By Dorcas Washington
Finding your niche isn’t always easy or intuitive. And more than that, it can change over time. When I first started pole in 2018, I wanted to master tricks as soon as possible. That’s it. But as time progressed, I understood that I need something to string these tricks together more fluidly. I realized that I wanted to move beyond the combo. I became interested in aesthetics and flow, in addition to wondering how and where I’d ever apply these tricks. I knew there were pole competitions, but I’d never heard of Pole Sport Organization before. So when Heather, the owner of my gym, mentioned competition to me, I jumped on the opportunity. It sounded like exactly what I was looking for.
Pole Sport Organization (PSO) recently added Low Flow and Floorwork with levels to the competition. At this point I had been pole dancing and doing Liquid Motion for a little over a year. I started this journey towards the end of my Master’s program and decided to continue after I graduated because of the great workout and friends I gained. All my fellow students and even the instructors at my studio, Dimension Fitness, knew Liquid Motion was my jam. So I signed up for Level 2 Junior Low Flow and Floorwork at PSO Central. I did everything right. I trained for weeks with an advanced student at my studio and I did the studio showcase as well. But I got dead last.
Disappointed, I waited for my feedback. I thought the judges’ comments would help me understand how to improve. At the very least, I had pictures and videos from my performance. When I received my feedback, it barely mentioned anything on my floorwork. I hated almost all of the photos, and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the video. When I thought about competing again, it obviously didn’t come with positive vibes. So I took some time to think about it.
I thought about what I had to gain from doing this competition again – redemption. I want to be proud enough to look at my video and pictures and not cringe. So, not too long after I got home from PSO Central, I signed up for Great Lakes. I immediately felt this dread and fear like I was making the same mistake twice. This feeling stuck around for longer than I liked, and I started to allow doubts to sneak in. For PSO Great Lakes, I signed up for the Exotic category. While that felt more in alignment my dancing style, it wasn’t a perfect fit.
Meanwhile, my friend asked if I was interested in taking her place in a Liquid Motion Certification that she had already registered and paid for because she was no longer able to attend. After agreeing to my friend’s suggestion, I waffled on my decision to take the training because I had no desire to teach. Even going into the first day of the certification, I still didn’t know what I was getting myself into. How I would use this certification without teaching?
During the certification training, I got clarity on why certain things were difficult for me and others weren’t. For example, the wide hip pitch and prancing moves were very difficult for me. From the training, I discovered that my lower abs were weaker that I originally thought. It made sense that doing this movement for prolonged periods of time would be a struggle. At the same time, I began to see why shoulder rolls were easy for me. I seemed to have a better understanding of the pelvic tilt and tuck when lying on my belly compared to being seated. The overall Liquid Motion training experience definitely confirmed my suspicion that I should be in a floorwork-only competition and not a pole competition. But I had already signed up for PSO Great Lakes, so I continued to train the best I could.
After three or four training sessions, I heard that PSO had announced Great Lakes After Dark, meaning All Floor All Day. My heart fluttered at the news. I quickly switched over to the new category and worked on choosing a song. I sat down with Heather and we selected the perfect song. I strung together a couple of moves in my head and then recorded it. I freestyled to the song with and without shoes, recording both sessions. I decided on shoes because I liked the way it looked on camera.
And then it hit me. I needed to change my focus to what I wanted, not what I thought other people wanted. I started adding in moves that I liked and wanted pictures of myself in. There weren’t a lot of lyrics to the song I chose, but it kept repeating “hold me,” so I used that to create my theme. I wanted to become the girl the audience and a special someone wanted to hold and care for in an intimate way. So that’s exactly what I did. I sprinkled in a few tricks to keep people guessing and engaged, but even those tricks were still things that I loved.
The day of the competition came, and I was nervous. I started to mentally pick at things that were the strongest in my piece. I took my time working on my makeup, hoping to take my mind off what I was getting ready to do. In reality, I just wanted to get the whole thing over with.
I got on stage and the music started. All I could think about was breathing and lingering. Taking my time and basking in the moment, even when the move was very difficult for me. Connecting my breath to the movement really saved my ass at times! The last thing that kept popping into my head was keeping my tongue in my mouth and making sexy faces. I bowed and got off stage. Afterward, I immediately sat down and took off my boots, trying to catch my breath. I felt extremely proud of myself. I knew that I’d be happy to look at my photos and see my body move in the video.
In the end, the feedback was phenomenal! I received criticism in the exact areas I was looking for, and I cannot wait to explore and improve on my movement. Also, it didn’t hurt that my pictures and video were amazing. Most importantly, I felt redeemed. I was truly proud of myself. Furthermore, after training for what seemed liked forever, (in reality it was only 5 months) I felt relieved!
While I wasn’t able to take many Liquid Motion classes due to my schedule, having access to my licensed Liquid Motion online materials assisted me during this period. The most beneficial materials were actually videos of others using the #getliquid on Instagram; it kept me inspired and motivated to keep going even though I was exhausted.
So, would I do it again? I think so. If I could accomplish all my other goals while still training, I’d do it. But honestly, life is busy. It’s difficult to squeeze everything in. However, I also recognize the importance of getting feedback on my pole and Liquid Motion journey, and I understand that setting a personal goal like participating in competition is one of the more accessible ways for me to do it.