The class is small and intimate. Only women attend this class and they are moving around the room, stretching and gearing up for their daily dose of one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued dance forms around. For a mere P210, one can have the opportunity to learn disciplines such as Pole Fitness or what some people refer to as pole dancing, lap dance as well as strip tease.
Before you start to worry about the image that for decades has been attached to these dances, they are just harmless provided that one performs them in a safe and secure environment. And the best part about this less celebrated hobby locally is that it is the perfect form of exercise for fitness fanatics or those who prefer something different.
What makes this class even more special is that the door has been covered with papers in order to keep the prying eyes of the public away and make the dancers feel as comfortable as possible. Not that there is anything wrong with one being a part of this class.
The driving force behind covering the door is so that those who are learning their moves inside can express themselves freely without looking over their shoulders or worrying about what spectators would think about their many attempts.
For a first timer, like this reporter, the instructor and driving force behind this class has indicated that for one even for those who are there on official visit have to participate and be a part of the dance. By the end of the class, you start to realise that there is so much that one can do with their bodies. You even begin to appreciate that there is nothing such as something is difficult when it comes to your body and what it can do.
If you fail to catch with a move that is being done, she is there to assist and show you the tricks of mastering the moves. For the other students, it is obvious that they take these moments seriously. At her signal they follow her movements with ease, only stopping to take a break and catch up their breath.
As for the aches and pains of doing squats, trying your hand at some moves that can only be mastered by those who have flexible bodies, they all come back to haunt you when you get home. This, she says, is a sign that you were in the right track.
Elizabeth Sibiya is the face behind these classes that hopes to give a new face to a dance form that for years has been given a bad image. She started to run the classes three years ago and has so far seen close to 70 students passing through her doors.
The classes that take place every week on Tuesday and Thursday cover Lap dance, Strip tease as well as pole dancing. In her three years of running the classes she has received good feedback from those who have participated.
But one may wonder how Sibiya learnt about the art behind her passion. Well, in short she studied in South Africa and has qualifications in skin and health care and is also a qualified dance instructor. She explains during an interview after the Tuesday lessons that while in South Africa, she wanted a hobby that could challenge her hence she decided to pursue this special hobby. “I wanted something different.
And being an aerobics instructor I noticed that it gets a bit boring after a while. Although I started this as a hobby, this is now something that I happily do as I am assisting other women,” she explains. She says that while the market in South Africa is very good, it is a different story in our local shores, especially as Batswana tend to be a bit conservative.
And as for members of her class, the majority of the women are either married or in long-term relationship. Through such a platform, she aims to improve the confidence of women as well as get them to appreciate their bodies and feel sexy.
“My classes are only for women because I feel that they need this. My dancers come here and do what they want in a safe environment. They are comfortable to express their sensuality which explains why we do not take men because it would change everything,” she notes.
But how does she plan to get people to appreciate what others too have benefitted from locally? She is now hoping to gain more members with the hope of growing her class and changing the perceptions around this fun hobby.
“The more women come, I will be closer to changing the publics mindset,” says Sibiya. Sibiya says that what makes this class different is its environment. She says that she offers her students a chance to come for the first time and see if they can like it, if they do they can register for the classes.
“It’s up to you to feel comfortable and decide whether you want to show somebody else. If they also want to strengthen their relationships at home they can also do it,” she says.She says that pole fitness requires upper body strength, abs, buttocks as well as inner thighs for one to be able to do their magic on the pole.
Now is the right time for those who have been silently fantasising about doing it, she says since people are now lobbying for it to be part of the Olympics. “It is now being considered as a sport,” she says. This is an image far from the previous image where people generally thought that it was meant for the strip clubs. She also says that it varies from one individual to another.
Others might take a month or months to grasp the moves, while others get them on first try. “Some are terrified when they see the pole but eventually they get it,” she reveals. According to Wikipedia, pole dancing can be traced to more than two thousand years ago. Initially it was one of the sports that were only participated in by men. It was not until the 1920’s, when travelling circuses and sideshows would utilise pole dancing with a pole in the middle of a tent.
“Eventually the activity moved from tents to bars, and combined with burlesque dance aspects, but did not move into erotic or strip tease territory until the 1980’s, first in Canada, then the United States,” says Wikipedia.
It further says that in the 1990’s, Fawnia Mondey Dietrich began teaching pole dancing as an art and fitness. “In the last twenty years, pole dancing classes have emerged as a popular form of recreational and competitive sport. K.T. Coates, a famed competitive pole dancer, and the International Pole Dancing Federation, are currently behind a campaign to include competitive pole dance in the Olympics in 2016.
Numerous competitions exist, including the World Pole Sport Championship, U.S. Pole Federation Championship, and International Pole Masters Cup Championship,” it says.
It further says that pole dancing has gained popularity as a form of exercise, with increased awareness of the benefits to general strength and fitness. “This form of exercise increases core and general body strength by using the body itself as resistance, while toning the body as a whole.
A typical exercise regimen in class typically begins with strength training, dance-based moves, and squats, push-ups, and sit-ups, and gradually works its way up to the climbs and inversions which are the art of the exercise,” says Wikipedia. [http://en.wikipedia.org]