Laci Green is probably the best known sexuality vlogger on YouTube. Recently, she put together some tips on How To Be A Feminist For Halloween. Not surprisingly, a lot of her advice also applies to having a sex positive Hallowe’en. Basically, how NOT to be a weenie this Halloweenie.
This is the time of year when a lot of my parenting time is spent buying Hallowe’en chocolate, putting together costumes, carving pumpkins, buying more Hallowe’en chocolate because I ate the first batch… Socio-political considerations like feminism and sex-positivity aren’t necessarily tops in my mind as I get my kid ready for the fun, spooky days ahead. But Hallowe’en is a cultural occasion, with millions of participants. Through costumes, decoration, parties, food, media and more, there’s a range of expression and ideas on display this time of year.
Gendered costumes. Sexy costumes. Dressing up as someone from another culture or race. Hallowe’en is prime time to open up a conversation and share some of our values about these issues with our kids and teens. While eating chocolate.
Which reminds me, I need to buy more chocolate. Laci Green and I share a lot of the same values around Hallowe’en. This year, I’ll also share some of them with my son.
Brass Vixens is a Toronto-based studio - actually three studios - offering pole dancing and fun fitness solutions for folks who want to have sexy, sensual fun. After having been part of another pole dance franchise, CEO and founder Shannon Crane established her own business over four years ago and it’s been thriving ever since. I hadn’t had a chance to visit Brass Vixens since my return to the T Dot, so when I got an invitation to come out and try a class of my choice, I was game!
My first Brass Vixens experience was not unlike a first time sexual experience, though maybe not in ways one would assume.
First, I had to decide what I wanted to do. Brass Vixens has more than 600 classes to choose from. What aroused my interest most? Pole tricks? African dance? Burlesque? The options were almost overwhelming. I kept browsing the long list of offerings and eventually, I noticed a hula hooping class. I’ve seen some highly skilled hoop performers and what they do absolutely amazes me. I don’t have any real ambition to hula with the pros myself but the idea of trying a class that would let me indulge in the fantasy of being hooping virtuoso really appealed. A few days later, I still couldn’t get hoop class out of my mind, so I went ahead a registered for the next session.
My “big night” was set. Now I had to wait and I was equal parts excited and nervous. Generally speaking, I knew what I was going to do, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. It hoped it would be fun, but it could just as easily be embarrassing, frustrating or disappointing. “Just about everyone is shy their first class,” says Shannon. Which of course makes sense. Trying something new, especially when it’s in front of or with other people puts us in a vulnerable position. Fortunately that’s something that Shannon and the Brass Vixens crew understand.
“Our studios are boutique style, our capacity for classes are small (from 10 - so you will get personal attention and we are here to make you comfortable”.
Shannon also recommends coming to your first class at least fifteen minutes early. So the day of, I arrived promptly at 20 minutes to my first hula hooping lesson. Before I got there, I was a little worried that I would find the studio full of lithe, nimble twenty-year-olds. I don’t I have anything against lithe and nimble twenty-year-olds per se. I just didn’t want to stick out like an almost 40-year-old thumb. I was relieved to see that the Brass Vixen clientele was highly diverse. People of different ages, body types, ethnicities and fitness levels were hanging from poles and working their moves. “Everybody comes to our studios,” Shannon told me, “We have every age, body type, profession in classes and parties. From executives, actors, doctors, bartenders, architects and grandmothers.”
I checked-in with the very friendly receptionist, who immediately offered me a piece of cheesecake. Suddenly I felt very much at home.
After accepting a second offer of cake, I met Brass Vixen’s hula instructor, Miss Vee. When I explained that this was my first time, Miss Vee assured me she’d be gentle. She encouraged me to do what could, to go at my own pace and told me that ultimately having fun was more important than my technique.
I’m very glad she mentioned that last bit, because a hooping protege I am not. The moment I put the funky, striped circle around my body and began rotating my hips, my beginner status was obvious. Years and years of sitting on my couch and watching So You Think You Can Dance, have not left me with an instinctive sense of grace and movement like I hoped. While some of my more seasoned classmates were undulating languidly, I was gyrating at a furious pace, and dropping my hoop with a mighty clap at frequent intervals.
Despite my initial clumsiness I was still having fun. The music was pumping. The physical activity had triggered a flow of endorphins. My classmates were smiling at me encouragingly. Miss Vee praised my effort and made feel safe enough to try new things. As the class progress, I actually started to get a handle of some of the basic moves and found enough of a groove that I started feeling myself. I wasn’t great by any stretch, but I wasn’t terrible. With more practice, I might be pretty good. Near the end of class, I decided to try a few tricks. I was reasonably good at manipulating the hoop around my hand. Then I tried swirling the hoop around my neck and choked myself.
The first time is almost never perfect.
By the end of my first class at Brass Vixens, I was sweating, breathing hard and feeling very, very good. It was a fun, funny, awkward, sensual experience that made me feel good in my body and happy in my mind. I decided then and there that I wanted to come back and try again. I felt confident that with more practice, my skills would improve and even if they didn’t, I knew I’d have a great time trying. I’m now a regular visitor at The Brass Vixen studios, still a little awkward but feeling great nonetheless!