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Two individual pose next to the Polecon 2018 poster

My Experience at My First Ever Pole Con

Thinking about going to Pole Con but not sure what to expect or how to plan for it? Then let me share with you what my first Pole Con was like, the 2018 Orlando Pole Con. I’ll share what I liked, and what I would do different, and my favorite things about Pole Con. In the article I’ll break down my experience with you part by part in the hopes that you can maximize your own experience to the fullest!

1. The Opening Night/Sexy Showcase

The Sexy Showcase seemed to be the most popular showcase by far. It was absolutely incredible!  I was watching a live, professionally staged, pole showcase for the first time and I was mesmerized! I couldn’t believe I was actually in the same room with so many incredible performers! It was definitely one of my favorite showcases, but it also seemed to be everybody else’s. I unfortunately had arrived a little late and when I go there it was PACKED. This was the showcase that nobody was going to miss. So if you want good seats (or a seat in general) do yourself a favor and get there early!

2. The Free Movement WorkShops

Crowds were also a concern at the free workshops, particularly the free movement workshops. It was concerning when I realized this because that’s actually all I had planned to do for the weekend. I didn’t purchase (and therefore, guarantee a spot) at any workshops, mainly because a) I was on a super tight budget, and b) because all the free workshops looked bomb anyway! And they were! But everybody else thought so too, hence the crowds.

You might be thinking, “That’s okay, I’ll just stay in the room and wait for the next workshop so I can make sure I get a spot.” That’s exactly what I thought too, but what I didn’t realize was that after every workshop, they have everyone leave the room and get in line for the next one so that everyone who has already been in line for the past 30 – 50 minutes outside doesn’t get ripped off. (And there was ALWAYS a line already formed for the next movement workshop.)

This of course was a great idea and ensured fairness to everyone, so I can’t complain, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be necessary. Because the number of bodies much exceeded the space to hold said bodies, people had to be turned away at times. So, maybe you want to go to both workshop A and B, but you are more excited about B. Then what you may want to do is skip A and go ahead and get in line for B. If you go to A there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to get a good spot in line for B.

I wanted to do all of the free movement workshops and there was still a chance that I could, but I caught on and found myself skipping a few workshops so that I could make sure I got in line for my top priority workshops. All of that being said, I wish I had purchased a spot in some of the paid workshops, as this would have secured me a spot and would have allowed me to skip the crowds. Even so, I still enjoyed every second of the free workshops!

Now all of this mainly just applies to the free movement workshops. With the free seminars didn’t really have to worry about crowds or lines. And I get it, most people seem to be there mainly to learn some cool moves but I would still sit in on the seminars that are of most interest to you. I learned some great information on competing, getting paid to do pole in media, and about constructing amazing but easy to make costumes. And the seminars are a great chance to let your body rest while still giving you something to learn.

3. Showcases

Now, all of that being said about the great workshops, I kind of wished I had taken a break now and then to catch some of the showcases. As someone who is a little type A, wanted to do absolutely every free (both movement and seminar) workshop, and was sticking to her carefully planned schedule like a pole to freshly applied grip aid covered hands, I forgot to take it all in sometimes, particularly just sitting to watch the amazing performers over the weekend.

There were times when I would be in a workshop and I would hear a really awesome song and think “Omg, I bet this routine is amazing! What are they doing?! I want to see!”. And I would be so conflicted! I wanted to do the workshops and watch the showcase all at once! So make sure you take breaks to enjoy all of the amazing talent that is right in front of you! And it’s definitely okay to change your schedule/plan as opportunities occur or your feelings/energy levels change.

4. Paid Workshops

As I mentioned already, I did not do any paid workshops, but a friend of mine did. She said they were great but if she had to do it over again she said she probably wouldn’t have done so many back to back as they were the intermediate/advanced levels and took up a lot of energy, which made it difficult for her to give it her all as they day went on. So you should definitely plan for and schedule breaks in between your movement workshops. Besides, this will help give you extra time to shop! Which brings me to your next point…

5. The Shopping

Where to begin? Never have I ever enjoyed shopping so much in my life. Even though I had been poling for a little more than a year at this point, I actually hadn’t been very exposed to the pole community outside of my studio, let alone the pole focused consumerism. It was amazing! No where else can you go shopping where you see one person trying on itty bitty pole shorts here, Pleasers there, bedazzled fishnets, etc. And everyone was totally okay with that! It was great! I think it was the first time I felt like it was actually okay to like these things that some people may look at you strange for wanting. But it’s not just super sexy stuff either; some of my favorite comfy clothes that I wear daily I bought from Pole Con.

I would have bought more if my budget had allowed for it (and even then, I still went over). In fact, I took pictures of all the things I wanted so that I could make sure I could go and find them on the retailers website later! So whatever your budget for Pole Con shopping is, double it, maybe even triple it. And if you’re familiar will pole brands already, I would make a list of things you are looking for because chances are that brand will be there along with your wishlist items.

Now for some tips on shopping. If you do have a wishlist of specific things you want that you are not leaving without, then it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and purchase them as you find them because there is a good chance it won’t be there later. On the other hand, if you’re just browsing and don’t have anything particular in mind, then I would do a couple of passes of all the booths before you committed to buying anything because you will find something new and amazing every single time. This is especially helpful if you have a budget you want to stick to; you don’t want to spend all your money in one day only to find something you liked more the next that you can’t get.

What worked for me was waiting towards the end of the weekend to do most of the shopping, that way I could prioritize what all I wanted. But there were exceptions of course. For one, I knew I wasn’t leaving without some kind of Pole Con clothing so I bought that the first day (and those sell out super fast, mind you). And anytime I found something I wanted that they only had one left of in my size or my preferred color, I bought it immediately because chances were it was not going to be there the next time I passed through.

6. The Food

Oh. My. Goodness. Let me just say, Pole Con takes care of its Pole Babies. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, or have a sweet tooth (and yes, they even had desserts), Pole Con has something for everyone. Even though there is a ton of people at Pole Con there is plenty of food; it seemed to never run out! You will definitely enjoy it. The only thing you may need to be concerned with is bringing your own snacks in between workshops.

7. The People

This section is my favorite thing about Pole Con and it could also be called The Pole Community. As I mentioned above, my friend was also at Pole Con but we actually didn’t even know the other was going! We hadn’t seen each other for a little while so it was a complete surprise when we ran into each other towards the end of the weekend! So that being said, when I first got to Pole Con I was a little nervous about being there by myself but that was absolutely the silliest worry I could have had.

I did not realize how strong, huge, yet somehow intimate and close the pole community is. It was an amazing experience to be around hundreds of people with the same passion for pole as me! I didn’t meet anyone there who wasn’t friendly, including the pole stars and performers! So if you’re going to Pole Con with friends that’s great and you will have a fantastic time! But if you’re going by yourself, you have nothing to worry about and you will also have a fantastic time! Even if you don’t go with friends you will definitely be leaving having made some friends!

8. Lodging

Pole Con is always held at the same place that lodging is made available making it super convenient! And there is usually discounted rates available for pole con attendees as well. I did not take advantage of the lodging since my husband had family in the area. We saved money and got to spend time with family, which was great and fun! But I definitely missed out on some pros that come with staying at the hotel venue of Pole Con.

If you’re considering staying off site, there are a few things to keep in mind. Being off site, we had to deal with big city traffic and get up extra early. Staying on site would have eliminated those cons and made things much more convenient. I personally plan on staying onsite for the next Pole Con simply because there is so much to do over the weekend and so little time and I want to maximize my Pole Con experience.

In conclusion, this was my experience at Pole Con and though I loved every second of it. There are definitely some things I would have done differently. I hope this article helped you plan for your next Pole Con! Keep in mind that what maximizes your experience may be different than what maximizes mine. Ultimately, do whatever is best for you and I guarantee you that you will have a great time!

Savannah Smith
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