight.”
A few blocks from the event, I spotted a tall, handsome man exiting a hair salon.
“Excuse me,” I said. “Would you be interested in coming to the Pole Dancing Championship tonight?”
“No,” he smiled, “But thank you.”
“What did you say?” came a voice from behind me.
Two men coming out of a nearby gym had overheard. Daniel and Harold are best friends, and share a birthday with Bob Marley: Februay 6th. Since Harold had been lifting 800 lb weights (he showed me the video) and needed to shower, Daniel came along.
Daniel quickly noticed that the audience consisted mainly of female pole dancing students. Before the dancers came out, he pulled my head toward his shoulder.
“I think I might have to go to Tiffany’s for an engagement ring,” he said.
He was in love with a blonde two rows in front of us. A few minutes later, Daniel fell in love with one of the pole cleaners.
“It’s the way she rubs that wet stuff on the pole,” he said.
Interestingly, Daniel and I agreed on which dancers excelled, and we singled out the same performers, including the winner, Michelle Stanek. We were both moved by attitude, courage and musical choice more than clinical skill.
Natasha Wang in a performance from 2011
Last year’s winner, Natasha Wang, came out to perform with The Pulse Project. Her performance was the most ethereal and compelling of the evening.
“She’s like a spirit,” said Daniel. “It’s like the pole is dancing around her.”
The Pulse Project gave a feisty 10-minute performance featuring NYPD instructor, Anna Grundstrom.
“She’s a rock star,” said Daniel, correctly.
On the subway home, Daniel showed me a picture of a Celtic design tattooed across his entire back. Then he showed me two photographs of large rear ends that Harold had sent him during the show. Daniel definitely gave me the male point of view, but we still agreed on the artistry.
When I got off the subway, Daniel held out his palm.
“Hate to see you go," he said. "But love to see you walk away.”