It’s so dark in here that it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust. Muted red light gathers in pools at the base of a lamp sitting next to the wall. Near the windows, thin slivers of daylight have breached the heavy curtains and are betraying the reality of the outside world. Women appear as silhouettes against the far wall. They slowly peel off jackets and sweats to reveal scant clothing worn beneath. The mood is strangely anticipatory. A petite figure enters and takes her place in the center of the room. Forming a circle around her, the women begin a series of sensual stretches and slow pelvic thrusts. Sultry music bleeds through the speakers. “Get your hands on your curves, ladies,” urges the woman in the center. “Give your body the attention it needs and the affection it deserves.” Don’t get the wrong idea, this is just a warm-up. We’re learning how to pole dance.
There are seven silver poles that run from floor to ceiling at S Factor, located at Noble and Hubbard. The women gyrating slowly around them are in their fifth week of a six-week course. And they’ve obviously learned a lot. “One-legged firefly!” commands the instructor. A brunette in miniscule black shorts makes her approach, grabbing the pole up high. She wraps one leg around it and extends the other, pointing her toe with a dancer’s precision. Head thrown back, she pulls herself up and begins a graceful rotation to the ground. It looks impossible but as it turns out, the firefly is nothing.
“Today we’re learning the snake,” the instructor says. “You know what that means, don’t you?” Is it as bad as it sounds? “Yeah,” says the brunette eagerly, “we’re going upside down!”
A bespectacled blonde who looks more librarian than licentious attacks the move with admirable determination. “Don’t jump. Just grab it and pull your legs above your head,” says the instructor. Somehow, the blonde does it. Legs wrapped tightly around the pole, she is upside down and clinging like a frightened monkey. “Let yourself down, try again,” whispers the instructor. This time, the result is decidedly more seductive than simian.
The last twenty minutes are devoted to freestyle. The women pull on knee pads and six-inch patent leather heels. Through the speakers, Trent Reznor growls his bestial intentions. “C’mon!” shouts the instructor. “I want your ass in the air as long as you can keep it there!”
Dutifully, her students obey. (Sarah Nardi)