Ah, the pole inversion.
It’s the definitive move that says you’re serious about learning some skills and not just shimmying round the pole like a bored Bangkok go-go dancer. It’s the move every novice pole dancer wants to nail so she can move up the ranks from pure newbie-dom.
Oh wait, no they don’t? That’s just me? Ah. Right!
I always envy girls who take to new moves like ducklings to water. For them, learning to invert is just a matter of 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Place both hands on pole beside head and step in front of pole
Step 2: Swing left leg up above head and hook ankle onto pole
Step 3: Bring right leg up to meet left leg and squeeze together
Voila! You are now upside down on your pole.
…Unless you’re like me and have trust issues with gravity, plus a general fear of throwing your body backwards in the air head-first. In which case, it goes more like this:
Step 1: Place both hands on pole at head level and step in front of pole.
Step 2: “WTF do you mean hook ankle on pole above head?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?”
Step 3: “I’m swinging my leg as much as I bloody can!!!!!”
Step 4: Once toe touches the pole above head, feel vertigo closing in, panic, and flop back to the ground.
Step 5: Clutch pole with both hands, gasp for breath
Step 6: (Optional) Observe classmates who are all currently hanging upside down from their poles
Step 7: (Not recommended) Feel like loser cos inverting on a pole feels freaking anatomically impossible
Step 8: Repeat process for 2 weeks until finally able to invert
The disclaimer is that you do of course need enough strength and control to do this without injuring yourself. I’ve heard of everything from fractured toes to cracked ribs on girls who tried to force their way up with brute force when they weren’t ready yet.
But what nobody mentioned is that you might also need a little courage and faith, which I was severely lacking at the time when I first learned.
What I did have an abundance of was fear! Fear of flipping over backwards and cracking my skull open, fear of slipping out of place and snapping my spine in half, and just fear of being upside down in the first place.
In reality, the likelihood of those mishaps occurring is pretty low because both hands need to hold the pole firmly at all times. But fear is never rational, which is why my fear of the giant monster squid who lives at the bottom of the ocean next to Sponge Bob makes it hard for me to swim far out at sea without anxiety, but that’s another story.
Anyway like they say, “What goes down, must eventually come up”: After 2 long weeks of swinging, sweating, dropping, flopping, flailing, cursing and swearing, I finally managed to hook that damned left ankle onto the pole above my head and made it through my first term of intermediate 1 in bare feet.
Then I had to learn how to do it with my heels on, which shifts your centre of gravity, and it felt like starting all over again right from scratch. Aaargh!
So now, three whole months after my first lesson in the upside-down, my basic ankle-grab invert with heels on is still a work-in-progress: Though I can rather un-gracefully hoist my legs up and haul my ass onto the pole, it’s not exactly pretty yet.
But upside down is upside down! And at least I haven’t fractured any toes or cracked any ribs, and last I checked, my skull is still in one piece. I do still feel a twinge of fear before every invert, but with each successful one I also feel a tiny bit more empowered. Performance week is 2 weeks away, so hopefully it looks better by then.
No pressure, right?