Break Dance

March 2012

Pole dancing is hard. Really hard. It’s another reason I get annoyed when it isn’t taken seriously as a sport, because it isn’t about tarting around in hotpants. It requires strength and cardio fitness, and it hurts. And concentration, as it turns out. This is particularly at the forefront of my mind today as I spent most of yesterday in A&E.

In comedy films, A&E departments are full of children with saucepans stuck on their heads, or men who “fell over” whilst vacuuming naked, but I had no such entertainment. Instead, I had a child vomiting onto Chelsea FC blanket, a poor woman sobbing in a dressing gown and most of the cast of Jeremy Kyle. On the other hand, those people are probably writing blogs today about their trips to A&E, where four girls in matching shorts and vest tops burst in, giggling loudly as one of them hopped to reception and was forced to shout through the reinforced glass “I think I’ve broken my foot. How? Pole dancing”.

When executing advanced moves on the pole, there is always a degree of danger; you could be hanging upside down by one leg, or holding on with the crook of your elbow with your legs nowhere near the pole. Obviously, you are extremely careful – and when I’m teaching, I always, always say: you know if you are ready to do this, you know if it feels safe. If you don’t feel ready or safe, then don’t do it. But then there are simple moves, things you have done a thousand times over, without even thinking, in the same way you are careful climbing on a table to change a light bulb, but don’t think twice about walking to the bin to throw the old one away. This, I have discovered, is how accidents happen – a slightly awkward angle as I landed a cartwheel dismount, and my 5th metatarsal (made famous by David Beckham in the 2002 World Cup) snapped like a twig. It sounded like a twig snapping anyway. Two of the girls in my class nearly threw up on the spot.

After reporting to A&E, I was put in a wheelchair like the one the killer glues the journalist to in Red Dragon. It was huge and heavy and old fashioned and of course my friends wheeled me about saying things like “come on dearie, let’s get you a nice cup of tea.” The rest of the waiting room did not look amused.

When explaining to the nurse that I had injured myself on the pole, she gave me a long, hard stare that was heavy with disapproval and disgust. Surely she deals with worse than that on a Friday night? A man on the other side of  the curtain sniggered. Then she cast her eyes over the clothing the four of us were wearing, bearing the pole school logo, and said “ah, I get it, a fitness class, right? Oh well that’s OK then”.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Obviously your approval was the first thing on my mind, after extreme pain, loss of earnings and my potentially thwarted career. I didn’t say anything though, in case she didn’t give me the really good heavy duty pain killers.

My friends wheeled me to the X ray suite (not as grand as it sounds, there was no mini bar for starters. Apparently there are suites in Las Vegas hotels that have poles in the showers. How stupid is that? You’d just slip straight off. You’d break more than a metatarsal) and waited outside (“we’ll be right here” they said helpfully, “right by these chairs”).

I was distracted in the X ray suite by strange black devices on the wall. Alongside them was a poster which informed me they were “gonad protectors” and came complete with instructional diagrams. I wanted to take a photo on my phone but thought it might be pushing things and I’d already had plenty of dirty looks. When I told my friends (who had, indeed, waited right by those chairs) they didn’t believe me, they said they thought “gonads” was a slang word made up by Viz magazine. I will definitely try to get a picture next time.

When I was called back in for the X ray results, the nurse told me my lapse of concentration, my quirk of fate, a slight twist of the foot, is the reason I am now out of pole action for 8-12 weeks. I cried – and I never cry. That news hurt more than when the bone snapped. Not only that, but I have a pole photo shoot coming up, at which I shall be able to strike poses on the floor but not much else. Not only will I look like a crap pole dance instructor, but all the abstaining from alcohol and McDonalds in preparation was a waste of time.

So – here I am. I can’t walk, I can’t drive, I certainly can’t train and I can’t teach. I can, however, watch YouTube and do research, and I can do flexibility exercises and stretches. So I will be back, better and stronger than ever. Every cloud. At least it wasn’t my ankle. Or leg. Or arm. Or anything else really. And at least it was me and not one of my students. Though I don’t think any of us will be doing cartwheels any time soon.




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