High Up There On the List of Things I Can’t Do

Yes, it’s pole dancing. Astounding pole dancing. And at around 3:20, if you’re not impressed with this woman’s athleticism, you’re either lying or blind.

75 Comments on “High Up There On the List of Things I Can’t Do”

  1. Just as a general note: I have every faith that people here can discuss pole dancing without lapsing into standard-issue sexism. Because you are awesome that way.

  2. The point isn’t that can’t do this activity; the point is no one wants you to do this.

  3. This is not pole dancing. This is cover for some sorceress showing off her new anti-gravity spell.
    Just sayin.

  4. Yeah there are a couple of examples of amazing pole dancing floating around and they usually start out slow so you’re going “Eh, not bad” and then the good dancers just do something that would put me in the hospital if I tried it.

    Richard Kadrey linked one from here (video down on that page, skip to the 30 second mark) – http://polechampionvideo.com/competitors/chelle-hafner and it’s similarly athletic.

  5. Oh my. That is an extraordinary display of grace and motion.


    John. You did good. Thanks.

  6. She had me at the upside-down invisible staircase walking.

    This sort of pole dance would fit right in into a circus show. Aerial silk performers often perform movements similar to hers.

  7. A youngster like you could easily develop the strength to do a lot of that. Maybe not the flexibility, but certainly the strength and coordination. I’m at least 10 years older than you and several inches taller and I’m able to do an inverted straddle on a pole. I may take pole lessons after I get better at silks and lyra. Since I only started six months ago after a lifetime of being a computer geek, you should easily be able to do it.

  8. Best Christmas Special ever!
    (I wonder how long before the Olympics offers the vertical bar as an event?)

  9. Those years of gymnastics lessons certainly were not wasted on her, hmm? That gave me exactly the same kind of chills as River Tam’s fight scenes in Serenity, and for the same reason. *Absolutely incredible.*

  10. She makes it look effortless and graceful and very often it with pole dancing it looks exactly as hard it is. This is an extremely talented gal!

  11. If you’re looking to top bacon cat, I can think of no better way. Nobody puts Scalzi in a corner!

  12. I think our literary mentor here should give it a try. We just need some sort of incentive he will react to, like when the group got him to visit the creationist “museum.”

  13. JJS:

    The chances of this particular flabby 42-year-old man with an arthritic hip shimmying up a dance pole with anything resembling grace and verve are so small that no amount of money will be inducement enough.

  14. My gym buddy convinced me to try a pole dancing class at our local Crunch a few months back. It was a good workout, even though we had to close the blinds because of the assholes who would plaster themselves against the windows to lick the glass. -_- Some of the basic moves were remarkably easy to do, even for out-of-shape, almost-40 me — gravity works with you, for the most part. But doing them gracefully was another matter altogether, and took phenomenal strength, balance, and gonads of iron. Doing them so that they look effortless, the way this woman does (or this man, for another example of effortless beauty), is an Olympic-class feat.

    I’ve been seeing this video all over the web for the past couple of days. Glad to see this woman getting the accolades she deserves.

  15. This is Olympic class gymnastics on the perpendicular Parallel bars (separated by 10-12ft). The only bit is that the Olympics has yet to recognize perpendicular parallel bars as a sport. Yet.

    Thanks to N. K. Jemisin to the link to the male pole dancer, as it really should be a uni-sex gymnastic event.

  16. The human animal never ceases to amaze and delight me. Every time I think I’ve seen the range of human ability, something like this shows up.

  17. I remember trapeze artists doing similar, if simpler, things on ropes. And it does look like someone turned off the gravity. But she has that dancers’ musculature and serious command of what her body can do.

    Thanks, John.

  18. Have you ever tried to move like this? It’s impossible. I’ve learned through Crossfit that maintaining control like that is incredibly difficult. Her core strength is ridiculous. It gives me an overwhelming sense of admiration and something else.

  19. When I was in my adolescence and young teens, some of the very best at my gymnastics club were working towards parallel and uneven bars activity like this, only horizontal. On the vertical? I am impressed.

    As others have said, it’s world class gymnastics, at an angle one doesn’t see it done very often.

    Even more impressive is that she kept it up for 2-something minutes and hadn’t had to build up the classic inverted-pyramid body shape to have that much upper body strength. You can tell the gymnastics rings/parallel bars experts – they’re the ones as wide across the shoulders as they are tall (them, and the crazy US Navy SEALs who train going up and down rope something approaching all day, every day, on the off chance we need to board a ship the really really hard way one of these days). She may not have that level of endurance or raw strength, but it was amazing what she did on a relatively normal body type.

  20. Cirque du Soliel, yes; aerialism, absolutely; but her performance also reminded me of a touring troupe of Chinese gymn-athletes I saw a couple decades ago, back when having Chinese performers come to the US was still a novelty. Among the mind-boggling things they did climb slender bamboo rods and then, mid-way up the rods (about 30 feet above the stage), fully extend and hold themselves motionless and absolutely perpendicular to the rods (sideways), hanging on by their hands. She actually topped that, since the Chinese athletes stayed motionless, and didn’t do a staircase-walk like that.

    Utterly amazing.

    I sure hope pole dancing pays well; she deserves to make money hand over fist.

    (And yes, the contrast to how non-graceful she was when not on the pole was astonishing. Wonder why the difference?)

  21. The only criticism I could offer is that it’s damned hard to look sexy while shimmying your way up a metal pole. (The rest of the time…oh yeah.)

    In terms of sheer talent…Olympic-class, no dissent here.

  22. Pole-dancing type acrobatics require hella upper-body strength – not just biceps, the whole framework. I could never do it, even when I was in ridiculously fine shape and was, um, not middle-aged and stuff.

  23. Damn. Just … *damn*.

    Listening to the audience, my guess is that it consisted mostly of fellow pole-dancers, who knew far better than most of us how impressive that performance was.

    P.S. to N.K.: Thanks for the link to the man pole-dancing. You saved me a trip to the Google.

  24. Someone else mentioned Cirque du Soleil: Here’s a sorta pole dancing routine of theirs from the early 90’s — YouTube. The good parts (to me, at least) are 2:29, 2:56 and 4:06. You can skip the first 24 seconds of the video and not miss anything.

  25. As one of the female persons, I used to sort of look down my nose on pole dancing, without ever really having seen any (for which I whole heartedly apologize) – I had no idea of the strength and flexibility required! It’s been a good reminder to me that folks have all kinds of surprising talents I shouldn’t assume aren’t there!

  26. tombrrngr:

    Anyone who can do that self-evidently has excellent nutritional habits.

    It may be that *you* — on some level, for some reason — “need” her to have a samich. But that’s an entirely separate (and irrelevant) thing.

  27. Jenyne Butterfly is one of my fave pole dancing performers. Her background IS gymnastics, and she’s also worked as an aerialist with Cirque du Soleil in Vegas. I always point to her when people dismiss pole dancing as a legitimate form of athleticism. :)

  28. of course one has to wonder if the women weighed 200 pounds if there would be as much excitement….. me thinks not

  29. World Champion Pole Dancer Felix Cane is in Cirque du Soliel’s new Michael Jackson show.

  30. At 3:25, I was struck blind.

    (that may have been my wife who blinded me, though, since she was watching it over my shoulder)

  31. Two things:
    Thing the first, I usually watch these for the fail factor. Mainly because I am a terrible person.
    Now, thing the second. Does your WIFE share your sentiments on this video?

  32. Love the Felix Cane video! Demonstrates some of the physics behind the pole.

    And, um, Glen? Plenty of women aren’t the least bit threatened by their partners watching that kind of display of female athleticism. :)

  33. it is a partial evolution of Chinese pole, pretty much all of the same solo tricks (done very well mind you, she is at professional circus performer level on the skill side). The evolution being that you are spinning while doing it, which makes some of the tricks harder and some of them easier as well as allowing a few tricks you cannot do static. As far as a routine however…. eh. It has a lot of potential but she is still really in her head in the beginning, she isn’t feeling the dancing and build up to getting in the air, it more feels she is counting her steps.

    I am being a total armchair critic. I can’t do what she is doing that is for sure, let alone deal with the pain to get there (training your body to move, bend, and be strong in those ways is torture you put yourself through on purpose, takes a strong mind). SO! Big effing kudos to her! Hopefully she starts feeling it a bit more as an act the more she performs it.

  34. Also, if you are enjoying the circus videos this is a dude I went to Circus School with years ago, he has pushed himself pretty damn far.

  35. I will chime in to agree that her pole work is outstanding.

    I’m also glad to not be the only one to note that her dancing off the pole was less than stellar. And the fact that I even notice that means I have officially watched to much SYTYCD

  36. I’ll chime in and simply echo what everyone else has said, which is that her athletic display is damn impressive. I will add that I was listening to that very Florence + The Machine song (“The Dog Days Are Over”) when the video started, and I thought I had some weird reverb thing going until I remembered to turn off iTunes. Great music for a great display of talent!

  37. tombrrngr: “Too thin, she needs a samich.” and “Yeah…still too thin. And I have multiple samiches.”

    Unless you are absolutely unable to understand that an athlete like this woman must be well fed and well rested in order to practice for the hours required to develop that technique and the required supporting musculature, it appears that you are making the kind of dismissive, sexist comment that our host assumed we would be able to avoid.

    This is not the place to judge this woman on whether her incredibly honed body meets your aesthetic preferences. Cut it out.

  38. @eh – If a woman weighed 200 pounds, she COULDN’T DO THAT. Promise. I know, I weigh 200 pounds. I’m pretty fit, I’ve been a bellydancer for 8 years and that’s a bit of work – lost 100 pounds in the course of 2 years learning the art! – and there’s still no way in hell I could support my weight with my hands and wrists the way Jenyne Butterfly does. If I tried to train for that, doubtless hours upon hours a day, I would no longer weigh 200 pounds. That kind of athleticism burns mad calories.

    I am nothing less than amazed half to death by her. She has so much strength and grace! She’d be a great bellydancer.

  39. I had no idea this was even possible. Amazing. I was reminded of Spider Robinson’s novella “Stardance.” Imagine a routine like this in orbit in free fall.