Sitting opposite me in the foyer of The Pole Room is a woman as graceful and delicate as the white rose on the table in front of her although, with Sue, there is always more than meets the eye. Outside of The Pole Room Sue is a 62 year old community care attendant who loves to read, be in the garden and spend time with her two whippet dogs and cat, but inside the studio Sue is much more than many people her age dare to be – she’s an inspiring pole artist; as fierce, strong and sexy as any person that steps foot into a TPR pole dancing class. As the gentle morning sun lights up the room, I watch as Sue’s eyes light up similarly when she talks about her deep love of Pole Dancing.
So why did you start pole dancing Sue?
I guess because I was getting bored at the gym and I wanted to incorporate some beauty, style, grace and finesse into my workout and at the same time make it fun and hang onto what sexiness I still have left (laughs).
I want to do pole dancing now because the time will come when I can’t do it anymore because I’ll be far too old. So this is a big priority in my life at the moment.
What do your friends think of you doing pole dancing?
Well, some of them are a bit, you know, (putting on a hilariously patronizing face) “Ohhh yeah?” But most people are supportive because they realise that I’ve become very focused and that if I go for something I go in – boots and all – and that’s it. I can really latch onto something. I’ve had some people in my age group sort of literally look me up and down and go “Pffft”, you know?
And what do you say to that?
Well, I say to them: “What’s the alternative? Be like YOU?” (Laughs). No I don’t say that, I don’t say that. But I do say, “Well, you know what, I’m quite happy about it; I’m happy and comfortable with what I do, so make your own arrangements bud.” Basically, I think you get to a certain age, well I know I did, where I don’t really give a damn anymore. Honestly, I know that there’s nothing I can do to change anyone else’s mind; all I’m responsible for is me.
Absolutely, whatever makes you happy. And what do you think about people that criticize pole dancing in general?
What I try to do is, I try to find a nice opportunity to politely let them know that it is a fitness modality. Yes, it may well have started out in strip clubs years ago and it might still be in strip clubs, however, it is now a bona fide fitness modality and it is gaining worldwide recognition and I think there is even a move to push it into the Olympic arena.
So why do you come to The Pole Room?
Because it’s just a great community, its very supportive, very nurturing, and everybody really is out for everybody, you know. No ones nasty; it’s a very nurturing place.
Which pole dancer inspires you the most?
Well, Jas (Owner) obviously is one. And Mel, my instructor; and Jules (another instructor) too. There’s too many to name! Each dancer has their own style that’s quite distinctive.
Anybody that can do better than me inspires me. Anybody who is doing the best they can and I can see improvement in, inspires me. Even if they’re in a lower level than I am, I get inspired by their dedication and efforts and the motivation that they have.
And in the same way do you feel like you inspire others that aren’t yet at your level?
Apparently I do. It’s only recently that it’s come to my attention though, and I was really quite gob-smacked, and also very touched.
I don’t think you realise just how much everyone here is so moved by you. Not just by your pole progression, but who you are as a person; the positivity you bring to this space and the spirit you bring to this community.
Stop it, you’ll make me cry.
It’s true! We absolutely love you here because what you bring to this space is something that every single person here looks up to as women of all ages. Even these teachers that inspire you, you inspire them in return.
It makes me cry when I think that there are people here that really look up to me, you know, I just feel so ordinary.
But you’re not, you know?
Yeah, I’m just an ordinary person that goes home to a messy house and has to shower and wash the dishes and all that.
But you forgot to add that you’re also an inspirational pole dancer. I heard that you are going to perform a routine in front of everyone soon, even though being in front of an audience is hard for you?
Well it is because I’m, not really a centre-of-attention type of person. I know I’m a bit loud and brassy at times (laughs), but yeah, this performance is kind of a personal challenge I’ve had for quite a long time.
What’s the song and how would you describe the dance?
Everybody wants to rule the world, by Lorde. And it’s dramatic; dramatic and sexy.
Amazing, and what would you say to anyone of any age that is thinking of starting a pole journey?
Simply, do it?
Yes, do it! Because at the end of the day we all have the same insecurities and anxieties and everybody else around you has got the same difficulties. We are all really the same so you may as well just get in there and do it. And honestly, you never know where it might take you…