Was that really me?

September 2nd, 2010

This photo was taken more than a year ago, at my pole dancing class recital at the Rockwell Tent. It was the only time I did pole dancing in public; had you told me two years ago that I was going to slip into gold hot pants and strap a toy gun to my thigh and act like a Bond Girl, I would’ve laughed you out of the room. My friends once called me Prudence McPrude, but I’ve outgrown that girl.

At the same time, I don’t know exactly how different I am now from that gold-clad girl with big, wavy hair and an air of mystery around her. As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk, a tumbler of tea beside me. I’m waiting for the clock to hit five so I can go to the gym, sneak in a quick workout and head back to work again. It’s going to be another long night of copyediting and checking pages in a cold office, so I decided to be practical and wear jeans, a white shirt, and a gray cardigan. I used to never wear jeans, but I wear them *gasp* once a week now. (But that’s all I’ll allow myself).

I’m a lot more practical than I was say, three years ago. Most of my clothes are stylishly neutral (or so the fashion pages say), although I still wear a lot of cotton candy pink. Yesterday, my pole dancing instructor called me up to demand to know the reason why I hadn’t been showing up for months. I tell people who want to know why I stopped that the studio is far, that the classes end too late, and that I’ve been putting in a lot of late hours at work, but aside from that, it’s because I don’t know if being associated with pole dancing is a good thing for me.

Of course it isn’t a problem now, but how about when I go to graduate school? How do I explain that pole dancing is just a form of exercise to people who don’t know me at all, and just see me as a girl from an Asian country? Will the people at Columbia still take me seriously? What if it counts against me in a future job, in a city that’s not as small and familiar as Manila? In a world that sees Filipinos as domestic helpers, exotic dancers and contract workers, it’s hard to be yourself sometimes.

All these practical thoughts suddenly evaporate when I wistfully listen to my friends talk about the new tricks they learned in dance class. Then I think back to that time when I gleefully swung around a pole, applauded by friends and strangers, confident about myself and the world.



Body and Pole

February 15th, 2010

As a lifestyle journalist, I’ve written all sorts of articles on a rather wide range of topics: food, technology, youth issues, fashion, beauty, etc. There were instances when I knew absolutely nothing about the topic I had to write about; one time, I hied off to Singapore to cover the first F1 night race, something that I had zero knowledge of or interest in. Of course, it didn’t sit well with my Alpha male friends, who would’ve gladly donned a wig, floaty pink dress and heels to be in my place (“You, covering the F1 race?” a friend moaned and buried his head in his hands. “There is no justice in this world.”)

Occasionally, I do get to write about stuff that I really am interested in (food, in particular) and the articles seem effortless because they were more fun to do. Today’s article on pole dancing was one of those; I interviewed CD and Mirell of GirlVSGirl, one of Manila’s pole dancing acts.

I started pole dancing back in 2008, for–surprise, surprise–an article I was working on for Metro (I’ve had to do many dubious things for the sake of an article). After one session, I knew I was hooked. It was a year and a half later than I found myself in a gold Bond girl costume, performing all sorts of tricks that I didn’t know I was capable of on a pole for a recital. I also didn’t know I had the confidence to show my bare midriff to the world (it took a few days without rice to muster up the courage to do it). I wrote another article about it last December for Metro’s body issue as a full-circle kind of thing. Here ya go!

* * * * *

“You—do—what?”

“Pole dancing,” I repeated to a friend, whose jaw had dropped to the floor. “I go pole dancing every week.”

“So I guess the journalism thing didn’t work out, eh?” he said, smirking.

“I do it for exercise, knucklehead. Apparently, it burns up to 400 calories a class, and you don’t look sweaty and gross while doing it—which is more than I can say for your regular basketball sessions.”

“What do you guys wear to your classes?” he asked, eyes widening.

“Hot pants, tank tops. High heels, if we want to,” I replied. “One time, we had a burlesque dancing workshop and people came in with feather boas and vintage hats. We actually have a mirror ball in the studio.”

“Um, d’you think I could sit in for the next class?”

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