I’d inhaled an entire packet of Jaffa Cakes in a matter of minutes. Sprawled on the sofa in a fit of apathetic self-pity, I pondered on where it had all gone wrong. “What has become of me?” I muttered in disgust. It was time for revolutionary change.

What could I do to reform my reckless, slovenly, cake-eating ways? Pole dancing, of course.

Having persuaded a friend/victim to accompany me to Hockley’s Twisted Pole studio, we were raring for the challenge. Unfortunately the moment was somewhat tarnished as a result of misdirection. After a brief stop at the Old Angel Inn, where we were faced with a sea of dirty pint glasses and forlorn customers, we were successfully redirected by a bewildered skinhead.

Determined that this rocky start would not undermine a good evening of Fun and Learning, we burst into the studio on that fateful Friday evening, armed with nothing but bare enthusiasm and short shorts.

Greeted by the sight of a male, clad in baby blue boxers and little else, contorting around a pole in a display of muscly prowess, we were simultaneously horrified and fascinated. Later revealed to us as ‘Louis’ we gazed upon his rippling body, unable to tear our eyes away. All around the studio our senses were assaulted, retinas imprinted with the image of toned bodies twirling in all their healthy, chiselled glory.

Our eyes glowed with barely concealed panic. Nothing to do but let the show go on.

Having warmed up with an assortment of leg kicks, arm stretches and hip circulations, we were ushered over to a pole to try out The First Move.

We were taught the ‘Backwards Showgirl’ – also known as Small Beer, Crazy Diamond, Snake Charmer or my personal favourite, Demi Moore. This involved spinning around a pole, a deceptively simple move, never again to be underestimated. Who would have guessed that foot, hand and hip placement, alongside head spin, lift, and momentum were pivotal to cracking the ‘Backwards Showgirl’?

The second move we were taught was the ‘Fireman’ also known as ???????? or ????????. This also involved spinning around a pole. And bruises.

Our teacher, having developed a sixth sense for recognising when students are on the verge of physical collapse, called an end to both the class and our pain. We staggered into the chill Nottingham air, exhausted, bruised, and clutching ginger biscuits that Louis had home baked for the class. Yet despite the dull ache already spreading across my body, I knew I would be coming back for more.

Physically challenging certainly, but working with people who have been dancing for a year or more, I have seen what it is possible to achieve with a sprinkling of determination and a dash of perseverance. More importantly, I have discovered a hobby in the most unlikely of places and one that I thoroughly enjoy.

Helena Murphy

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