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There's a very pleasurable sense of controlling discomfort while on the pole. Like a lot of sports, you have to learn how not to hurt yourself. (One reason I never really got into volleyball was I didn't feel it was worth the forearm bruising required by the learning curve. But there were so many OTHER reasons not to play volleyball too.)

For pole you usually have a lot of bare skin exposed, and the most beautifully smooth chrome pole still feels like duct tape when you're trying to slide gracefully and friction catches up with you. Then there's all the moves that involve flinging yourself into a spin. Until you find out exactly where everything goes, you tend to fling yourself into the pole, which is how I keep getting bruises on my shins, knees, upper arms...I'm also working on the art of holding oneself up not quite parallel to the pole (still head-side up, I'm still a beginner--none of those invert moves until I've had some more actual lessons). This also involves flinging oneself at the pole, usually at chest level. Which, seeing as most pole dancers are female, you can guess how comfortable that is. I think bellydance or yoga should maybe be prerequisites for pole dancing, though, because they are a rather gentler introduction to how-not-to-hurt-yourself dancing.

The other side of pole dancing is STRENGTH. It's wonderful. I mean, doing da-sexy-dance for a significant other is nice and affirming too, but it's really all about the chin lifts. The chin lifts that I will someday do! Ever since high school, my inability to pull myself up by sheer upper body strength has been quiet little disappointment. Not a big disappointment, like discovering that your intestines really DO have it in for you, but a demure, retiring disappointment, one that totally understands that you have other things on your mind and are a busy person. I discovered the assisted chin-up machine at the gym last year, and that was helpful, but there's nothing like repeated spins on a pole to make your arms pleasantly exhausted.

My therapist put it very nicely: dancing is a way to be in touch with your body in a GOOD way. Crohn's has this way of forcing you to be in touch with the most embarrassing and often painful aspects of your body. It's being in touch with a vengeance. Dancing is a counterbalance. It can be beautiful, it can be fierce, and it comes with so many opportunities to wear shiny things!

June 2014

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