It’s been a little more than a week since the greatest pole show I’ve ever seen. The honor and excitement of being able to participate still hasn’t completely worn off. Just performing on the same stage as these incredibly hard-working and talented women has given me a high that I’ve never felt before (and likely will never be able to match)! Please click this link to watch it for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S_J3C_LO8k
I rode down to the Oriental Theater with Mel (thank goodness) for the company, so Ron and Joe could come up later, and so I wouldn’t have to navigate directions and traffic in my already heightened state of anxiety. It was comforting to ride with Mel, who has performed in even higher pressure situations (i.e.: the Colorado Pole Championship, in which she won the Masters title). She seemed pretty relaxed, at least compared to me.
When we got there, my anxiety shot through the roof as I watched some of the other performers warm up. They incorporated tricks into their warm-ups that I’ve never even tried. At that point, the only thing keeping me away from the copious amounts of comforting gin and beer at the bar was the fact that being drunk would have seriously hampered my performance. To distract myself from what was happening on the stage, I walked around talking to friends, patrons, and strangers. Anything to distract me, really. I met some awesome people, such as Leesi, THE fab pole artist in Colorado. She and Mel are friends, so I basically inserted myself directly into their conversation, hoping my knowing Mel would cancel out the social awkwardness. It seemed to: Leesi turned out to be one of the coolest people I’ve met so far through Pole! I felt supported and buoyed in the short amount of time we conversed, and was reminded — yet again — of why I love the Pole community so much.
After the doors opened, I obsessively watched the audience members stroll through the inner doors to the theater; I knew I had a lot of friends and family coming, and I knew that talking to each of them would be helpful in way-laying the fear that had crept back in. Corey was the first one through the door, and so was greeted with a strangulation-level hug as my adrenaline levels vastly increased my strength. It helped greatly to chat with him while I waited for others (especially Ron) to arrive. Once Ron made it, I was able to relax a little bit, and when the show started, I tried to really watch the performances (and not compare myself), in order to distract myself further.
There were two intermissions, and I was set to perform in the middle of the second set. Once that first intermission came, panic moved aside, and a cold determination washed over me; it was time to get serious. I went backstage, changed into my costume, and started to warm up.
Leesi opened up the second set, so I didn’t get to watch her, which was a bit disappointing, as her work with Fab Pole (fabric and pole) is really, really nifty. I will definitely watch her video once it’s posted. She rushed backstage and changed, hurriedly telling me that she wanted to get back out there so she could watch me! Gulp.
When the emcee announced me, I suddenly became more focused than I think I’ve ever been in my life. I walked onstage, crouched down, and waited for “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson to start.
My performance is both crystal clear, and a complete blur in my memory. I’m so thankful I thought to ask someone to record it for me; I truly don’t know what my impression would have been otherwise. All I know is it felt good. There were a couple of moments that stand out. During the first minute, a strap on my left shoe broke! Luckily, the second strap was still solidly attached, so I was able to keep it on throughout the performance with a little bit of effort. Second, I had a moment closely following the one from the picture above when I thought I was going to vomit onstage! I had just performed a fast climb to flag to a drop into my Remi Layback, during which I ripped my shirt off and threw it across the stage. After that, I turned my back to the audience and twerked for a 4-count. As I was coming around the pole to prepare for my first inversion, I think all the adrenaline, fear, nerves, and crazy excitement over the last two months washed over me at once. It was nearly too much for my body to handle. I am so happy I’ve been onstage before, because I was able to (literally…gross) swallow it back, keep smiling, and continue dancing. I felt better within seconds.
Vertical Fusion Fort Collins ladies filled the front row and they fueled me throughout my performance with hooting. I know the rest of the audience yelled, but having them so close was wonderful, as I could feel their love and support carrying me from one move to the next. I know I gave it all I had, because when I walked offstage to the sound of cheering, I had to collapse onto a chair for a moment to let my brain catch up with my body. I’d finished. I had finally completed the damn, nearly impossible piece that had been riding on my back for so long. And I did it well; I performed something of which I could be proud.
Here’s the kicker. I went backstage to change as quickly as possible (Mel was coming up soon!), and to pull myself together a little bit more. Natasha Wang was sitting on a couch, looking at her computer. I’m assuming she was watching the show streaming, because as I was changing, she looked up at me and said, “You did a really good job out there. I can tell how much you enjoy being onstage.” My knees went weak. If I hadn’t been so happy with the last 10 minutes, I’m fairly certain I would have burst into tears.