Interview with Beth Randall

Posted: Mar 21 2012

We talk to Beth Randall, one of the future stars of pole dancing who was a winner for the second year running at the Pole for U aNd I Inter University Competition 2012. 

1. How and when did you first get interested in pole dancing?
I got interested in pole dancing when I went to university. I had done five aerial circus lessons back home which I loved and I wanted to find something similar at uni but there was nowhere in York that did aerial circus. I had really enjoyed the feeling of being able to play and mess around upside down, and the rush when you nail a move and when I saw that my uni offered pole exercise classes I was very tempted to see how similar it was. It took me a whole term to work up the courage, but like many others, after watching Felix Cane I just knew I had to do it. 

2.What is it about pole dancing that you enjoy the most?
There are so many things I love about pole it’s hard to pick one, from the fun I have in classes to the buzz on stage. But the special thing for me is that I have really weak ankles that mean normal types of dancing or acrobatics are always going to be hard for me. Pole dancing gives me the chance to dance and enjoy using my body without feeling like my ankles put me at a massive disadvantage. Plus I get a little kick out of telling people that I’m a pole dancer, and I think my mum does too.

3.You recently won at the Pole for U aNd I Inter University Competition. How do you feel being a winner for the second year running and will you be entering any more competitions in 2012?
I was absolutely ecstatic to win, I worked my butt off for it and my competitors were so good that it felt like a real achievement. And to be chosen as the winner by those judges was just amazing, I was trying to explain to my friends before I went down; “just imagine you were taking part in a gymnastics competition in uni and Olympic medallists came to judge you”. I was trying not to act like a 13 year old fan, but I definitely was star struck when I saw them. It was an amazing day, and I made some really great pole-friends at the competition last year so it was great to catch up with so many of them this year. Near the end of this year I’ll be competing in the amateur division of the British Isles Pole Championships. I’m incredibly excited, and really nervous, and I’m going to have a lot of fun coming up with a new routine and costume for it.

4.How has the standard of pole dancing at University changed over the past year and it is now more popular?
I think it’s really interesting to see how the standard shifts within our club each year. It’s a big problem for uni clubs that people will get really good and then graduate, so it’s hard trying to keep a really good level up. At the start of each year you have a lot of new people just learning how not to bruise too badly. But the overall standard has definitely improved. Last year there were only three people in the advanced category of pole for yoU aNd I and this year there were about 9 or 10, that’s a massive leap and my guess is that it’ll only go up each year. As more clubs pop up round the country more people come to the club saying that they’ve taken a few lessons back home and want to continue classes at uni.

5.What are your 3 favourite pole moves and why?
1) The first one is a very basic spin we call showgirl or spinner, and I love it because it feels like you’re flying for a second.
2) The second is shoulder mount because it’s just so much fun, and you can pull it out on a street sign when wearing jeans. It’s one of those moves that even people who haven’t seen pole dancing before can understand that it takes a lot of strength to pull off. 
3) And the third is handspring because when I got it I felt like I could do any pole move ever if I just tried hard enough!

6.What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how have pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or body shape?
Pole dancing helped me make one of the best groups of friends ever and it’s kept me sane through so many hideous essays and exams. It’s also entirely changed my body shape because I was always pretty skinny, but I didn’t used to have any shape, but now I have a waist and nice arms and killer abs. It’s also helped me see my body as a useful tool and these days I want to eat good food and look after my body because then I can do more pole.

7.What’s your favourite move for strength training on the pole?
I have a little routine that I use when I want to blast my whole body. First I’ll upside-down climb up and down the pole, then flip the right way up and free arm climb (all arms, no legs) up and down, and then finally aerial invert to climb up the pole, switching sides for each invert. If I’m still feeling ok after that I’ll do a few aerial shoulder mounts to work out the abs, shoulders, and back muscles.

8.What pole performers do you admire or inspire you?
All of them! There are a few that make me absolutely green with envy, but I love Rafaela Montanaro because she’s ripped and can still be graceful and she still has fun on the pole. Natasha Wang reminds me that even though I was never a dancer or a gymnast I can still get really good at pole. When I watch Oona Kivela I want to go and work on my technique! And when I watch all the various people on YouTube who are at all sorts of different levels I am inspired to get more involved with the amazing community pole dancing has created.

9.If someone has never tried pole dancing before how do you advise them to get started? 
Go and watch Felix Cane, and Jenyne Butterfly and Bendy Kate on youtube. Then, go and buy some little shorts, test them in the mirror to make sure you don’t flash (this is very important!), and find your nearest pole school. Some of them can be pretty expensive, I got lucky as the uni one is a lot cheaper, but it’ll be so worth it. (And if you’re in York then Google the York University Pole Exercise society, you don’t have to be a student to join and I promise to have you spinning around in no time.) And then in a few weeks’ time test your shorts again because if they’re not yoga or pole shorts they will almost certainly stretch and flashing is just no good.

10. What’s next for you in the coming year?
Fingers crossed I’ll be graduating and then I want to find some voluntary work to gain experience in community development. I’m hoping to take pole instructor qualifications and teach in a really nice studio at some point but I’m not sure if that’ll be this year (but if anyone is hiring you can definitely contact me through pole motion!). And in between all of that I want to learn the holly drop, and the iron x and that walking on air iguana thing that Jenyne does.  



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