So Alive: Rocks Off Goes To Pole-Dancing Class

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The things we at Rocks Off won't do for work. Craig Hlavaty has gone undercover as a guido for a look into the Washington Avenue scene. Chris Gray trolls Craiglist for the most... interesting... entries. And we, as the token Rocks Off lady, are the one who gets to go to the pole-dancing class for a story on sexy songs with which to seduce your significant other. [Ed. Note: In our defense, the classes are female-only... we're sure Craig would have loved to go.]

The idea was spawned by a recent Groupon offering two introductory classes at Sheila Kelley's S Factor. You know Sheila Kelley. She's that actress from L.A. Law and, more recently, Lost, who learned how to pole-dance for a role in the film Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Kelley later incorporated yoga and pilates moves into what she'd learned and launched what she calls a feminist movement.

Even though Rocks Off is four goofy appendages attached to an awkward torso, we became the sacrificial lamb. And lest you think S Factor is all sexy or something, know this - even Martha Stewart has tried it.

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Brittanie Shey
Our first class was Friday night. Rocks Off showed up at the Galleria-era studio and wouldn't have known we were anywhere but a typical dance studio with wood floors and a nice, welcoming interior if it weren't for the lucite shoes and fingerless elbow-length gloves for sale against one wall of the lobby. Then we met our instructor, who was wearing a lacy tank top and a black lace bra, thigh-high leg warmers, leopard-print panties and nothing else.

No cameras were allowed inside S Factor's three studio rooms while classes are in session, but in each is a wall of benches covered in fluffy pillows. Several silver poles are placed equidistantly apart, and some rooms have overstuffed armchairs. The floors are a warm-colored wood, and the room would look like any ballet studio in daylight except the barres are vertical, not horizontal.

However, even in the middle of day, the lights in the studio are dimmed very low, and the only color comes from a handful of red lamps in each corner. The effect is so Lynchian we almost swore Angelo Badalamenti was coming from the instructor's iPod.

Once Rocks Off knew a stripper who conceived an entire elaborate dance to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." She'd come out onstage in a white glove, black porkpie hat and gilttery vest with little else underneath and rocked out the MJ moves.

That was the only modern striptease we'd ever perceived as an art, as more than just a prurient talent, and it also broke our preconceived notions of what kind of music strippers can dance to. Forget "Cherry Pie," The teacher for Friday night's lapdance class started us off with Love and Rockets' "So Alive".


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