On Thursday nights, most of Bell Blvd. is bustling with restaurant-goers and bar hoppers. But At , twinkle lights, six silver poles, sultry music and Pattye transform the studio into Bayside’s only pole dance class.
The class began with a yoga/pilates-style mat warm-up. Pattye led a class of twelve nervous beginners through a series of intense core work, and told us to circle our hips as if we were “reaching for salt on the rim of a martini glass.” The floor work was a great stretch, allowing each person to physically relax and mentally prepare for the challenges of pole dancing. Pattye knows exactly what it’s like for dancers new to pole fitness.
Pattye began just four years ago at the age of 43. At the time, she described herself as being bored and depressed and looking for something to fill the void. She thought of dance and gymnastics, but felt she was “too old to put on a leotard.” A friend suggested pole fitness, and the two found a class. Her friend never showed up, and Pattye describes her first class fondly, “I knew I was home, and this was what I was looking for. When I saw the way the instructors moved, I wanted to learn how to move like that also, in fact I had to. I started with the movement, and I stayed for so many other reasons.”
After warm up, we learned to walk. We slowly dragged our toes behind us, casting our feet in a wide arch around our center before planting them heavily in front and starting over. Each woman exchanged nervous smiles, and strutted from one side of the room to the next. Walking was easy. We felt confident. And yet, there were the poles. Every one of us was there because we wanted to feel what it was like to spin gracefully, but it didn’t make them any less intimidating.
Pattye demonstrated the first spin, hooking her legs around the pole with ease. She was even able to whip her hair around her head as she spun. “My absolute favorite part of class is watching a new woman watch me demonstrate our first spin on the pole, with the look of- I will never be able to do that- to her sheer delight and amazement when she attempts and completes her first spin.... That’s when you literally get hooked.”
All of us attempted and completed a full spin on the pole with Pattye’s careful guidance. It was funny, dizzying, and addicting. The next day I felt the effects of a great core workout and had two shiny black and blues on my leg, but the weightless feeling of spinning and the competitive drive to get it right will bring me again.
Jennifer Alvarado, the owner of the studio, advises that new students should expect to feel welcomed in a comfortable and supportive environment. They should also expect to come home sore and with bizarre bruises. Pole dancing is offered on evenings at 8:15pm and at 10:30am. For more information or to sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.