Dancing queen

The A26 through Southborough is always congested. And I am always in hurry. Particularly on Thursdays. On Thursdays, I drive from my little cottage in Tonbridge to Que Pasa in Tunbridge Wells. Driving in Tunbridge Wells scares me because I haven’t lived here very long and I don’t know the roads. I always seem to end up where I don’t want to be, stuck in a one-way system, wondering where I went wrong. My route to Que Pasa is etched into my brain and I stick to it with dogged tenacity.

I park outside the bar in the taxi rank. The manager says it’s ok to do this and I haven’t got a ticket yet. Then I unload the car. It takes me about three trips but eventually, everything I need is upstairs. Then I start to set the room up.

Some weeks it’s easy, the poles go up straight and I am ready when my students arrive. Other weeks, it takes forever and all my patience to get them up, straight and firmly secured.

At half past eight, we start; gentle warm up, lots of stretching and some funky dance tunes. By nine o’clock, we are pole dancing. Every week I teach spins, poses, jumps, climbs and, when they are strong enough, inverts. My students come from every walk of life; sixteen-year-old college students, young mums, doctors, grandmothers and businesswomen gather. And you know what? They love it. Every one of them.

Tunbridge Wells has a reputation for being very middle class and very staid – rightly or wrongly. I smile inwardly every time I strut around in my six-inch stripper heels. ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ would have a field day if she/he could see me now.

My ladies show off their bruises proudly. They clap and cheer one another regularly. They laugh an awful lot. They feel sexy, and feminine, and they enjoy their bodies without shame, guilt or self-consciousness. The sense of achievement is profound and it keeps them coming back, week after week, month after month.

At the end of the class, we stretch again. They take off their high heels, change back into their ‘normal’ clothes and go out into the night – each with a secret smile of satisfaction at the pleasure they have just allowed themselves.

I take the poles down, put everything back into the boot of my car, say ‘Goodbye’ to the staff at Que Pasa and wind my way back through the town, past The Trinity, up Mount Ephraim and onto the A26 to Tonbridge.

Emma Mitchell
Pole and exotic dance teacher