I felt so pure dancing barefoot in my cheap Penny’s sports bra and thought ‘I am nothing like a stripper’

“I always liked dancing, but I grew up in a lower-middle-class family in Co Louth, and the only option around was ballet which was out of our budget. I did art in college and I was always looking for experiences that are a little out of the ordinary. That is how I ended up taking some pole-dancing classes in my home town. I remember, my first teacher had to be very vocal that we are not strippers, we are doing this for fitness and flexibility. It was probably the only way she could get away with teaching pole dancing in a small Irish town. I felt so pure dancing barefoot in my cheap Penny’s sports bra and thought ‘I am nothing like a stripper’. Back then, I was still doing it as a hobby but graduating art college during the recession meant I ended up being on the dole. All my classmates who could afford to went abroad and I felt left behind. By then, I had won some competitions and learned as much as I could from my teacher. After a good while of looking for a ‘proper job,’ I decided to invest in pole-dancing with the dream of having my own studio one day. I stayed at my parent’s house, saving up for months to be able to travel to Italy to meet this Australian girl called Amber Ray. She is one of the best pole dancers in the world who moved to Europe to teach. I made it my business to go there and learn from her. Amber was the first person who challenged me about my ‘I am not a striper’ mentality by questioning my confidence about my own sexuality. She completely shifted my interest from the fitness aspect to the feminist side of pole dancing. Initially, I wanted to create a business where I could teach people how to be fit and feel strong but now it’s more about building confidence and making them feel comfortable in their own bodies. I love to watch the transformation in our students who are at the beginning, often avoid looking at themselves in the mirror, into these beautiful dancers developing their own choreography and radiating confidence with every move they take.”

Check out Irish Pole Dance Academy.