This photo means so much to me for so many different reasons.
My pole life began at A Pole New Adventure with Gemma, and over the two (?) years I was there, I went from complete newbie doing one uni society class a week, to a close friend of Gemma’s, an instructor, and I feel confident in saying, a large part of the studio. APNA fostered all my close relationships, all the good things that happened, all the fantastic people I met. We laughed, cried, danced, stretched, competed and performed, just lived our lives together.
As a group, a handful of us battled the closure of APNA for longer than we probably want to admit. The final closure announcement was part relief, part unbearable grief.
In March 2017, I was armed with three poles, very little teaching experience, and absolutely no confidence. My pole family rallied around and came to my classes, we had a laugh and a good time, but in what world could I stand up to what we used to have? We were hiring a studio for a couple hours a week. I couldn’t afford to pay the rent to train myself, teaching around my full time job was exhausting, the overuse injuries started to appear and I had no idea how to teach more advanced stuff.
When my birthday came around in October, all my UoS students had come back, things started to feel a little more at home, I was kinda getting into my flow with teaching, and I wanted something to celebrate that. The first thing we did as Off the Ground together, something very us. We pulled a photographer who was available on such short notice out the air, and he seemed well up for what was a very extraordinary idea. We had a huge group candid shoot (about 30 of us), and then I invited 9 of my students who had supported me the most through those 6 months to stay for something extra special. We got hella undressed, threw cake at each other and took some fantastic photos which the internet will never see 😅
This photo means so much on so many levels. The carnage that is the remains of the cake, all over the floor and ourselves. The collection of heels, all different and fantastic in their own way, not organised or sorted, just being with each other. The wand in the middle because we’re freaking princesses.
But the one thing that keeps this photo consistently in my mind (it is still my background on my iPad, three years later), is the anonymity of it. That could be any 9 pairs of legs. Whose they are is irrelevant. Especially with teaching the university society, students come and go, they move away every year. But I remember every single one of you. You never leave the OtG fam. So the friendship, the unity, and the sparkle, glitter and carnage of this photo, I see all my students in it. Past, present and future.
Just like this photoshoot, specific events can do so much.
A throwback to great times (like us being at APNA)
The start of a new chapter (This photoshoot being the first time we felt like family again)
A chance to be truly present in the moment (like the joyful candid magic that was this photoshoot)
Things to share and tell the world (like this photo here)
Things that, well, you had to be there (like the photos that will never leave our computers 😅)
And a glimpse of fantastic things to come.
Like the day I had this photo beautiful recreated as a piece of art, to be hung in our own studio, three years later.
None of this would have been possible, and I owe all OtG’s initial successes to the following people.
True credit for all these fantastic photos go to Rich Sayles, who has become a firm part of the OtG fam since we met at this shoot, a sole provider of fantastic photos, lots of laughs, and part of the best quarantine lockdown household there ever was.
Gemma Hopkins for kickstarting this incredible life I now have.
Rosie for being by my side through every little bit.
Hype Dance, for giving us that base we needed.
Eve from Butterfly, for allowing us into your studio when we didn’t have one.
All the APNA students who supported me.
Everyone who came to this photoshoot, and helped make it happen.
And Donna, for finally making me realise why I cherish this photo so much.