Sam Remmer - Pole Dance Community founder
Posted: Sep 20 2011
With the UK Amateur Pole Performer Competition taking place this weekend, we talk to one of the judges Sam Remmer who knows more than most about pole dancing since she is the founder of the Pole Dance Community. Sam gives a detailed insight into how she started and the current state of the pole dancing industry and I hope you all agree that working together is the best way forward to progress to pole dance industry and we at Pole Motion are 100% behind that and ready to do our bit.
1.How did you first get interested in pole dancing and what made you become an instructor?
The art of dance was established in 2004 after I was introduced to pole dancing by my friend Sophia who, since leaving the Windmill Club (a lap/pole and table dancing establishment), had noticed a negative change in her fitness levels and body shape. Pole dancing as a fitness was in it's very early stages and was far from recognised as a mainstream fitness, however Sophie and I hatched a plan to start our very own polercise classes with Sophie teaching and myself dealing with promotions and marketing. Things were slow to start and finding a venue was not easy. I had just resigned from the NHS and was desperate to get my teeth into a new project and was impatient to get the pole dancing classes working. I think at the time everyone thought I was mad as pole dancing was seen as an activity that occurred solely in strip bars.
My first view of pole dancing happened when I visited Temptations lap dancing club to check out for myself the pole dancing that Sophia was raving about. I was in complete awe of the ladies dancing on the poles as their dance form seemed so beautiful. I saw a lady called Porsche doing a back hook spin and decided that would be the first move I would learn. The spin looked so beautiful and graceful.
Sophia and I ran our first few classes at Temptations lap dancing club, but quickly realised that the lap dancing club was not the right environment to provide fitness based pole dancing classes to members of the public. It was certainly not nice to be warming up for a class then finding a cigarette butt stuck to your foot! After running another few lessons at Club Fandango, I eventually I found a fitness venue who were happy to give the pole dancing classes a go.
The very first official art of dance pole dancing classes were held at Saints gym in Mutley Plain, Plymouth, where classes were held alongside Thai boxing and Mixed Martial arts classes. The first pole dance classes used home-made removable poles made of 50mm stainless steel tubes that fixed onto a scaffolding rig that was also home to many punch-bags. There were 3 poles and early classes involved up to 4 students per pole. It was always a manic rush to get the poles in and out at the start and end of each lesson and the end of the lesson would usually involve a sea of male faces waiting for us to finish and take down the poles.
2.You are also the founder of the Pole Dance Community (PDC). Tell us how you came up with the idea to set it up and what you aim to achieve.
Sid (My husband and PDC joint-founder) and I were fed up with witnessing pole dance schools and companies jumping on the bandwagon and exploiting the pole dance industry. I think it really hit home when I was asked to cover a class at Exeter University and was told there would be 8-10 people per pole, I refused of course but then heard horror stories from other schools/classes. The final straw was when a student came to me from another school, she said she had been learning to shoulder mount and was at an advanced level but when she attended a class with me she couldn't even do the crucifix or invert, so the idea that she was trying to shoulder mount with no knowledge of where to put her legs nor the strength to accomplish the move safely made me really scared for the wider industry.
The PDC was set up an advisory body so that instructors, like myself, could join a community of people who shared the same concerns and who wanted the best for all pole dancing students. The idea is, and always has been, to get the PDC brand out there so that students can identify good, safe schools. The PDC is also about rewarding those instructors who do shell out on insurance, first aid, good equipment etc. It is hard to compete with an instructor who doesn't have to pay out for these legitimate expenses, if, for example, they have 5 students per pole and no insurance they can easily undercut another school's prices so the PDC tries to get students to be educated about why they should research exactly what they are getting for their money.
The PDC is still evolving but, by working together as a community, we are starting to get the results we set out to achieve.
3.How has the pole industry changed since you first started out?
I am not sure if the pole industry has changed that much, we still face the same stereotypes as we did in 2004 when I first started out and with the introduction of the Sexual Encounter Establishment laws and a clamp-down on 'pole dancing activity' I think we face even more problems than we did previously.
The main change for me is the growth of the pole dancing syllabus, when I first started moves like the Gemini and Shoulder Mount were the ultimate goal, now the goalposts have moved a long way away, especially with the blend of Western pole dancing, Chinese Pole and Mallakhamb - the possibilities seem endless!
4.How can the pole industry improve as it becomes more popular and accepted in the mainstream?
I think if instructors follow the PDC code of conduct then we are well on our way to a better industry. I also hope that more instructors can learn to work together and put personal issues aside. I have seen quite a bitchy side to the industry in the past, but this is definitely improving for the better. The more we work together, the stronger our voice and the more we can achieve.
The other great thing for the pole industry is the emergence of some really professional competitions and I am particularly excited about the United Kingdom Professional Pole Championships, I think this competition will really help to promote pole dancing in a positive light and will give some of the UK's greatest talent a platform from which to shine.
5. What is it about pole dancing that you enjoy the most?
Everything! I love the ongoing challenge, the pain, the bruising, the social factor and the chance to keep fit whilst having fun!
6. What are your 3 favourite pole moves and why?
That's such a hard question, I suppose I would have to say any type of Shoulder Mount, I just love them, the Shoulder Mount was my Nemesis for along time after I tried teaching myself to Shoulder Mount after seeing a video (big mistake!), I flung myself backwards towards the pole and ten just slid down into the floor landing on my eye-socket, it took along time to get my confidence back. Now I am stronger and have a better knowledge of correct Shoulder Mount execution I just love them, there are so many variations.
Perhaps the Gemini (inside leg hang) as it is my Mum's favourite move and she is disappointed if i ever perform and don't include one in my routine. Her favourite variation is where you grab your outside leg with your outside arm ad pull your toes towards your head.
Lastly I would say cradles (I think a lot of people call them recliners), they just seem to like me and most people seem to hate them, I developed the Knot whilst working on cradles.
7.What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how has pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or bodyshape?
Pole Dancing is just such an all round way to keep fit, it works you both aerobically and anaerobically, it boosts your confidence whilst allowing you to meet new people. My strength is at a peak a the moment and my flexibility is better now than it was 10 year ago. My body is also more toned that when I was in my twenties or teens!
8. If someone has never tried pole dancing before how do they get started?
I would advise using the PDC map to locate a school near you. Although there are many resources for learning at home you can't beat being in a class environment. If I was a student I would want the opportunity to attend a good school and have my own pole at home. Many schools offer beginner or taster session which give you the opportunity to try pole dancing without committing to a course, the chances are you will then fall in love with this gorgeous art.
If you find an instructor that is not PDC approved you can still use the PDC code of conduct for approved dance schools to see if it is a good school, ask the instructor how many students there will be per pole, any more than 3 is not acceptable, ask if the instructor has professional indemnity insurance and first aid, ask what type of poles the school has (poles like X-poles are ideal. I personally would never use a peek-a-boo pole or similar product).
I would also recommend joining up to the Advancement and Accreditation programme, it is a great way to chart your pole dancing progress and is ideal for both students and instructors. The grading system allows you to demonstrate your success to your friends and family and helps you legitimise pole dancing as a genuine fitness activity.
9. What’s next for you in the coming year?
Lots of judging - I am a judge for United Kingdom Professional Pole Championship (UKPCC), United Kingdom Amateur Pole Performer (UKAPP), United Kingdom Pole Artistes Championships (UKPAC), All Wales Pole Championships (AWPC) and the Bristol Pole Championships (BPC). Next year I am also looking forward to judging and performing at the Inter-Varsity Pole Championships which will be hosted by Bristol University.
In addition to judging I will be touring with the PDC to upgrade the PDC Syllabus, we will be doing filming days at several pole dance schools across the country giving lots or people the chance to submit new moves and add their own AKA's to the syllabus.
I also hope to get the chance to do some more master-classes, I have had a quite a few requests but this years knee ligament injury put those plans on hold.