Pole Retreat Spotlight: Pole In the Wine Country
I like to think of myself as a pole tourist. Whether for work or pleasure, my next step after booking a plane ticket somewhere new is almost always a quick Google search for pole dance studios in the area I’m going.
With so many new pole dance retreats popping up all over the world, it can be hard to choose where to go, what activities to invest in, and who to train with. With about 10 intensives / retreats under my belt in the last few years, the one that stands out as the most unique experience for me was Sergia Louise Anderson’s Pole in the Wine Country retreat this past June.
So often in pole dance camps and movement oriented intensives, everyone shows up with a meal prep bag full of Whole Food’s to-go boxes, a gallon of water and a go big, go home mentality. I’m going to pole the fuck out of this retreat, I’ve been guilty of thinking to myself, chest puffed, Bad Kitty brazils and two bottles of Dry Hands at the ready.
Sometimes we (I) forget that pole is an extreme sport because it’s SO much fun, and because there’s a dopamine effect to ‘nailing’ new tricks. Additionally, pole dancers seem to be a predominantly type A bunch and we like to check things off of lists.
What Pole in the Wine Country taught me was to push the pause button on that pole-trick-checklist mentality. Instead of focusing on quantity, the intention for Pole in the Wine Country was set on developing quality in our movement and spending time together, building community.
Emphasis on Community Building
The prep work for the retreat was the best I’ve ever seen and encouraged community building before we attendees even met each other. 6 months in advance, we were all added to a private Facebook page so that we could get to know each other. We were encouraged to send videos of movement styles we wanted to learn so that the instructors could prepare accordingly. This pre-work invested into the retreat made the logistics coordination easy, fun and also saved us money because we were able to coordinate lodging with each other, significantly lowering the cost of the retreat.
The first day began with a meet and greet at 10am, which gave many of us who were working remotely time to handle our work things before heading out for the retreat events. During the meet and greet, Sergia emphasized the importance of pacing ourselves.
“We’re going to go hard these next few days. There’s no use in using all your gas on the first day and getting injured,” she told us.
Instead of just telling us to pace ourselves, the retreat was structured so that we had to pace ourselves. Each day began and ended with some kind of acroyoga, yoga, flexibility, or therapeutics work. Day 1 began with a 2 hour acroyoga session where we partnered with other people, flying and basing each other, and chatting a bit.
After a break for lunch, we walked through the Santa Rosa mall and over to Tone studio where we broke into pole groups set up by a group of super buff, shirtless men who acted as the support staff to the pole professionals. They seemed to just appear and disappear anytime a pole needed to be put up. It was…nice. 😛
Each day included two 90-minute pole workshops. The first session was usually focused on pole choreography or low flow. These dance-based routines were led by exotic goddess, Iris Sparrow and Sergia. The second pole workshop was a more traditional tricks style pole class on Lupit pole stage poles, working mostly with Natasha Wang.
At the end of the first day, we came back together as a group and spent just over an hour learning myofascial release techniques in a workshop called “Balls Deep” hosted by physical therapist Kelly Goss. Using a tool that Kelly developed (something like two lacrosse balls wrapped in a theraband), we learned new ways to relax our muscles and open back up all of the parts of our body that we’d just worked really hard. This additional therapeutic session left me feeling more open than I had when the retreat started and when I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t sore! 🙏
All the Rest.
The next few days were similarly structured to day one. Each of the double hitter pole classes were bookended with flexibility, and yoga style workshops hosted by Bendy Beast founder, Liz Kinnmark and some kind of therapeutics workshop.
Each morning, Liz guided us through gentle movement, focusing our practice on opening up tight muscles and getting blood flow moving to prevent lactic acid accumulation. Each day I woke up, my body felt alive and open and I never got to the point where I had to sit on the sidelines because I’d overdone it.
The pole workshops themselves were exceptional varied, including:
- Lyrical choreography dance with Sergia
- Exotic (heels) choreography with Iris (slow, buttery style) and Sergia (nastier (in a good way), faster style)
- Spin pole combos with Natasha
- Static pole drops and inverted handspring style tricks with Natasha and Sergia
- Low flow pole tricks (heels optional) with Sergia, and
- Chair dance class with Iris
Each evening included additional activities such as a group dinners, wine tasting, the Santa Rosa Night Market, and even a Bad Kitty sponsored treasure hunt which produced this priceless photo-op.
At the end of the 5 days, we all packed up, hugged goodbye and said farewell until next year. With new tricks, new memories, new friends, all of us bonded by pole, we left with hearts full and bodies still intact! ❤ ❤ ❤