The Violator is where you do a handstand with your tummy against the pole, bring your feet down the pole with straight legs, so the pole rubs down your upper inner thigh and you land with your hand and feet on the ground and your butt against the pole,”Samantha Travers says.
Travers is talking about one of the many fun moves she’s learnt since she started taking pole dancing classes 13 years ago.
She finds pole dancing to be a fun, sexy and great for body confidence.
“Every week you have a real healthy dose of other women’s bodies. Everyone is standing around in their underwear, mums in their stretch marks, every shape and size, you just realise that all bodies are beautiful,” says Travers, who takes classes at Peach Pole Studio in Tuggerah.
“Everyone encourages each other through moves. No one cares what you look like.”
She lives on the Central Coast and she first met Peach Pole Studio’s owner, Daisy Adelle Bastick when Bastick was her teacher in Sydney.
“It’s fitness, but we do it in stilettos,” Travers jokes.
Along with The Violator, Travers has learned a variety of other fun-titled moves, including “Hello Boys”, “Ice Skater”, “The teddy bear”, “The Martini” and “The Devil Point Shuffle”, a transition.
Peach Pole Studio is one of many pole dancing options in Central Coast and Hunter region. Pole dancing for fitness is a growing trend across Australia.
And, perhaps a worldwide trend, judging by Jennifer Lopez’s stunning Super Bowl performance in January on a pole. One of the most popular new TV dramas in the US, P Valley, centres on the fictional lives of exotic pole dancers at a strip club.
Research from The University of Western Australia found that in 2004 there were only four pole dancing studios in Australia, and by 2018 the number had grown to 118.
Bastick’s studios are just one of several options in Newcastle and the Central Coast. Others include Pol-arise, Bella’s pole studio, mPole, Pole Secret Dance Studio and G Force Pole and Fitness.
Travers says she thinks Bastick’s point of difference is her sensual style. Since Peach Pole Studio started in Erina seven years ago, Travers has witnessed women slowly embracing their sexuality and expressing themselves more.
It took a while to catch on.
“When she first opened it up, it felt like the students were a lot more conservative than what they are now,” Travers says. “We had a sleepover with a stripper and she was trying to teach us exotic moves and [only] a couple girls were into it and topless and dancing in the room, but that vibe has completely changed.
“She started off with a class that was blatantly striptease, and she realised she had to tone it back. It’s gone from Striptease to Slay, but it’s pretty much the same thing. Everyone loves Slay classes.”
Fifteen years ago Bastick was working in marketing in Sydney and wanted a change. She decided to take a break from corporate life and become a showgirl.
She had a background in dance, and she learned her sexy moves from Bobbi’s Pole Studio, in Sydney, which opened in 2004 and was the first of its kind in the country.
“All of the teachers in the industry were strippers,” she says. “They were the most glamourous unicorns that I’d ever met and eventually I became one. I was fascinated by their life and world.”
She thought a year was enough time to sow her wild oats, but instead it opened up a world of adventures, putting her in different places and situations. Suddenly she was dancing, doing burlesque and performing cabaret shows overseas. She’s had Japanese men eat sushi off her naked body in Sydney; she lived for months in Tokyo while performing in a stage show.
She taught in Sydney at first, but seven years ago she made a lifestyle change and made a move to the Central Coast.
“I wanted to open my own studio. It had been on my mind, but I knew a lot of women in Sydney who owned the studios. I didn’t want to step on their toes,” she says.
Bastick runs two pole dancing studios on the Central Coast, one in Erina and one in Tuggerah. While she knows pole dancing studios focusing on fitness are on the rise, Peach Pole Studio is very much showgirl-based.
When Bastick first opened she felt the new studios and the entire industry had become all about fitness and dance. It seemed like the industry was trying to justify itself.
“We were like, ‘we’re not shaming any kind of genre’. I tried to keep it with the roots that I had learned. That’s the style that resonated with me, it was risqué; the stigma was attached to it,” she says. “I was like, ‘I think there are girls on the coast who have hot bodies and are beautiful and will want to learn to dance sexy.'”
She felt like it took a long time to get her message across. She had to market lap dancing classes as “cheeky chair classes.” She had ease people into it. In the beginning no one would ever do it.
Now it’s completely reversed! Women love getting naked in the classes, and they aren’t really bothered by male classmates either.
Of her 300 students, most are women. Students range from age 16 to 50 something, and she has teachers in a similar age range. She thinks many people have misconceptions about pole dancing classes.
“There’s something so powerful about dancing for yourself,” she says. “A lot of girls would say ‘I wouldn’t go and do that because I’m not sexy’. I don’t think anyone wakes up and thinks ‘yes, I’m sexy’. I’ve taught a lot of workshops in how to level up and how to make money. It’s confidence, character and mindset.”
You don’t need a partner for these classes, and they can come in handy on a fun night out. Exotic dance classes include “50 shades of Slay” “Floorplay” and “Hair, Whips n Heels.” Some of the moves take weeks, months or even years to nail.
“This is great compared to some other exercises because the moves that they’re learning in pole are a really good indicator of the strength that they’re building,” she says.
Sexiness is one of her selling points, but expect to sweat too. She thinks “Intro pole workshop” is a good exploratory class.
Travers said both the “Fit-N-Flexy” and higher level pole classes give really intense workouts.
“It’s your whole damn body, it’s your core, your upper arms. You need your leg muscles to hold yourself up and out. It’s always up and pulling,” Travers says.
Travers had a few injuries from pole dancing, including a concussion from slipping off the pole.
“Most of the time they’re encouraged to perform in heels. You learn to fall, you just go with it. In eight inch heels you can’t do anything. A lot of people wear the biggest heels; you see they don’t actually walk. They tend to be up in the air or rolling on the ground,” Travers says.
She reckons everyone should give it a go, but be prepared to end up with some bruises due to the metal of the pole on your bare flesh.
“It hurts; you end up with beautifully callused hands. For the first five or six years I was embarrassed to shake anyone’s hands, but I just don’t care anymore. It gives you that body confidence,” Travers says.
Bastick finds that students might come for exercise, but fitness ends up being the secondary thing they get out of it. Friendships and comradery are a big thing at Peach Pole Studio. She sees a connection and openness between classmates.
Her classes are about more than becoming a pole dancer. She loves seeing women with completely different backgrounds become friends while doing something unconventional.
“A girl will start a class, a new person, someone’s like ‘I like your bag’, ‘I like your shoes’, ‘welcome, what’s your name?’ It’s not a one off, it happens all the time. I don’t see that anywhere else I go,” Bastick says. “No one would do that at the gym, ‘hey you look good on the treadmill’.”
She observes women making new friends, enjoying feeling sexy and getting their own validation. They see all the other women of different ages, shapes and sizes owning it and think ‘Why can’t I?’
And, of course, Bastick owns it.
“It’s like she’s old-school stripper; she’s not fake tits or fake lips, not fake long nails,” Travers says. “She’s genuine; she’s real, proudly part of the itty bitty titty club, and we can joke about that in class. We just accept people for how they are, no expectations to be anything other than you.”
They had to shut down for three months during the pandemic and instead offered Zoom classes.
“The online stuff was just about trying to provide things to keep our community together rather than making money, because we didn’t really,” Bastick says. “We’ve come back quite strong; it’s because of that family and community.”
She combines her love of performing and teaching with her marketing skills. She likes the structure of business.
“I guess I have the best of both worlds,” she says.
When she’s not dancing with students she might be being booked to do a variety of performance gigs. She’ll do a trampling party where she’s paid to walk across people’s backs. She’ll do weddings, swinger clubs, night clubs, birthdays and bucks parties. You can book her any time.
“I think it’s beautiful that what I do can change depending of the subject of the event,” she says.
For Bastick, touching is a no go at her performances and parties.
“Definitely not now,” she jokes.
She’s dealt with different interpretations and judgements around what she does which has been difficult to navigate at times. But she’s unapologetically herself.
“I try to own it. I’ve realised it makes me happy, and what makes everyone happy is different. No one should judge other people’s lifestyle, and I try to encourage other people to do the same,” she says.
Her students get a taste of the showgirl lifestyle too.
“Before Covid we ran our own strip club called hoe-case show case, students only, for my Erina studio. It has a little stage and one pole. They could do a strip show of what they wanted. The audience was students only,” Bastick says.
She was overwhelmed by how well it went.
“We also had a male stripper come in, he was in shock of how the girls were in a safe space amongst their students. The student who were watching had stripping dollars; they could throw at the girls. The girls just raved about being able to safely perform in the environment, everyone felt safe and excited,” she says.
Bastick’s business and lifestyle is sexy, sassy and savvy. She’s proudly putting a bit of thrills and thrusting into the lifestyles of the folks on the coast.