When You Mess Up (aka: Laces IN!)

Submitted and written by Keren Sookne

When You Mess Up.

Not if, but when. :) If you pole for long enough, then something is bound to go awry or… disastrously wrong.

I’ve been poling for around four years. I’ve done a bunch of recitals and performances and had my share of things not go as planned. But I recently had my most I Love Lucy pole moment ever.

I got tied by my ankles to the pole mid-routine after coming to a sit. (Insert laughing/crying face.) One boot lace had wrapped around the pole and stuck to one of the other boot’s (many) hooks. I slid down to the floor. Obviously when you mess up, you wanna keep going, but my options were limited. I couldn’t even give up and slink off to let the other two in the routine do their thing since my legs were crossed around the pole. I looked out at the audience as they watched me try, unsuccessfully, to unstick my boot lace while hunched over on the ground in a skimpy money print outfit. That outfit was not doing my pale skin any favors to begin with.

Boot debacle starts at 0:26 seconds

Being tied by your legs to anything in public is stressful (to me, anyway). Time stopped and I thought of so many things, liiiike:

  • “I’m missing my routine… the part I can actually do.” I had spent so much time thinking about how it would go, running it in my head, but the plan was not coming to fruition.
  • “How long will I be here?”
  • “How much am I distracting from my friends who are continuing with the routine on their poles?"
  • “How not sexy this is.”
  • “What are the choreographer and audience thinking?” I like to not embarrass myself, and it’s also cool when I don’t disappoint my friends and teachers.

Then there was the impending doom of the next group in the piece. They were set to walk on soon, with no break in the music…aaaaand I’m tied to the pole they need to use.

Not what anyone pictures when driving to the recital.

I eventually unstuck the lace from the hook and caught up for the last 8 count(?) of the routine. The audience seemed pretty happy because some were probably as frustrated as me, watching me pull at my laces for a very long 30 seconds.

Before this lil adventure, I was going to write about being strong in coming back from an injury since I had tendinitis. But I felt weird writing about that when people are so much stronger than me and have come back from so much worse. But can I write about being awkward and messing things up? You know it.

Even though I maybe ruined that part of the routine, I’m (kinda) glad it happened. I’m glad I didn’t give up and still finished the routine when I could.

It also gives me a chance to share these tips with you:

  • Practice in your costume. I had only worn those boots for one dress rehearsal (and I usually don’t wear pole shoes with laces), so it hadn’t come up in practice. Maybe you procrastinate like me, and wait to order your outfits… don’t.
  •  Tuck in your laces! LACES IN, DAN.
  •  In case of wardrobe malfunction, if you’re in a position/state of dress to remove the item and chuck it where no one will get hurt, do that.
  • Remember that your friends will be cheering you on even as you emerge from messing up a layback to pole sit.
  • If a pole screw-up is your biggest problem, then you have it pretty good.  Just having the mobility, health, time and disposable income to pole is plenty to be thankful for! Shit happens, and if all that’s hurting is your pride, then you’re still lucky.

You can pole for years, go to months of rehearsal and still have things not go as planned, even in a simple damn move. Just acknowledge that it sucks, and try to keep moving the best you can.

You can fuck up and still have fun. “Perfect” doesn’t have to be your goal.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Keren! And let me say, I saw this happen live, and you handled the situation with such grace and positivity: you are a true performer! XO