So I don’t know how you spent your Saturday night, but I’m going to tell you how I spent mine, because it was positively spectacular. First, I went to see The Vagina Monologues. I know, it came out in the 90’s and where have I BEEN? But for those of you who have never seen it, it’s worth going. The Vagina Monologues is made up of a varying number of monologues read by a varying number of women. Every monologue somehow relates to the vagina, be it through sex, love, rape, menstruation, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, the variety of names for the vagina, or simply as a physical aspect of the body. A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality (courtesy of Wikipedia). The play does a nice job of making you feel good about your vagina, if you have one. I do, however wish it included the more positive aspects of heterosexual relationships. While I understand that one of the goals of the play is to raise awareness about violence against women, there were parts of the play that felt like flat-out man bashing, which I don’t particularly agree with.
The Vagina Monologues is the cornerstone of the V-Day movement, whose participants stage benefit performances of the show and/or host other related events in their communities. Such events take place worldwide each year between February 1 and April 30. The performances generally benefit rape crisis centers and similar resource centers for women. This year in Santa Monica, V-Day benefitted Peace Over Violence, an LA based charity that helps women who have been physically and sexually assaulted. A portion of the proceeds also went to women and girls in Haiti who are launching a campaign to end violence in their country with the help of sponsors and activists.
Following the play, there was a lovely after party with food, drinks and…pole dancing! A group of women known as The Flying Vs performed on two freestanding poles smack dab in the middle of the after party. The Flying Vs are made up of four women: Tracy Mueller, Christina Grance, Rie Katagiri and Katy Kamen. All four women have an S Factor background, and two of the four teach pole dancing at S Factor. Rie teaches at Movement Studio LA and Katy offers private lessons in Malibu. Their first performance was a celebration of the transition from girl to woman. The dancers started off in tutus and tank tops and as the song progressed, they shed their layers of girlish clothing to reveal womanly curves and lingerie. The second performance was an erotic dance to Moulin Rouge’s “Roxanne”. The message was: I’m unapologetically sexy. Now watch me and worship. In both performances, the dancers moved slowly, deliberately and extremely sensually. While there were some beautiful pole tricks, the focus was just as much on the floor as it was on the pole. The dancers were in almost constant eye contact with one another, feeding off one another’s energy, which heightened the eroticism of the performance.
I think the presence of pole dancing, especially an incredibly sensual form of pole dancing at this particular charity event, is significant for three reasons. First, it shows the spirit of the pole dance community in a positive light. It is possible to be sensual and celebrate the beauty of the female body without denigrating or objectifying it. Second, it reinforces the idea that ending violence against women (which is the driving force behind all the V Day celebrations) does not mean erasing or hiding or restricting their sexuality. On the contrary. The end of violence against women, in a certain way, means that women can fully own and express their sexuality and its power without fear of attack, judgment or any other negative repercussions. And this is precisely what happened on Saturday night. Finally, pole dancing for a charitable cause shows that women can choose to dance, they can dance for reasons that are positive, and that the pole dance community is devoted to helping those in need. In other words, we have heart. And if you have any doubt about that, then check out Anjel Dust’s latest pole fundraiser for Japan on April 16th and Emilee Wilson’s fundraiser, also for Japan, at The Good Hurt on April 4th. We love to dance, but we love it even more if it’s for a good cause!
At the end of their last performance, The Flying V’s walked into their audience, who had formed a circle around them, and pulled women out onto the floor to dance with them. It was a symbolic move, one that communicated that the dance was for all women. I cannot begin to express to you the joy of looking around at a sea of women, all moving sensually on the floor, on the poles, all celebrating their bodies and their sexuality, all blissfully uninhibited and feeling safe and celebrated. It was…awesome. And it made me want to be a Flying V!
For more information on The Flying V’s go to: www.theflyingvs.com
For more information on V Day go to: www.vday.org
To get on board with Peace Over Violence check out: www.peaceoverviolence.org