I did a very unscientific poll on Facebook and Twitter recently, asking what women thought of men coming to their pole dancing classes. The response was mixed -- and some were very passionate about it.
Some said they felt comfortable regardless of who was in class. Others felt like they didn't really care about men pole dancing as long as their class remained female-only. I even had a man say he liked going to pole class and was frustrated when he wasn't allowed to come into free dance classes because the women weren't comfortable. At the end of the day, one thing is clear: Men ARE joining the pole dance craze. So, how are studios dealing with this?
One poll-responder did have a good point. She mentioned that men and women are so different physically and that many men can pull off the athletic moves but that women can pull off those moves and make it look beautiful (although I've seen some men move beautifully as well). So, of course, in the competition world, men and women can be included and should compete separately. However, how do you feel about men coming into your safe environment at your pole dancing studio?
Men clearly are ready to enter the "mainstream" pole dance community. This year, the World Pole Dance championship, held earlier this month in Budapest, allowed men to compete. Even the Wall Street Journal is carrying stories about it:
For most of us, competing is far from our minds. We go to pole class to dance and get fit, to lose ourselves for a little bit of time, to feel sexy and re-connect with our own minds. We are comfortable being in the presence of our pole sisters. We can grind on the pole or writhe on the floor. Would you still be able to do the same if a man was in your class? Would it matter to you if he was gay or straight?
At Twirly Girls, we do have one straight man who comes regularly to a class. I have not taken class with him, so I would like to say that I would be perfectly fine dancing in the same class. However, I really don't know. I have certainly performed at class showcases in front of men and have survived. Performing in any capacity makes me nervous -- it doesn't matter if it's in front of men or women. So I imagine that I would be fine once I got over the initial worries that a man was in my class and watching (or, really, in my case, judging my fat thighs -- although, let's be honest, we ladies are often way more judgmental than our male counterparts). I have danced with my gay male friends on many occasions without an issue.
One question a man posed in response to my question is whether women who are uncomfortable with straight men in their class (but are not uncomfortable with gay men) would then be uncomfortable with lesbians being in their class. Certainly if your reason for not wanting a man in your class is that he might be staring at you, you would have to apply the same reasoning to not wanting a gay female in your class? Touché, Mr. Poll-Responder! I have many gay friends (male and female), so I personally would not have a problem with it.