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Addyson Santese

How am I? The answer depends on how close I am to chrome.

As a pole dancer, the world feels better if I’m the one making it spin. When I connect my palm with the metal and grip the pole, I can believe that I’m in control of what will happen next.

For an hour or two, the real world contracts, melting into streaks of color as I spin with unfocused eyes. A dreamy 80’s synthwave soundtrack makes me nostalgic for a time before I was born when global lockdowns were just sci-fi plot points. The only thing I see is the fixed point directly in front of me. My shiny chrome tether reflecting a cylindrical reality.

Off the pole, I try to maintain that feeling of control and identify a singular focus. I tell my mind to concentrate on work or cleaning or staying six feet away from other people at the grocery store.

But sometimes my thoughts begin to spin out of control. They whip around wildly, building momentum that becomes too powerful to hold on to. What if I lose my job? What if the economy crashes? What if I get sick? What if my mom gets sick and she ends up in the hospital? What if this is only the beginning of the virus? What if-

I’ll let you in on a pole dancing secret - both the pole and the dancer can turn. Whether the pole is set on spin or static, a dancer has to throw their body around the pole to create the angular momentum that makes them spin. Centripetal force tries to pull you close to the pole and the centrifugal force attempts to rip you off the faster you spin.

Another secret is that everything in pole dancing hurts. Everything.

Each new move makes its mark on my body. Small brown and purple speckles orbit the baseball-sized bruises on my inner thighs. Blisters form at the tops of my palms, covering the tracks of old, torn-off calluses. Skin screeches and erupts in red hot streaks when I lose my grip.

But with time, the experiences are no longer new. Gripping the pole between my thighs, leaning all the way back, and letting both hands go doesn’t terrify me as much anymore. Grabbing a mask before I leave my house and wiping down all of my groceries with Lysol are becoming second nature.

Every single spin around the pole makes you more resilient. Your skin becomes a little tougher so it hurts a little bit less. Your muscles become a little stronger so you can hold on a little tighter for just a little longer.

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