I’ve recently run across a few articles/blog posts (from fellow pole dancers/instructors) that have placed a serious negative connotation on self teaching, basically stating that an improperly installed pole + YouTube tutorials = a recipe for disaster while implying (if not bluntly professing) that individuals should only be learning pole dancing from certified instructors.

I’m very rarely let down by my pole sisterhood but this ate at me enough (or should I say inspired me) to write this post.

I was very disappointed to hear a fellow pole artist push this connotation. A lot of men and women I know are self-taught and better artists for it. Pole is in its blossoming stage as far as public studios go and many individuals do not have a pole studio near them to attend or simply prefer the comfortability, pace and/or freedom of self-teaching. Our community is based off self-taught individuals and pushing the idea that self-teaching is somehow wrong or irresponsible is beyond disappointing and certainly not how we support each other in the pole community nor how we grow or innovate as dancers.

As incredible as pole is it needs to be taken exceptionally seriously. It’s rough on your joints, bruises become a permanent body feature, sore muscles are a norm, cumulative or sudden damage to the body is a constant concern, spinal cord injuries are a true possibility, surgeries are common and every dancer suffers an injury from time to time no matter how careful, skilled or trained he or she is. Pole is a high-risk sport and proper training is required. Precautions must me made from crash mats to continually furthering one’s education and knowledge of the body. We must learn anatomy, spotting techniques and adopt proper stretching practices as well as learn to properly fuel our athletic bodies… the list could quite literally go on forever on what we ‘could do’ and no dancer can ever ‘do enough’ to ensure everything they are doing is 100% spot on because the needs adjust to the goals and change with time and circumstance. Nothing we do is perfect the first time we try it – we build a foundation on which to progress, we embrace our journey and learn from our failures.

You must be tenacious, you must be self driven, but above all you must commit to the understanding that pole must be done with proper technique and that if you are not learning from an instructor, that you yourself must do the legwork in educating yourself to ensure your own safety and progression. If you can take on that responsibility then I whole-heartedly encourage you to self-teach and reap its fruitful rewards.

I not only find that self-teaching is tremendously rewarding but it allows your own unique style to naturally be an integral part of every learned movement. It allows you to move at your own pace while solidifying your foundation and encourages innovation in movement.

That is not to say, by any means, that part of our further education should not include learning from others, taking workshops, etc to grow as movement artisans but simply that it is not ‘wrong’ or should be discouraged if one chooses to teach themselves the art of pole. Connecting with others in the trade will come naturally and is easily done in our current technological age in a self-taught circumstance.

At a risk of sounding again like a scolding mother, we should not be looking down on others preferred style of learning and most definitely not promoting the idea that self-teaching is wrong or should be discouraged. Most serious badass polers are or have been at some point in their journey self-taught. Students become teachers and competitors no matter their learning preferences or backgrounds – we grow and learn and evolve in our craft in the ways that best align with our own personal goals… this is what needs to be encouraged.

Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t – ever – even yourself… especially yourself.