Even while running up the stairs from the subway, I consider refraining from writing about this particular blog-inspired adventure. With six-inch platform heels in my bag and a nearly expired Groupon to use, I attend a class by StripXpertease, fully expecting to keep that particular experience to myself and a very few close friends. After all, I had written about attending a Naked Painting Party (in a bikini), auditioning nude, and performing in Sarah Small’s Tableau Vivant. Enough, right? Although I didn’t create this blog with the intent of shocking my mother and other more conservative readers, I also have wanted to relinquish my expectations especially as of late. On Sunday at Pearl Studios in Manhattan, my instructor and the company’s policies help me to happily and safely do just that, in a way that would even make Mom happy (I think).
Although I arrive slightly late for class, our instructor Dahlia welcomes and includes me in the introductions of each class member by name. Wearing form-fitting clothes and high heels, each of the women attending happens to look incredible. Despite the unusually magazine-friendly appearance of this specific group, I have no doubt that all ages (above eighteen), sizes, and shapes would feel comfortable in their bodies here. Leaning against the mirror, standing in very specific poses, and using chairs, each of us attempts fairly simple and deceptively repetitive dance moves that require confidence above all else.
Of course, it helps to have good knees and a predisposition to fitness. Six-inch heels and a lot of squatting can tire a girl out after a couple of hours of instruction. Thankfully, when my brain tires of trying to shift my weight to a bent leg while learning a “Reverse Robert,” I can still pull out the acting stops. Dahlia picks up on each of the students’ strengths and compliments us by name. In fact, she does this so well that after class, I received a personal email from her referencing my website and upcoming gigs, and continuing to encourage me by writing, “Also, seriously girl…that predator face is OUT OF CONTROL!” Wouldn’t you like to know?
Personal, clear, effective, empowering, and as comfortable as a class practicing exotic dance with strangers gets, StripXpertease has smart and respectful instructors and policies that honestly turned my unnecessary hesitations and expectations upside down. Firstly, this company does not encourage women to enter the industry as exotic dancers. Of the instructors, only the founder and creator, Kimberly, has exotic dancing listed as a credential for teaching, and according to Dahlia (who even teaches Women’s Studies at one of the local community colleges), she actively attempts to discourage her students from using their bodies in this way for money.
One will not find nudity in any of the StripXpertease classes, including their couple’s classes, private instruction, and private parties. While StripXpertease has yet to expand to teaching pole dancing techniques, they do have a fairly comprehensive listing of introductory, month-long series, and exercise classes. For those looking for something more shockingly risqué, you’ll have look elsewhere – or just wait to practice the moves you learn in front of a mirror at home or for a loved one. In appropriate company, I have no doubt these moves would raise some serious eyebrows, among other things. With such courses designed to give women confidence and ease with sexual expression, I highly recommend StripXpertease and happily support and dance behind both their mission and methods. Returning to town in December with a two-hour class remaining from my Groupon purchase I only wonder, “Who wants to join me this winter?”