I am not supposed to be here. No. I am supposed to be cooking up Reading Group Questions for LIFE AFTER YES. But I woke up this morning feeling extra-rebellious, so instead of concocting questions, I am here, writing about pole dancing. Pole dancing? Yes. Kind of. Over the past week, people around me have been talking a whole lot about stripping and pole dancing and sexual expression. My days have been peppered with words that I am too embarrassed to type. One rhymes with "fit" (actually "fitoris") and apparently is the only organ in the human body that doesn't atrophy. Don't say you don't learn things on my blog.
Anyway, it all began with the bachelorette party. The wild one I was fortunate enough not to have to attend. My good friend (who shall remain nameless!) planned/attended said soiree that began with savory cocktails and ended with stripper poles. This was all part of the plan. The attendees enjoyed a private striptease lesson at a gentlemen's (ha) club. And I will be stingy with details so as to protect the political futures of certain femmes, but apparently everyone ended up in their bras and panties.
I lapped up this story like a thirsty kitten. Purring, wide-eyed, decidedly innocent. (And very cute.) And then I muttered two disappointing sentences. "That sounds like a lot of fun. I would never pole dance." My friend assured me that if I were there, I would have surrendered and participated in the night's activities. I assured her that she was wrong. I would never do it. Not because I think there is anything prima facie wrong with pole dancing. To the contrary, I think that pole dancing is an exotic art form about which I know little and I am intrigued by this art form and how it can or cannot empower people.
And then. And then I met a pole dancing teacher. On Saturday. In my own home. She was one of the participants in the NYC Firestarter session with Danielle LaPorte. Again, I will not name names, but I very much hope to be able to interview her here on ILI.
Last night, I took a walk on the wild side and hailed a taxi and headed all of the way to Soho to meet up with Danielle and sundry others, including this fascinating woman who happens to teach pole dancing when she's not inventing top-secret iPhone applications. It was a wonderful evening. We talked about a lot of things. But mainly, we talked about pole dancing. Let me rephrase: other people talked about pole dancing between sips of fabulously fruity drinks while I sat there in my prudent black, gulping Pinot, blushing, saying over and over: "I could never do it."
The girl who teaches pole dancing explained that many of her students are corporate women, the straightest of arrows who want to tap into their sexuality or buried confidence. She explained that the class ends up involving far more than dancing with a pole. That each woman has a lot of baggage attached to her sexuality and this baggage must be unpacked.
I sat there, entranced, intrigued, and, yes, embarrassed. In my mind, I berated myself for being so prudish and square, so utterly lacking in edge. But then I came to my own defense. Not every one is a pole dancer. And that is okay.
I am not a pole dancer.
I didn't stop at this simple and obvious conclusion. No. As I tend to do, I grabbed for my metaphorical spectacles. I might not be a pole dancer, but I am a philosophical pole dancer. This blog is my pole and around it, I dance each and every day. Taking risks. Trying new things. Experimenting with new ideas and questions. Tapping into something riskier and deeper and more true. In me. In you.
When doing my dance, I don't wear short shorts and fishnets and five-inch heels. I wear jeans and ponytails and noise-canceling headphones. But I move in ways I never imagined. And the adrenaline is undeniable. And I don't know whether you can tell, but I'm growing more brazen with each new dance, with each new day. Around this pole, I am neither embarrassed nor equivocal. Around this pole, I am confidently insecure. I am perfectly imperfect. Around this pole, I am me.
Find your pole. Do your dance.
Any thoughts? On reading group questions? On actual or metaphorical pole dancing? If I get fifty comments, I promise to take a pole dancing class. Maybe.