Here is something I don’t understand: When I go to Yoga class, I do not show up late and I do not leave early. Neither do any of the other students. The same is true for any Dance class, Pilates class, Barre class and Muay Thai kickboxing class I have taken. In fact, in my Muay Thai classes, new students are not only expected to show up early, they are encouraged to get involved at the gym and be of service. I did not know this, of course, until I started reading the gym owner’s blog. But it makes sense. My brother has been studying and teaching Aikido for nearly 15 years, and as his sister I have not only been obliged to take Aikido, but indirectly been exposed to the culture of martial arts. While traditions vary among different dojos, the approach to martial arts training is generally one of respect for the space, the teacher and the practice. This is also true of yoga studios, which frequently offer classes in exchange for seva (or service).
But, in my experience, this is not as true of pole dance studios. And personally, I think that is a shame. Not only do I think it is a shame, I think it does a disservice to students, the teachers and to the pole industry. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. Maybe I take my pole dancing a little too seriously. But I think pole dancing is not just about you – it’s about the community a studio creates. The classroom is a microcosm of this community. If you consistently show up late to class you are effectively saying to your classmates and your teacher “I do not respect the rules you have set forth and I am continuously willing to disrupt your class time.” That’s hardly an attitude that would be tolerated in a yoga studio or a dojo. In fact, most studios (dance included) lock their doors once class starts, and the students know not to try to enter if they are late. Even worse than the student who consistently shows up late is the one who complains when he or she is not admitted. If we want to continue to move pole forward as a legitimate form of dance and artistic expression, then we need to begin to respect our classes in the same way we would respect any other class we take.
But truthfully, being late to class is not one of my biggest pet peeves. Leaving class early, on the other hand, is. Especially if it is a class where students take turns dancing at the end. And that goes double if you are dropping in on a class that is not your home class (if that applies to your studio). If everyone in the class supports you and stays through your dance, then you need to support them and stay through their dance. It’s just polite. Plan on being there for the full duration of your class. If you can’t stay, then don’t come.
I’m going to say something that is probably controversial (surprise) but that I think it needs to be said: There is an overdeveloped sense of entitlement in parts of the pole world – a kind of low-level narcissism in which things like respect for your teacher, your fellow dancers and a sense of service to the studio is missing. Now, I realize that certain studios may contribute to this attitude by proclaiming that “It’s all about YOU YOU YOU!” and/or by charging exorbitant amounts of money for classes. And I firmly believe that if you pay for a service, you are entitled to a positive experience. But at the end of the day, you are a student. You are there to learn, as is everyone else in the classroom. So show respect for the rules of the studio and for your classmates and teachers. Arrive on time. Train hard. Leave when class is over. You will get more out of your classes this way, and you will make the classroom a more empowering and positive place for everyone – including yourself.
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