When Miss Pole Dance UK Amateur & Semi-pro competition announced the planned 2020 competition would now be purely online, we were thrilled. No travel expenses, no nerves from performing live, and more than one chance to get it right. We envisioned a relatively stress-free experience. After all, we could film our routine as many times as we wanted and end up with the perfect take. What could go wrong?
Well, our brains are masochistic when it comes to deadlines. Give us a month to do something and we'll wait 'til the month is nearly over. Extra time gives us extra procrastination time. We signed up to this competition in January 2020. We started working on it in August 2020. Then did nothing 'til May 2021, as we had another competition to work on. Adopting a puppy in April took up a lot of our time. The deadline drew nearer. Lockdown lifted and we returned to teaching three evenings a week.
Cat got golfer's elbow from lugging our 4 stage poles into and out of the halls we teach out of, and damaged her finger, meaning she can't use her right hand when poling unless her arm is straight. That meant reworking our routine and taking out anything overly complicated that triggered the pain.
The heatwave struck. Using stage poles in the blazing heat is like playing the floor is lava. Except the plates are definitely as hot as lava. That limited our practise to the evenings after the sun started to go down., but only on the evenings we didn't teach.
The final week dawned, we still hadn't finished the routine, and it rained. We were forced to work on our routine on our 8ft home pole, whilst trying not to land on our puppy. The Saturday deadline hunted us with the slow determination of Jason Voorhees.
On Wednesday, we decided it was filming day. It would give us enough time to film it several times in case something went wrong. We decorated our stage - the concrete area of our back garden where a garage once stood. Our mum and our dogs helped with the decorating. We donned our costumes and face tattoos just in case we got a decent recording, then summoned our sister and niece to man the camera and music.
It did not go well.
Lynx thought Cat was ready to release in a move, so let go. Not realising Cat hadn't landed properly, Lynx jumped on her for the mount, causing Cat to headbutt the pole. Cut! The phone stopped recording so we switched to our action cam. We had grip issues, our cat, Theo, invaded the stage, and just as we about managed to get a half decent recording, we had to stop to teach a class.
Thursday was a free day, so we figured we'd have hours to get the perfect recording. Our mum suggested we make spider webs out of bandages (we're spiders in our routine) so our sister and niece came to help. This is where having an ex-teacher for a mum, and a teaching assistant for a sister is a massive advantage - years of experience in making displays for the classroom has given them great skills. We had the great idea to stick bandages to our stage pole to make it look like a web. An hour later, we were about done. Don't get us wrong, it looks great, but it hampered our filming time. And meant we had to stick it back down between every take.
It was going fairly well until Cat cartwheeled out of a butterfly and kicked a pillar candle we'd positioned near the front of the stage. Cut! Our sister warned us it would happen, but we assured her it wouldn't. We were wrong. The ball of Cat's big toe swelled and bruised immediately. We took a break to get an ice pack and a Red Bull while we considered our options and debated about whether or not she'd broken a bone. The two hours she spent in A&E on Friday confirmed she hadn't - it's soft tissue damage.
Competing online definitely has its advantages: we can do epic set design for one. Coming from a creative background, this really appeals to us. In live performances, you're only allowed props that take two minutes to set up. Our elaborate web design took a couple of hours, so definitely wouldn't be allowed on stage. We can also do our routine multiple times until we get it right, and it saves us money on travel expenses, accomodation and other things we mention in our article about the cost of competing in issue 5. There're also no nerves causing fuck ups or panic attacks, and no horrific tension headaches.
The disadvantages are: pets invading the stage; rain limiting our filming opportunities; the agonising wait for the results; the camera recording automatically guarantees fuck ups; and the lack of adrenaline that only comes from performing live.
Overall though, we loved competing online and are looking forward to the two other competitions we entered. Which we haven't finished.
*Costumes by H L Designs