By Andrea Brown
A new place on Colby Avenue has some explaining to do.
The windows are blacked out. The front door is locked.
Yet it has been open for two months.
What’s up with that?
It’s a pole dancing studio.
Yep. In downtown Everett.
Writhe Pole Dance shares a block with coffee shops, diners, insurance brokers and banks, around the corner from a Christian college and a community theater.
Inside the long narrow studio are six floor-to-ceiling silver poles that glisten in the dim light. Pillar candles create shadows as female bodies seductively saunter and spin.
There are no mirrors. There are no men.
This isn’t a strip club.
“It has its roots in exotic dance,” said Writhe co-owner Leah Weston. “Many of the moves are similar.”
The fireman spin. Front hook spin. The tail wag.
Pole dance is part fitness, part aerial art. Sensuous, for sure. Strenuous, very. Empowering, totally.
“Women of all ages have taken this up,” said Weston, 34. “Who doesn’t want to feel sexy?”
The studio, formerly based in Marysville, was founded by Weston and three pole instructor friends, Amy Harris, Ang Dearing and Rebekah Dibble.
They all have day jobs, kids and husbands.
And, yeah, they hear it all the time: “Oh, your husband is so lucky.”
Sure, there’s something libidinal about women spinning around poles that turns guys on.
That’s not the point.
“It’s dancing for ourselves,” Weston said. “It’s our reprieve. It’s soul food.”
The studio has drop-in sessions and classes that average $15 to $25, with discounts available. A free open house for ladies only to give it a twirl is 8 to 10 p.m. June 26.
Writhe also offers lap dance workshops to learn the fundamentals of peeling off clothing and the choreography to please your sweetie. “These are a little more silly, playful and fun than normal classes,” Weston said.
Pole is more than releasing your inner sexpot.
It has become a mainstream sport with tournaments, such as the Northwest Pole Art Championships in Seattle this fall.
Beginner classes last six weeks. It’s boot camp.
“Everything looks easy but it’s really intense. It gets complicated when you get down to it,” said new student Jordyn Lee, 19, a Navy wife from Mount Vernon. “It really gives you a workout, but it makes you feel sexy, too.”
Students at Writhe wear yoga clothes, not stripper clothes. Still, it can mean a giant leap out of their comfort zone to move in such bootylicious ways.
“I don’t think anybody comes to pole thinking, ‘Yeah, I got this,’” said Writhe co-owner Dibble, 31. “Everybody comes feeling nervous. Women’s sensuality is a very fragile thing, so we try to create a safe environment for women to come and express that and explore that.”
Emotive and sultry music — “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding and “Open” by Rhye — helps release inhibitions. So does closing your eyes.
With no mirrors, you can’t critique your moves. Do what feels good, not what you think looks good.
There’s only the eyes of the other women, there not to judge but to applaud. This isn’t a competition with others, only with yourself.
“I forced myself to get out of my bubble,” said Elisabeth Clark, 37, of Arlington, who started pole three years ago and attends Writhe drop-in sessions. “My third class I was crying on the way there.”
Most women hit that same wall. Some quit. Clark stuck it out. She even bought a pole to practice on at home.
“I was surprised how much ab and arm movement you do and how sore you are after class,” said beginner student Rachelle Rivera, 28, an Everett nurse.
“It is freeing,” added classmate Emily Wojcik, 21, a Shoreline endoscopy technician with a background in ballet. “This lets me go loose. I can be myself. There is form and structure, but it gives you some freedom.”
Not that it came easily. “I felt a little uncomfortable in the beginning,” Wojcik said. “I was like, ‘Is this really happening?’ By the end I was like, ‘This is awesome. I am myself. I can do what I want.’”
Self-confidence is what the studio founders say it’s all about.
“When I started pole I was like, ‘I’m going to be the hot girl at the bar,’” Dibble recalled.
She found out that the hot girl inside is what mattered.
“I no longer need that outside validation,” Dibble said. “You see women in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds dancing and they all look beautiful, and you start to believe there’s no way I can be the only one who doesn’t look beautiful. You start to see yourself through different eyes. You start to have that appreciation for yourself.”
Still, it requires explanation.
“I always have a moment of panic when I tell people,” Dibble said.
Read more What’s Up With That? at www.heraldnet.com/whatsup.
Want to pole?
— Andrea Brown (@reporterbrown) June 16, 2015