But I’d never met her before… would she be willing to talk to me? Would she she be unimpressed with my silly questions? After all, she’s one of the pioneers of the pole industry… just the thought of it made me so nervous that I kept putting off writing down my interview questions for the longest time.
But I discovered on the day that I met her during her pole grooves workshop, that she is genuine, down to earth, and very forthcoming. Phew! In fact, the raw interview transcript ended up 10 pages long so I thought it best to edit it into 2 parts. Here’s part 1 of The Bobbi Interview:
Are there any challenges to being the Fabulous Bobbi of Bobbi’s Pole Studio?
I think the only challenge is living up to people saying that! It’s such a funny thing to hear! It’s a big title that I’ve been given, when all I’ve done is just do my thing. And when people are like, ‘Oh, you’re Bobbi!” I’m like, ‘Yeah, but all I did was just open some schools…’
That’s so not all you did!
(Laughs) Yeah, but I managed to open schools whereas a lot of the other big names around haven’t got schools behind them, they got their name from performing and doing competitions.
But I don’t do those. I’m not in it for myself. I’m more into providing a bigger entity for teachers to come in and then grow my school and make it bigger. That’s more important to me. I like creating someone else’s stardom on stage. I love that process of training someone else, to help them.
So when people are like, ‘Do a show!” I’m like, ‘Alright well I’m not really what you think.. I can create the foundations and I can develop a showgirl, but I can’t necessarily do the most mind-blowing performance that you’ve ever seen.’ I don’t train enough to do that, cos that’s not what I want to do.
But I love the fact that I have BPS and that I’m the face behind that..
How many hours a week do you spend on the pole?
It changes from week to week. Sometimes I can do nothing for a whole week, and then sometimes I can do 10 – 15 hours. It depends on what is coming up, or what I’m training for or teaching. I don’t have a strict regimen that I follow, I just do what my body wants to do. And I think that it’s really important to not force yourself. But I’d say on average I can do probably 6 hours a week, sometimes more, sometimes nothing.
I haven’t taught regularly for 2 years, but I’m starting again next week, finally after 2 years! And I’ll be teaching 6 hours a week, which isn’t much compared to some of the teachers, but it’s enough for me!
How come you decided to start again?
I missed it! And I’ve opened a new studio, Bobbi’s Gold!
Do you prefer teaching or performing?
That’s a tricky question.. I used to prefer performing, but I’m now 43 so I think I prefer teaching now. I’ve done 20 years of performing! I’ve been there! I’ve had my time dancing on stage. That was awesome, I loved it, but I’m not longing for it anymore. But I love being onstage teaching a class. I still like performing but I get a bigger thrill from teaching and seeing results now.
Well, since we’re on the topic of teaching, what was it like teaching Felix when she was new? …Is it okay that I ask you that?
Oh, ask me anything! I’ve just told you my worst secret, my age.. so it doesn’t get worse than that!
Well with Felix, I never taught her! She came to the Perth studio and I only taught at the Sydney studio. So my sister Kim taught her from when she first started. And Kim pretty much recognized in the first session that there was something special about her. So Kim taught her for 8 months before Felix won the championship.
God, 8 months is incredible..
Yea, it’s crazy! It’s insane! But Kim knew straight away. And Felix had a very, very strong dance background. So she just applied it to pole very quickly. She’s very clever, and she’s also got a very good body awareness. And so when you’ve got that formula, you’ve got very good potential.
Is there any favourite thing you like to teach?
I love teaching Pole Grooves! Or any kind of routines, not just tricks. I’m not just a trickster. I like the flow, because I’ve got a dance background and I like changing music all the time cos I love music so much. I can’t just listen to the same song all the time. So I need a whole new song every time, with a whole different combination and it gives me total pleasure that I’ve completed something.
Have you ever sustained any injuries along the way?
No, to be honest, nothing serious. You know, I’ve had the odd ‘Can’t move my neck today, and my legs hurt’ but nothing that’s put me out. I think it’s because I’ve been doing it for so long and doing it gradually and at my own pace. I’m self-taught, so I never forced anything upon myself that I wasn’t ready for, so I’ve managed to avoid injury for anything serious.
I dunno, they just come! But with the right song. If someone gives me a particular piece of music they need and it’s not what I consider a pole dancing song, I find it very difficult to come up with a routine.
I’m like a songwriter, in the way that a songwriter needs the right melody to match the words. I need the right song to match the dance and especially pole dance because it’s so unique. I guess that’s my gift, that’s what I’m blessed with.
I can spend hours on the wrong song, and then go through my iPod, find the right song, go ‘Ah!’ and put something together in seven minutes. Like that routine I just taught, it came together in under ten minutes.
Yeah! Whereas another routine might take me 2 hours. That usually happens when I’m making up the routines for classes for all the different levels, cos I can’t necessarily pick songs I like. I have to pick a song for Singapore, Malaysia, Perth, Sydney, that’s gonna suit every student from every background, so I have to pick a well known song. Then I struggle a bit. But they work too, they come out in the end!
Rock. Soft rock. All the way! Stuff like Creed’s ballads, slow Metallica, or any of those bands that put out a ballad that’s a rock genre. I would do a School Of Rock!
Do you ever get stuck? Like, uninspired?
Really? I thought you’d shrug and go, ‘Nah, never!’
No! Often, I wake up and go all the way to work, and I find everything I can do to avoid going on the pole. And then I’ll come home and say to my husband, ‘Today was not a good day.’
But I can recognize those days now. It’s like how I said that I don’t force myself, so I don’t injure myself. So if I’m just not feeling it, I just don’t go there. And it took a long time to recognize that, but now I’m okay with it! I don’t come home and go, ‘Ugh, sh*t! I’ve lost it!” I just go, ‘It just wasn’t today.’ Cos next week it’ll come, maybe three days in a row! I’ll get inspired every day and work more and more. So yeah, I’m good at that now.
Not at all. I just wait and see how I feel when I wake up the next day. I don’t force it and don’t want to force it. Cos that’s when it becomes a ‘real job’ you know? And then you might start to not like it anymore. And I don’t want to not like my job. I love it so much!
What would you have done if you weren’t a pole instructor?
Good question! Hmm.. if I wasn’t a pole instructor.. I would have to be involved with music and dance somehow. Or entertainment. I couldn’t think of anything else! I love animals, and I’d like to say I’d be involved with them but I’m too emotional about it. I couldn’t have gone the route of vet or zoo keeper cos I’d get too sad! So it would have to be something that doesn’t upset me, haha!
But it couldn’t have been an office job, let’s put it that way. It could never have been a 9-5, I just can’t function that way!
Do you have any pets?
Oh God, yeah! 4 cats and a dog at the moment.
What do you think is the most important quality for pole dancers?
And some things you got to work at. You can build your upper body strength, that comes with training. Flexibility does come too, but not all the time.
The other things you’ve got is determination, and strength. If you’ve got those, I think they’re the qualities that make a really great pole dancer. Some girls just have strength, they have no flexibility at all. But if they’ve got determination, they can do a really impressive show without needing to do the splits.
But I think you do need both. That’s how I can spot a potential champion or a potential teacher: If they have those two ingredients.
What about important qualities to be a pole instructor?
Those things are fairly important, but most important is the ability to listen, and to teach. Not everyone can teach. Just because you can do it, as the old saying goes, you can’t necessarily teach it. So, I need to see girls who I know want to learn themselves, but who are also breaking it down enough to be able to share it with someone else. And I can see it when girls are just in it for themselves, or they’re in it for the long term of wanting to share their skills with others. Sometimes it’s easy to see, sometimes it comes up after a while.
What advice to you have for new pole beginners?
Don’t give up! It’s so easy to give up cos it hurts and cos it’s hard. So don’t give up but at the same time, don’t push yourself and don’t overdo it. Cos you can burn out by going too hard straight away, or injure yourself, or just not be having fun anymore.
And don’t compare yourself to others! Comparing yourself to other people in the class is the worst thing you can do… the worst thing! And that goes for everybody, not just beginners! Just look at yourself, and your own improvement. As a beginner, if you came in and you couldn’t even stand up in heels, and then you finish 8 weeks and you can walk in heels, you’ve already done something that so many other chicks can’t do!
Well I hope you enjoyed it so far! Stay tuned for part 2 of The Bobbi Interview, where she gets a lot more personal and talks about how she got started, her past struggles, and what made her the person she is today…