Friday, June 28, 2013

Judging a Pole Dance Competition

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be one of five judges at Scores' 2nd Annual Pole Dancing Competition. I was super excited and a little bit concerned. I'd attended the competition last year. If the field was anything like last year - judging was going to be tough. These women are amazing athletes and artists.

Full disclosure: I spent a year working as a House Mom at Scores. It was a great experience and I have a huge soft spot for everyone there from the owners to the bar backs, but especially the performers. A House Mom is a person (not always female) who hangs out in the dressing room, makes sure the dancers have what they need to perform, fixes costumes, listens when someone's
having a bad night, celebrates when the night is good, provides support through life transitions (moving, parenthood, new relationships, starting college, finishing a masters, and of course, break ups), badgers dancers when they're late, does everything possible to keep the peace in the dressing room including watching money and last but not least, narcs out someone who's too drunk to work/drive home or is using other substances. Many of the performers are young enough to be my daughter and they all call(ed) me Mom. And trust me. I'm a pretty protective mama. But I knew I could be impartial. I'm a pretty fair person.

So, after some going around and around about what to wear (see pic), I showed up at Scores. It was so fun to see everyone. I miss them a lot. And then, it was time for the competition to begin. Luckily for me, none of the women who had worked there when I was there were competing. In fact, most of the competitors were from the Pole Dancing world, not the stripping world. Stripping as a job is actually not very much about the individual's performance on the pole or stage. It's more a job that's focused on sales and building a relationship with the individual customer. Some dancers choose to really go for it on stage, and an amazing stage show can bring in some serious cash, but it's the regular customers and the champagne rooms that really pay the rent. While there certainly is overlap, competitive Pole Dancing is a whole other thing. There are rules - like no nudity. One of my fellow judges, LuLu  was on America's Got Talent! Pole Dancing is, to me, a hybrid of dance, gymnastics, flexibility and sheer strength. Some competitions include people of multiple genders:

but this one was just women (not this woman - but she's amazing).

And so were the competitors at Scores. They were all good. There were incredible athletic feats and moments of sheer beauty. As an athlete and a dancer, I appreciated both. Several women scaled the pole UPSIDE DOWN. One women performed in a blindfold. Which had me and my fellow judges ducking and grabbing for our drinks a little bit. But what really got me were the performers who created a dance with the pole, not just on it. It was a gift. The winner did Gloria Estefan proud with a routine to Conga.

All in all, it was a super fun night. I wish I could share pictures, but one of the rules of the strip club - no photos. Some customers and some performers don't want their images shared for lots of very legitimate reasons. Not least of which is the stigma associated with working as a stripper (that's another blog). But, if you have a chance to go next year - trust me. You want to go. In the meantime, if you're looking for a strip club in the Baltimore area, I highly recommend Scores. Just make sure you tip well and that you're nice. Cause otherwise, well, Mama might have something to say.

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