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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 06:20 GMT
Men in position for pole dancing
By Chirag Trivedi
BBC News, London

Swinging around a pole with one woman cheering me on and another taking photographs felt like a rather disturbing role-reversal after a number of stag nights.

Pole dancing
Pole dancing is about fooling your brain into defying gravity

I have never had any real sense of guilt about visiting strip clubs but I soon began to realise just how physically demanding it is for a woman to gyrate around a metal pole.

And now thanks to Hollywood actor Jude Law, who admitted taking up pole dancing to get in shape for his role in Closer, men can take to the stage to strut their stuff.

Polepeople, who have been running pole dancing classes for women in London for the last two years, will soon begin lessons for men - which it claims are the first in the country.

Its director Alison Hudd was quick to distance the company from the adult entertainment industry.

We have no association with any lap dancing clubs - of course, what they do with what they've been taught is up to them
Alison Hudd
"The classes we provide are for fun and health and an alternative form of exercise," she said.

"We have no association with any lap dancing clubs - of course, what they do with what they've been taught is up to them.

"We have been inundated with men asking if we do classes for them ever since Jude Law's comments.

"We have taught men before but only private lessons. This will be the first men-only ones."

Having agreed to sample one of the private lessons, I was curious to know what sort of man would want to learn to pole dance.

Different anatomy

"We got quite a lot of calls from guys - about 50 - and we also got calls from girls who've got boyfriends or gay male friends who wanted to do it," Alison said.

A course of four, two-hour classes over a month cost 90.

The lessons will be altered to take into account the different anatomy of men.

One of the instructors Nicky Smith, who will take the all-men classes and who was herself taught by a man, said: "Men have a lot more upper body strength and with some of the tricks it goes into the realms of gymnastics almost.

Nicky Smith demonstrates how its done
If I can do it with these heels on ... so can you

"When we have been setting up the women's classes, some men that work at the venues ask if they can have a go on the pole - and after 10 minutes they are fighting over whose go it is next.

"And we've heard a lot of stories women on our courses buying poles to use at home, only for their men to use it more than they do.

"And that happens because it is fun."

And I have to admit it was.

It was like being a 10-year-old again, fooling around on the school gym apparatus.

After a warm up session - which at one point involved stretching my feet in case I wanted to wear high heels - we get straight into the swing of things.

Nicky had me doing the 'Corkscrew', the 'Swing', the 'Seat' and the 'Body Roll'.

Despite encouragement from Alison and Nicky with comments like "that was really good" and "very graceful", I did seem to spend much of the 45-minute class on my backside.

But at least I was entertaining.

As well as the physical exertion - with muscles I didn't even know I had aching for the next few days - the biggest difficulty was retraining my brain.

Me on my backside
I did spend most of my time on my backside

At times I was being told to "lift my leg off the ground" or "not to grip the pole so tight" which instinctively makes you think you will come crashing to the ground - and I very often did.

But Nicky, who seemed to defy gravity with both her moves and huge high heels, said it does take time to get used to it.

"It's not only a new way of exercising but a new way of thinking," she said.

And it has changed my mind.

Poles on trains and buses are no longer there to just stop you falling over and scaffolding has suddenly become strangely attractive.

Pupils' pole dance class shelved
11 Nov 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Anger at pole dance plans
26 Jan 04 |  Kent


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