Private Dancer

The holidays are over, and it’s back to work. I’ve been a high school teacher for 18 years and a pole dancer for about 6. People ask me often, “Do your students know what you do?” At first, it was a HARD NO. Then it was an, “I think so? We don’t talk about it.” Lately, it’s a full on, “Yes, and it’s annoying as fuck.”
Look, I get that pole dancing is edgy; its edginess is why a lot of people are drawn to it. I personally don’t hide behind the defense that “It’s a completely valid form of fitness!” (which it is) or the misguided justification that “It’s basically gymnastics but on a pole!” because I’ve never seen a gymnast wear 8” platforms, and I certainly can’t do a backflip. There are a lot of ways to explain, defend, justify, dodge or circumvent the issues attendant with being a high school teacher by day and a pole dancer by night, but the fact is: I’m just too tired to live two different lives. I want to live one life fully.
There is no such thing as privacy anymore, if there ever was. I remember being at a sleepover in junior high (back when we had junior high, not middle school) and looking up my teachers in the phone book so we could call them and hang up. We were fascinated that our teachers were real people with homes and lives and spouses that they possibly kissed on the lips! We were so dumb. But we were kids.
Now I’m on the other side of that transaction, and knowing that kids are dumb doesn’t make it any easier. The toothpaste is out of the tube, and all my students know that I pole dance. How could they not? My Instagram is private, but some of my friends' accounts aren’t. Love Pole Fitness, the studio where I train and teach, has public business pages, as does Bee’s Knees. In junior high, we went to the effort look up Mr. Davenport’s phone number in the White Pages; students today can do far less work to see much more about what their teachers do outside of school.I’m ready to change my career for a myriad reasons, but waking up each morning and blocking high school boys who creep Bee’s Knees Instagram account is the final straw for me. And don’t tell me they think it’s cool that I pole dance; they don’t. Liking one of my old posts is the 21st century version of prank calling your teacher at a junior high sleepover.
Teachers aren’t the only ones with a privacy problem. A pole mate of mine who works for a bank has to be very careful about what she posts because her colleagues are very conservative. Another who works for a major medical service company is in the same boat. Why does work get to decide who we are after work? In the Digital Age, it’s harder than ever to draw lines around our private lives and say, “Do Not Enter.” "Enter at Your Own Risk" has a nicer ring to it. How do you manage your pole life and your work life? What do you do when your worlds collide?

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