This guest post comes to us from Bob Zamora, who has found empowerment and self-expression through the art and sport of pole dance. We asked him to share the story of how he came to Own His Strong (and his Sexy) on this unconventional path.
My pole dance journey started out as a joke.
My wife’s boss invited us to a Halloween costume party. I didn’t bother to listen to the details when Carol mentioned the party. I dislike costume parties. It was obvious to her that I wasn’t listening. She cut the discussion short by saying that she was going with or without me. I decided that, “going with or without me” translated into, “You are going, or you will regret it.”
The next question was costume. It was then that I thought I had a way to keep from ever being invited to a Halloween costume party again. I decided to go in drag. Bargain hooker Bob.
Shopping was fun. We found makeup, breast forms, size 11 pumps, a mini skirt, and everything you need to make a guy into a very ugly woman.
Party day came, and I found myself standing inside a Denver strip club. Carol’s boss had rented out the top floor of the club for her party. We had to cross the main floor to get to the staircase. There were four women in various states of almost naked, pole dancing on stages. Carol was dressed like a pirate in boots. She took one look at the lay of the land and bolted for the staircase. She left me in a cloud of dust, wondering if I could make it across the main floor without being noticed.
The men didn’t notice. They were focused on the women. But the women picked me up in seconds. They all stopped dancing, looked at me, and started cat-calling like I was the sexiest woman they had ever seen.
I could feel the burn as my face flushed. The MC ran out and stopped me. He looked at me and offered me $25.00 to get up on one of the stages and pole dance. He said I could keep my tips. I laughed, shook my head, and he mercifully let me escape.
My curiosity got the best of me when I got to the top of the stairs. I started watching the women on the poles. They were strong, sexy, and fluid. The seed was planted. The next time someone dared me to pole dance, I figured I would take their money, and at least five one-dollar bills in charity tips.
Four months later, I found myself in shorts and a baggy t-shirt standing in front of a dance pole. It was a private lesson. There wasn’t a studio in the Denver Metropolitan that allowed men in group classes. March 2009.
My big joke on my wife’s boss turned into a life-changing event.
Over the years I have learned what it means to literally and figuratively pole dance in women’s shoes. There really isn’t any way to truly describe the transformation in words. I just know that for three years I danced entirely in the company of women.
After a month of private lessons, my teacher realized that I was really serious about learning to pole dance. She introduce me into regular pole classes. The women at the studio were welcoming, and made me feel very comfortable. It was there that my pole journey started in earnest.
I never tried to do strength-based pole tricks. The studio curriculum wasn’t about tricks. It was very much modeled after S-Factor LA. My teacher had danced with Sheila Kelly and JK. I learned hip circles, freestyle dance, and making the connection with my heart and body.
I was totally off balance for a very long time. Men don’t grow up worrying about how their body looks in the mirror. And there I was in pole shorts, figuring out how to dance to the music of Alice in Chains. I was suddenly seeing myself in very different light. I saw myself in the very same eyes that other men use when they objectify women.
I learned vulnerability. When I let go and danced freely, it sometimes hurt. Other times it was scary
After three years at my first studio, I moved on to new studios and started taking private lessons with Estee Zakar. Estee watched me freestyle one day after months of working entirely on tricks. After I finished, she looked at me and said that I really needed to perform in public.
During the spring and summer of 2013, Estee and I choreographed and submitted video entries to the North American Midwest Pole Dance and Colorado Pole Championships. My time on stage in Chicago and Denver showed me that I really loved the dance side of pole dance. I lost all interest in learning advanced pole tricks, and focused on blending ballet and pole dance. Estee has been with me every step of the way.
That First Pair of Platform Heels
When I lost interest in pole competitions, I really started to notice a change in how I felt about the erotic side of pole dance. One of the studio’s where I dance opened their Art of Sensual Movement class to men. It is a stripper-style, heels-and-legwarmer class.
I knew that I was probably going to lose a few of my more conservative Facebook friends when I buckled the straps on my first pair of 7 ½” Pleasers. I stood up, scared the hell out of my cats, and wobbled around the house. I actually lost the Facebook friends when I posted a short video clip of me doing my best Sexy in heels to “Cola” by Lana Del Rey.
I don’t know where my pole journey leads. All I know for certain is that I have had to grow a thick skin, and ignore a lot of misogyny in the last seven years. Yes, misogyny. The very same sexism that cuts women, also hurts men who pole dance.
But the struggle has been worth it. Mainly for the moments between the poles on big stages, and the very first time I danced for a woman. I learned to lap dance in my co-ed Art of Sensual Movement pole class. I will always remember that moment when I made eye contact with my partner and gave her my best “Magic Mike” hip rolls and leg shots. And then I slid up onto her lap. I felt attractive in a way that I had never experienced.
For me, pole dance is all about emotional and physical strength. I will be forever thankful for the women who have shared their pole journeys with me.
In real life Bob is research meteorologist. He started pole dancing seven years ago and has finally figured out how to do a fireman spin. He has danced as a Master Division finalist in the 2013 Colorado Pole Championship, two North American Pole Dance Championship Showcases, the Northern California Pole Presentational, VerticaLove: Canadian Pole Artistry Showcase, and numerous Denver area studio showcases.
In addition to pole Bob also takes classical ballet classes, and plays ice hockey. Bob is a student of pole champion Estee Zakar and ballet dancer/choreographer Sarah Tallman. Bob’s pole dance is inspired by contemporary ballet dance, and the sexy side of pole dance.
Bob lives with his wife Carol, two Siamese cats, a dance pole, and a few pair of eight-inch platform heels, in Westminster, Colorado.