Vertical Fusion Love

There was a huge outpouring of emotion (and wine) at a VF instructor’s home last weekend.  I think the wine (oh, and the Lime Rickeys) probably fueled the emotion, but it was gonna come out anyway, so who cares?

Thanks for capturing so many silly, fun moments, Maya!

Thanks for capturing so many silly, fun moments, Maya!

Mel threw a VF staff appreciation party, complete with fantastic food, desserts, massages (thanks again, Corey!), and the aforementioned booze.  She also created an extremely touching video to thank us, and I suspect she did that partially so she would be able to cry in peace for a little while during the evening, instead of trying to talk AND cry.

I cried.  Vertical Fusion has come so far, it’s almost unbelievable.  I see how it stretches Mel thin with the work and the tasks piling up, even with the help she has.  It makes me understand how much she must love it to push so far, so fast.  Sometimes I feel like I could NEVER do enough to thank her, and then she goes and throws a party to thank all of us!

We also did an activity where each staff member got poster paper.  Everyone wrote messages on each person’s poster, and Nina took great pictures of each of us on the pole, being held up by everyone else.  The best way to deal with something like this (once it’s done and I receive it), is to lock myself away to read it so that I can cry without abandon all by myself.  Yeah…if the others wrote messages anything like what I wrote, that’s definitely going to happen.

On a progress note (I know…surprising), I had a successful round of classes this week!  I was joking with Mel on Wednesday before we got started that I keep getting frustrated with how stagnant I’ve become.  No new tricks in a while, no inspiration for routines (even though I have 4 scheduled performances coming up in 3 months if you count the submission video for Nina’s show), etc, etc.  Then (I says to Mel, I says), “I guess I should be taking classes if I hope to get anywhere.”  I know that it’s surprising, but you have to take some time to LEARN the damn skill that you want to perfect!  I’ve been so bad about getting to classes!  There is a schedule challenge, but come ON, Megan!  Work around it where you can.

Luckily, it was my night to shine.  For Intermediate and Advanced Combos, I was the only participant.  So, Mel busted out her set-up for Fab Pole (Pole combined with silk dancing.  SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!!)  Otherwise known as the “prettiest thing ever”.  I learned some basic binds and got a feel for balancing the silk with the pole.  It was awesome.  Some moves are way easier with the silks (such as Extended Butterfly), but mostly the silk just makes Pole that much more beautiful and graceful.  We had a LOT of fun experimenting (Mel’s just starting to learn herself).  I was very sore the next day, and I’d collected a few “silk burns”, because — unlike in pole — you can’t simply drop yourself into a position further down the pole.  You have to ease into it.  Unfortunately I learned that the hard way.

After that there was a mixed levels class (people showed up to it) where we worked Remi Sit and Handsprings.  For once I was the star pupil with Remi Sit, as I already have that one, and because the behind-the-knee grips don’t bother me much anymore.IMG_1362But Handspring?  I want it SO BAD.  It’s not only quite advanced, it’s a stepping stone to countless tricks down the road that I want. 

 

So, I got it, if only for a microsecond.  Mel held me up a couple of times, but the balance and the scrunching finally clicked for me that night.  It’s a move for which I definitely have the strength, but lack the body awareness to get into it easily.  No more!  Now I can’t WAIT to work it again. (Thanks to www.laphq.co.uk for the image above.  I wish I could say that was me, but it’s not.)  I guess Ron and I had better get our new 45 mm pole up.

In the meantime, I need to dedicate some serious work to a mixed studio show on December 20th that we’re doing with the Cupcake Caberet in FoCo.  Also need to nail down a damn song to submit a routine for Nina’s show (due in January).  Then I can start thinking about my burlesque numbers for the Feb. show with Haute Pink Minx.  Good thing I LOVE dancing so much!

Nightmare on Pole Street

The beginning of my "Cola" piece

The beginning of my “Cola” piece

This is a belated reporting of our awesome show, mostly because I got really, REALLY sick soon afterwards, and didn’t have blog posts at the top of my mind!  Plus, since then, I’ve purchased photos from Nina, and a digital copy of my performance from Justin.  Now I can post about the it, AND you can look at fun images at the same time!

Speaking of, see my performance at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBx_DoSb_Vc&feature=youtu.be

The show was great, as usual.  We had a lot of first-time performers, which is always fun.  We also had quite a few VF veterans performing, so there was a really nice mix to the dancing.  The audience was way into things, as many of them came dressed up for Halloween.  The truss company that Melanie hired did a great job; I especially enjoyed these trusses because they gave me (5’10” as it is) a full extra two feet with which to work!  I actually got to climb kind of high for this show.

A pretty spin to end the piece.

A pretty spin to end the piece.

My piece was such fun to choreograph and perform.  I did it to “Cola” by Lana del Ray, and I took full advantage of the risque lyrics to have some fun.  I changed one or more aspect of my costume four times during my performance, so that was a cool challenge.  I didn’t do many crazy tricks, because I chose to focus more on the theatrical aspect of the piece; I think it came out nicely balanced.

There is a lot of work coming up down the road.  First on my mind is Nina’s pole show in March, “Elevated Art, a Rocky Mountain Pole Show”.  She’s holding it at the Oriental Theater in Denver, which is the same place she held the Colorado Pole Championship.  It’s not a competition, but is meant to be a showcase for local talent.  I have to submit a video first.  From all of the submissions, the performers will be chosen for the show itself.  I want to do this show SO BAD!  That stage looked way too cool to dance on.  I’ve determined the song I want to do, but I need to get moving on this one, because submissions are due in the first half of January, and the submission has to be the routine that will be done at the show itself (more or less; improvements to choreography are allowed between submitting and performing).

Then in February, our burlesque troupe, Haute Pink Minx, will be doing a burlesque-only show!  I have come to adore burlesque so much since taking Roxy Star’s Sexylesque workshop early last year.  I already have ideas for not one, but two, burlesque routines.  One is my typical style: steamy and seductive.  The other is something I’m playing around with, that I’ve dubbed “reverse burlesque”.  I’ll talk more details as it gets closer (provided it works).

A fun trick, Hammock high up on that spin pole.

A fun trick, Hammock, high up on that spin pole.

Remy Sit: probably the "craziest" trick in my performance.  I remember when this used to be murder on my knees.  Now I barely notice it!

Remy Sit: probably the “craziest” trick in my performance. I remember when this used to be murder on my knees. Now I barely notice it!

Frustration, then love

Yesterday was my final private rehearsal before the major dress rehearsal on Monday this week for my piece in “Nightmare on Pole Street.”  I got out of bed early, drank some coffee, ate some ancient grain cereal topped with sunflower seeds and a banana, grabbed my costume bag and headed off to the studio.  I got inside, turned on the lights just the way I like them, set up my eight different props, warmed up, gripped up, and turned on my song.

The first few notes of “Cola” by Lana del Rey moved through the stereo, and as I entered my “stage”, EVERYTHING WENT WRONG.  My feet didn’t belong to my body anymore.  My exhaustively rehearsed dance suddenly seemed brand new.  I FELL out of tricks I’ve been doing with perfect proficiency for — literally — years.  I jammed my toe on the ground falling out of one of these tricks on spin pole and ripped off my toenail polish all over Mel’s beautiful floor in the Longmont studio.  Nothing short of total fail, really.

I threw in the towel after my fourth time through, when I realized I wasn’t able to pull together a practice piece that was even worthy of filming.  After that, the self deprecation started.  As we tend to do in our society when things aren’t going our way, I whined about it on Facebook.

And I couldn’t believe the reaction.  I wasn’t asking for sympathy; I just put it out there that I was feeling crummy and that things weren’t going the way I wanted them to go.  I received so much support from so many wonderful people in all areas of my life.  Even today, I am seeing new comments from my friends with reassurances, love, and reminders that I am worthy of self respect.

Even though I didn’t get the rehearsal I wanted yesterday, I am warmed by the people in my life who love me for who I am.  I only hope I can return the favor someday.

FoCo One Year, Nightmare on Pole Street

As is typical, Desiree Galvez produced some beautiful shots of the performances. She's a talented lady, AND she works her booty off!!

As is typical, Desiree Galvez produced some beautiful shots of the performances. She’s a talented lady, AND she works her booty off!!

October is such an awesome month!  I get more tired because the weather changes, but I also love the look of the leaves changing against the blue sky, the smell of cooler weather, and not suffocating when I get into my car in the middle of the day.  I also love — and practically live for — Halloween.  But more on that soon.

First, Vertical Fusion Fort Collins celebrated its one-year anniversary with a birthday party that was delayed due to the flooding.  But that worked out OK, as we got to do a silent auction and donation-based class and pole play to benefit flood recovery efforts.  It was wonderful to be with all of my Pole people again and to just dance together; we all needed it.

I performed an improvised routine that was opposite of my usual style.  Therefore, it was sad, flowy, and dancy rather than sexy, smoldering and booty poppy.  I danced for myself and for my friends; I just let the song take me over and did what felt right.  I’m very pleased with how it came out , and will put it up once Ron gets an edited copy to me!

Our Halloween showcase at the Dickens, Nightmare on Pole Street, is scheduled for October 26th!  Way back in May when we set the date for this show, I felt like I had all the time in the world to prepare for it; that never works out.  But I’ve been working REALLY hard on this routine, and I think it’s going to be a hit.  I sure am having fun when I’m dancing it.  I am really excited to see what everyone else is pulling together.  It’s going to be a big show: 24 performances, I believe!

I danced for 3 1/2 hours this morning.  First, I got to the studio and rehearsed my piece until I couldn’t do the tricks anymore.  Then, I taught Fit-4-Pole.  Then I did Triple Threat with Amber and Babydoll.  It was to a ZZ Ward song, and was SO AWESOME!!  I love dancing with pole people who’ve been doing it for a while, because choreography goes fast, and you can learn almost an entire song.  I fell so in love with the song Amber picked (“Charlie Ain’t Home”) that I came home and purchased the whole album!  Now I’m pretty much obsessed and am already determining which of the songs I might want to do a routine to in the future. There’s another thing I LOVE about Pole: now I listen to music in a whole new way, and with a much more open mind.

Happy Fall, and Happy Halloween to you all!  I hope you have some awesome plans in the works.

Vertical Fusion Sweeps Colorado Pole Championship

Colorado Pole Championship 010

Oh. My. God. Last night was beautiful, impossible, amazing, mind-blowing, emotional, and so, SO much fun!  Nina’s First Annual Colorado Pole Championship at the Oriental Theater in Denver took me on a sensory journey that I’ve never experienced before. The talent was almost incomprehensible. I am a pole dancer, and I STILL couldn’t believe some of the things I was seeing.

There were two divisions: Masters and Champions. Melanie and Bob both competed in the Masters category, and Ariel and Waeli competed in the Champions. First off, everyone who competed was super talented, and clearly put in A LOT of work. On top of the competitors, there were guest performances by some major heroes in the Pole world (people I’ve been watching on YouTube since my own journey started.) Estee Zakar, Karol Helms, Leesi Ruskaup, David Owen, and Nadia Sharif. And, of course, our own Ken did an encore performance of his Pole Expo routine! We all knew he was going to jump in between the poles onstage, but the entire audience gasped with fear, joy, and surprise when he did it.

Bob did a remarkable job with his routine; he did this one at the VF Boulder opening, but I could see how much more work he’d put in for the competition. I love how he weaves his life in ballet and pole together into his routines. He is able to portray so much emotion with his dance, and is always a pleasure to watch.

Ariel killed it with her “Summertime Sadness” routine. That girl can move; I don’t even understand how she gets into some of her more complicated tricks. The technicality of her routine rivaled many of the women in her division. Lucy and I were sitting together, and we were holding hands in a superstitious fashion; as long as we held onto each other, Ariel would get through all of her tricks safely!

Waeli BLEW MY MIND. I know a lot of what she is capable of, because I’ve seen so many of her competition videos, but this was something different. I couldn’t pick out the tricks she was doing because she weaved her movements together so cleverly that it looked like everything she did was new. Her song choice was brilliant. I’ve never heard it before, but I’m pretty sure it’s called “I’m a Ninja”. It was a funny, silly song in a lot of ways, but her dance was not silly at all. It was beautiful and serious.

And Melanie. She performed to a cover of “House of the Rising Sun.” She achieved so many things in her piece: she showed tremendous emotion, told a story, had perfect costuming, showed amazing flow with the music, and performed awesome tricks. I told myself I wouldn’t cry, but that was a shallow promise. Luckily I knew I’d cry anyway earlier in the night when I used a little extra eyelash glue. No videos up yet, but you can be damn sure I’ll link them up once they’re available.

As if watching all these performances wasn’t enough, then came the announcement of the winners! I knew there was crazy stiff competition, and did not envy the judges in any way. That had to be a really difficult job. Categories were Most Artistic, Most Athletic, Masters Runner Up, Masters Winner, Champion Runner Up, and Champion Winner. First was most artistic. When the emcee called Waeli’s name, I was so excited, but deep down just a little sad because I’d wanted her or Ariel to win so badly! “Still,” I thought, “with all the amazing artistry tonight, this is a huge honor,” and I cheered as loud as I could.

A performer I’d never heard of before, Holly “Honey” Miely, who is self taught, and who owns a studio in Aspen won Most Athletic. I LOVED her piece; she used different fabrics as props during her piece (that started as her costume), and the effect was stunning. I’d definitely been rooting for her to win something.

Then came the Masters Division. I could hardly focus on who the runner up was because I was so busy hoping it wasn’t Mel (because I wanted her to win), and that it WAS Mel (because I wanted her to win something)! Lucy and I continued to break each others’ hands, and then MELANIE WAS ANNOUNCED AS THE WINNER!!!!!!  I screamed so loud I saw stars! All of her hard work, all of her dedication, everything she’s put in and given to the rest of us swelled through that moment and spilled onto the stage and into the audience. I could see the the love flowing around and through her, and I thought I would die of joy. The moment seemed to speed by and slow down at the same time as I saw other audience members jump to their feet (I was already there), and I could spot the Vertical Fusion family all over the audience. We were all screaming for Melanie as she accepted her prizes and began to cry. Oh Mel, I am so proud of you.

Finally, the Champion Division was announced. I desperately wanted one of our Vertical Fusion ladies to take this one, but after Mel’s win, I had a feeling we just wouldn’t be that lucky. I was wrong. WAELI WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once again, I screamed until I saw stars (I still have a sore throat today). The look on her face was absolutely wonderful; I think she was really surprised! That woman took most artistic and first place in the Champion Division, and she’s ONE OF MY INSTRUCTORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a night.

Colorado Flood Relief

On Wednesday evening, September 11th, I was at the Longmont Vertical Fusion, taking an Intermediate and Advanced Combo class with Norell.  I didn’t think much about the rain that had been falling off and on for the last three days; it’s surprisingly easy to let weather fade into the background when it doesn’t seriously affect your day-to-day life.  Early the next morning, my boss woke me from sleep with a phone call, informing me that school was canceled the next day due to heavy rains and flooding.

For me, it still took some time to realize how very catastrophic all of this rain would become for our beautiful state.  Even as I write this on Sunday evening, rain continues to fall in Longmont, and I continue to monitor the state of my basement, which – at least so far – has remained blessedly dry.

Ron and I have been extremely fortunate to have remained safe and un-flooded throughout this entire deluge.  Our friends in this community and in neighboring communities cannot all say the same.  Dear members of the Vertical Fusion family run the gamut from dry at home to displaced for the long-term.

Vertical Fusion itself weathered these storms remarkably well.  All three studios fared with little to no damage.  A roof leak here and there was the worst we saw.  Classes were canceled for some of the days during the active flooding, but many of our clients, instructors, and friends have found solace through movement and dance during this disaster.

Of course, the desire to help has pulled at those of us from Vertical Fusion, and we want to give back.  Yesterday, several studio clients, instructors, and friends met with Melanie to discuss what we might do to help our neighbors.  Right now, cities, counties, and the state are asking for people to stay off the streets, out of evacuated areas, and away from emergency shelters.  The best way we can help is by offering monetary support in the short- and long-term to organizations that offer as much local aid as possible.  Here’s what you can do:

Colorado Pole Championship, September 21, 2013: Vertical Fusion will have a booth in the lobby of the Oriental Theater during the show.  We will have a donation box; please come say hello and donate whatever you can.

Vertical Fusion Fort Collins’ One Year Anniversary Party, September 28, 2013: VF rescheduled this event due to the flooding, and now Sept. 28th is the make-up day.  Come and celebrate with us from 5:00-7:00 PM, then from 7:00-9:00 PM, stay for a donation-based class!  Donate whatever you can and enjoy a one hour class with us.  Classes are to be announced, but from what I’m hearing, you are NOT going to want to miss this!

Donation boxes at each studio: Longmont, Fort Collins, and Boulder will all have donation boxes out so that you can drop off whatever funds you choose.

Donation based classes: Longmont and Boulder will also be offering donation-based classes to benefit flood relief.  Dates and time are to be announced, so stay tuned.

In the longer term, we are looking into putting together a Vertical Fusion Calendar and selling it to collect more donations for flood relief at a later date.  Money is crucial for disaster recovery, often weeks and months after the disaster has abated.  Hopefully by selling a fun VF calendar at the end of this year, we can offer yet more funds that will help our neighbors during this long recovery.

I hope that you are all safe and settled either at home or at a place you can call home for a little while.  Vertical Fusion has always been like a family, and this is the case now more than ever.  Thank you in advance for your help and support of our wonderful state.  Colorado Strong!

Attitude is Everything.

Here's Flag during my VF Boulder opening performance. That one took some practice!

Here’s Flag during my VF Boulder opening performance. That one took some practice!

It’s been so long since my last post, and it’s not just because I’ve been busy or doing a lot of things at once.  It’s mostly because I’ve been working hard at rediscovering myself, my joy, and what makes me happy in life.  Ron and I have started doing yoga together, and it has done so much for my attitude and my happiness level.   Being able to focus more on my own needs, as well as the needs of the people I love, has brought me a certain brand of serenity that I’ve never experienced at this level.  I hope that I can continue on this path; I believe that attitude is everything, and I’m working at keeping mine positive.

For Pole, this has meant focusing ever more on — and embracing fully — my strengths.  And isn’t it funny?  As soon as I started doing that, I started getting stronger and achieving ever more in Pole.  It was clearly my own mental wall holding me back, providing yet more proof that attitude is everything.

To glimpse where this new mantra has taken me, go to http://youtu.be/tW-ee5ZE9mM to see my improvised performance at Vertical Fusion Boulder’s grand opening!  I am very proud of this piece; I put some thought into it, but no choreography.  I’m working on sanding out rough spots in my dance, so am getting better and better at “faking it until I make it”, meaning that things might not always go the way I’d hoped or planned, but damn it: they’re gonna look cool anyway!  Please check it out; it’s a fun one.

Vertical Fusion Fort Collins will be celebrating its one year anniversary on September 13th!  In 18 months, Melanie (also known as Super-est Woman) opened three studios.  We’ve celebrated a year for Longmont as well; I think the Boulder one year will come very, very quickly, if Mel’s work ethic is any indication.  Boulder VF is housed inside the Apex Movement gym in Boulder (a veritable parkour wonderland), so we are really taking an acrobatic pole (Acro-Pole) approach with that location.  There are classes there with more men than women; how cool is that?!  For the FoCo anniversary, I am going to do another improvised performance, but I’m taking a more difficult track: I’ll be performing to a song, and with a style that is completely opposite from what I normally do!  I think it will be a fun challenge, but hopefully won’t lead to a bored audience.

Work is really getting underway for our next Dickens showcase, too: Nightmare on Pole Street, on October 26th.  It’s going to blow everyone away (as usual), mostly because our showcases keep getting better and better.  I am thinking hard on my piece, which will be to Lana del Ray’s “Cola”.  It’s a pretty song with disturbing lyrics which I plan on reflecting in my dance.  There will be points during my performance where the audience should feel uncomfortable, because I really plan on pushing limits.

Finally, AMAZING news!!  VF’s Ken (the first man at our studio to really embrace Pole), competed at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas last night.  Not only did he WIN second place, he got the People’s Choice award for the loudest cheering during his performance!  And, to top it all off, Natasha Wang (a HUGE Pole celebrity) linked to Ken’s Facebook page and praised him, saying “I’ve never even heard of him before!”  So, so cool.

Also, our own Nina is organizing the very first Colorado pole competition: the Colorado Pole Championship on September 21st!  This is a huge deal, and she has been gathering celebrity judges and endorsements left and right.  Ken will be competing again, as will Melanie (her very first competition!!!!)  This is all extremely exciting.  Ron and I already have our VIP tickets purchased, because we wouldn’t miss it for the world.

SO MANY SHOWS!!!!

It all just hit at once.  Melanie is opening the THIRD Vertical Fusion on August 11th!!  It will be in Boulder, and is insanely exciting.  The new studio will be inside the brand new Apex Gym (a place for parkour/free running).  Of course there will be a grand opening celebration, complete with performances.  I’ve been slacking off on Pole recently (mostly related to so much Dagorhir going on), so this is just the kick in the pants I need to get back to it.  I’m going to do an improv performance.  I think I’ll keep my song a secret, but when it starts playing, no one will be surprised that I chose it.

Then the Fort Collins studio will be celebrating its one year anniversary in September: another opportunity for an improv performance!  And our next big Dickens show is on October 26th.  I have already started choreographing this one.  I’m hoping to make the audience a little bit uncomfortable; it will be an exercise in towing the thin line between “I’m OK with what’s happening right now” and “Oh my god, I don’t want to keep looking.”  Muah ha ha.

My ever-present effort to bring my Dag and Pole worlds together has continued into this summer.  Last weekend, Babydoll celebrated her birthday with a Dag and Pole in the Park party!  All of our Da Juhr Gah fighters came out to teach the polers how to fight, and Diane brought her awesome outdoor pole so that we could show them our stuff as well!  I was pleasantly surprised — and really happy — with the success of the gathering.  We had a good amount of people show up, and some of the ladies really seemed to enjoy the fighting.  Nina was especially aggressive, which makes me think she should keep coming back.  Babydoll got to play with her birthday present: a polka dotted-zebra striped red sword.  She looked awfully cute wielding it.

I guess I’ll keep chugging along.  Keep an eye out for reports on the openings and anniversaries!

This is what happens when you combine fighting Dagorhir and Poling in the park.

This is what happens when you combine fighting Dagorhir and Poling in the park.

Uncle…

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, Asbjorn, Victor, Ulffer, Mikar, myself, and Wasad in our beautiful Da Juhr Gah camp. Thanks to Asbjorn for the great Rag pictures!!

I’ve been back home from Ragnarok for a week, and have only just now gotten to the point where I can even consciously be aware of what day it is.  Recovery seems to get longer — and harder — with every year.  And before Ron or Corey chime in with it’s “because I’m getting older” (because of course they’re right), it was also a relatively difficult year.

The first few days were fantastic!  My dear friend, Kiki (Skadi), who recently moved to Pennsylvania, made the 4 hour drive to experience two days of Rag and to visit with us!  It was so great to see her, and I think we might have hooked her into Dagorhir.  The fact that Pole was included may have been an even bigger help.   I’m quite confident we’ll see her next year, and hopefully for the entire week!

Da Juhr Gah in general was great this year.  We had some folks new to Ragnarok join us this year: Victor (who has been running DJG fighting practices for the last year), Asbjorn, and his son, Ullfer, all camped with us this year.  With myself, Mikar, Wasad, and Zagar (all the way from Japan again!), we had a really nice, close-knit group.  We spent a lot of time playing games, and Clog of Dragonhorde planned a wonderfully elaborate game of Dungeons and Dragons for 12 people — complete with gorgeous, hand-made prizes — that kept us busy for a full day.  Mikar completed our camp plumbing system this year as well; we had hot and cold running water (with a filter) in our kitchen area.  The piece de resistance was definitely the shower.  With a propane water heater, huge shower stall with a floor and tarp walls, we all enjoyed hot showers consistently for the first time ever at Rag.

The Poisoners’ Guild party was on Monday night of Ragnarok, and it was easily the best one we’ve thrown in my own personal memory.  Wasad ran a game of his invention, aptly named after our guild.  It was a live action version in which “marks” roamed the party, tracked by “assassins”.  There were four “guilds”: Drink, Violence, Gambling, and Entertainment.  Guild masters had tokens to give out to the assassins.  If an assassin did something that the guild master(s) deemed good enough, the master would hand out a token to that assassin.  Wasad believes in channeling the right person with the right talent for the right job.  So naturally, I was Entertainment Guild Master.  I made SO many people dance on the pole!  Mikar was head of the Gambling Guild; he ran another game of Wasad’s creation, Runes and Bones.  The grand prize winner of the entire game won a travel version of Runes and Bones, and was incredibly excited, as he had just spent the last hour playing it in Mikar’s guild.  Nameless — being our founding Poisoner and head of the entire Poisoners’ Guild — was the Drink Guild Master.  He got pretty creative in how he handed out tokens, and by the end of the game was adding Violence onto the Drink tokens.  Clog and Mog, our resident former football players and Dragonhorde members, were heads of the Violence Guild.  This was appropriate, as they acted as door security for the entire party, are both approximately 6’4″, and weigh I don’t even know how much.  They were pretty generous with their tokens, which resulted in other party goers being able to hand out violence tokens.  My favorite story of the night was of Loki: she would gather up violence tokens, approach another partier, slap him or her across the face, then hand him or her a token.

I’ve noticed a remarkable increase in the interest in Pole dancing at Ragnarok.  People are now coming to our parties to seek it out.  The first year, I had to beg people to try it out, and I got a few hesitant women giving a few moves a try.  As the years have passed, more and more people have been brave enough to try, and a whole lot more men have been giving it a go!  I had more men try it this year than any other year, which was really cool.  I had my pole classes scheduled as well, and the first day of classes (Tuesday), I had two participants who have taken the classes from me before.  It was nice because we could actually build on what they’d already learned, especially because — by doing Dagorhir — they’ve retained their strength.

Then the monsoon hit.

On Tuesday evening, a group of us were walking up the hill (or “upstairs”, as I like to call it) when the pressure changed.  Little rain drops fell for about 10 seconds, and then the sky opened up.  Rain came down in sheets as we all tried to shelter under a small tree.  A camp nearby waved us over to shelter underneath their huge tarps, but no sooner had we run over, then the wind came.  It caught the back of the tarp, knocking it into me, and almost pushed me completely to the ground!  Then the wind switched direction, caught the tarp from the other side, pulled it free, and started sailing it away!  Zagar jumped on the tarp to try and help the group hunker down, just as Mikar, Asbjorn, Wasad, and I looked at each other and realized that horrible things were likely happening in our own — currently unoccupied — camp.  That’s when I ran down a hill — barefoot — faster than I think I’ve ever run.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but to shorten it: one of our tent poles snapped; while Mikar was lashing it back together with leftover plumbing equipment, the sheer volume of water running underneath our tent, coupled with the weight of our belongings, exceeded the tarp’s ability to keep us even remotely watertight.  We had to bail out our tent 4 times over the next day, as rain continued off and on for the remainder of Ragnarok.  Skadi was due back at work on Tuesday afternoon, so she had left that morning.  I am somewhat convinced that the gods of Ragnarok were angered by her departure.

By the next night, we had our belongings clean, (mostly) dry, and our tent re-located to a spot that didn’t serve as the drainage area for all of camp, but that took up a day and a half, so by Wednesday night, we were pretty tired.  So, Ragnarok was a bit more adventuresome than in years past.

On Friday, some of us actually made it up to the field!  So many in our group this year couldn’t fight because of various medical reasons, so battle wasn’t a top priority this year.  But Clog had come close to finishing my awesome armor, so I had to give it a go.  It fits like a corset and he painted it black with the most beautiful and intricate hand tooling of the goddess Baast, Egyptian symbols, the eye of Sauron, the eye of Da Juhr Gah, and the Army of Mordor symbols!  I got stopped five times on the field with people wanting a closer look and to compliment the work.  It was awesome; the whole point of my armor was to make chest shots less painful, so I’d say it’s about the coolest way I could ever hope to achieve that goal.

We spent the remainder of Rag sheltering from the occasional storms, drinking, and playing games.  On Saturday, we spent 15 hours breaking down camp, putting our things in storage, and getting ready to head back towards the airport to crash at a hotel before flying out painfully early Sunday morning.  Dinner on Saturday was pizza at midnight in Ron’s and my hotel room.  Everyone looked about thisclose to death, except for Ullfer, who is only 13 and apparently capable of handling heavy physical exertion.

So, Ragnarok was fun.  But for the first time ever, I was very ready to come home!  My things stay dry here in Colorado, rain moves through quickly, and my house doesn’t flood.  It’s a good thing there’s a full year before the next Rag; that ought to give me enough time to be ready again!

The Final Countdown

So, I have been seriously neglecting my writing, mostly because I’ve been awfully busy preparing for the end of the world.  That is, RAGNAROK!!!  I can’t believe this will be my third Rag while writing this blog.  So much has changed.  Three years ago, I started Pole and blogging at the same time.  Ron got poles set up in the Stagger Inn for that first “pole” Rag.  I had been dancing for about a month.  I did my little spins and half climbs at the party and had a lot of fun doing it.

Then during the second year, we bought a second set of poles (the original set now stored in Colorado for events there).  My skills had soared so much that I was able to teach a Pole series class at Ragnarok.  I built a pole dancing army who danced at the Poisoner’s Guild party, and Mardi Gras later in the week.  This week, we have some pole surprises in store, but my skills have improved even further, and yes: I will be teaching again.  It’s incredibly exciting how BIG it is becoming.

And even more awesome is that I will get to see my very dear friend, Kiki, who moved to Pennsylvania last February to pursue her career as a Physician’s Assistant.  She is about four hours from the Rag site, and she is brave enough to come to Ragnarok for two nights!  It will be so, so wonderful to see her and spend a solid two days with her, PLUS she’ll be there for the Poisoner’s party on Monday night to do some dancing!  It’s shaping up to be a fantastic event.

I’ll come back home in 9 days black and blue, battered from Pole dancing every night, and fighting during the days.  And, once I recover from the extreme lack of sleep, I will be happier, more relaxed, and more ready than ever for events down the road.