Just two guys pole dancing

Cattana and Chan visit Sensual Serenity for a pole dancing workshop.

While most students spent last Friday night out at bars or clubs, we spent ours swinging and dancing on poles. 

While pole dancing may seem like an effortless and sexual activity, we quickly discovered it requires much more skill and finesse than we had previously thought.  

When it comes to athletic pursuits, we (hi — Arwin and Joe here) would probably be classified as moderate dabblers. While some of our activities rank higher than others (anyone want to talk basketball or bikes?), we share an interest in adding new ones under our belts.

But we have to admit, pole dancing was never really on our bucket list. As two guys, the idea of spending your night working on your fitness and flexibility via pole dancing seemed as far out as athletic pursuits were concerned. An old cliche came to mind: never in a million years. 

When we arrived at the studio, Sensual Serenity, for the pole dancing class, it looked like a cross between a ballet and yoga studio with the addition of chrome poles placed periodically throughout the room. Now’s probably a good time to mention we haven’t spent any time in either of the aforementioned places, so we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. 

Presumably the reason the two of us, both men, were put on this assignment is that pole dancing is considered primarily a female activity. Our involvement easily piqued the interest of coworkers, friends, co-pole dancers and even the taxi driver who brought us there. The latter seemed fairly keen throughout the whole ride to slip in a few of his personal lewd experiences with dancers at the Plaza, Kingston’s local “gentlemen’s club”.

Hours before the class, we felt somewhat self-conscious and concerned that we’d just embarrass ourselves in front everyone. Our outfits consisted of a conglomerate of our other activities: Joe had on gym shorts and a Jays t-shirt and Arwin wore cycling shorts, a lifeguarding shirt and a squash headband.

As expected, our pole dancing classmates were all female, with one of them a reporter from a local radio station. 

The reporter was able to keep her presence much more covert than we were. Not that we were really trying to be discreet in the first place — to be honest, a part of us loved the attention.

While we were there for The Journal, others in the class had different reasons. Whether it was to try something new or because a friend dragged them out, our classmates were clearly focused on one thing — becoming more fit. After the first few minutes of the class, it was clear this was a real possibility.

Thankfully, we’d enrolled in a beginner’s class, and our instructor took us through some elementary moves — mostly some spinning and swinging — that culminated into a brief routine.

While many consider this type of athletics a joke, it became all too clear that we were in for a long night. 

Throughout the class, we  challenged ourselves in ways our bodies didn’t expect. Even as everyone else in the class made mistakes, it was clear things were taking longer for the two of us — as we made the same mistakes over and over again.

But once we got through a few looks and laughs from the group and instructors, we were on our way to becoming novice pole dancers.

Terra Marie, the studio’s owner, said we were pretty much the only guys who’d taken a class — other than the occasional visit from Queen’s wrestling team. The general consensus: men only really take the class as a joke. 

Say what you will about how many activities have remained dichotomized by gender, but our take-home was that a lot of moves required more finesse and agility than we’d previously thought. 

The routines included some pretty sexual movements created with the intent that women — not men — perform them, which made it all the more difficult and embarrassing for us.  

Which transitions nicely into another observation: you can’t really discuss pole dancing without mentioning the sex industry. While a lot of the class was mostly a test of aerobic agility, much like yoga or pilates, there was a sexual element to it all. 

At the end of the class, we put everything  we learned into a final routine. 

From an outsider’s experience, it was oversexualized. We had to push our chest up while on the ground, positioning ourselves in acts commonly seen at strip clubs. Not to sexualize the activity, but it’s a connection that has been glued together. 

When seen in movies or other mediums, pole dancing is often degrading and portrayed as a last resort for people to make money. 

But we found that pole dancing is a legitimate display of athletic and acrobatic skill, and one that should be revered.

Even after just an introductory class, you get a real sense of how demanding and intricate pole dancing is.

Throughout the class, we were forced to put our bodies in positions we’ve never experienced — not even within our own athletics. All sports give you bumps and bruises, but our bodies went through something completely different in that studio. Never has a workout left us sore and bruised all over. As the class progressed, we realized that this was no longer a joke, but rather a test of our endurance. 

But it’s not just about strength and flexibility; performance is essential. You really need to execute moves in a way that looks effortless, and there’s no way we could have looked better than we did.

One of the craziest parts of the pole dancing class came after it was all said and done. Once we returned to our respective homes, our housemates had more than enough questions to ask about the whole thing. We could only explain it to them as a physically and mentally demanding hour. 

While it was fun, the whole thing took a strain on our bodies. Most of our friends commented on how great of an experience that would have been, and honestly it was. Respect was gained, bodies were sore, and most of all, our outlooks changed.

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