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And so, as I cycle to pole class in a skirt I made and my Creatures Tee - I wondered, had my Queer fantasy become a reality?

And so, as I cycle to pole class in a skirt I made and my Creatures Tee - I wondered, had my Queer fantasy become a reality?

Without sounding too much like an Instagram infographic, exercise really is a way to feel mentally and physically empowered!

 

The spaces dedicated to sports and exercise are rarely spaces that we as Queer people feel welcome, safe or comfortable in. Spaces for fitness tend to be dominated by the gender binary: male and female changing rooms; male and female classes; separate sports; idealised body types, the list goes on. It’s obvious that the pressures of gender are not exclusively felt by the Queer community, but there is no denying that we have a very exclusive relationship with these spaces. The locker rooms of our adult lives transport us right back to the locker rooms of our teenage self’s worst nightmare. Many people will never feel as uncomfortable as a Queer teen in a high school gym class! 

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I had a gym membership for about a year between 2019 and 2020. I know…I overcame the gym fear, but like the rest of us in the world I soon had to find new ways of staying active when lockdown hit in 2020. As someone who loves my own company, I found that I was having a much better time and seeing better results by exercising at home. Simultaneously, the isolation gave me, and I know a lot of other Queer folk too, time for self-discovery and reflection. Being alone for long periods of time, in the same place, and only interacting with the internet manifested in a very Queer reality. I was engrossed in books, films, Instagram profiles, YouTubers etc. all of whom/which were Queer. I found myself exploring my Queerness through art practice and exercise, two things I would never have put together. From that I understood my body and mind to be the non-binary entity I had always known it as but never fully embraced. I managed to put on some muscle, improve my running times and flexibility whilst also identifying my true gender expression - can I class this as a PB? However, after many months of isolation the routine became so boring that I was craving something new.

**cue my introduction to pole class**

Having worked at Pole Junkie for about 4 months at this point, pole was still a very new sport for me and I had never been to a class before. Part of me worried about going along and all of those teenage anxieties started to bubble to the surface of my mid twenties mind - will it ever end? Anyway, after a couple of weeks of hyping myself up I finally went along to Kheanna’s static pole class for beginner’s and it’s safe to say that I was instantly obsessed!

 

I don’t think I have the word count to explain the science and ontology behind the impact that pole dancing can have on your mindset. But, it feels something like when you perform to your millions of fans who join you in the shower every day to see you lip sync your face off to all of your favourite songs. Except - there are real people around and everyone is cheering each other on! Never before had I been in an environment that seemed to blend physicality with self expression in such a beautiful and fun way. I was able to relax here and have a good time. There was no pressure to perform in a certain way. I could enjoy the way my body moved around the pole without thinking twice about expressing femininity. It gave me a new space to physically embody the powerful multiplicity that exists as my Queerness. The pole community, like all communities, has its own challenges surrounding inclusivity and representation. However, within the Glasgow’s pole community and other poler’s/collectives which I had begun to follow, it is so clear to see the celebration and amplification of different identities. Everyone is welcome and encouraged. Pole is reclaiming physicality, reclaiming space for exercise whilst creating a new one for the two to live together with self expression.  

 

As a celebration of the intersection between the pole and Queer community, I decided to put together some fun looks influenced by some of my personal Queer faves!

 

Madam Satã (aka João Francisco de Santos)

www.makingqueerhistory.com

 

Orville Peck

 

www.orvillepeck.com

 

Gianni Versace

www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-1997-couture/atelier-versace

 

To see my work you can visit my website or Instagram which are linked below. I also release a monthly newsletter called the Queer Stories Newsletter which looks into Queer dress history and you can subscribe to this via my website!

Sam Wood
He/They

e-Commerce at Pole Junkie
Designer and Researcher, Sam Wood Studio

Instagram: @samwoodstudio
Website: samwood.studio

 

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