What to expect when entering a Pole Competition.

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I think we all get to a point with our pole or aerial passion when the thought of entering a pole competition crosses our minds. Should we, or shouldn’t we? Well I decided to go for it and see what competing is all about. I took the plunge after watching a friend compete on the live finals stage for Heir to the Chrome. I was completely inspired that day and sent in my application pack to a competition I’d been thinking about entering.

The best thing to do is research; apply for application packs from various competitions as they can be set up differently. Some may have compulsory moves that you must include, time limits or have distinct set categories etc. Check the rules and regulations to find the best one that suits you and your abilities. After sending in your application form you need a routine to perform as part of the video heats. More and more competitions are introducing this heat to give a fairer chance when coming to the live finals to ensure the talent is of an equal level and isn’t just first come first serve.

Making a routine was the hardest thing for me, certainly not my strong point. Although I did have a song in the back of my mind, I played with many song styles – Slow; too gentle and struggled to flow and up-beat; too fast and couldn’t keep up the stamina. Due to struggling so much, I decided to open-up to my emotional side and base my routine on something close to me which worked wonders and I found piecing together my routine much easier.

When it came to make the routine, I picked my strong points to begin with, I started with tricks and combos assigned to parts of the song. I then built up the flowing parts for in between these moves which created the full routine, changing and improving certain sections along the way.

On the day of videoing the routine I borrowed a costume off a friend to gain a few marks on presentation, we set up the scene for my story and I performed my routine to a camera. It took me three attempts to get the routine completed and ensure I was happy with the video. I couldn’t believe how nervous I was filming it and dreaded if I got to final how nervous I would be then too. Putting the nerves to one side, the video was submitted and then came the waiting for finalists to be announced.

Due to me having my routine already video, my instructor suggested entering another competition. I wasn’t too sure but she was so proud of what I had achieved and believed it was be good enough for British Pole Superstar Championships (BPSC). This was a massive step up in the type of competition to enter, bearing in mind I had only entered one competition, this being a regional one ( Lincolnshire’s Pole Championships). I plucked up the courage and did it, not believing for a second to get to finals. What did I have to lose?

The time finally came – the day of announcement. I checked my phone constantly, even whilst at work. When the finalists were finally announced and I couldn’t believe it, I was through to the Lincolnshire Pole Championships live final in Skegness! Not long after, the BPSC results were also announced, I’ll be honest I did forget I entered this due to not feeling good enough to compete, but I got through to the finals for this competition too! Wow, two competitions entered, two live finals.
Now this is where the challenging work of training the routine starts. I keep the original routine I made for the video heats as wanted to take my story to the stage, making a few slight changes, things added, others taken away.

Things to think about when competing in live finals:

  • Check the judges marking criteria
  • Rules, regulations and restrictions to ensure not to pick up penalties or disqualifications
  • Mark out stage plan in the studio to make sure routine and floor work fits (I had to improvise on the day for both competitions). Also check which pole (static/spin) is located where, props etc.
  • Think about costume for stage. SPARKLES!!!!!! (think Candyass lol)
  • Hair and makeup for stage. MORE SPARKLES!!!!!!

When the day finally came, the travel down was nerve wrecking. I couldn’t eat, opting for light snacks like bananas and dry cereals etc. and plenty of water. Both competitions were of a similar set up. They had a dressing room to get ready in and a room to warm up and stretch in, however BPSC had a back stage which I think caused my nerves to get the better of me. Linc’s didn’t have a back stage, you walk through the audience to arrive on the main stage, so I was focused and didn’t have others to distract me from my running through the routine in head.

When in a live final, keep engaged. Find your own way to stay calm and focused through nerves and pressure. Some competitors use music and run through their routine, others meditated during stretching, I just remembered what my routine was about. When on stage before the music starts take a deep breath and focus on your routine. Remember to make eye contact and interact with the audience to gain marks. Perform all moves, extend lines, hold moves for 2-3 seconds to gain points and to give the photographer time to capture you. Breathe throughout routine to keep stamina and bow at end. But mainly ENJOY IT!!!!!

With Linc’s being my first ever competition I was extremely shocked to achieve 2nd place in my category, yet gutted to know I missed out on 1st place by just half a mark. I wasn’t successful at achieving a place at BPSC but I didn’t mind as I went out, performed my routine and was happy with what I had accomplished and sharing the stage with so many other amazing talents.

KerrySig

Pole Cleaning

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If you’ve ever been to a pole showcase or competition, it’s likely you will have seen a pole scrubber or pole cleaner in action.  They are the hard-working girls, (and boys!), who take the stage between each act to make sure that the pole is grease and sweat (and sometimes glitter and body paint) free from the previous performer and will also apply grip, if required, for the next performer. Having recently volunteered my services as a pole cleaner for the recent Miss and Mister Pole Scotland I can tell you first-hand how much hard work this seemingly simple job is!

Firstly, I would like to mention that MMPS (Miss and Mister Pole Dance Scotland) is one of the most prestigious competitions in Scotland, as the name suggests.  Many competitors, especially winners, go on to compete and win or place in UK-wide competitions.  It is organised by Pammie Cameron of Up Yer Pole, which host classes in both Bellshill in Scotland and Essex in England.  Pammie not only runs the competition but is also it’s professional photographer!  It is an extremely well-run competition and one of the most well-known in Scotland, if not the UK due to its cross-border host and it’s sought after titles of Miss or Mister Pole Dance Scotland.  It features some of the biggest names in Scottish pole dance as well as the up and coming performers of the future.

Pole Cleaner - Miss & Mister Pole Scotland
Image courtesy of Pammie Cameron Photography

Being that a few of the girls from my local studio were performing, and having attended the event regularly in previous years, I decided to lend a hand as a pole cleaner at this year’s event held in Glasgow at the Classic Grand on Sunday 21st August 2016.  Having done a little bit of pole cleaning for our local show and having had taken part in a charity pole climb I thought I knew what to expect so was prepared with trainers to wear (bare feet may look prettier but OUCH by the end of the night!).  I was part of a team of four making sure that the duties were spread evenly so none of us would get overly tired or fatigued.  We decided to do 10 acts each in pairs and then split the last group so no-one was overworked and everything was going to plan until an unforeseen injury forced us to split the last few performances between three of us.

Pole Cleaner - Miss & Mister Pole Scotland
Image courtesy of Pammie Cameron Photography

Now to anyone not associated with pole, pole cleaning might seem like an easy job.  In between each act you climb the pole, cloth in hand (or tucked in bra or shorts as I found to be easier), wipe it down, paying special attention to any grip aid, body paint or glitter that may have been left behind by the previous performer.  Then climb back up and apply the grip aid of the competitor’s choice if necessary, which it usually with all the heat of the lighting and the condensation off the smoke machine.  However, after an hour or so of this every 3-5 minutes your muscles and skin start to get sore and tired.  We had the benefit of using X-Clean by X-Pole, which not only cleans grip aid off the pole easily but also smells amazing and leaves the pole super grippy by itself!  I would definitely recommend it as a pole cleaner, I personally feel that for home use, there would be no need for extra grip after cleaning with that, it’s that good!  By the end of the evening I found that it wasn’t the actual climbing that I was finding difficult, but the holding on in a pole sit for thigh grip to give the pole a proper wipe and apply the grip thoroughly.  Despite my preparation by wearing trainers my inner thighs were screaming by the last competitor and let slip a little sigh of relief to when they descended the pole.

Pole Cleaner - Miss & Mister Pole Scotland
Image courtesy of Pammie Cameron Photography

In saying that, the benefits well outweighed the downsides as we were seated at the front of the stage with an unobstructed view of each performance and a snazzy ‘Miss Pole Scotland’ strappy top to boot!  We had the lovely Tiff Finney introduce us and got to wish each performer luck on their way up and praise on their way back off stage.  I also met new pole friends in my fellow scrubbers and we had a great night watching all the acts up close from the front and the side of the stage.  I got to cheer on my pole girls close enough for them to hear (although, to be fair, EVERYONE hears me!) and I was proud to be involved in such a professional and well run competition.  The icing on the cake was seeing the studio I train at clear up the doubles category in all places and perform their hearts out in some of the others.

KelleSig