This is a story I haven’t told many people, which is a rarity for me, as I have no filter. I think I haven’t told many people because I don’t quite know how to preface the story. I could tell you any variety of reason for how I wound up pole dancing in front of a room full of people, but all you’ll hear is: “Eric wishes he was a woman,” or “Eric is a show-off.” One of those is true, but neither was the case.
(Scroll to the bottom to see my brother’s pole dancing video, which is a comedy, and also what helped him land an agent. My mother watched that video. It was awkward for all parties.)
Here’s the thing about this story: It manages to fit into my desire to not get fat. Here’s what happened…
I’m in my second home, Los Angeles. My brother Ryan, Tyler, Ashley and I are hanging out. It’s my last night in town, and my brother wants to make sure we do something fun. Ryan, Tyler and Ashley get texts from Ashley’s sister Haylie inviting us over that night, and Ryan thinks it’s a great idea. He looks pretty enthusiastic, so I’m interested.
He says something to Tyler that I can’t quite hear, but I do pick up two words from the conversation: “pole dancing.”
Today, Ryan claims his next comment was perfectly clear, but I can tell you for a fact I had no idea what I was getting into. He says, “We’re going to Haylie’s. There will probably be some pole dancing.”
“There will probably be some pole dancing,” could mean a lot of things. I’m intrigued. “Go on…”
“There might be some girls there, too.”
Now I get it. We’re going to a party with girls who pole dance. This is super. Before we leave, Ryan tells me I should wear some gym shorts, “Just in case.” I don’t really know what that means, but whatever. Let’s hurry up already.
We arrive at Haylie’s and ours is the only car. No girls. Hmm.
Whatever, Haylie is awesome and her place is cool. We go inside and settle in. We chat for a few minutes and catch up. Haylie says I can take my shoes off and put them in her bedroom, which is where the pole is. I figure I’ll drop my shoes off and then return to the living room to talk some more. I scoot down the hallway minding my own business. I walk back to Haylie’s bedroom and open the door.
Now, if you know me, you know I either know what I’m doing or pretend to know what I’m doing during every second of the day. No matter what happens, I tend to at least look under control. When I opened that door, I had what I believe is the only dumbfounded, speechless moment of my life.
The door swings open, and ten feet in front of me is a woman. And this woman is wearing knee-high socks, an American Apparel singlet, her hair is down over shoulders, and she’s on all fours looking up at me in the doorway.
I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
She smiles and says, “Hi.”
I don’t even remember what I said. I don’t actually know if I said anything at all. I remember looking back over my shoulder for signs of anyone else. I look back at her.
“Are you here for pole dancing?” she asks.
I swear to you, she starts rubbing her thighs and rolling on the ground. What is going on??
“It looks like it,” I say.
Did my brother and friends arrange a private pole dancer for me? WHY AM I WEARING GYM SHORTS? WHAT DOES “JUST IN CASE” MEAN??
I know what the guys reading this are thinking: “Why are you freaking out? You should be pumped, bro!” Yeah, well, I probably should have been. But I wasn’t. Instead, I froze up.
What am I supposed to do here? I don’t want to hit on this girl, because I do not know what her purpose in this night is, and I don’t want to just walk out, because my pride is too proud to be scared by a sexy woman. I make my decision. I’m going to stand in the doorway like a zombie.
“What’s your name?” she asks, rolling on the ground and moving into the splits. I start having flashbacks to the Eric Prydz “Call on Me” video.
“Eric. What’s yours?”
I’m not going to pretend like I heard her answer in my state of shock.
FINALLY, Haylie walks in. “Hey, (woman’s name), we’ll be ready in a little bit.”
We’ll be ready in a little bit? What is going on!
My brother, Tyler and Ashley come in. They all meet the rolly polly.
“Ryan, what are we doing?” I ask.
“We’re taking a pole dancing lesson.”
BVVVVOOOoooom. Fish-eye lens vision. Zoom in on my face.
It turns out Haylie has purchased a two-hour pole dancing course for us. I’ve never dropped any hint to my brother that this is something I was remotely interested in, and now I’m signed up for a class? My mind starts rambling. Am I dressed right? Why is this woman dressed like that? How do you stretch out for this? I’m wearing boxers. This is going to end poorly.
Ryan was trying to entertain me on my last night. So I decided to shut up and go along with it. Ryan, Tyler, Ashley, Haylie and I were going to learn a couple pole moves and everything would be gravy.
The instructor turns on a sexy playlist, then flips off all the lights. I now realize candles have been burning, and now they serve as our primary light source. I don’t think that’s necessary for pole dancing, but whatever. She tells us to get on the floor and sit cross-legged. Alright…
The bedroom door opens. Seven attractive women I’ve never met before walk in wearing volleyball shorts, yoga pants, shorts and skimpy shirts. They sit with us on the floor. Okay, what’s going on here?
The instructor finally explains what we’re doing. This is not just a pole dancing course, but a yoga, zen-like course that features yoga poses, PARTNER STRETCHING, and pole dancing.
I’ve never even heard of this.
The stretches and yoga are fairly erotic and feature lots of pelvic thrusts and hip rolling. The instructor has us perform several positions that are supposed to loosen and relax us. I’m not very flexible anymore, and my muscles are trembling out of control trying to hold these impossible positions. Shooting pains fire up and down my back and legs. I can barely keep my elbows locked in place. I am blinded by sweat and the pain is searing, but I refuse to stop and look bad in front of everyone else, so I continue relentlessly shaking as I perform these “relaxing” positions. The instructor tries to help by applying “pressure” and “weight” on us. This is the worst kind of hell. She pushes down on my shoulder and my body immediately starts seizuring out of control. My misery is amplified. I try to mutter something funny, but my voice trembles and my body almost folds over. I focus on not passing out until she releases me from her well-intentioned death touch.
We spend a lot of time with our butts in the air. Like I said before, the women are wearing tight clothes. I happen to shoot a glance at my brother, who is in a downward dog pose with his face in the air staring straight at a girl’s butt. He is in a trance, like when Dijon enters Scrooge McDuck’s skyscraper-money-vault for the first time in DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, but with a hint of chained up mountain lion who has a steak just out of its reach.
The situation finally hits me. I start giggling–the kind of giggling you would do in school when everyone was supposed to be quiet, so you cover your mouth and try to not make eye contact with other gigglers because you’ll lose it, but then someone looks at you for a moment, their mouth quivers, your neck strains to hold back a laugh, and finally you just let out and get detention. That was me, Ryan, Tyler, Ashley and Haylie. I laugh. They laugh. We all laugh.
The instructor is confused by this. How the tables have turned, missy.
We make it through the partner stretches and yoga by candlelight. At this point I want see some pole dancing just to get it over with. I’m sore from stretching and laughing, and the vibe is a little uncomfortable. On queue, we’re instructed to gather around the pole.
The instructor describes a couple basic moves. Then she does what a few of us have been waiting all night for: She demonstrates. HOLY MOLY. My brother, Tyler and I look at each other. Now it’s a party.
The women in the class follow suit, and they’re good, too. They inch worm up and down the pole, they use legs only, they flip around; it’s like Olympic gymnastics or something.
“Guys, your turn.”
“Buh?!” I now have a new emotion: Anxiety. I am nerrrrrvous. I actually, seriously, no-joke, have to pole dance?
My brother and Tyler don’t miss a beat. They alternate turns on the pole, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t better than the girls! They flag pole, spin, and perform what I later learned are elite moves.
And here I am, the noob with a flop sweat.
Once again, if you know anything about me (read the About Me), you know I am crazy competitive. As my brother and Tyler impress all the ladies with their slick pole moves (I feel dirty typing phrases like that), I feel a rush come over me–adrenaline. I step back for a second to process the fact I am getting worked up about pole dancing. “It’s not a contest,” a little voice in my head says. “Bull shit,” I say back.
I am a different person from an hour earlier. I am on a mission. I am going to to work this pole; I am not going to be out done by more experienced dancers; I am in no way ever mentioning this to another soul; and I am going to show everyone here how cool I am to try something so “out there.”
This seemed like a reasonable progression of our talents.
Fast forward an hour: Tyler, Ryan and I are talking about how many more hours of practice we would need before we could join Cirque de Soleil, because we obviously have a gift. Our upper body strength in comparison to the ladies’ (who were much more graceful than us) has us thinking we’re destined for the Vegas strip, like we were those pale, strong brothers in the toga-underwear.
We’re all trying to invent moves and cool new pole tricks when the instructor’s playlist runs out. She is having fun and has stayed well past her pay allotment and has no plans to leave soon. She asks if anyone has an iPod with good music.
Someone in the crowd says, “I do.”
Who is this person who thinks they have what it takes to keep the party going? It was me. And being a guy, I obviously have a playlist that is perfect for barely-lit settings. I hit play. The music thumps. Hips start swaying. The pole is a busy place.
The instructor loses her “teacher status” and unleashes her inner pole dancing hell hound. Next thing I know, there is a lap dance competition and Tyler has quickly claimed the judge’s seat. This vibe and party lasted another hour or two.
I had completed a full 360-degrees of emotions in the previous few hours. I was exhausted when we left the house. I realized that pole dancing is legit–certainly for women, and also for men who have friends who can keep a secret.
On my flight the next day it was obvious pole dancing is certifiably a cross training exercise. I was sore everywhere. Also, my skin burned where my gym shorts weren’t covering.
Ladies, I recommend trying a pole dancing course if you’re looking to mix up your workouts.
Men, you’re welcome.
And now I present to you, my brother pole dancing.