Weighing Scales

Hey Everyone, I know it’s been a while but being cooped up in the apartment for weeks with two sprained ankles didn’t spark much inspiration for a new blog post. I’m back at work now , preparing to teach one of my workshops in Galway City in 2 weeks time and planning for some pole dance performances I’ll be doing over the summer. If you want to find out where exactly I’ll be performing you can tap here.

Today I want to talk about something that affects all of us no matter what size we are and that’s our body image. Like most, its something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I always carried a few extra pounds and even as an adult, when I was at my smallest I still saw a “big girl” looking back at me in the mirror. Ive also noticed this a lot in strip clubs, I’ve seen the most beautiful women at work picking their bodies apart , wanting to lose weight / to gain weight / have bigger boobs / have smaller boobs / have a bigger butt, you get the idea. The strip club is a different world when it comes to body image I guess and some customers feel like they have permission to tell you what they think is “wrong” with your body. It’s definitely something I experienced when I went up two dress sizes over a year ago. Imagine already feeling bad about your body and for an absolute stranger to tell you, “You could do with losing a few pounds” or “I’m not paying for THAT!” I’ve gone home crying over some of the things that men have said to me at work, it shouldn’t matter when these men aren’t exactly Calvin Klein models themselves but of course it still hurts. Being a dancer means you need to be resilient, goal focused, money focused, charming, beautiful, funny (the list is endless) and to be honest, it gets exhausting. #stripperburnout

The worst part about my weight gain is that I WAS desperately trying to lose it. I was watching what I was eating, exercising and trying to limit myself with sugar and alcohol. The pounds crept up so slowly that I didn’t even realise until one evening my favourite pair of jeans didn’t close anymore. I later realised that my weight gain was connected to taking an SSRI anti depressant and after a bit of research I discovered that some of these drugs can even slow down your metabolism. I decided to speak with my doctor and she agreed that I was well enough to come off of the medication. I’ve seen huge changes in my body in the last few months, one of them being weight loss. I feel less bloated and my clothes fit better. I know the weight is coming off, the stretch marks are physical proof but I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head saying things like: “are you really losing weight?” “You look bigger today, maybe you’re actually gaining weight”. Some days I don’t know what to believe and it’s annoying that it’s such a huge deal for me. It’s easy to see why weight gain is something so many women obsess over when it’s being spoon fed to us as children through the media. I can remember at age 10 I was comparing my body to a fully developed woman in a magazine, not to mention that the models I grew up looking at were severely photoshopped and edited anyway.

So, what can we do to spark change in society when it comes to body image? Well, we can start by following body positive women like Beanie the Jet, Shanka B, Princess Ivy and Alabama Whirley,(just some of my favourites) instead of buying into the industries that make us hate our bodies for profit. We can stop following the celebrities who are endorsing laxative teas and other weight loss products. We can teach our daughters and sisters how to look after their bodies and encourage them to feel beautiful no matter what size they are. We can teach our sons and brothers that they are not allowed to voice their opinion on our bodies without permission. We can support sex positive/body positive porn directors like Erika Lust, because like she says, most children learn about sex from porn. (And body standards in my own opinion). And I think that we can just be a lot nicer to each other in general.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post and I always love hearing from you! Please feel free to comment or message me directly if you have any queries or just want to share your own body image story. X

Pole Performing

*since I first thought about writing this blog post I managed to sprain both of my ankles so I won’t be performing for a while lol.*

Hey Everyone! I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for a while now, It’s currently 6am, I can’t get comfortable enough to sleep and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to share my journey with getting back into performing. If you’ve read my previous blogs about mental health, you’ll know I fell out of love with pole dancing for quite some time. I lost my rhythm, I didn’t enjoy dancing and it had started to feel like a chore (as did everything else in my life). I’d also gained a lot of weight and the view I had of my body wasn’t great. I hated watching myself on camera or seeing photos of my performances. Since coming off of my medication in the last 3 months I feel as though I completely turned my life around (you can find out more about my mental health journey here).

A few months back I decided to email my friend and first ever pole-dancing instructor Arlene Caffrey to ask if I could dance at her studios annual birthday party. I’ve always loved dancing at the Irish Pole Dance Academy, the poles are high, the lighting is beautiful and the audience is so supportive and amazing, I couldn’t think of a better place to ease myself back into performing. I had 3 months to build my strength and put together a piece for the showcase but as per usual life happened, The months leading up to the showcase ran away from me because I’m constantly on the go and before I knew it, the show was less than a week away!

Panic started to set in, I wasn’t prepared and I started to doubt myself. I thought:

“what if I’m really bad?!”

“What if I’m not strong enough?”

“What if I make a fool of myself in front of everyone?”.

Pulling out of the showcase wasn’t an option, being an event organiser I know how stressful it can be when performers start dropping out and I knew I couldn’t do that to Arlene. I decided that I would just have to suck it up and pull myself together. My strongest points in dancing at the moment are freestyle, flow and sex appeal because I do it every week at the club. I decided to stick to what I was most comfortable with and messaged my friend Leanne and asked her to be a human prop for my piece. After all, I believe it’s better to do the tricks that you are able to do well instead of trying something you’re not comfortable with in the hopes of impressing a crowd. And so I did what I always do, and I completely winged my performance, nothing was planned and surprisingly I loved it!

Before it was my time to dance I warmed up well, I knew that I could at least impress the audience with my flexibility if I wasn’t doing pole tricks. (Also my hands were sweating from nerves so much I was happy I didn’t do any pole tricks lol). I listened to my song over, and over, and over again until I knew every beat and then, I just went for it. The whole experience was amazing, dancing for my friend Leanne under the spotlights. The crowd was so supportive and the screams they let out were enough to shatter your eardrums! In that moment I remembered why I fell in love with dance in the first place. If it wasn’t for pole I would never have learned how to love my body in the way that I do now , I could never strip down in front of a stranger and I never would have discovered how passionate I was about music. Watching the video of my performance on the journey home made me emotional, I had tears in my eyes while grinning from ear to ear. Performing at IPDA again reminded me that all I ever need to do is try because if I don’t put myself in these situations I’ll never learn or grow.

This piece is dedicated to my friend Arlene Caffrey, The beautiful studio she worked so hard to create and IPDA’s students and instructors.

If you’d like to check out pole dance classes in Dublin City you can check out: https://irishpoledanceacademy.com/

Stigma in Entertainment

Hello friends, today I need to get a few things off of my chest and address some of the issues I’ve faced when organizing a little show of mine called TABOO Pole Show. For those of you who are just being introduced, it can be described as a sexually liberating event which includes professional entertainers from many different walks of life. Some of our performers come from the adult entertainment industry and others are professional dancers ranging in drag, burlesque and of course, pole dance. In the past I have hesitated when posting about the struggles that I’ve faced in the production of the event, because in the world of business we tend to hide the negatives in fear that some day, they might come back to haunt us.

Now, this isn’t all negative. I want to start by saying that we are so lucky to have a group of respectful, talented and open minded performers, but when it comes to some of the venues that have booked us, I’m afraid I can’t say the same. I’m used to stigma from working as an adult entertainer, in fact I almost expect it. Lately Ive noticed that many event managers just dont seem to understand or respect the vision that I have for our show. For the last few years I’ve been placed in a sex positive bubble, surrounding myself with other strong, independent and business savvy women, I sometimes forget that to the average Joe I’m just a woman who twirls around a pole and takes her clothes off for a living.

From day one I decided that I would not white wash our event, I would not “clean it up” to please a wider audience and I definitely wouldn’t discredit the roots of pole dance to make it more socially acceptable. My vision for TABOO was to show everyone that we can be strong while being sexy, we can and will be allowed to celebrate our sexuality on stage and just maybe, we could help others to feel a little bit more accepted in our current society. Unfortunately, the more I seem to push for this show to be a success, the more my eyes are opened to the discrimination and disrespect towards some of the sexually liberated in the Irish entertainment industry.

I say “some”, because it’s clear to see that other groups of entertainers just don’t face the same stigma as pole dancers. It doesn’t surprise me when stigma is so deeply rooted within the pole dance community. Some women are still trying so hard to distance themselves from the origins of poledance that hashtags like #notastripper and other whorephobic slurs are used all over internet. Some women even claim that their beloved hobby has stemmed from Mallakhamb and Chinese Pole (Which are both male dominated by the way). In my opinion , the idea that modern day pole dance could be connected to either of these sports is ridiculous. I believe that it’s just another way for society to belittle and ignore the talented women who developed pole dance on strip club stages across the globe. I mean, football and basketball are both played with round objects but it’s pretty obvious to most that they are not the same activity.

While organising TABOO in the last year I’ve been let down more than once by “professional” venues and event managers. In one of the worst cases , a venue failed to clean broken glass from the stage properly (after I repeatedly asked) which resulted in our dancers having cut knees and left to squeeze glass out of their legs the following morning. In other cases I’ve been lied to, sold false promises or flat out ignored when reporting issues. Some may think that I’m overthinking or jumping to conclusions in saying this, but believe me when I tell you that I have years of experience when it comes to reading people and situations. Before I worked as a dancer I was a door to door sales woman, My training involved learning how to read body language, overturning objections and selling like my life depended on it. (Working on 100% commission, sometimes it did)! I once used the same selling techniques that venues have tried to use on me. I can see through the facade and believe me, from working as an exotic dancer, I can sure as hell tell when someone is silently judging me.

If you’re new to the idea of event organising, allow me to paint you a picture. First of all, I have the responsibility of hiring performers to dance at the show but I also need to pour a lot of time and money into promotion and advertising. For the weeks, and in some cases, months leading up to the show I’m creating posters and flyers, advertising online, organising music, themes and design, arranging poles for our dancers to perform on and then after that, with the little time that I have left, I am trying to choreograph and prepare for my own routine for the event . (Oh, and this is all outside of my time working at the club and teaching pole dance). Now imagine dealing with an unprofessional venue after all of the unpaid hours I’ve spent making sure the night runs as smooth as possible?! If my love for the show wasn’t as strong as it is I would have given this up a long time ago.

So, what does the future have in store for our wonderfully sexy and liberating event? Only time can tell but I will continue to search for a safe and professional venue. TABOO’s dancers and audience are our number one priority and it’s important that they enjoy each and every event. I won’t stand for any venue belittling everything that I work so hard for and thankfully, I can see that slowly but surely our little island is waking up to the idea of sexual freedom and expression.

Are you a performer who has experienced stigma in the entertainment industry? Please get in touch by using the contact form below. I’d love to hear from you!

5 Tips for having a great night at the club

Hello friends! I thought it was about time to do a strip club related post seeing as that’s why I started the blog in the first place (lol!)

I’ve had a weird few weeks coming off of my medication and talking about mental health on the blog was very therapeutic. Thanks for hanging in there and supporting me. ❤️

Tonight I’m sharing my 5 top tips for having a great night at the club (can also be applied to other walks of life). Keep on reading to find out more…

1.Wear appropriate but comfortable clothing

Sometimes we buy outfits that are smoking hot but end up being sooo uncomfortable! Do not wear them to work, I repeat, DO NOT WEAR THEM TO WORK!

It doesn’t matter how good it looks while you’re standing still, if you feel uncomfortable and you’re constantly pulling and picking at yourself for the whole night it will probably affect your confidence. I have so many outfits that I just cannot wear at the club because they don’t support my boobs or give me a serious case of the wedgies. Just keep those ones for the bedroom instead, they won’t be on for long anyway! 🔥

2. Wear comfortable heels

I don’t care what anyone says , nightclub heels are not appropriate for strip clubs and I see a lot of new dancers making this mistake. It’s worth your while investing in stripper heels, brands like Pleaser are designed for dancers. They have a chunky platform and cushioning in the foot bed, plus they’re literally designed to withstand hours of dancing and will last a lot longer. If you really want to wear fashion heels I suggest going for a chunky or block heel. Trust me, your feet and back will thank you for it.

3. Check yourself

One of the hardest parts about dancing is staying positive when the night is falling to shit! I’ve had nights where there has been little to no customers in and the ones that have graced us with their presence are rude or uninterested. Understandably, when that happens all I want to do is scream, cry, go home or all of the above! If you’re feeling the pressure of a slow night it’s important to take yourself aside and give yourself the best damn pep talk known to man. Go and have a cigarette, a drink or chat with someone who makes you laugh and then get back out there AND MAKE THAT MONEY!

4. Don’t get too drunk

Look we’ve all been there but it’s important to learn from our mistakes. Getting hammered will only affect your money, judgement and make you sick the next day. Know your limits and sip as much water as possible in between drinks to stay hydrated. Also this will help you avoid getting in trouble with management! (Oops I’ve been there once or twice lol).

5. Stay away from negativity

Protecting your energy at work is so important and if your anything like me, other peoples bad moods can rub off on you easily. Stay away from bitching and negative talk otherwise you’ll end up drained and tired. Something I’ve learned over the years from working in sales is that nobody wants to buy from someone in a bad mood and negativity is contagious. Stay away from rude customers and surround yourself with positive people at the club and you’ll be more likely to have fun at work.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post , please let me know if you’d like similar posts by commenting below! Wishing you all a weekend full of happiness and abundance.

Body Confidence

Hey Friends! I’m currently writing this blog from bed as I recover from a stomach virus. I’ve had some time to rest and reflect and to also think about a topic for todays blog post. Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of questions in my inbox along the lines of “How are you so confident?” or “How can I have the same confidence as you?” and my answers are always:

1. I’m not as confident as you may think I am.

2. Being confident is a learned skill just like anything else in life.

For some people, they grow up being praised by their parents and are told that they are great and beautiful and I believe that this is what shapes them into the confident beings that they are today. For the rest of us it can take some time to figure it out on our own but don’t fret, I’m here to tell you that ANYONE can have confidence and it just takes some practise and persistence.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll already know that I grew up suffering from depression and anxiety. I also had very low self esteem and had problems with comfort eating and being over weight in the past. One of the best decisions I made was to start pole dancing although the idea was scary as hell! I would watch videos of these beautiful, strong and bendy women wrapping themselves around poles and I was infatuated! I wasn’t sure if I could ever succeed at pole dancing and the thought of standing in a room with strangers, wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt terrified me. It’s hard to believe that almost six years later, I’m a certified pole dance instructor and I’m now teaching women (and men) how to love their bodies and own their sexuality.

I want you to know that your size absolutely doesn’t matter when it comes to body confidence. I was a size UK 8/10 before I started dancing and I still saw a “big” girl looking back at me in the mirror. I hated my body and I would pick it apart daily. Joining pole dancing made me realise that nobody in the room was judging my appearance and everyone was a different age/ shape/ weight/ size. I’m so happy for that first pole dancing class because it gave me the confidence to show my body to a group of complete strangers and it was one small step in the direction of becoming the woman I am today.

Photographer- Holger Haase

Now, loving myself and accepting my body didn’t happen over night and It’s still something that I work on to this day. My body has changed so much over the years, my weight has gone up and down through different stages in my life but the most important thing that I’ve tried to work on recently is to stay happy and healthy rather than desperately trying to be “skinny”. Instead of thinking about losing weight I now think about how I can treat my body and mind better. I also make a conscious effort to say nice things to myself. Your smile, kindness and actions are all factors of your beauty. I really believe that when you’re happy and healthy on the inside it shines through on the outside.

The next thing I’ve learned about confidence is that sometimes it can totally be faked. You’re probably already familiar with the saying “Fake it till’ you make it”. The phrase suggests that if you imitate confident qualities in your everyday life, you will eventually begin to carry them out naturally. Many years ago, while working in sales, my team leader used to say that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Think about that for a second, In just 21 days of faking it until you make it you can naturally possess the confidence that you desire! Seeing as the new year is approaching us I challenge everyone reading this blog to 21 days of forming a healthy habit. Maybe you’ll take on a new activity, cut out an unhealthy diet or start saying positive affirmations every morning.

If you’d like to take part, just follow the Facebook group “21 Days“. I created this online community to help you all discuss and smash your goals. If you’d prefer to share your challenge over on IG just follow: @ava_henny. Come on, what do you have to lose?!