Pole Dancing is a bit of a sub-category of the spiritual dancing I wrote about in my first Devotions to Aphrodite post: Ecstatic Dance, but it is different enough that I felt it deserved its own post.
My first introduction to pole dancing was at the bachelorette party of one of my college friends. We had actually become friends through our dance group at university, and we worked closely together for dances that we each choreographed. We had literally put blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention some bruised knees and pulled muscles) into our friendship.
The pole dancing excursion was a surprise for her, though the rest of the bachelorette party knew about it ahead of time. I was excited. I love to dance and this was a new expression of dance that I hadn’t tried yet!
I was also looking forward to it as a spiritual activity. I had been working with Aphrodite for a while at this point, and I knew that She delights in expressions of sensuality and sexuality. Pole dance was a beautiful amalgam of dance technique and raw sexual energy. For me, just the phrase “pole dance” is sexual in nature, harkening back to its modern day roots in sex work, striptease, and burlesque (though different forms of pole dancing have been practiced for centuries for a variety of reasons.)
The present day trend of pole dance as a fitness activity has sparked some tension in the pole community between those who do pole dance as a hobby and those who do it for a livelihood. That debate is way beyond the scope of this post, though I will say that I don’t believe anyone should be stigmatized for pole dancing, regardless of their motivations for doing so. The roots of pole dance in sexuality is the main spiritual draw for me, and what motivated me to seek it out as a way to connect with Aphrodite.
In the past, I have struggled with sexuality in dance. In fact, I struggled with sexuality in general until I started working with Aphrodite. My dance teacher in high school purposefully assigned me a project to choreograph a dance in the style of Bob Fosse to push my boundaries (think Chicago and Cabaret). At that time, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of myself as a sexual being, even though puberty was well underway.
These days, I am much more comfortable moving my body in a sexy way. I’ve learned to tango, salsa, and samba. I’ve done so many body rolls, hip isolations, splits, and hair whips. I was in a dance in college where part of our first practice was to close our eyes and make our “O” face as a group (nevermind the fact that freshman-year me didn’t know what her “O” face looked like yet…) I’ve come a long way from my awkward 16-year-old Bob Fosse dance.
Pole dancing gave me permission to be sexy. No one needs permission from others to express their sexuality, but there was still something reassuring about an environment that inherently celebrated movement and eroticism. I could dance however I wanted, be as scandalous or as sensuous as I saw fit, and be cheered for it! A lot of dance classes are very technique-heavy, and don’t leave a lot of room for emotion or creativity. There is certainly very challenging technique in pole dance, but the main goal wasn’t to land a perfect split – it was to have fun!
Spinning around the pole, moving my hips, and landing a trick all felt like a corporeal prayer, a body-song of worship. There was energy raised and lowered on the pole. I learned new things about my body and my being. I knew the closer I was to being the full expression of myself, the closer I would be to Aphrodite.
Subsequent pole dance classes were challenging and pushed my limits. I had bruises everywhere (turns out landing tricks on a pole is really hard!), but I was exhilarated. I felt strong. I felt sexy. I felt close to my Goddess.
One of my favorite things is the atmosphere in class. Everyone is so supportive – Classmates cheer when you land a trick, and instructors compliment the way you shake your ass! Body positivity is huge, too. Everyone is treated like the beautiful, sexy beings they are. Touching your body is usually incorporated somehow into the choreography: sliding your hands down your hips or around the curve of your ass, or running your hands up your torso, fingers skimming your breasts. It normalizes that we all have bodies and that those bodies are meant to be enjoyed and celebrated.
Sensual movement, be it in your living room, around a pole, or on your partner’s lap, is a beautiful way to honor Aphrodite. The delightful dance of playfulness and eroticism is essential to how I relate to the Goddess of Love. I sing to Her through my body. I feel Her inspiration in my muscles. In becoming more of myself, I become closer to Her.