Australia, part 2 (pole dance)

Pole dance is several times more popular in Australia, than it is in Europe or, of course, in Ukraine. In every city, every 10 blocks, there is a school. Mostly Australians choose schools, that are simply closer to their home. But, certainly, if in the school one of the coaches is a champion or just a real sweetie, they will drive several extra kilometers to get to his or her classes. Mostly schools are big - several studios in one, with many poles. Poles, by the way, are also different from ours - the most popular ones are 38 mm brass. Sometimes, there are 45 mm or 50 mm stainless steel. I haven't seen even one school with a shower or a changing room, we are used to. Very rarely there is a receptionist or cleaning stuff. Owners of the school silently with a smile on their face, clean their own school, answer the phone, teach the classes and deal with bills. It is not because they can’t afford to hire someone, but because they just love their schools. And people do appreciate it. It is considered to be a respect for the client. Usually girls don’t care about their stuff and leave the bags with phones and money just on the open shelves, or don’t close the doors. In Australia people are used to trust other people.
Classes are divided to levels. Rules are pretty strict, teachers do have respect for their own time and effort. There is pre-payment, missed classes can’t be compensated. To go from one level to another you have to be able to do certain elements. Each school has its own rating of difficulty. Usually girls start to learn upper tricks on the third-fourth week. Of course, you can have casual classes. But it will be more expansive, and the time might be not that convenient.
I was pleasantly shocked by the culture of relationships between students and teachers. Very rarely girls drift among different schools, “stealing” of elements is considered almost criminal.
And by the way, striptease is not considered something shameful. Many teachers don’t make a secret of their past, if they did work in a club, when they were young. Or still do. A lot of girls students dance there, too, and invite their friends and teachers to performances. Australians clearly see the difference between striptease and prostitution. They live in harmony with their sexuality, are open to the world and respectful towards private life of other people. Later I will tell you more about Bobbi’s studio. I think, a lot of people in Ukraine and Russia will be surprised ;)
In Australia there are many championships. One better than the other. The oldest one is, of course - Miss Pole Dance Australia. It is organized by legendary Bobbi, it was won twice by Felix, and was never ever one by representative of any other school, except for Bobbi's. In Australia there are many discussions on this matter, if it’s fair or not, but whatever they say more and more girls each year desperately try to get in. Miss Pole Dance is not a sport championship. It is massive stunning show. Tickets are sold out weeks before, the winner gets beautiful prizes and gorgeous crown, amazing stage light, sold out DVDs, and very, I mean, very sexy performances. Show or not show, but level of participants is mind-blowing. Crazy splits, effortless power, and the main feature - easiness in the performance of the most difficult elements. All the world is waiting for the video of next winner. Russian split on 15 sm heels, hah? By the way, all the girl perform on high heels. Among the winners - Cleo, Porsche and Felix.
Australian Pole Dance Championship. It is the most thought through system I have ever seen in any national pole dance championship. The qualifications carry on for one year in every Australian state. In all nationals finals get only the winners, and also one representative from each category, who was the runner up, but got the most points among all the runners up from other states.
In championship there are several divisions - the main one- females, groups (including doubles) and battles. There s no men’s division yet, but guys can participate in groups and battles. If I was Australian, I would LOVED to participate in battles! Participants get only one minute, and they've got to show everything, they can do. It looks absolutely awesome! Among the winners of the championship there are adored by Australians - Chelle Heffner and Kylie Hunter. The championship is organized by Elizabeth - owner of gorgeous pole dance studio in the Australian capital - Canberra. She is strict and extremely organized, the championship is has extremely high level of demands and even higher quality of organization. It is held in prestigious theatre, with huge stage, gorgeous videos and prizes worth 10 000 $.
And of course, my APFC – Australian Pole Fitness Championship. I've wrote a lot about it in my previous post. It is organized by beautiful couple - Lisa and Rohan. Those kind of people, who really live each other and spread their love into everything they do and everybody they deal with. The championship had the warmest atmosphere, you could imagine. Rohan checked all the poles and constructions himself, and Lisa took care of each participant as if he or she was her own child. By the way, their child - Justice - is only nine years old. But she already does the craziest tricks - Marchenko rainbow, handsprings, drops into Russian splits etc. He even teaches classes to other children in Lisa’s and Rohan’s studio in Melbourne. The organizers take excellent care of everything important for participants - quality of stages and poles, level of participants, their comfort, level of judges and openness of the scores, video and photo footage. The main feature of championship is it’s sport direction. No shoes, minimum of show, maximum of trucks. Also there are uh divisions as Chinese pole and hoop. And who would dare to tell it’s not a sport?
Besides these championships in Australia there are a lot of others - city, school, state championships. Around ten of them -before amateurs. Note that in order to get into professional championship you HAVE TO in amateurs championship. In order to get into international - you have to win the national one. No exceptions. That is why when Australians finally get into the international competitions, they have already the huge experience of performances and competitions.
That’s it, by now. Are you jealous? Cuz I am


Australia - Part1 (APFC)

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.

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