I dreamed about Australia from my early childhood. This is whole another world, where Christmas is hot, and the koalas instead of squirrels are hiding in the trees. More than that, Australia is the country considered to be the motherland of pole dance. Here the first schools are already celebrating their 10th anniversary, documentary about pole dance is on air in Friday prime time on all-national channel, and there are held around twenty different championships of different levels and dance style. That is why when I saw announcement from Bobbi`s school about first ever only male championship – I didn`t hesitate a second. Then in my news feed I saw a post by Eugeniy Greshilov about one more pole dance championship in Australia – only three weeks earlier, purely sport - APFC. I recognized it immediately, as thanks to it I`ve seen Domenic Lacasse in action (not on the TV show) for the first time. I didn`t have that much time to get ready – less than a month, but I decided to take this risk, and began practicing two routines.
I have been doing the flip from a pole for a while. We even did a video with it. It was on several popular pole dance sites, got quite a lot of hits on YouTube, but nobody payed that many attention to it. Which is fair, actually. You can produce and edit anything you want, especially if you have several tries. But to do it in the competitions, on steel (not Chinese) pole, and more that that – bare foot (the ones, who are doing the flips will know, what I am talking about), that was a challenge. But to be totally honest with you, I was not that much worried about the flip, than about another trick – Chinese cartwheel. I did flips for more than fifteen years, on any surface, in any condition. But Chinese cartwheel, as all the tricks named with the word Chinese, was deadly dangerous. You go down with your head, barely hold yourself with the hands. One wrong movement, you don`t get a chance to come on any body part except your head and neck. I decided to do two of them. And then the flip.
There was one thing I didn`t think about, there is no Russian word for it – jet lag. That is a dreadful state of mind and body, provoked by fast change of time and climate zones. Insomnia, sickness, pain in muscles, horrible tiredness, to live through this you need at least two days. I had 14 hours. We couldn`t find any tickets to come earlier. Thank you, dear Ukrainian people, who just have to go to Dubai for May holidays. All the tickets for all transfer airports were sold out two months before I even found out aboit championships. The night before the performance I didn`t sleep at all. In Kiev it was 3 p.m., in my head, too. I almost fell asleep at 4 a.m., the alarm clock went on at 4:20. Somebody, who stayed in the hotel before us left in on repetitive regime. I couldn`t sleep anymore.
Participants were already stretching in the changing rooms. Derick Pierson – multi-champion of USA, Kazuya Naka – his video was among the first ones I saw, when started pole dancing, Michelle Shimmy, Travis Scott, Chris Talbot, Sammy Lee, Matty Shields… Champions, stars of TV-shows, circus artists, pole dance stars. Some of them knew me already, some – just smiled politely. It was raining hard, I just wanted to sleep and my head was spinning.
The rehearsal was no good. I did the cartwheels from the third try and fell on my hands from the flip. I had two hours left before the championship.
I went into the backyard, it was dark already, it was winter in Australia – early night. Th song played in my headphones for one thousand eight hundred fourth time, the rain was cold and heavy, the air smelled with ocean. I found a playground and for hour and a half ran through my routine between two child`s swings, until it was a time to get dressed.
Other participants had really good costumes. I had pants, that I've bought in the second hand store and cut. Derick was sewing more sequins, Kazuya putting more make up, Kristian was covered in diamonds. My wife and I looked at each other, but it was too late to change anything. We found a black marker for CDs, plastic card for hotel key, and she drew the bar code on my shorts, holding them on her knees. That was it - I was performing as a robot, who suddenly felt the heart beat in his chest and tried to be o e human.
Girls, who cleaned the poles, tried really hard, thanks them so much for that! During the rehearsal, they saw me doing the flip, and did worry for me sincerely. My heart was beating loud in my temples, I felt sick as the adrenaline rushed right into the extreme fatigue, tips of fingers went numb. The music started....
I was climbing up the pole, when I realized, I could win. The pole was perfect! It was dry, sticky, a little bit warm. High, stable and clearly lighted. But it was not even that. It wasthe audience. I remember Zurich, when I was afraid to look up from the stage. Europeans are very kind and polite, but they are not that open. Australians were wild. I saw eyes of each one of them, and there was that support I needed so much. The one that made me forget about the 26 hours flight, about that it was 5 a.m. in Kiev at the moment. I did two Chinese cartwheels, and then the flip. The audience went crazy. Derick ran backstage. He heard the loud sound of crashed floor and people screaming. "What happened? Is he alive? Did he fall?" - Derick was right next to me and asked me extremely seriously before not to break the poles.
I understood, I didn't do even one mistake. It was surreal on the backstage. I learned new English word - amazing. Michelle Shimmy came up to me. "Remind me - what's your name?" (I took a picture with her before the show). "How long will you stay in Australia? I'd love to do your private!" I couldn't believe my ars. Few hours ago I took a picture with her as she was one of the most talented and famous pole dancers from Australia!
The results were called fast and simply. No cheap intrigue, no fuss. Then I understood, that was typical for Australia. No cheating, no pomposity, only warm friendly atmosphere, mutual support and high quality in everything.
When Derick was called the runner up, I suddenly understood clearly - there it is, my first international title!
And the winner is... Alex Shchukin. Ukraine.