I approached the building located at 3035 St-Antoine West, unsure of what I was getting myself into.Â A couple of residents were gathered outside, giving off a funky and carefree vibe that people who live in lofts have.
I opened the big industrial door to find that I was indeed in the right place, as the “DG Entertainment” signs at the entrance indicated. I followed them to find myself in the small but cozy room where the classes take place. From the low red lighting to the boas and outrageous heels decorating the space, the boudoir ambiance transported me to a luxurious scene from Moulin Rouge. Five poles were standing tall. Â
The instructor of the Pole 101 class, Myra Kennedy, greeted me. Her vibrant energy was contagious despite her being sick with a cold. Kennedy had been dancing on a competitive level for ten years before completing all six levels of pole dancing classes at DG Entertainment and becoming a teacher there.
The students all seemed very at ease with each other, having conversations and joking around. This made me comfortable; despite the fact I was about to let all inhibitions out the door in front of strangers.
We began by warming up to the sound of catchy Top 40 songs. The emphasis was put on flexibility and we began stretching and practicing doing the splits, which very advanced dancers must master. Kennedy encouraged the students to go at their own level and pace. Then came the dreaded abdominal and push-up section. It is grueling but necessary, as pole dancing requires good upper-body and core strength. As a fitness enthusiast who is no stranger to lifting heavy dumbbells, I can attest to this.
“Pole dancing helps with toning up and weight loss. You work your cardio without even noticing it and you discover muscles you didn’t even know existed,” said Kennedy. Â
We continued by reviewing the choreography. “The choreography allows the students to feel accomplished and have fun even if they are not able to master the harder movements on the pole right away. The psychological benefits are great and encourage personal development. It’s difficult to feel secure in our bodies with what we see in the media, and this part of the class makes women let go and feel more comfortable in their own skin,” said Kennedy.
I tried to take myself seriously as I walked in in a seductive manner, letting my hands run on my body suggestively. Before I knew it I was on the floor on all fours, back arched, hair flipping around. I glanced around me as I jiggled my behind as fast as it has ever jiggled before. Everyone looked happy and smiling. This was actually fun. I began to feel sexy rather than awkward.
Next was the part that everyone looked forward to: learning and practicing spins around the pole. But safety always comes first, and the teacher did a great job at explaining all the technicalities involved in the movements before allowing us to try them for ourselves, under her supervision. The moves have names like “The Carousel”, or “The Chair”. The first one consisted of spinning while facing the pole, knees bent and toes meeting to form a triangle. It engaged all my back muscles and had my bum working as it had to remain contracted to hold the proper form. For the second one, “The Chair,” Â I spun around the pole sideways with my knees bent in front of me in a 90 degree angle, as if I was sitting. Â This required me to use my abdominal muscles as well as my thighs.
“The hardest thing is getting the hang of the moves that you do. When you try it again a week later and you get the hang of it it’s a good feeling, it gives you confidence. It’s empowering,” said Eszter Paldy, 28. Â
The good thing about being in a small group is that we got a lot of one-on-one time with the poles. My arms rapidly started to feel the burn and I developed a respect for exotic dancers as I endured a couple of chafing incidents while trying to look graceful. When Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” song started to play, my inner stripper was officially unleashed. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror that took up the whole wall and had a hard time believing it was me that I was seeing rotating like a pro.
We finished by splitting the group in two and performing the routine we did at the beginning, adding the newly-learned spins and some feather boas as props. Each group loudly cheered on the other and any trace of shyness had long disappeared.
Marie-Eve Bienvenue, 32, came here upon the recommendation of a friend. “It’s fun to try new activities. You’re working out but it’s a different dynamic than in the gym,” she said.
At the end of the hour-and-a-half class, I felt like the time flew by and I got a good workout too.
Sessions last six weeks and include one class a week. Prices are $150 per session or $288 for two sessions or an additional class. DG entertainment Montreal pole dancing is located at 3035 St-Antoine W., studio 77.