LucyLovesCircus

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Chapter 81: Pole in the Park

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Pole is a slippery subject at the best of times. I remember the day I was chatting about my new interest over coffee with a friend. By the time I went to pick my son up from school an hour or so later, another friend asked me "So Luce, you and pole, how long has it been?" About six weeks, I started enthusiastically, and began to talk about this fantastic workshop we had just been on with Cirque de Soleil's Felix Cane. No, no, she cut in, I mean since you were overheard talking about it in the café and it's gone viral at the school gates. Welcome to Suburbia. We've still got the red lights in the hallway after the Moulin Rouge house party for my husband last week, all that's missing now is the pampas grass out front...

Anna demonstrating The Lounging Lady
Learning The Lounging Lady
Because here's the thing. Pole has a Reputation. After all, it has its origins in strip clubs and cattle markets, with nightbirds flaunting their feathers for the lads - the same way, legend has it, that the tango that now graces the Establishment grew out of the bordellos of Buenos Aires. Although, if you strip back history still further, you will find pole gymnastics at the heart of the ancient Indian practice of "mallakhamba" - malla meaning wrestler, and khamba meaning pole. I definitely see polefit as a way of fighting fit, wrestling back my body, building up stamina to keep up with my kids and as a superb well-woman exercise, both physically and mentally. It has transformed my core strength in next to no time, increased my flexibility exponentially and my confidence has soared as a result - and it's fun. As you start practicing pole, the urban landscape changes very quickly into a parkour playground: support rails on tubes; signs at bus stops; fitness poles in the park and water markers on the beach are all fair game for all manner of inversions, swings and handstands. It may be tough at times, but you are never bored and always stretched. 



Apparently there was a time when Sam King couldn't do splits...

Advanced student Lucy Reed, leading the way
Pole isn't that widespread in the U.K., not in my neck of the woods anyway, and not in comparison with the U.S. and Australia, you get the impression. But the movement is catching on. This weekend my polefit teacher Anna pitched up on Clapham Common, round the corner from the Windmill Pub, with three poles and an aerial hoop. Anna is a former ballerina and she was joined by Sam King, who doesn't have a dance background, not that you'd know it as he is a legend on the championship circuits. Both of them, together with polefit instructor Silvia and the more advanced students, displayed a grace and dexterity that astonished, delighted and drew in the crowds. It encouraged passers by to have a go in a relaxed environment.  I took the family along and we had a great time catching up with familiar faces, and some new ones, from polefit classes. We also enjoyed seeing local friends who stopped by en famille. All the children instinctively gravitated towards the climbs and hocks, swinging like naturals, it was a joy to behold. Friends who came along later from Flying Fantastic and Circus Space (check out Isabella Mars Aerial & Trapeze boots FB page) reported a fantastic atmosphere, an opportunity to meet interesting people and to try a new discipline. It's all about education and attitude, and building bridges between communities. Another event is being planned for July. This is just the beginning... 

Pole duo Anna and Sam


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