How To Start Your Own Pole Dancing Group

16 Apr

Christina Dy is the founder of Polecats Manila. It is because of her determination that every time we were challenged, we accepted it. She wrote about the story of our group, and how it happened one small step at a time. Enjoy πŸ™‚

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Everything in my life starts with a heartbreak.

Almost six years ago, my then-engagement to my now ex-fiance didn’t end up in a wedding. It broke me. I wallowed for months, and I didn’t know how I was going to get up from it. Then one day in 2007, I got a text from Mich Dulce saying she had tried this pole dance and striptease class and that it was so much fun, we should try it. I decided it was time to get out of my shell and said yes.

So I went with Mich, and I sucked. I couldn’t do anything! No spins, no climbs, nothing. At that time I was a couch potato and weighed 20 pounds heavier. It didn’t help that I had no dance or athletic background whatsoever. But I was in awe of my classmates, one of them being Mirell Macalinao, who ended up becoming a founding member of the Polecats. On that first day that I couldn’t do anything, Mirell was already doing things upside down and doing splitty and bendy things. I had never been strong or flexible all my life, so I was challenged.

I kept coming back, even if I still couldn’t do anything the next few classes. Until one day, I was finally able to climb onto the pole. Just one climb. But I was happy. That was all I needed to push myself some more.

Pole classes then weren’t like the classes we have now. It still very new, so it wasn’t organized, there was no syllabus, no safety precautions. It was fun, but I had so many injuries– right wrist, right knee, right ankle– that I thought, there must be a better way of doing things.

One day, our teacher left, and there was no one else who could teach us. But Mirell and I had already paid for 6 months of classes, so I demanded to use the studio even without a teacher. We would play around, figuring out stuff for ourselves, researching on YouTube, and we found out that doing pole doubles was fun! That’s how our first pole duo GirlVSGirl (GVG) was formed (thank you Mihk Vergara for that name!).

In 2008 I got offered to teach, and I said yes. For a long time, I had only one student– the physical therapist of the Polecats now, Kristine Warren. But she left to pursue her PT studies. Good for me that I managed to convince my friend Kris Isaac to try out pole. She had super short hair then. Then Myla Tan-Santiago came to class (Kris thought she was masungit, haha), as well as Margaret Chualao and Caryn Ortiz– whom we dubbed our ballet girls.
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And then, one night at Capone’s where GVG was performing, Kayleen Ortiz was in the audience, and while still in her school uniform, tried a couple of things on the pole. She came back the following week and I told her to take official classes instead.

Our classes were just an hour long at first, and got longer and longer as we got stronger. That much time together helped us became good friends. We wanted a class t-shirt just for fun, and so I asked Mihk again for a name– my requirements were that it was 2 syllables, and would look good on a t-shirt. Without blinking, he said, POLECATS. Kris then designed the Polecats logo that we still use today.

In October 2009, GVG got offered a gig at Ascend, I said yes. Without really asking the other girls, I told the organizer that it was no longer just GVG, that we actually had a pole group. Good thing the other girls were willing to perform too! So on October 31, 2009, we had our first gig together, and the group Polecats was born.

First gig

We decided that we needed more dancers in the group. Kris brought her friend Mara Andres to class and Donna was teaching hiphop at the same studio. We convinced them to join our new little group. We had another gig in January 2010 called FunkPoleOthers, where we danced with live bands (thank you Mike Constantino!). Amaya Gonzalez was in the audience and said she wanted to be part of our group. A little later on, during International Dance Day 2010, we met AJ while dancing in the LRT. He tried a trick or two, and was instantly hooked.
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One by one, our little group was expanding. We wanted to put up videos on YouTube, which is how we found out that someone already owned Polecats (it’s a punk band!), and so Kris modified our name to Polecats Manila.

The boyfriends were included in this new pole family of ours. They helped us so much, and were such an integral part of the group we had to give them a name, and of course, a shirt! We called them the Police.

The Polecats family was complete.

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Early on, it was very clear to me what kind of pole dancing I wanted to do. It wasn’t the sexy type in the giling-giling sense. I wanted it to be like cirque du soleil, to break the stereotype. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t even do a split at that time, I just believed I could do it. I also believed that everyone could learn too, given time and proper training.

From one class composed mostly of us, we grew to several classes of different levels. My once half-page syllabus of spins and tricks expanded, and is still expanding. We knew there were still so many ways to improve the way pole dance was being taught. So Myla and I went to HK to study, and we became the first pole-dance certified teachers in the country.

We did shows. We performed in the dance festival Wi-Fi Body at CCP. We also did corporate shows and shows with bands. We did photoshoots. We loved what we were doing and wanted to share it to the world. We worked hard to spread pole love.

But operating under management wasn’t satisfying– we couldn’t do things the way we wanted to. So we left and found Gen Studios which was to be our home for a year.
That first few weeks weren’t easy. We had just a handful of students, and only two classes a week which never got full (and sometimes had no students). But we persevered.

As word spread, that handful of students got bigger and bigger. Enough to put on our very own student show in the summer of 2011 which we called Stellar. It was a sold-out show at Teatrino! sailor 1 draft

It was then that we started dreaming of our own pole studio– high ceilings, black floors, lots of poles.

Our students, whom we fondly call Kittens and Tigers, became our friends, our family. We watched them grow, get better. I hung out with a lot of them, chatting and eating out. They told me how pole dancing helped them get over a heartbreak, more comfortable in their own skin, made them happier, how pole changed their life. Most of them never imagined that they’d be doing pole dancing, or that they’d feel this free. Most of them come to the studio to feel safe, energized, to de-stress, to feel alive. I still keep some of those messages in my phone’s inbox just to remind me why we work so hard.

I knew that a studio of our own would not just be for the Polecats, but more so, for our students. And so we started towards that dream.

We did a lot of gigs and we saved the money. We put up our show with the Manila Symphony Orchestra, then we lost money. But we knew that aside from the business side, we had to do our artistic shows as well, if only to show that yes, this kind of pole dancing was possible. We fought with each other. We made up and became closer. We won and placed in several international pole competitions along the way.

We did more gigs. We decided that if we were going to have our own studio, it would have only the best equipment. So we bought x-poles. Our studio would also have the best teachers. So we took first aid classes. We also had mandatory company class so everyone in the Polecats would get better and stronger. We took workshops from other pole teachers abroad– Mai Sato, Oona Kivela, Zoraya Judd, Marlo Frisken, Jenyne Butterfly, Alena Downs. We also took aerial silk and hoop classes.

We also decided that we would give our students the best possible pole class we could. We continuously streamline our syllabus. We study, study, study. We had mats made for safety. And very recently, we brought in US Pole Champion Natasha Wang to give the students some workshops.

In 2011, 360 Fitness Club (good friends of the Polecats family!) had this great idea of converting the penthouse of Strata 100 into a wellness complex, and did Polecats want to join? I asked the family, and we said yes.

Fast forward to Holy Week 2012. The Polecats and the apprentices (yes, we are a growing family) are slaving away at the new studio. Stripping paint, sanding wood, painting furniture, painting the wall, framing photos, mopping the floor and eating donuts. Every single day, morning till night.

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Last April 9, at 11am, we opened our doors.

Margaret and I used to joke that I’d have to find a sugar daddy to have our own studio. Turns out I didn’t need to. All we needed was a group of hardworking and passionate people who believed in pole dancing and in each other. And because of all that hard work, our family now has a home for all our kittens and tigers.

We once had a dream. And I do believe our new home is a place where dreams can come true.

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14 Responses to “How To Start Your Own Pole Dancing Group”

  1. augustana April 16, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    So the root cause of all women’s success is a ….heartbreak! Just kidding. πŸ™‚ Good read, CD. It’s very inspiring. It doesn’t only pertain to forming pole groups but also to just going for what we want in life no matter how impossible it seems. My motto for this year is, “Sinong nagsabing hindi ko ‘to pwede gawin?!?” Hope to see your new studio soon and CONGRATS. Cheers, Claire Lee

    • polecatsmanila April 16, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      Hahaha! Well, you can turn anything into a great story, if you put your mind into it πŸ™‚ Thank you! Hope to see you soon!

  2. Hannah Villasis (@flaircandy) April 16, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    *tears* This should be turned to a movie. Congratulations Polecats. I do believe in hardwork to persevere and I believe in this dream. Proud to be a kitten ^_^

    • polecatsmanila April 16, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you so much hannah! We are happy that you are part of our family πŸ™‚

  3. jovy April 16, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    CD! What an inspiring story! I vow to make my way to your studio soon…

    • polecatsmanila April 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      Hope to have you as part of the family soon! πŸ™‚

  4. tania quiray April 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    super love your story. we’ll be forever proud to be polekittens. Congratulations! πŸ™‚

  5. ju April 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    wow! amazing story.

  6. Janina April 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Very inspiring teacher CD! You and the rest of Polecats are my inspirations πŸ™‚ thank youuu!

  7. Reichell Raz April 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I’m proud to be part of polecats family πŸ™‚ t.cd tnx so much for the inspiration as well the other teachers..God bless :)))

  8. Jessica Cuenca April 17, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Almost teared up! You guys are amazing! Can’t wait to see you all again πŸ™‚

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