My Top 10 of 2013

Beautiful shot from Nina of my mixed showcase performance last Friday.

Beautiful shot from Nina of my mixed showcase performance last Friday.

I heard someone complaining about retrospective best and worst lists the other day.  I smiled and nodded, but didn’t mean it, because frankly: I love them.  I don’t necessarily need the end of a year to look back and pick out the good, the bad, and the ugly moments, but it’s as good a time as any.  That’s probably why I started collecting good moments in a box at the start of the year.  When something particularly awesome happened, I jotted it down on a scrap of paper with the date and put it in the box.  Ron doesn’t know this yet, but we’re going to read through them on New Year’s Eve.  Good thing I started spacing out that I’d begun this project by the time June rolled around; it will save us from some reading.

2013 was a mixed bag.  There was a lot of fear, a lot of tragedy, and the day that I now recognize as the worst day of my life.  But I’ve noticed — looking back — that many of those terrible moments spawned wonderful things.  Some of the bad turned into something so good, that it inspired this top 10 list.

This year I grew tremendously as a dancer.  My work, rehearsals, classes, and choreography culminated in the performance I gave at the mixed studio showcase on December 20th at Vertical Fusion FoCo.  My dance was a mix of choreography and freestyle, and I dedicated it to Ron.  Follow this link to see it; I’m truly proud of this piece:

So, without further ado, I give you: Baast’s Top 10 Pole and Dagorhir moments of 2013!


At War Ghoul this summer, my friend Squk (character name) tried Pole.  I have been trying to get this guy on a pole for years, because — as you can see from this picture — he’s totally built for it.

Dagorhir Squk shot for blog 12 2013

We were all partying during the last night of the event, and I was encouraging people to get on the pole in the Stagger Inn.  Partially because I was tired, but mostly because it’s fun to help people learn and to try something new.  I figured Squk here was a lost cause.  That is, until he put down his drink, climbed hand-over-hand to the top of the 12-foot pole (his legs NEVER touched the pole during this combo, by the way), flipped into a handspring, to split grip Ayesha, then into full flag.  He did not realize that there were names to assign to the tricks he’d just performed, mind you.  He just fucking did it.  That was awesome.


At the mixed studio showcase last week, a little plan of Nina’s that had been brewing for a while came to fruition.  Nina had started collecting funds from VFers to send Melanie to a “Traincation” at Body and Pole in New York.  She collected more than enough to get Melanie unlimited training for a full week.

You see, we at Vertical Fusion feed off of Melanie’s tears; the more she cries, the more essence we can get from her.  That sounded creepy, and it was on purpose.  But I’m totally not kidding about “getting Mel to cry!” being a goal at, oh, every gathering, performance, and showcase ever.  I think part of the reason is it’s not hard.  But full-on lose-her-mind weeping is a little harder to achieve.  Way to go Nina!  We got there.

VF Mel and Nina Dec 2013

Also a Nina pic (though I suspect it was Justin behind the camera this time!) Also: check out Mel’s AMAZING hamstrings!!

In all seriousness, we love Melanie so much, and she gives her entire heart and soul to Vertical Fusion.  If it weren’t for her, none of us would know each other, and people whom I genuinely consider my family would be out floating in the ether.  She deserves this gift more than anyone in the world.


In October, Da Juhr Gah held its annual bonding event, “Kill, Grill, and Chill, Part 2”.  This event is held at Thompson Park in Longmont; we all bring food, and alternate eating a bunch of crap with beating the piss out of each other with our foam weapons.  Dagorhir is a really important part of my life, and Da Juhr Gah are the people in Dag whom I see most often.  Luckily, I really, really like all of them!  We’re very proud of our tiny little group, so we like to celebrate it every once in a while.  At this event, the fighting was particularly awesome.  I love the days where everyone is on, and fighting like champs.

It was — by far — my best fighting performance ever.  During a game called Kill your Killer, in which everyone fights in a free-for-all, and when you are killed, you are out until someone else kills the person who killed you, I noticed that my opponents were thinning out.  There were probably 9 or 10 people on the field in total.  After killing Victor, Wasad, and Doug (our best fighters), I looked around the field and saw everyone standing around with their weapons over their heads, signifying their deaths.  Everyone, or SO I THOUGHT.  In absolute disbelief and celebration, I threw my shield up in the air and hooted.  The shield then blocked an arrow speeding across the field from the lone survivor: an archer named Aspergagus.  The arrow flew off course, and I was able to chase him down and finish him off, thereby starting a real celebration of killing all of my friends on the field of battle.Da Juhr Ga practice 7 2012 011


Before Thanksgiving this year, I was talking to Melanie about how much I love doing a crazy hard exercise class on Thanksgiving morning so that I can work up a beastly appetite for the afternoon feasting.  She mentioned that Kris had already started a discussion on Facebook about doing Thanksgiving morning classes in order to glean the level of interest.  I promptly told Mel that I’d be more than happy to teach a Fit 4 Pole preceding Kris’ class, and that I would do it for free.  That started our morning of pole to show thanks for all of our wonderful Vertical Fusion clients.

I was amazed at the number of people who showed up, eager to work their asses off.  I was so inspired by them, that I proceeded to teach one of the harder fitness classes of my career!  I got quite the workout during the process.


I never shut up about Pole.  Seriously: ask all of my co-workers, friends, and family who don’t Pole dance.  But what do I talk about with my Pole family?  (Um…besides Pole?)  Dagorhir, of course!  My other off-the-wall hobby.  Apparently I talked about it enough this year, because I got a Facebook message from Babydoll in July.  Her birthday was coming up, and she would really love to try Dag, but was kind of afraid to do it…unless a huge group of friends tried it, too!  This inspired “Kill, Grill, Chill, and Pole” in the park for Babydoll’s birthday party!  Another VF-er brought a portable pole to the festivities, Da Juhr Gahns brought their spare weapons, and the great Pole/Dag mash-up was born!  It was beyond fun to teach the rules of the game to my Pole friends, most of whom turned out to be really good fighters.  I credit the upper body strength and confidence that Pole imparts!  My Dag friends got to see that Pole dancers aren’t just pretty girls.  They’re strong, funny, sweet, pretty women who HIT HARD.

Nina's pic!  Look at the happy birthday girl with her new, pretty sword!!

Nina’s pic! Look at the happy birthday girl with her new, pretty sword!!


My Colorado friends know that there were a few days in September that didn’t follow our normal late summer weather patterns.  The devastation of the 100-year flood spread far and wide through our part of the state, and many VF-ers were affected by the damage.

For my part, I stayed in my house, knowing it wasn’t safe to go out, but wishing desperately that I could help.  By the third day, I couldn’t stand it anymore.  Ron was at the Emergency Operations Center in Boulder, running communications for emergency response, so I gathered up a group of friends, and we met at a restaurant in north Longmont.  Mostly, I wanted to see their faces, to hug them, and to know that they were OK.  We went around the table and told our stories.  Then we started talking about what we might do to help.

Thanks to Google, we learned that what the flood relief effort really needed was money.  So, we decided to raise some.  We collected donations at our performances through September and part of October, we held donation-based classes at our studios, and we held a silent auction at the FoCo one year anniversary.

I will always remember that lunch in the sun as an island in a sea of concern, fear, and anguish.  I am happy that something wonderful could come from something so terrible.


Ain’t no party like a fancy dress party, ’cause a fancy dress party don’t stop!

Should I explain myself?  I’ll try.  War Ghoul was a time for healing, for kicking back, for meeting new friends, and for a LOT of fun.  The fancy dress event inspired one of the Army of Mordor’s new battle chants: “Wasad in a dress!”  Slightly more popular than the party chant, “Wasad on the Pole!”  Sabriel decided to push Wasad’s limits just a little bit with a cute apron, some mascara, and a lollipop.  Ugli wanted in on the action, so she graciously loaned him a corset, which — tragically — you can’t see in this picture.

I think I laughed harder at this whole business than I have all year long.

Oh Wasad, Ugli, Sabriel, and made my summer something special.

Oh Wasad, Ugli, Sabriel, and Mikar…you made my summer something special.


My Dagorhir friends know that Ragnarok is a big, screaming deal.  Hell, if you read my blog, you know it, too!  Every June, approximately 1600 people pack up and head to Pennsylvania for a week-long event of camping, fighting, drinking, dancing, and partying.

Rag is also a tremendous amount of work, and the overall tone of the event this year was labor-intensive.  This was mostly due to the monsoons we had starting on Tuesday and extending until we finally got to go home.

But the first night was magical.  Da Juhr Gah had spent the entire day traveling to the site and setting up our very elaborate camp.  It had been hours and hours of work, and we were finally at a stopping point.  Dragonhorde came to join us for an impromptu dinner cooked over the campfire and for a little early on partying.  Mog brought two Mason jars of his homemade moonshine (one flavored with peaches, the other with cherries).  I think the combination of the hard work, the desire to kick back, and the general lack of food in our stomachs combined into a scene of drunkenness, the likes of which I have never seen.

And everyone was happy!  You know how sometimes one drunk person kind of loses their mind and sort of ruins all the revelry?  That didn’t happen.  Every idea sounded like a good one, and everyone absolutely adored everyone else that night.

Sometime when you’re with me in person, ask me to tell you about what I found in my tent the next morning…

From left to right: Zagar, Skadi, Asbeorn, Victor, Ulffer, Mikar, myself, and Wasad in our beautiful Da Juhr Ga camp.

From left to right: Zagar, Skadi, Asbeorn, Victor, Ulffer, Mikar, myself, and Wasad in our beautiful Da Juhr Ga camp.


On September 21st, Nina’s own Colorado Pole Championship competition proved to be a wild success.  All of the seats sold out in anticipation of the biggest names in Pole around Colorado and surrounding states performing onstage at the Oriental Theater in Denver.

I was one little audience member who turned up to root for our VF-ers, Melanie, Bob, Ariel, and Waeli.  They all blew my mind, but what blew me away even more was watching Mel win the Masters Division, and Waeli take the Championship.  I still get goosebumps when I think about it.

I FB stalked Mel and found this shot from Shannon, so thanks ladies!  Here are Mel and Joe after Melanie won the Masters Division at the Colorado Pole Championship.

I FB stalked Mel and found this shot from Shannon, so thanks ladies! Here are Mel and Joe after Melanie won the Masters Division at the Colorado Pole Championship.

And the #1 moment of 2013:

I was driving in my car sometime in December of last year, listening to music as usual.  Sometimes a song will come on that is so inspiring, I begin choreographing to it in my head immediately.  This can be a brand new song, or one I’ve known and loved for as long as I remember, but for some reason this one time it sparks new inspiration.

The song was “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers.  Suddenly the vision in my head was of me and Ron dancing a duet to this song at the Valentine’s Day themed VF show, as yet to be named “Cupid’s Revue.”  I finished my drive home, jumped out of the car, ran into the house, and declared to Ron, “You’re going to dance a duet with me in the February showcase!”  To which he replied, “OK.  Just tell me what to do.”

Ron worked so hard.  He went to the brand new all male Pole series that Mel started up in January.  He practiced at home.  He practiced at the studio.  He learned my choreography.  He came up with many of his own tricks.  He trained so hard that he injured his shoulder!

But the show went on.  As we waited backstage for our music to start, he in his tuxedo t-shirt and workout shorts, I in my inappropriately short “formal” dress, I looked across at him and smiled.  “How lucky am I”, I thought.  And then the first beats of our song started playing, and Ron stepped out from behind the curtain.

This moment, captured by Desiree, is how I would like to remember my entire year.

This moment, captured by Desiree, is how I would like to remember my entire year.

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