The story behind Ladies' Night and why it's so important to me.
It's going on three years since I've migrated to the West Coast. Many of my friends and acquaintances have no idea of my Post-College Chicago past. Many don't know that I once performed in night clubs with my Burlesque family, that I taught pole dance classes, that I was co-owner of an upcoming Women's Empowerment Studio. I don't often share those things because for so long I convinced myself that they represent failure and fear. I began to believe that I left Chicago to run from the things that I feared would fail. I convinced myself that my move to California was meant to bring me into something new and greater than all of the things that helped build me. The last few years I've focused on fitness, becoming better at helping people live healthier lives. While it's important and fulfilling, it was never enough. I began looking through old videos and photos from my post-college years in Chicago and realized that my past was still very much apart of me. Looking at those videos awoke something within me. They made me realize how much I missed teaching those classes and performing at those clubs. Not everyone will understand why us women choose to participate in activities that are so racy. That's okay. It's not for everyone. But if I wrote my feelings for these types of things down in words, maybe a few more people could truly grasp the allure.
The Sensual Empowering Dance Class is very popular right now, as more celebrities and "insta-famous" dancers share their videos. It's becoming more lucrative than it's ever been thanks to social media, but it's nothing new, it's only resurfacing. I've been participating in these types of classes since before I even realized it. My first time being exposed to anything like this was my freshman year of college when another dance major asked me to be a part of her Janet Jackson tribute. We danced to "Would You Mind" and while I did get a taste of empowerment, it hadn't unlocked my full potential. Each year following that performance, we performed even more racier themes and choreography. Fast forward to my second year out of college and I'm auditioning for a spot in Urban Burlesque and inquiring about a job at Kiss Studio Chicago because I needed something to do. The Urban Burlesque Dancers became my family and I eventually found myself co-owner of Kiss. I grew to love all that came with it and I was able to explore a side of myself I never knew. I felt stronger and more confident because of the women I surrounded myself with and because of the way we explored movement in rehearsals, class and during performances.
Although most of my fondest memories happened with those women, I am still grateful for the move that I made to Los Angeles. Because of LA, I know that I can offer my new clients something I wouldn't have been able to offer them back home in Chicago. Because of LA, I am a strong, confident, assertive woman, which I naively thought I was before. I've lived and I've really been through some things here in LA. I've allowed men to make me feel low, uncomfortable, ugly, and unworthy. I've been in situations where I allowed men to say and touch me however they desired. I wasn't aware that I am a powerful being then, so I never spoke up for myself. I tried to convince myself that it was all okay by saying aloud "I'm okay with this." I was never okay with it.
My catalyst happened here in LA, where I decided that no man will ever even THINK that he has control over me or any situation involving me. This choice has informed my work as a teacher, trainer, friend, sister, and woman. When I teach these classes, I am pouring myself and my experiences into my clients, all of whom can relate. At Ladies' Night, we speak to ourselves through affirmations, we speak to ourselves and each other through our movements, we walk away feeling relieved, strong and proud because this two hour experience is our version of the "exhale". No matter how many walk into the studio, as long as I can get one woman to walk away from the experience understanding that she is beautiful, worthy, and that she holds power within herself, I can walk away fulfilled.