Jazzy on Pole Dancing and Comedy
“Breathe, you got this. What did I get myself into? Breathe. Have fun.” These are the thoughts that run through my mind before I take the stage. I’m anxious. Once I hear myself being introduced, it’s showtime. No turning back now.
And then it’s always over too soon. I walk off stage with a big smile on my face. “I did it!” It is exhilarating being up on the Schtick It stage, in front of an encouraging and accepting crowd.
Schtick A Pole In It is a night of comedy and pole dancing. Six years ago Dan Goodman and JoAnna Ross created the show as a benefit for a friend. The night was so successful they decided to keep the show going monthly.
You wouldn’t necessarily think that pole dancing and comedy mix, but Dan and JoAnna have created something really special. I remember being an audience member during their very first show and now I sometimes still can’t believe that I’ve had several opportunities to be a part of the cast.
With very little formal training, I never thought I’d ever be able to call myself a dancer or a performer. When I was younger, my mom couldn’t afford to keep me in dance school. I would attend my cousins’ dance recitals wishing I could be onstage, too. Pole dancing gave me that chance.
I could have done myself a favor and chosen an easier hobby, though. By easier I mean easier to explain and more easily “acceptable.” People often ask me, “So are you a professional dancer?” or “Do you dance in clubs?” My answer to both questions is yes. I have competed and achieved professional status as a pole dancer, and I am hired and book gigs that want to showcase pole dancing in clubs. But I know that I’m not answering what they really want to know. The people who ask these questions are usually unfamiliar with the world of pole dancing. I end up telling them about the national and international pole competitions, the different styles of pole (including contemporary, which is done without heels), the pole being used as an apparatus for self-expression, and most important, why pole dancers wear so little clothing. (The exposed skin helps us stick!)
These conversations can get tiring, but as a black woman, I am used to breaking down barriers and defying stereotypes. I grew up in the hood, but always wanted to see the world. Thus far I’ve traveled to 36 countries and counting, which means plenty of opportunity to find myself saying, “No, I was not born in Africa. Yes, black people can also be from the United States. No, we are not the source of all crime.” I hope that my efforts to learn more about different cultures continues to create a space where they can also learn about mine, and I can dispel preconceived notions about people of color.
I take the same approach with pole. Just by doing it—by continuing to put it out there and performing (not to mention answering all the questions)—I invite others to learn more about what it means to be a part of this community and what it stands for: acceptance. I felt accepted from the beginning. Because being a pole dancer in itself has been taboo, the predominant feeling is that we are all in this together. I think we are telling the world that we are strong and confident, and that it's okay to be sexy and love the skin you are in.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are, what your background is, how you identify, if you’ve ever danced before, whatever—the pole world says, bring it on! When I perform for Schtick It, I express that self-love on stage. And, I hope, I spread that energy out to everyone watching—plus break down as many stereotypes as I can along the way.
Schtick a Pole In It
November 24 Hedwig and the Angry Inch
December 21-22 Pole Christmas
January 25-26 6 Year Anniversary Show
Tickets are $20-$30 and are now available online at http://www.ticketfly.com/search/?q=schtick or cash at the door.
85 Ave A NY, NY 10009